Paint Job

BENCH TIP FROM ALAN REVERE

Do you have a drawer full of loose needle files? Do you find it frustrating to paw through the pile of files, looking for just the right one? Not only is this a waste of time, but it's also poor maintenance of your files, which aren't benefiting from being rubbed up against each other all the time. Here's a tip that will make it easy for you to spot just the right file for every job.

Go to any store that sells cosmetics and pick out a half a dozen colors of nail polish. Get bright, primary colors: red, blue, orange, black, yellow, green, etc. When you get back to the shop, assign each color to a different file shape and paint the handles of the files accordingly. For instance, paint the ends of the round files red, triangle files turquoise, and so on. When painting, use stripes of color to idicate the cut. For example, paint two stripes for cut #2, four stripes for cut #4, and so on. (You will probably need to apply more than one coat of nail polish to get bright, clear stripes of color.) And to remind you which color goes with which shape, paint a "key" around the base of your file can; for example, paint a red circle to represent the round files.

This system can also be used for larger "hand" files as well as gravers. Assign colors to different shapes, and paint dots of color on the handle to indicate the width of the tool: start with one dot for the narrowest and add dots as they get wider. This makes it a snap to pick out the right tool, whether your gravers are spread out on your bench or neatly stacked in a rack.By color-coding and sorting your small tools, you can save time and avoid unnecessary frustration. It is amazing how quickly you learn to spot your colorful new tools.