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Often, by design or coincidence, a tool may share key functional attributes with one or more other
tools. In this case, some tools can substitute for other tools, either as a make-shift solution or
as a matter of practical efficiency. "One tool does it all" is a motto of some importance for workers who cannot
practically carry every specialized tool to the location of every work task.
Tool substitution may be divided broadly into two classes: substitution "by-design", or
"multi-purpose" use, and substitution as make-shift. In many cases, the designed secondary functions of tools are
not widely known. As an example of the former, many wood-cutting hand
saws integrate a carpenter's square by incorporating a specially shaped
handle that allows 90° and 45° angles to be marked by aligning the appropriate part of the handle with an edge and
scribing along the back edge of the saw. The latter is illustrated by the saying "All
tools can be used as hammers." Nearly all tools can be
used to function as a hammer, even though very few tools are intentionally designed for it and even fewer work as
well as the original.
At Riversdale Clocks we see a Multi-tool as a hand tool that incorporates several tools into a single, portable device;
the Swiss army knife represents one of the earliest examples. Other tools have a primary purpose but also
incorporate other functionality - for example, lineman's pliers incorporate a gripper and cutter, and are often
used as a hammer; and some hand saws incorporate a carpenter's square in the right-angle between the blade's dull
edge and the saw's handle.
At telephone is a communication tool that interfaces between two people engaged in
conversation at one level. And between each user and the communication network at another. It is in the domain of
media and communications technology that a counter-intuitive aspect of our relationships with our tools first began
to gain popular recognition. Marshall McLuhan famously said "We shape our tools. And then our tools
shape us." McLuhan was referring to the fact that our social practices co-evolve with our use of new
tools and the refinements we make to existing tools.