Harry Sawyers is an editor at The Sweethome, which brings you “The Best…” for anything in your home. That’s a tall order but one that Harry is well equipped to deliver on. He cut his teeth restoring historic homes then applied his knowledge as the home editor at This Old House and Popular Mechanics. I had the pleasure of working with him at This Old House, and after just a few minutes chatting you come away knowing that Harry knows his stuff.
He currently resides in Chicago and he graciously agreed to answer some questions about his background and tools.
Who introduced you to making and building things?
I got my start in this business at a job restoring historic houses after finishing college in Athens, Georgia. I did the work to save money to move to NYC to pursue a career in journalism, and I only took the job because it paid better than any other opening I could find at the time. The guys on the crew were really patient as they showed me the ropes of basic carpentry, electrical, framing, windows and doors, and insulation. I was a total amateur when I arrived in the fall, and borderline competent when I left the following spring.
What feature of your workshop do you love the most?
I don’t have a shop per se, but I have an extremely well-organized set of tool drawers and tool boxes. I have to say I love compartmentalizing tools by function. Power tools go in one section, hand tools in another, and all the little random bits of hardware have their own designated divider in a big grid-like box. Machine screws, wood screws, nails, nuts, hollow-wall anchors—all separately stored, and never mixed up. (But I’m very careful not to drop that box.)
What tool(s) always stay in your toolbox and never go in storage?
I have a Leatherman downstairs, another upstairs, and another in the car. Between the pliers, knives, and drivers, they’re just enough to take care of 95% of what I need to do. For the other 5%, I go to the toolbox.
In a fire, what tool(s) would you save above all others?
Honestly, tools are great, but they’re all replaceable and would not be a high priority in a fire. I would have a kid under each arm and be shoving the cats out the door with my foot. If I had time, I would grab as much of our heirloom jewelry as I could, including my great-grandfather’s pocket watch, which is a tool in a sense.
What task do you enjoy the most in your workshop?
I really enjoy some simple, satisfying, low-effort fixes: spraying a squeaky hinge with WD-40, tightening loose cabinet hardware, hanging shelves and hooks.
What tool do you covet that you currently do not have?
I think we need a new hammer.
Follow Harry on Twitter.
Photos courtesy of Chrisisasaveage and The Sweet Home