Hints for the Handyman

From the NZ Listener. June 18 1971

This year more men will be spending less time watching TV and more time slaving over a toolbox somewhere around the house. Liberated housewives will be doing it too. Some people will even be doing it for pleasure.

The NZBC contribution will be Handy Hints, a series for would- he handymen and women. It will also provide an excuse for you to down tools, get a cuppa, stick your hob-nailed boots on the coffee table, and take a break.

Service to handymen in New Zealand is a growing industry, giving impetus to larger-scale hardware departments, moulding and finishing industries and specialist tradesmen.

The trend towards judging a product by its ease of installation is increasing. Even slightly complicated procedures such as wallpapering or blocklaying are explained step by step in free pamphlets published by the companies of the products concerned (The 9-step Way to Perfect Tiling). Building centres around the country run lectures on some of the handyman’s problems. The Wellington Building Centre has run lectures on the renovation of old houses which examined all problems from repiling to the daintiest interior decorating. The centre is also opening a handyman's court soon.

You could build a house from the the stock I’ve got here, boasts a retailer who serves a lot of handymen. His variety of stock is certainly immense and goes further than just the stocking of goods. The man behind counter extends it with his knowledge of contacts, of where a complicated job can be done and of where stock not held can be obtained.

The handyman industry helps to relate the average man to a great variety of products. Many would-be handymen lack even the vaguest understanding of the specialised jargon of the trades they dabble in. Faced with a kindly old carpenter/father figure, they quickly descend from the verbal — I want a thingumng for my whats it — gesticulating wildly in measurement and scribbling vague representations on paper.

The spectacle of articles arrayed on shelves, wood stacked on racks, and tins on each other is undeniably confusing. Products are being constantly improved — a strip veneer can be put on to wood edging with a hot iron; hinges are sold with the right number and type of screws attached; a home handyman drill, too light to be of much use to a tradesman, converts (with fittings) to a saw, a grinder, a drill, a hedge trimmer and — yes — a lawnmower.

The handyman in Handy Hints is Bernard (Bunny) Rigold, who recently retired after service in the RAF and the RNZAF. He has loved tools and timber since childhood and is an inveterate “do it yourselfer” by instinct and inclination. He hopes to introduce some ideas for furniture items and to bring in one or two lesser known tools as they are needed. A theme running through the whole series is the assembling of a good practical and economical set of tools for the handyman, culminating in the production of a suitable take-away toolbox made to convert into a collapsible work-bench.

Bunny Rigold does not claim to be an expert but uses methods that he has found to work for him. He has tackled tackled most materials at some time, but prefers wood, because of its “live” characteristics. Handy Hints was produced in Auckland by Ian Richards.

Handy Hints: Wednesday June 23, 6:43 p.m.; other Channels later.

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