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The right tool.

It's a marvelous tool. I keep one in my desk and one in my car. The multi-tool (sometimes known generically as a "leatherman") is the modern equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife.

It's marvelous because it is one tool that can do so many things. But is it the right tool?

Our kitchen was in need of a new oven. The old double wall oven had just become too unreliable so I set out with my wife to find a replacement. The purchase was made, and delivery scheduled. Installation was not part of the deal. We could do it ourselves - we thought. We began to collect information. The oven weighs more than 300 lb. The cabinet opening dimension requirements were narrower and taller than what existed. The 220V service was easy to reach. I began to formulate a plan.

It was all coming together except for the actual removal and insertion of the two ovens. In my mind, I began to inventory the equipment and supplies I had available for that task. I needed a table or platform at precisely the right height to slide the oven out of the cabinet and it would have to support the heavy weight. I had no such table, so I began to visualize building such a device. It would have to be strong but lightweight. I would have to add casters so that the table and oven could be shifted out of and into place. The creative juices were flowing and then, suddenly I realized that such a device already exists. It's called a scissor table.


In short order, I found a reasonably priced scissor table from an internet source. The table had locking casters, was rated for a 500-lb. load and would easily fit into the space in front of the oven. The bonus was that with the hydraulic lift, the oven could be moved to and from the garage at a lower center of gravity (1ft. above the ground - not 3-ft. above the ground). The table height could be adjusted with precision to align with the opening to remove the old oven and insert the new oven. I bought it.

I could have made the switch without the scissor table. I could have built a stand and risked it tipping or collapsing. I could have gotten three friends to help lift out the old oven and (probably three different friends) to lift and slide in the new oven. In doing so, I could also have risked damage to the kitchen cabinetry, the new oven, and injury to a friend's back or fingers. I could have done it with what I had.

In the end, I was pleased with the decision. The job went that smoothly. I bought the scissor lift (I probably could have rented one). And I'll probably never use it again, but that's OK. It was the right choice.

The multi-tool is a marvelous tool because it is one tool that can do so many things. But does it do them well? When you're really serious about doing the job right about doing the job safely, do you want the tool designed to do everything fairly well? Do you really want to make do? Or do you want the tool designed for that job? Considering the risks, isn't it worth the effort to use the best tool?

To tell you the truth, I rarely take my leatherman out of the case anymore.

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Author:Sharpe, James
Publication:Rock Products
Date:May 1, 2011
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