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I am fond of using acid brushes – sometimes called “flux brushes” – for spreading glue. And I have used the same acid brush for more than five years of daily work in the shop. I clean it after every use, and I put it in the same red Solo cup to dry.

This year we offered a few weekend classes in our woodshop and – no lie – my glue brush fairy-tale world came crashing down.

During the first class, a student threw away my glue brush after gluing up a carcase. I caught him. And, without saying a harsh word, rescued my little buddy.

During the last two classes, the students threw away five glue brushes. I was stunned. These were nice people. Many of them were obviously sensitive souls who cared deeply about their work and its context in a modern, throw-away culture.

I trim the bristles of my acid brushes to 7/16″ long – this makes them ideal for spreading glue.

Yes, I know you can buy these brushes for as little as 11 cents apiece, but that’s not the point. Why would you throw away a tool that has another five years of use in it, no matter how little it costs?

The same weird, uncaring attitude extends to screws and nails. (Note, this attitude is at first-world schools all over the world.). If students have a few extras, they sweep them in the garbage. Dude, someone made those things. They have huge potential in a future project.

Mind you, I’m not angry. Just confused. To deal with the problem, I’ve begun to think of the garbage cans as a purgatory for the real garbage. The things in the garbage cans have not yet been sorted for heaven (the nail cabinet) or hell (the brown trash bins).

I guess that makes me St. Peter of the true-beliver glue brushes.

This week I bought 144 glue brushes. By my math, they should last us 720 years. Wish me luck.

— Christopher “St. Peter” Schwarz

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