I've always been intrigued to discover what makes things work. Grandpa's tool bench was no exception. He had some of the coolest tools. (I don't remember having any tools at home when we lived in Pocatello until we moved in to our own house.)
One of the most intriguing tools Grandpa had was a bit-n-brace.
I had seen Grandpa use it before, but I was determined to figure the thing out. I played with it for hours and days on end. When I finally figured it out, I put it to test on the basement stairs.
Drilling holes in the stair (about the 4th one up from the bottom of the basement stairs) I began to make a pattern. I'd drill several holes in a row to make a line. Then I'd drill a circle pattern.
I was using a bit that was about 1/8th inch in diameter. I kept drilling holes. At one point, I drilled a hole bunch really close together to create a hole big enough to put my thumb through. After a while I got bored and started playing with other tools.
Grandpa seldom went downstairs after getting gangrene in his foot. But on one of his infrequent trips to the basement, in fact, the most recent to my bit-n-brace experimenting, he stopped about halfway down. (I was playing down there at the time.) He looked at me and instructed me to come over there.
He pointed to my handiwork, and asked, "What's this?"
I proudly announced I learned how to use his drill.
He calmly, but firmly explained had he not seen the sawdust, he could have stepped on that, the step would break, and he'd have a nasty spill.
He stepped over it and demonstrated how weak I made the step. He then got a new piece of wood and replaced that step.
After that I was only allowed to experiment on chunks of scrap-wood he'd provide.
Rust Isn't Normal?
All of his tools were brown. I honestly thought that was the color of tools. To this day I remember the first time I saw a new saw. I didn't want it to be silver. I thought they were supposed to be brown.
The construction worker told me that's not the case, that they turn brown because they get left outside or in a damp basement and they rust.
I do not think there was a single metal tool in Grandpa's basement that wasn't rust brown. Seeing a new tool was a huge surprise to me when I got older.