Colors

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When did the color revolution take over power tools? Used to be they were all gray or black, but now tool shopping is like going somewhere over the rainbow.

I bought a trim compressor last week, something small I could toss in the backseat of the car or easily carry all over the house for quick tasks. After researching them all I narrowed it down to two virtually identical machines; once I’d compared the specs, it seemed that the only difference was the color – one was yellow and the other red. At some outlets the price of the two machines was the same, but where I planned to shop the yellow one was $20 more than the red one. In spite of the fact that yellow brings out the golden brown of my eyes, I got the red one. And since I use a nonportable hose reel in my shop, I picked up an additional hose. In fluorescent green polyurethane it give my new little air system a distinctly Christmas flavor

My sandpaper also comes in colors, coincidentally yellow and red again. For it, though, the colors signify grit: low grit is red, high grit yellow.

And it’s not just the tools and supplies, but the places we buy them have colorized, too. Just about any town of any size has a Big Box store that’s either orange or blue, and most have more – I live in Middleofnowhere W.Va., and I have four of them; one orange and three blue. What’s different about them? Not much, really. Each has a couple tool brands they carry that the other doesn’t, but for the most part they’re interchangeable. (Well, there is one difference between them: The blue ones carry my birdhouse book.)

What’s fun, though, is the palette I ended up going through on the molding trim task that prompted that compressor purchase. I took my red compressor and fluorescent green hose, connected it to my green nailer, then cut the molding on my yellow miter saw and dispatched the molding task. Followed it up by sanding with first red, followed by yellow sandpaper (bought at the dark blue Big Box store) on my light-blue random orbit sander. Job done, I cleaned up the mess with my orange shop vacuum.

It’s not hard to feel cheery after a chore like that. It’s like spending the afternoon in a child’s coloring book. Only one thing would have made it complete: A manufacturer that recognizes the need for purple tools.

A.J.

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