Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finding Studs

A product review of Zircon's “Studsensor Edge”

When you are looking for a stud, you get what you pay for.

Take a walk through the Home Depot and indulge yourself in a feast of products. From floor to towering ceiling, the airplane hangar showroom is filled with things you will and will never need. So many boxes! So many tools!  So many sales!

I don't know when hardware stores first grew into super-mega marts. When I was a boy, I'd steal away on an afternoon with some friends to kick around our small town of Skippack, PA. The hardware store in town was a playground of sharp tools, oiled bolts, and handwritten price tags. The narrow aisles were secret trails filled with accidental discoveries and hand-held reckonings. Holding a brilliantly fashioned tool or instrument, carefully made by a designer and craftsman, filled me with wonder.

A little paradise perfumed with graphite and pine.

Don't get me wrong: I love a mega-mart. I love the buzz of countless options, the giddy possibilities. Get me into a supermarket and I am totally gone, smile on my face, narcotized by the bright lights and dizzying variety of tasty morsels in little boxes.

Something's happened to quality in the shadow of the imperial scale of these market cathedrals. The little moments are gone, the intimate niches swept away. And when I hold Zircon's “Studsensor Edge,” I'm faced with the real cost of replacing little hardware stores with places like Home Depot.

A good tool doesn't need instructions. You pick it up and use it. This is why people like touch screens, tambourines, and crayons. No need to explain anything.

This grip-sized stick of uselessness gives you all kinds of directions. None of them help. Here's what will happen to you if you buy Zircon's “Studsensor Edge”
1. You'll hold the “Studsenor” up to the wall, hoping to find a stud (which should be fun anyway you interpret it)
2. It'll beep like crazy and you'll think “sweet! I found a stud!”
3. You'll move it around and find way more studs than could possibly be there
4. You'll check to make sure you're doing it right, redo it, and find a Million Studs March on the big open field of your wall
5. Rinse and repeat until you realize that little “Studsensor” just ain't playing fair with you

This little plastic tool, emergency yellow colored and as heavy as a deck of cards, completely sucks.

Don't buy it.

Go buy a well made tool and pay the higher price for it. And start doing that more often, for heaven's sake. Do it for the craftsmen (and women) of old, those designers who used to worship at the altar of quality.

And do it for tomorrow's kids who will be running around in the stores of the future.

Because who knows what we're going to replace mega-marts with.


  1. Dont buy anything made in China. This means no Wal-Mart.

  2. Indiana, Pennsylvania is the late Jimmy Stewart's hometown. I was blessed to grow up there. Indiana is a little WASPish town in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains of western PA. Jimmy Stewart's dad owned the local hardware store on main street. When I was a kid it was a "field trip" to go there with my dad. I still remember the smell of the oiled oak floors and the individual fishbowls that held an array of nuts and bolts to be measured individually as needed. (No buying a box of bolts when you only needed was time of less waste and greed) Old Man Stewart looked, talked and had the same demeanor as his son...a tall lanky man of few words but there was a quiet resolve of an honest businessman with integrity and a honored place in the community. He paid attention to the always got a piece of candy and some words of acknowledgment from Mr. Stewart when your parents shopped at his hardware store. He never changed, even when he had a very famous son...he was who he was. A small businessman who contributed to the community he lived in. I'm blessed to have this memory and sad to know that small businesses are disappearing from the landscape of America.