5 useful things that will last a lifetime

Outside of a tree, a wedding ring, or an heirloom — a grandfather clock, say — what can you expect to purchase today that you will use for the rest of your life? What can you pass on to your progeny?

5 useful things that will last a lifetime

1. Cast-iron pan

  • Avoid pans with seams, cracks or uneven or sharp edges. Buy a cast-iron pan that is all one piece — not one with a wooden handle.
  • Avoid a ridged bottom; a flat surface conducts heat best.Look for a new cast-iron pan with the surface that is uniformly dull grey inside and out and uniformly rough in texture with small grains or "pores."

2. Chef's knife

  • Avoid knives that have a serrated cutting edge or those that claim to "never need sharpening." Good knives do need sharpening.
  • Look for a good-quality chef's knife that you feel comfortable handling. Pick up a knife and see how it feels in your hand.
  • Also buy a steel and use it regularly to keep your knife honed.
  • If you buy a good chef's knife and care for it properly, you should never have to replace it.

3. Hand tools

  • Avoid cheaply made cast-iron tools and tools with wooden handles.Look for forged metal, plastic, fibreglass or metal handles.
  • A typical basic set includes a claw hammer, a few sizes of screwdrivers (regular flat tip, with Phillips or Robertsons), an adjustable (crescent) wrench, slotted pliers, a wide tape measure, a retractable utility knife, and an eight-point crosscut saw.
  • Good-quality hand tools should last not just one lifetime, but for a couple of generations.

4. Scrapbook or photo album

  • Avoid plastic sheets and sticky-backed pages, and don't use regular tape.
  • Look for a baby book, photo album, or scrapbook with pages made from dye-free, pH-balanced archival paper.
  • Affix your photos and memorabilia with picture corners or small mounting squares.
  • Check your local crafts store for the latest materials — the scrapbook craft industry is making improvements all the time.

5. Leather handbag or briefcase

  • Avoid trendy designs. Buy a classic style that will endure for a lifetime.Look for small tight stitches made with heavy thread.
  • Make sure clamps, hinges, or locks are nicely machined and work smoothly.
  • The most durable bags are made of top-grain leather. Leather described as full grain won't necessarily last longer.
  • A top-quality leather handbag or briefcase is actually inexpensive — if you amortize it over the lifetime of use.
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