Around mid December, 1996, a thread was started on the Usenet Newsgroup rec.crafts.metalworking asking for "Old Shop Sayings." I have taken the liberty of compiling all the sayings up until Jan. 1, 1997. Due to the nature of Usenet, I probably did not get all the messages that were posted. For those that were missed, I apologize. I have tried to be as accurate with the attributions as possible, but again, if there are mistakes, sorry.

These are not exactly G-rated, but neither are they X-rated, which for this bunch of guys is almost surprising. I have done some gentle editing, and a few spelling corrections, but for the most part, this is how they were posted. Enjoy (at your own risk).

Makes the steel so hard a cat couldn't scratch it.

From: (John A. Burnett)
Harder than a whores heart
Harder than Chinese arithmetic

From: (Scott Logan)
Finer than a frogs hair
"What Size?" "Circum"
Measure Twice, Cut Once

From: Mark Winlund <>
Harder than the hubs of Hell

From: "William J. Graf Sr." <>
Raining harder than a double cunxxx cow peeing on a flat rock

From: "Randolph Lee" <>
Slicker than deer guts on a doorknob

From: (Randy Gordon-Gilmore)
running balls out (which comes from the flyball governor days...)

From: (Fitch R. Williams)
balls to the wall (from the flyball governor days)

From: (Roger Grady)
Raining like a cow peeing over a high board fence on a flat rock.
(That always comes to mind when I pass the Flat Rock exit off I-65 between Indianapolis and Louisville.)

From: "S. Sharp" <>
Harder than the hobs of Hell - that's pretty hard!!

From: NJRich <>
When moving something extremely heavy and having no equipment to aid and two men are lifting and you are directing you say move it to the right just a C.. hair   (blanked refers to female pubic region)

From: (JD)
I worked with a guy once who brought in proof that a red c-hair was smaller than a black c-hair.
My favorite saying, in reference to guys who take their sweet time was
"That guy's slower than the second coming of Christ"

From: (Bill Browne)
When trying to do the physically near-impossible...  like trying to shove a wet noodle up a tiger's a--

From: (Len Turnbow)
Difficult as nailing Jell-O to a tree.
Slower than Accounts Payable.

From: (Bill Browne)
Fellow machinist walks by.
"Whatcha making?" Answer: "Shavings"

Whatcha doing? Making big pieces into small pieces.
Quality is like buying oats: If you want nice, clean, fresh oats you must pay a fair price. However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse, that comes a little cheaper...

From: (Ken Knaell)
This is not exactly a shop saying but I always like the (poverbial) notes that were supposedly added to a shop drawing:
"Beat to fit"
"File to suit"
"Paint to hide"

From: (Fitch R. Williams)
Cut to fit, paint to match, rout to suit.

About as useful as a c... full of cold water.

Tighter than a Bull's Ass in Fly time

From: ben-Aaron)
Colder than a witch's t**?

From: Thornton)
Could (not) count to 21 if he was naked.

From: (Edward Haas)
When witnessing an extremely clever procedure my step-daddy (a wildcatter from Kansas) would exclaim: "That's slicker than frog fuzz!"

---Decks a-wash in a sea of words---

From: (Bill Browne)
In machine shop school, when ever I would bring him my latest project, he would measure it. If it was correct, he would exclaim:     "Well ain't you the drizzlin sh--s"

From: (John A. Burnett)
Two months in the lab will save you two hours in the library.

From: (Orrin Iseminger)
When ever anyone greets you with a "How are you?" answer with, "Finer than a frog hair."

More scarce than hen's teeth or rocking horse poop!

From: (John A. Burnett)
Said to the guy not wearing his safety glasses.
"I'm going to order some tools this afternoon, what color glass eye can I get for you?"

From: Tabs <>
"Tighter than a frog's butt. (watertight)

You don't know if your a** hole is punched or bored!

From: "Kevin Rhodes, P.E." <>
Colder than a welldigger's ass.

From: (Fitch R. Williams)
About some people who don't have it "all together"

He/she is:
Half a bubble off
Brick short of a load
2 cards short of a full deck
thinking in 7 bit words

He/she has:
a cold solder joint
write only memory
divots in their grey matter
bad oxide
shorted cell
gassy tube

From: <>
Tighter than a boars ass

From: (Bill Browne)
A few fries short of a happy meal
Bats in the belfry (an old one)
A couple of sandwiches shy of a picnic
And from Tigger on Winnie-the-Pooh: Two enchiladas shy of a combination plate

A sandwich short of a picnic.
Not the full shopping cart.

From: Jay Hayes <>
His elevator doesn't go to the top floor!
He doesn't have a full sea bag.
S*** for brains!
Short on steam.
Has a screw loose.
Stripped a gear!
Just a notch short of a full load.
He really torqued my shorts!

From: (Greg Lewis)
Your forearm is as long as your foot.

From: Loving)
After barking your knuckles: "It's nothing, I just knocked some of the bark off.

From: (Fog86)
"Always use the right tool for the job" (best said with biting sarcasm while trying to chisel steel parts with a screwdriver and a heavy 1/2 inch ratchet)

(snort!)  Here I will step up to the man with the ratchet and say:  "Don't force it! Get a *bigger* hammer!"

From: (Doveknives)
an old farmer came to my shop and when asked how he was he replied , "Dumber than a rock , but just as happy as if I had a brain."

From: Charles Vincent <>
My favorite was encountered in this news group first by me. Sorry I can't remember the original poster to credit them. He was machining some particularly sticky scrapyard steel and was asking for appropriate cutting materials and geometries(none were successful) He described the metal as "machines like pink eraser #3"

I grew up hearing " As useless as tits on a boar hog "

From: Gary Gosch <>
Measure it with a micrometer
Mark it with a piece of chalk
Cut it off with a chisel.
If it don't fit - force it
It if breaks, it probably needed replacing anyhow.
I cut it off three times and it's still to short.

From: Jeffrey Prothero <>
Hammer to shape, File to fit, Paint to match.

From: "Duffy A. Thompson" <>
Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey.

In keeping with the holiday spirit;
Harder than aunt Emma's fruit cake.

On a different note:
The elevator doesn't go to the top floor!

From: (Stephen D. Cohen)
Not the sharpest toothpick in the box

From: (Bill Browne)
My machine shop teacher had one for taking an extremely light cut:   'making brillo'

From: (Peter Brooks)
Said of a coworker who wasn't known for thinking rapidly:  "Tell him a joke on Thursday and he'll start laughing in church."

From: (Peter Drumm)
Wired for 480 but running on 120.
All opinions are mine alone, you go get your own!

From: cwthomas <>
So and so Isn't or Ain't...
" running on all 8 (cylinders)"
" wound tight"
or "so and so is wound too tight."

From: (Bill Browne)
Here's one that always gets a laugh if it's unexpected. Foghorn Leghorn said it in a Warner Brothers' cartoon:
'That boy's about as sharp as a bag of wet mice'

harder than a wedding d**k, now that's hard!

From: (John Ingham)
For fit: "Like a p***k in a shirt sleeve"

From: (wayne weedon)
English versions of this replace "shirt sleeve" with bucket or top hat.

From: (John Ingham)
Pass me that crescent hammer.

From: (James Wilkins)
I cut it off twice and it's still too short
New York Screwdriver -> driving wood screws with a hammer
BFH -> big hammer
Threefer -> electrical Y adapter
Gaffer -> grandfather -> electrician
Muffler Bearing, Roll of Flight Line, Bucket of Prop Wash - errands for the new guy in the shop
"Dumb" carpenter is nailing siding on a house. Picks up nail, looks at it, tosses it aside. Boss asks "How come you throwin' them nails away?"  Carpenter answers "They got the heads on the wrong end"  Boss yells back "You dummy, those are for the other side!"

From: "Randolph Lee" <>
Let's play "machine shop"  You make something... then I'll grunt and reject it!

From: (mike oberg)
That boy don't saddle and ride in the same day.
Well he's rowing like hell, but his oars donšt quite reach the water.
There isn't quite a whit and a half shared amongst the entire classroom of 'em out there..
She's got a nice bustle, but there ain't nothing thicker than hair under that bonnet.
Every one of his gears is missin' a tooth.
His wing nut ain't cross threaded, it's stripped.
Brain gib too tight, jaw gib too loose.

From: (John Ingham)
Our boss is as full of s*** as a Christmas turkey.

I've bored it twice and its still to big
Is it dead yet? naw just wounded !

From: (John Ingham)
Question: " Hey... anyone seen my scale?..."  Answer: " If it was up your a** you'd know it."

From: (Ddoty001)
Tighter than a Bull's Ass in fly season

From: Bob
Fine as frog's hair!

From: Abrasha <>
That's good enough for Jazz

From: (Bill Browne)
Colder than a well digger's a-- in the Klondike

colder than a witches t** in a brass bra! or putty and paint what a welder ain't!

From: (Jim Shockey)
"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man." --Mark Twain

From: "Henry P. Szostek" <>
In a shop where I worked once the boss would allow use of the facilities for a few home projects after hours, these were called government projects, when I asked why. I was told that this was a nation of self government,thus you yourself were the government. from this practice the saying came  "Close enough for government work"

another applied to some individuals was,  "He's just as happy as if he was in his right mind"

From: Jack Lubowsky <>
I remember from my early days as a project engineer, the "G-Job"
was the highest priority job in the shop.

From: Gary Gosch <>
Had a plaque on the wall in my "Shop" in the army.
The 5 phases of any army project:
1. Enthusiasm
2. Disillusionment
3. Search for the guilty
4. Punishment of the innocent
5. Praise and accolades for the non-participants

From: "Randolph Lee" <>
Pound it to fit
File it flat
Paint it to cover
AKA  The "PFP" method
AKA  The "'Navy' Way" (insert service of choice)

And while not really a 'shopsaying' the story below is marginally connected

When I was a teenager (when the Jag XKE was a new car) in the early 60s I worked after school sweeping up in a place that fixed imported sports cars... In the corner were a 1" drive socket set, a 6' pry bar and a set of Sledge hammers and matching drifts in the 30 to 60 lbs range... collectively they were referred to as the "Jaguar Tools" due to the way everything on a Jag would seize up after one winter on New England salt covered roads...(the M-benz 190SL and 300SL and even the MGs and other UK sports cars of the era would not do this... I used to wonder why the folks at Jaguar in that time frame had never heard of 'neverseize') to this day I refer to the largest tools in my shop as the "Jaguar tools"

From: Steve Martin <>
My 'larger than average' tools are lovingly referred to as 'Tonka Tools'. :)

From: (Charles Gallo)
I know in the heavy shop that I worked in, the 12 lb sledge was always referred to as the BFH (Big ....... Hammer)

From: Bob
We always referred to it as the "Harley tool."

From: David Baggaley <>
We call it the swing press.
If at first you don't succeed, use a bigger hammer.

From: Jay Hayes <>
I worked with an old timer once that would say " The bigger the job, the bigger the hammer!"  Unfortunately he destroyed more things then he fixed.

From: (geoff beneze)
Also the "NCR Tool" as the method of choice for adjusting old NCR cash registers was "forming" (bending the shit out of the part). Yes, "forming" is in the shop manuals.

I believe it is an old Navy saying...  Being forgiven is easier than obtaining permission.

From: (James Wilkins)
Then there was the guy who kept going out the gate with a wheelbarrow full of sand. The guard always checked the sand carefully but never found anything buried in it. The guy stole 25 wheelbarrows that way.

From: Jack Erbes <>
In Navy shops it was,
"Only has one oar in the water."
"Useful as a one-legged man in a a##-kicking contest."

From: (Michael Horgan [Lughaid])
In one shop I worked in, working on your own projects was known as working on the "Swiss Navy" account.

From: (John Ingham)
How about the Navy comshaw.
Its a country job boss...

From: "Jay McMunn" <>
I've often heard the cutting torch or rosebud called "the Victor wrench"
It's easy to make one thing alike, gets harder with more...
"Whatch making?" "A**holes for hobby horses"
"How much are you making?" "Buck three eighty"
Sonny, be sure you have the thinking done before you start the job.
Night shift did it!
That's why my toolbox has a handle, I'm outta here.
Ya ain't a journeyman 'til you have made the journey (had several jobs).
One very considerate fellow would always ask if you had anything to air-harden before he used the bucket for getting water to add to the coolant.

From: (Edward Haas)
I've heard it said that one definition of a craftsman, regardless of field is: "10 years, 10 fingers"...

From: (Peter Drumm)
How 'bout- "Gas axe", "smoke wrench", "hot wrench", or for an electric welder, "electric pasting machine" :)

From: "Henry P. Szostek" <>
A sad case of a man educated way beyond his intelligence

From: Gary Gosch <>
That reminds me of my favorite lines form "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut.
Beware the man who studies hard to learn something, Yet finds himself no wiser than before.  He holds a murderous resentment of all those who are ignorant, Without having come by their ignorance the hard way

From: (Nick Hull)
If at first you don't succeed, get a bigger hammer.

From: Gary Gosch <>
He's spring-loaded to the stupid position.