row2k Features
Rowing Hack: Spray Painted Tool Sets
September 23, 2021
John FX Flynn

Sometimes, one of our dedicated Rowing Hack Readers reminds us of a hack that is so good that you do in fact see it everywhere, but it is always worth a moment to stop and recognize these "ur-Hacks" when we can: not only did they pave the way for some of the cooler tinkering that Hacks do nowadays, but they are still great tricks in their own right that need to stay in circulation to, well, keep on getting things done!

And so it is that Henry LePage from Charlotte Youth Rowing sent in his version of the old "spray paint all your tools so no one wanders off with them" hack, and it is an oldie but a goodie: The Spray Painted Tool Set.

It is pretty much a law of physics around the boathouse: if you have a nice set of tools, then your tool kit will be the one everyone else rummages in to find what they need...and we can all agree that returning tools is not exactly human nature, especially not for humans who are in a rush to get on the water, or to hit the showers after a row.

We've seen this mark 'em up hack in a few forms, from taped-up tools to nail-polished wrenches, and we've even heard tell of some clever signage some coaches put on the toolbox itself to discourage tool-scrounging--would you look in a tool box that said "Caution: Live Snakes" on it?

Still, LePage's method here, taking a can of spray-paint to a full set, is hands down the old school way to put your stamp on a full set quickly.

By using the spray paint approach, LePage quickly makes his tools recognizable, and "trackdown-able" by coating the ends with the brightest color he can find. This way, he can quickly spot his tools lying around the boatshed--or sticking out of other coaches' toolboxes--and reassemble his set whenever he needs to.

Like any good hacker, though, LePage has done an old trick one better...two better in fact:

First, he two-steps his tool marking by adding a layer of clear-coat spray paint, which is a solid add to prevent the paint he's applied from chipping and flaking off.

Secondly, he takes the tools when he is done and slips them into a small, zippered tool pouch so that they are not rattling around in the bottom of his toolbox. That trick is practically a great hack in its own right: these pouches, which are like an oversized pencil case to coaches of a certain age, do a great job keeping your screwdrivers, adjustables, and other long flat tools contained, and find-able, in the depths of a toolbox. Heck, we'd even recommend a "tool case" for any wrenches--at least, for any that are not already safely stowed together with your wrench carabiner hack, of course.

Any hack with a past that stretches back probably has some other slick variations. If you've got your tools marked up in a cool way, share your tips--and hacks--in the comments below.

If you have a great rowing hack to suggest for future inclusion, then please send it to us and we will feature your idea in a future column.

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