At the end of 1972 my grandmother, as a Christmas present but also as a recognition that I seemed to finally be making something of my life, paid for me to buy a collection of tools – the minimum needed to set up a workshop. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I made the purchases, from Cape Watchmakers and Jewellers supplies, then in Burg St. At that time a craftsman’s tools were regarded as inalienable – you couldn’t force him to sell them to cover debts, as that would deprive him of his means of making a living. The tools were somehow an extension of selfhood, and I still have most of them to this day. Those that I haven’t kept I can, mostly, remember.
They included a torch for melting and soldering, rolling mills for rolling the metal into sheet or wire, hammers and a small anvil, a bench vice, drawplates for drawing out wire in various profiles and thicknesses, an assortment of hand tools, a flexible shaft motor and a polishing motor. With the exception of the motors and the torch, I still regularly use them all. I have of course added to this necessary core collection over the years, so that by now I have perhaps a thousand or more tools, but the ones from my grandmother, along with some pliers and a single hammer head from my apprenticeship, are a constant that reaches right to the root of my career in the Trade.