The Handyman's Philosophy

My workshop is my temple.
My tools are like chapters in a bible.
It is here where I can restore something old, but precious.
It is here where I can create something unique,
It is here where I can I can be at peace with myself.

Each tool teaches me about improving my character,
Each tool shows me a guideline to life,
Each tool tells me how to conduct myself with others.
Each tool has a purpose.

When I caringly pack all my tools in my toolbox, it reminds of the following story :

A well-loved farmer in a country community died suddenly one dark and rainy night. Everyone came to pay their respects and offer their prayers. They had to negotiate past the buckets and containers that were scattered around the living room to catch the leaking rainwater. The minister arrived and they all started praying.

Suddenly there was a noise at the front door and an old farmer arrived with his toolbox and a wheelbarrow full of groceries. When everyone asked him what he was doing, he politely replied,

"Well, I figure that God is pretty busy right now, listening to each and everyone's prayers, and deciding on some divine plan, so I'll just get on with the small job of bringing food into this home and start repairing the leaks in the roof.

Tomorrow I'll fix the water pump, repair the tractor, mend the fence and make sure that this farm carries right on where my good friend left off."

The Handyman is a DOER.
The DOERS are the backbone of society.
The DOERS are the real force behind successful accomplishments.

My Handyman's tools are also symbols, veiled in allegory, to remind me how to live a successful life and really grow. Abe Lincoln once said,
"No matter how tall your grandfather was, you still have to do your own growing."


  • The CHISEL
    for chipping off burrs in my habits. The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
  • The HAMMER
    for learning to take life's blows with courage. One man with courage makes a majority.
  • The SAW
    for cutting off bad thoughts. Changing my thinking can change my attitude and my world.
    for reminding me that life is a circle and what goes around, comes around. Beware what you do in this part of the circle because it will come back to you, - times ten - whether good or bad.
  • The SQUARE
    for using fairness in my judgment of others. The first duty of any society is fairness.
  • The RULER
    for measuring people by what they do and not what they say. I judge a tree not by its leaves, but by the fruit it produces.
    for marking well my mistakes. The greatest mistake I can make is not knowing that I have made one.
  • The DRILL
    for removing my bad intentions at their root. They usually stem from my ignorance.
  • The VICE
    for gripping the facts and squeezing out the truth, because I've learnt that the truth is more important than the facts.
    for getting down to work without griping. Work helps me to achieve something, not just acquire something.
    for loosening the "I don't care" attitude and tightening the "I am responsible" attitude.
    for undoing the wrong and restoring the right. The good is knowledge, and the evil is ignorance.
    for shutting out hurtful gossip while keeping my eyes open to the real truth.
  • The FILE
    for smoothing someone else's hurt. Patience and perseverance conquer all things.
  • The PLIERS
    for gripping hold of my mistakes. Admitting my mistakes clears the score, and proves me wiser than before.
  • The PLANE
    for removing my slivers of exaggeration.
    "A halber emez iz a gantzer lign."
    (Yiddish proverb) A half truth is a whole lie.
  • The ANVIL
    for reminding me to stand solid against all adversity.
    Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.
    for snipping off my urge to lie. The biggest lies in the world begin with the words "they say ..."
    for delicately extracting the opportunity in every problem.
    A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
    I must state my problem like this :
    a) What is known ?
    b) What is unknown ?
    c) What is required ?
  • The WELDER
    for cementing bonds of friendship. There are three types of friends - Best friends, Guest friends and Pest friends.

There is something very humble and yet very noble about a good Handyman, his workshop, his tools and his philosophy.

Next to his quality of tools, the good Handyman places a high price on quality of workmanship, quality of materials and quality of safety.

If you enter his workshop, then take off your shoes friend, you are standing on holy ground.

His safety creed is :


Upon my honour, I swear that I shall hold in sacred trust the rights and privileges conferred on me as a safe-working Handyman.

Knowing full well that the safety and lives of others may depend on my skill and judgment, I shall never knowingly subject others to risks which I would not be willing to assume for myself or for those dear to me.

In discharging this trust, I pledge myself never to undertake work, or approve work which I feel to be beyond the limits of my knowledge, nor shall I allow any other person to persuade me to approve any work as safe and operational against my better judgment. Nor shall I permit my judgment to be influenced by money or other personal gain.

I realise the grave responsibility which is mine as a practicing Handyman, to exercise my judgment on the safety of any work I undertake.

I, therefore pledge unyielding adherence to these precepts, for the advancement of technology and for the dignity of my Handyman's vocation.

Copyright 2000 Brian Ewen White
Being an engineer, I have a handy workshop which I try to keep as neat and tidy as possible. I'm not religious, so this is my temple where I have a sign hanging up that says
"Take off your shoes friend, you are standing on sacred ground."
This workshop inspired me to write "A Handyman's Philosophy"