That habit is second nature is not only true, but it is evident to the observant that this second or acquired nature is frequently stronger and more influential than the first oi original nature. This is equally correct whether predicated of bad and injurious habits, or of good andbeneficial ones. Nc one who has arrived at maturity but knows from his own experience the strength of habits—habits acquired, perhaps, imperceptibly and remaining unnoticed by himself until matured, and then but for an effort of memory their possessoi would find it difficult to determine that they were mere accretions and not innate qualities. The importance of forming, oi rather acquiring correct habitsis th us very forcibly made apparent. It forms the text for many a homily by teachers of morality; we prefer to use the fact in a different but perhaps noi less important, although restricted, sense. Let us apply it briefly to the mechanic, not as a man, an individual, a member of the community only, but mainly as a workman. It is evident that if slovenly and careless habits are once acquired it must require an effort to get rid ol them; and this effort is much greater than that necessary tc acquire others. Every observingmindmust acknowledge this proposition, evidences of the truth of which may be found in his own experience as well as in his own observation. It is harder to overcome the pressure of habits already acquired and formed than to form others. From this it follows thai the contraction of bad or improper habits is to be avoided. One of the duties of masters or employers to their apprentices and workmen should be the inculcation of correct habits in the shop, not by arbitrary rules, alone, or verbal direction, bu1 by example. Here many iail. A master, employer, or fore man, in escorting a visitor through his establishment or de partment, frequently disarranges the work or the tools of the workman, and expects him to rectify these errors. So in examining a job in progress, he will delay the work and disgust the workman by his inattention to the details of Heavens first law, according to Pope. In such a case no rules or direc tions can overcome the influence of such carelessness. Order should be the general rule of workshops and work men; not merely order in the subdivision of the work and the arrangement of the men in gangs, but extended to the minu tise of care of tools. Each workman should know the prope] place of every tool he handles, when not in actual use, anc should promptly return it to its place when done with. Thii presupposes a place for every tool; the providing of whicl should be the business of the boss or proprietor, or who ever has immediate control. It should be a habit of the me chanic to put a tool, he has used, in order for the next user not to leave its repair for him who next needs it, whose timi may be too valuable to waste in preparing the tool for hi work. Of course, this rule is subject to modifications accord ing to the nature of the work performed in the establishment the number of workmen, etc.; but the rule should be impera tive that the tool, when wanted, should be in working ordei Some may think such a requirement entails useless labor, bu from our own experience we are certain that time is reall; saved by a rigid enforcement of the rule. I Sloppy workmen, and disordered shops are an abomina j tion; too many of them exist; none are necessary. Work I men who leave a tool where they last used it, or throw i carelessly under a bench are unfit for their business. How ever skillful and experienced, their skill and experience wil not outweigh the annoyance and cost in time by their careles habits. A habit of promptness is hardly less necessary to make a successful workman than a habit of order. The tardiness oi one man, delaying his appearance in his place at the proper moment, may hinder a dozen others and disarrange the order af a whole department. We have known of a case where a neglect of the practice of punctuality involved a cost to the proprietors of more than two hundred dollars, and secured the dismissal of the offender. Not less is it necessary to cultivate a habit of using- each tool for its special and intended purpose, and no other. The use of a screw wrench as a hammer is to be reprehended. By the way, nothing is more common than the use of any implement that happens to be in the hand at the time, as a hammer. The file, chisel, wrench, even the screwdriver, we have seen employed for striking a blow for which the hammer alone was fitted. And even the hammer is made to take the place of the wrench. Who has not seen the hasty and impatient workman attempt to tighten a nut by hammering at its corners instead of procuring a wrench 1 The result would be, generally, a battered nut, and possibly a sprung if not a cracked bolt. These foolish, unnecessary, and injurious habits need not be formed, but being formed they should be abandoned as soon as possible, and sensible, reasonable, useful habits substituted. There is neither reason nor palliation for such carelessness. Our mechanics generally are men of education; they think for themselves, and are capable of estimating the force of the suggestions herewith presented.
This article was originally published with the title "Habits of Mechanics" in Scientific American 20, 19, 298 (May 1869)