Tools, and how they are used, discuss

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Tim V
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Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Tim V » Fri Feb 17, 2012 5:17 pm

The article by Laurie Griffin in MRJ212 has got me thinking (careful now).

There are those of a certain age who were taught at school how to use tools. I went to a Secondary Technical school (the one between Grammar and Secondary Modern), where, in metal work, we each had our own lathes, and were taught how to use files etc.

Now one year, in woodwork, we had a project, which was to choose an old wooden block plane, clean it up, then we could take it home. They were being scrapped, as we'd used metal planes for some time. I still have mine, I was using it today (which reminded me of the topic).

I was in a museum at the weekend, and it's quite common to see these planes in displays of old woodworking tools. Oh horrors, the thing had been incorrectly assembled :!: I noticed other planes also incorrectly assembled.

I was in a school not so long ago, there were a couple of lathes, so I sidled over to get a closer look, oh dear, they had a layer of dust and clearly hadn't been used for some time. Just for show I assumed.

It is quite common to see comments on the lack of youngsters in the hobby - but isn't the problem that youngsters lack skills? Creativity seems to come from the computer screen, not from their hands.
Tim V

nigelcliffe
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby nigelcliffe » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:12 pm

Tim,
I thought for a minute this would be "how to use a chisel to open a paint tin".

However, I do agree with you, and its not just "moderately advanced" stuff like how to put a hand plane together, or using a lathe.

There is basics of how to stand when sawing, which side of a line to cut along, how to hold a file, that cutting a file or plane at an angle behaves differently than using it straight, etc.. All basic manual skills which require teaching and a degree of practise.

One of my jobs is teaching an Open University product design course. In between the more academic stuff, we teach drawing freehand with pencils and making models from cardboard ! Its surprising how many students arrive with skills on computer drawing packages who can't use a pencil. Fortunately most are able and willing to learn a new and useful skill !


- Nigel

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Flymo748
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Flymo748 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:17 pm

Tim V wrote:It is quite common to see comments on the lack of youngsters in the hobby - but isn't the problem that youngsters lack skills? Creativity seems to come from the computer screen, not from their hands.

Ah, but the counterpoint of that is how much of woodwork/metalwork was creative?

I went through school at the tipping point education (mid '80s) and was able to have classes in both metalwork and computer science in the same years. We were allowed to be *much* more creative with computers - probably because it was relatively difficulty to cut fingers off using them.

I feel that you are confusing creativity with familiarity, which in either case leads on to the future enjoyment of them in a hobby.

I agree with the observation, but not the causality...

Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

craig_whilding
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby craig_whilding » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:02 pm

Tim V wrote:It is quite common to see comments on the lack of youngsters in the hobby - but isn't the problem that youngsters lack skills? Creativity seems to come from the computer screen, not from their hands.

The next generation of models will probably come from the computer screen anyway, 3D printing is just getting there now.

Baseboards can be laser cut from a computer, wheels can be CNC lathe engineered etc.

I don't see a lathe or anything as required skills to do the hobby but more the enthusiasm for the modelling of miniature trains.

Cost of entry will play a big part, its not a cheap hobby and P4 is certainly much more expensive again. Buying a set of gauges and a starter set when everything is in recession isn't great when saving towards a house deposit etc..

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby grovenor-2685 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 7:13 pm

At school in the 50s, one of the best grammar schools around, we did a year each of woodwork and metalwork. It was definately not creative, the curriculum consisted of set exercises designed to develop a skillset. In that is succeeded, creativity was something for individual hobby time not wasting the time of teachers. We made relatively useless objects but we made them very well. I still have the results of the metalworking that involved accurate filing, turning, drilling and tapping, a lot of polishing, case hardening and chrome plating. Our lathes etc were belt driven from overhead shafting, case hardening involved use of blowtorches and cynanide so discipline had to be enforced on second formers. Probably safer though than subsequent chemistry lessons. ;)
Keith

allanferguson
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby allanferguson » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:07 pm

I think I would claim to be of "a certain age" and I went to what I describe as a "posh" school -- no woodwork, no metalwork. We were to be lawyers, accountants, etc, and would not be getting our hands dirty!

Yet I would modestly claim to be as good with tools as most amateurs; but it's all self taught, because I was interested. My son, who went to a modern comprehensive school, and was taught how to use tools, regularly calls me in to help with simple jobs around the house.

The point of course is that I don't think the modern lack of what we used to call "Technical Education" is entirely to be blamed for a perceived lack of interest among the younger generation in our hobby. I have called with limited success, on my son - in - law for help with computer aided design, increasingly part of our hobby.

Allan F

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David B
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby David B » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:12 pm

I'm quite envious. I was at school through the 60s and never had a single lesson in woodwork or metalwork. I picked up some woodwork skills from my father and have learned more, bit by bit, through life, but metal . . . I know as much about it as I do a foreign language (I failed French O level twice).

David

wally

Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby wally » Fri Feb 17, 2012 8:16 pm

Like Tim in the first post I went to Tech Sec between 1959 and 1963 and we had practical instruction in, and experience of, metal working and joinery together with Tech Drawing (this being the more important in my view).

Unfortunately the kids these days do not gain this experience but all is not lost. We have a young lad (just 16), a regular attender at our local club who is classified as in mild special needs, he brings along his RTR stock and seemed to enjoy the company until three weeks ago I had to undertake a power supply repair on the layout.

He watched intently as I soldered in a link wire and stated that he had never seen that done before! following this conversation I took an iron, solder, flux and associated goodies along to the next meeting and challenged him to join two pieces of scrap brass together.

To cut a long story short once he had succesfully completed two joints he found himself putting strengthening braces onto the sides of an etched brass 7mm coach kit then putting one end onto a side before home time.

This week he proudly completed the basic box and whilst getting someone to take a picture of him, on his phone, with the result of his efforts, to show to his family, was presented with the iron and associated bits together with another set of sides to be taken home as "homework" and returned finished next Tuesday.

Whilst he was undertaking this transformation several of his seniors came and watched muttering at the same time that they could not do what he was doing but not one asked to be shown how themselves

Next Tuesday although he does not know it yet he will be starting to learn how to build track as we have no suitable line to run the coaches on - the coaches are Irish 3ft gauge (21mm) - this natural progression seems to be the way to broaden the interest and negate the idea of "I have never done it so therefore I cannot do it".

This is the way we learned and it is our duty to continue the process and not just sit around moaning that the kids these days are not learning anything.

Wally

DougN
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby DougN » Fri Feb 17, 2012 11:42 pm

Wally I think you may have found the factor in the post above. They young bloke was willing to""have a go" rather than saying "I can't" sounds strange I have struck local modellers here that think the same way.... I can't do that, I wasn't able to do that etc. Even in my professional life I strike tradesman that hit something just outside their "zone"and it is "can't do" situation.

On the overall topic of tools and manual skills, I went through a public school here in Melbourne where there was practically no "hands on use of tools" I did do a subject at year 10 of Craft design and technoogy which you designed and then built a thing. I went for a large tool box as that is what I needed for my hand tools I had collected. I practically taught my self to use hand tools and power tools in this subject. This was brought home to me the same year when helping a family friend building a holiday home there was a comment that I swung a hammer harder and more accurately than the 2 adult engineers I was with! From that point it is no surprise that I ended up with 2 degrees in construction and I have extended my own house (well doubled it in size) I actually partly blame model railways for this as that is how I ended up travelling down this path!

I don't thing todays kids get much due to the "safety squirrel"effect. You can't do that because you could burn, cut, or generally cause a financial liability :o . The skills are there usually fostered by Lego but as we know you don't cut and shape the parts! I hope that I can teach my kids to both learn how to pull things apart and put it back together. Though I think they will just call me all the time. :shock:

On the subject of tools and I suspect it is the same in the UK with the B&Q style warehouses (Bunnings here in Australia) the availabilty of good cheap power tools has reduced the knowledge to manually do things. Personally I have, Circular saw x2, Mitre compound saw, drills x 4, power planer, jigsaw, 3" grinder, (I sold the 9" grinder) at least one sander, Framing Nail gun :shock: (No not really for modelling) Which would be more than the usual, well if you build your own house it makes life less painful. Then there is sundry other hand tools.... all of them fill a 6'x4' Trailer if I need to take them anywhere. Though it is very very very easy for me to build layout base boards I am pretty quick due to the above!

If I was to list the number of modelling tools that I use regularly does seem to be limited scaple, ruler, pointy nose pliers, temperature controled soldering iron, dremel with a wire wheel!, Various files though only about 3 get used every day, cutting matt, and a block of wood. The other tools that are used occationally is a really long list though.

So to summarise the above is "have a go" and build something. Buy tools as you need them, (take my advise not on a whim I never seem to use those tools! :evil:) do it slowly and patiently.
(No B&Q and bunnings don't sell it in jars, neither spare time by the bag... :D )
Doug
Still not doing enough modelling

wally

Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby wally » Sat Feb 18, 2012 11:54 pm

Doug,

Just a quick note on your thoughts, not only did he show an interest but he met somebody who was willing to show him how!

It is also interesting to notet that in the in the same club there are other members (who I consider more skilled than myself) who would watch the lad try then say "thats no good, let me do it properly" then walk away without offering any explanation of their methodology. This is what stops both the learning process, and, the will to improve personal skills.

Unfortunately I have noticed over the years that the "best" modellers are loners and naturaly reticent to help others, before the inevitable comments start to come in about those who do pass on their skills by demonstrating at shows etc, the novice is already disuaded from asking by the attitude of his superiors.

Perhaps this will start a conversation, unfortunately not in line with the OP's original intention, which the mods may wish to split off.

Wally

Terry Bendall
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Terry Bendall » Sun Feb 19, 2012 9:36 am

I suppose as one of several former teachers of craft who are members of the Society, I should put something up on this topic, When I started teaching in 1967, I was employed to teach metalwork but also had experience of teaching woodwork and technical drawing. As others have said, it was not very creative since you worked to Sir's drawings but people did learn a lot of skills. However the subjects were often the preseve of pupils who were thought to be not very academically able, and those who were got sent to Science and languages.

In the early 1970s the subject then developed into Craft, Design and Technology (CDT) where teachers were supposed to introduce a design element into the work and include such things as electronics and mechanisms. When taught well this was very successful, but too often it was not done well. There was more thinking involved and those pupils who had greater academic ability were often challenged by what they did and produced some excellent work.

Then came the National Curriculum and a subject called Design and Technology, which meant new approaches although some of the content was not that different from CDT. However other subjects such as food technology, textiles and graphics all came under the same subject area and in many schools, time was cut and there was very little training for teachers who were already in teaching on how to operate the new curriculum and initailly few teaching resources to guide them. Again there was a lot of good practice but some that was not.

OFSTED - the school inspection body produced annual reports which often said that teachers were good at teaching craft skills, but not very good at teaching design. This was true but often because the teachers were not themselves taught how to do this. In time, the teaching of design work got better but often at the expense of craft skills.

We now have a situation where there are lots of very good teachers in the subject, who do good work, but who have a different range of skills to those that I had when I started. People of my generation had to change and adape to these new areas. There is a valid argument that craft skills are not quite as imporatnt in manufacturing as they once were and that the use of electronics and computer aided designing and making are now more relevant skills which I think is true to a large extent. However the craft skills that boys, and it was normally only boys, learnt are not taught to anything like the same extent so those who want to develop them have to learn them in other ways.

Current govenernmernt thinking (?) seems to be to concentrated on so-called academic subjects so even the small amount of Design and Technology that is now taught is likely to be reduced still futher, at least in England (Wales and Scotland are doing their own and far more sensible things). So in future youngsters are likely to have fewer making skills and will have to pick them up in other ways.

Just goes to show what happens when polititians of all shades meddle in things that they do not understand.

Terry Bendall

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steamraiser
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby steamraiser » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:47 pm

The future may be in virtual modelling. The whole "model " existing as electrons.

The other possibilty is having built your model in the virtual world, to produce the finished model using a 3D colour printer.

Gordon A
Bristol

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Andy W
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Andy W » Sun Feb 19, 2012 8:59 pm

I only did a bit of woodwork at school so for me learning skills needed in this hobby is half the fun. My regret is not picking my dad's brains while I could. He was a fitter in a machine tools factory, so knew how to use lathes; milling machines etc. as well as mastering a multitude of other engineering skills. It wasn't just me that missed out on the passing down of knowledge however. In my home town in the sixties four machine tool factories were closed down and the skills of a generation were consigned to the scrap heap. I don't suppose you need such knowledge working in the hypermarkets that now occupy the sites of the old works.

I know the world moves on, and areas such as computer skills etc are now an important part of the nation's output, but I still don't understand how a country can abandon such a massive skill base that the rest of the world still values.

End of this old codger's Sunday night rant.
Make Worcestershire great again.
Build a wall along the Herefordshire border and make them pay for it.

Philbax
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Philbax » Sun Feb 19, 2012 10:46 pm

This is an interesting conversation. I amm 62 so that puts me in space. I did woodwork and metalwork at school, also I graduated as a product designer from art college in the 70's. for me it has always been important to undedrstand 'how' when designing products, to the extent that I have questioned the 'we always did it that way'
I have also taught degree level teaching and product design in Design & Technology at university level. One of the points I took from this wa sthjat colleges (education) were looking at the facilities, metal working - casting and lathe/machine facilites, wood working, planers, routers, etc and saying they were not used 24hours a day and the space could be used for lecture facilities.
Today I feel that we concentrate too much on 'Academic' qualifications and do not understand the balance with 'vocation' i.e hands on, qualifications.
I always asked how can someone design a product if they have no understanding of how things can be made.
The answer is that in the UK wer produce very little in terms of manufacturing, and where we do most is owned by foriegn investors, an exception might be Dyson.

Phil

DougN
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby DougN » Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:18 am

Just jumping back to Wally's comments. Yes a person who can do but not teach is not a great roll model as you suggest but some one who is willing to say. Sit there and watch what I do, Now you do it with the same tools and situation and explain it again while they are doing it and then leave it for the 3rd time watching only and then giving the suggestions is a way that I (don't want to use the word "teach") show people how to do things.

The same goes for some "explanation books" which are out there some work some don't. All we can do is hope some of the skills end up sticking with the individuals.
Doug
Still not doing enough modelling

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Jo Palmer
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Jo Palmer » Mon Feb 20, 2012 2:41 pm

I came into the hobby with minimal technical skills - my teenage years at school were in the 1980s and in those days, unless you kicked up a fuss, because I was female I did needlework and cookery, while the boys did woodwork, metalwork and technical drawing. Despite my Dad teaching the boys subjects at my school I never learnt them because it wasn't what most girls did back then, I did know how to switch all the machines off at the end of the day though. If we ever needed anything made we just asked Dad or one of the other teachers, as I got older if I needed repairs done on my car then my Dad or older brother would do them, although I did learn how to change the radiator!

So when I started modelling a few years ago I had to learn all the skills from the start. I think even Dad was amazed at how little technical knowledge I had. So various people have taught me a lot of the skills I have picked up along the way. The best bit was building the Terrier for my layout - Dad had one kit and I had another - he would do a bit, I would watch and then copy. The end result was a finished engine. Show and tell really is the best way to teach people.

My own boys pick up a lot of skills at school during lessons and at after school tech clubs, but they are quite happy to bring pieces home to Dad's workshop where he goes back into teaching mode and shows them how to do things, so the skills are being passed on but then he makes the subject really interesting.

There are too many generalisations made about "youngsters" or "lack of skills". Frankly anyone of any age can be a numpty when it comes to hands on skills - but if the desire to learn is there then they will find someone to help them and a GOOD teacher is worth their weight in gold whereas a BAD teacher can kill your desire to learn a subject stone dead.
Jo Palmer

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Paul Townsend
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Paul Townsend » Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:03 pm

Jo Palmer wrote:
There are too many generalisations made about "youngsters" or "lack of skills". Frankly anyone of any age can be a numpty when it comes to hands on skills - but if the desire to learn is there then they will find someone to help them and a GOOD teacher is worth their weight in gold whereas a BAD teacher can kill your desire to learn a subject stone dead.


Hear hear.
My Grammar School offered us "academic stream" a couple of years of woodwork but no metal in sight. As I fell out at age 13 with the teacher
(leading to a visit to the Head's cane!) I didn't make much progress there.

I learnt most general tool skills I have from "helping" DiY Dad, watching experts and taking frequent advice plus practice, practice and more practice.
The only teaching I have had in metal skills was at local Tech on basic turning and milling as a hanger-on to proper apprentices' training for a couple of hours once a week for a year.

PS.
I have a theory that aptitudes are passed down via alternate generations.
The intermediate generation often rebels against parental interests but the genes will out!

martin goodall
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby martin goodall » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:00 pm

Not sure about Paul's theory. My grandfather and great-grandfather ran a builders' and decorators' business. My father was hopeless at DIY (he became an accountant). I am also a hopeless DIYer, although I seem to be able to make models. There's no logic to any of this.

As for education, I too missed out on woodwork and metalwork at my grammar school in the early to mid-1960s. I am therefore self-taught so far as my metal-working skills and using machine tools are concerned, but woodworking still defeats me.

But I do remember craft lessons at primary school, which I think were what first inspired my interest in making models.

I suspect that what interests us or repels us in our formative years is very much a personal thing which is influenced by all sorts of factors, some of them perhaps quite superficial.

Incidentally, do other people find as I do that there are always some tools which one has acquired which never get used? They looked useful when you bought them, but somehow you just don't seem to find a need for them in practice.

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Flymo748
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Flymo748 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:27 pm

martin goodall wrote:
Incidentally, do other people find as I do that there are always some tools which one has acquired which never get used? They looked useful when you bought them, but somehow you just don't seem to find a need for them in practice.

Yeah, I've got this one in a box labelled something like "B2B gauge".

Never found a proper use for it, but it's quite handy as an anvil when I want to peen some rivets over...

:-)
Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk

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David Thorpe
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby David Thorpe » Tue Feb 21, 2012 10:05 pm

martin goodall wrote:Incidentally, do other people find as I do that there are always some tools which one has acquired which never get used? They looked useful when you bought them, but somehow you just don't seem to find a need for them in practice.

Yes, I used to find the "weekly special" aisles at Aldi and Lidl very tempting, and quite a few tools, some of which have subsequently seen minimal use, managed to find their way into my shopping trolley. I remember that one week I went to Lidl with the specific intention of getting some olive oil and came out with a chainsaw (well, it was sort-of needed).

DT

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Flymo748
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Re: Tools, and how they are used, discuss

Postby Flymo748 » Wed Feb 22, 2012 7:21 pm

DaveyTee wrote:Yes, I used to find the "weekly special" aisles at Aldi and Lidl very tempting, and quite a few tools, some of which have subsequently seen minimal use, managed to find their way into my shopping trolley. I remember that one week I went to Lidl with the specific intention of getting some olive oil and came out with a chainsaw (well, it was sort-of needed).

Did you come back with any chainsaw oil?

It's widely regarded in motorbiking circles as a much cheaper and equally efficient alternative to Scottoil for lubricating chains. I wouldn't think much of it for dressing salads or making ciabatta though...

Flymo
Beware of Trains - occasional modelling in progress!
www.5522models.co.uk


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