the right tool

basinwrench-2010-11-28-13-34.jpgYesterday I discovered the “basin wrench.” I didn’t know about such a device until I was looking for a way to detach a bathroom faucet from its sink. The friendly installation instructions I can find online and in the aisles of hardware stores all suggest this obscure thing, but I had no idea how genius it was until I’d used it.

As I explained to Grace, this tool clamps on to a nut from below [insert your 8th-grade-boy, too-painful-to-think-about remark here], clamp on [etc.], and turn it [ouch!] in a direction dictated by the angle of the clamp’s teeth. Need to turn the nut the other way? Simply flip the head of the wrench to the other side of the shaft and you’re set. This tool is versatile in its ability to clamp onto any size nut, as well as its propensity to reach the item from any angle necessary.

And yet, to find this tool, I was taken to an obscure aisle of the plumbing section. While other tools were highlighted in the tools section where they were celebrated with bright light and glorious arrays of companions, where hacksaws could converse with crescent wrenches of all sizes and applications. Some specialty items are composed of titanium, and blades are tipped with carbide. It’s a high class cocktail party, safety goggles in the place of high heels and polished tool boxes instead of handbags.

There’s an implicit moral about finding the right tools for any given job.


A day later, I’m considering why I chose to write about a basin wrench. Really, where’s the moral in a plumbing tool, and an obscure one at that? Here’s what I think: I identify with the basin wrench, or at least I aspire to. Not fancy, but with a flexible head, in an obscure aisle towards the back, and ready to do that job by clamping down and holding on. That’s what I hope to be. Flip the head over the other way, see it from the other perspective, and turn the nut in the opposite direction. I would like to think I can do that, too. I’m not titanium or chrome and I don’t hang out in the hardware aisle with the sexy tools, but I aspire to be the right tool for the relatively important but not-so-glitzy task.


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