Tacit Knowing: Local Knowledge and Local Kludges

I bought a new maul as my old Hults one needed some work and I didn’t want to have to do without. So I bought an SHW 6.6# maul from Earth Tools Garden Tools Catalog for a steal at $43.00. SHW is a German company that has been forging tools since 1267. I kid you not. That is not a misprint.

I always guard my axe and maul handles with hard rubber protectors, but for some reason nobody locally (including some very good Amish hardware stores) supplied them anymore. I am trying to minimize Amazon and online ordering as a way to reduce my own carbon footprint so I decided to make my own. I had done this before, but I always liked the simplicity of the hard rubber ones that slipped on and off so easily. Sigh.

Having recently finished James Howard Kunstler’s series of four books , A World Made by Hand,  I got a little more thoughtful.  Is this the kind of world he predicts? One where there are no more hardware stores with handle protectors and sure as hell ain’t no more online or Amazon?  Yes.  So…what do you do in this case. Make do or do without.

The image below has all the tools I used to fix this mess. I used them to repair my Hults maul as well. You can click on the image to get some concrete annotations about each item.

Roll yer own

Explore Tellio’s photos on Flickr. Tellio has uploaded 1411 photos to Flickr.

As a teacher I found myself woolgathering about a world made by hand where we spend most of our time and energy on learning how to survive.  What will happen to all of our academic and edutech castles if a slow crash came to be?   I think local knowledge and local fixes take over.  We muddle through.  Do educational institutions know how to muddle through anymore?  Some do and some don’t. Most don’t and are already feeling the pressure in ways they can’t understand and can’t adapt to.  I suppose it all depends on what Kunstler asks, “Is it a slow crash or an apocalypse?”

I am no prepper. I hate how they appear to have already abandoned humanity.  Just consider the Silicon Valley moguls who think that the apocalypse is just another contingency to be prepared for.  Yeah, they were never in it for anyone but themselves, these sons and daughters of Ayn Rand.  Here’s a broad brush of this future.

Schools for reading and writing will survive. Universities will fail en masse.  Tools and the capacity to make tools will rule. Books will become treasure.  I have a whole wall of them, many written over 50 years ago. Of course, I could be wrong, but it is amazing where one’s woolgatherings can lead as one makes do with local knowledge and materials. Amazing.


  1. // Reply

    Sadly, in that potential future, I would not be able to find your blog, or click on the visual to see how you had annotated it. Among the many, many things kids should be learning in schools, or in non-school programs, are practical “how to” stuff that shows ways to fix things, grow things, make things, using their hands, eyes, brains and whatever resources are available.

    I think kids growing up on farms are probably the few who still are learning these skills regularly.

    What does the rubber around the handle do? Could not tell from your story.

  2. // Reply

    The rubber protects the handle if you mistrike the wood you are splitting and hit the handle instead. Doesn’t happen very often but disastrous when it does. Replacing the entire handle is a true pain in the butt.

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