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Clean Tools; Why do some diggers leave dirty tools?
Topic Started: Apr 3 2012, 09:21 AM (1,159 Views)
Cestrian
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Are you, like me, annoyed when you arrive at the shed in the morning to collect your tools only to find that those you carefully cleaned the previous afternoon have mysteriously disappeared and all that is left are dirt encrusted tools?

Why do some diggers not clean their trowel, spade and shovel at the end of the day and return them to the hut in a decent condition? Perhaps Andy or Justin could say something to the Monday morning gathering and also be at the shed on a Monday afternoon to refuse to accept any dirty tools?

It would be good to get all diggers into the habit of cleaning their tools. If a tool becomes dirty or rusty, it is less efficient and thus more labour-intensive. I hope that by the time I come in late June all the tools will be bright and shining!
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Badger
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I have a solution, at least for myself.

I travel from the states with carry on only, so have always had to use the Vindo tools. This year I am just going to have a new trowel delivered to the Hedley Center a few days before I arrive. I found a place in the UK that has very reasonable prices.

So my trowel will be in whatever state I wish it to be.

And at the end of the trip it will go in the bag of kit that I keep in the attic of the Twice Brewed Inn awaiting my return!

Tim Wolter
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Justin-T
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I went the same route as Tim, and bought my own WHS trowel. They're not that expensive, and serve as a permanent memento if its the only time you go. If you somehow manage to persuade your wife to let you do it again, its cost becomes trivial...! Just have to remember to pack it in the checked bag if you're flying.

I bought one of the soft handled versions, feels more comfortable and reduces vibration a bit compared to the traditional wooden handles, they're only ten quid or so. You can also pretend you're a pro by flashing it around at opportune moments. B)

Here's one place to get it:
WHS soft handle trowel

When I last dug in 2010 I never had the issue of picking up other's shovel/barrow discards because I would usually be the first one there in the morning, so I had first pick! Sounds like there may be a different system of meeting as a group before beginning the day's digging though.
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Mike C
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I know I'm speaking broadly & some are great about this, but I I find it's the students who are the worst
They don't seem to have any regards to looking after the tools. you can see them in the evening putting away dirt covered tools, inc spades buckets etc & the next morning they mysteriously start with nice clean shinny ones. I dig on quite a few sites & as some don't supply tools I've built up my own set inc bucket etc. I've always left my tools safe in the tool shed but although they're clearly marked & obviously private tools, last year for the first time they had been go through & several missing. I went around the dig looking for them but no one owned up. that evening they mysteriously reappeared, dirty! So no matter how heavy & how far you have to carry them, don't leave your tools in the tools shed.
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mooseandhobbes
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I know just how deflating it can be to go to the tool shed in the morning and take out a bucket that's already half full of mud! :(

Well, we could all make an effort to say out loud at the end of the day "Oh, I'd better just clean some of this mud off", look significant, and hope that our good example rubs off. :huh:

If it is students, they'll get a shock when they try to do that on a stricter site.
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Malise McGuire
Malise McGuire
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You could always scratch your name/initials on the handle or even the blade. Bit difficult to deny, then, that the tool others have in their grubby mitts is yours when its got your name on it :P

Big pot of paint and a small brush should be supplied for those more artistic - perhaps psychedelic paint?

Yes, cleaning up at the end of the day was the first thing I was taught when a teenager and I still do it.

Malise






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SophieDobson
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To be fair to students or even anyone new to digging on an archaeological site,they probably just need to be told how it works - you are right that if they go on a dig where the rules may be of a somewhat more strict nature they will have to comply to those rules, but I don't think it will come as a shock. They will do as they are told, surely.
Last year at Vindolanda Andy and Justin made some of us "buddies" for the new guys - this meant showing them how archaeology works, but also what all the housekeeping rules are. If that is in place this year, then those of us who are seasoned diggers can make an effort to teach the new guys about cleaning the equipment.
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mooseandhobbes
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Well that's the plan them. We all make a point of promoting nice clean tools :) . That way we can avoid the muddy bucket morning moan ;)

ps. I myself have not worked with any students who are anything but really good hard working students, so I can't point the finger at them :)
Edited by mooseandhobbes, Apr 7 2012, 02:45 AM.
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Malise McGuire
Malise McGuire
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Or.... we just take our own nice cleaned trowels, knee pads etc with us when we leave the site at the end of the day. (Just make sure that they aren't the Trust trowels and etc.... I don't think they'd be very pleased if they all started to disappear :P )

However! Do NOT forget to bring them with you in the morning!!! :'(

Malise
Edited by Malise McGuire, Apr 7 2012, 04:31 AM.
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MissClareCharlotte
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I'm planning on buying my own trowel, knee-pads etc, but I was wondering about 'women's' trowels. Are they actually worth it in terms of making small hands hurt less?
From what I can see, the women's trowel is identical to the 'professional' trowel but has a smaller handle, which automatically puts the price up by about 5. :-/
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Andy
Dr Andrew Robin Birley
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Ok, seriously? A debate about cleaning tools? dear me.

The answer is a simple one.

We ban the use of gloves. In our experience, those who use them have the filthiest tools, as they are averse to getting dirty but are happy to hide behind a layer of filth so long as it isn't on their skin :-).

As for women's trowels.......don't bother. Get a normal one. A marketing ploy this one.

good grief!

bye.

Andy
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Mike C
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Hi Clare. I know I'll get shot down but I wouldn't bother getting the professional type trowel.
1st They're not cheap.
2nd They get lost. I know exactly where one of mine is. it's about a metre down inside the severan round house on the temple avenue!
3rd Go to car boot sales & rummage through the old tools. you can get some really good ones for about 50p. a lot of the older trowels are drop forge.
4th Buy a new one from a hardware store for around 4.00

There's three things are to make sure when buying.
First is to make sure that when you're holding the handle your knuckles don't catch on the floor, it can be bloody & painful.
Second is that if the handles welded to the plate, check the welds carefully.
Third don't buy a flimsy one, it has to be good & strong to stand all the hard graft you're going to give it.
This may sound a bit nuts but it works for me!
Mike C
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Badger
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I would be remiss if I did not mention that the equipment supplied by the Vindolanda Trust tends to be a bit battered and worn down. For those who speculate that some of the more hideous specimens are in fact Roman artifacts conserved and re-used, well, I can see your point.

Regards trowels in particular, some of the veteran ones are worn down to stubs. I for one am not going to stroll out onto the site and have somebody-yes, I'm lookin' at you Snowglobe-say "Badger, pretty small tool, old boy".

Gloves are worthwhile for warmth, if you don't like dirt why go out of your way to play in it?

Usually I and whoever I am paired with for digging just chuck all our tools in one of the larger buckets and mark it with a bandanna or gloves on the handle. That way we get the tools back in whatever state we likes 'em. A full tidy up and the end of the week of course.

T.Wolter
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MissClareCharlotte
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Thankee kindly for the replies!

Thanks for clearing that up, Andy - I thought there was a money-making scam afoot.

I've ordered a nice, bog-standard trowel for 5. It's going to get filthy and battered anyway, knowing the way I treat things like that. :$

I wasn't going to take gloves as I'm not fussed by mud, wet, general filth, but since you say about the warmth - and the bloody knuckles, eek! - I may take some.

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Justin-T
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Filth is fine, but those of us who spend most of our day tapping at keyboards have nice soft skin that can quickly develop a juicy blister by the end of day one, especially if having the "pleasure" of deturfing! Pro's like Andy must have skin as thick as elephant hide on their hands, so they have long since been able to forget about that. In my experience the bloody knuckles issue is real too (maybe my technique needs some work). So, I'll certainly be packing some gloves myself... Just make sure they're not too thick, and given the weather, its wise to have more than one pair for the week.
Edited by Justin-T, Apr 12 2012, 10:40 AM.
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