The difference between gremlins and goblins - what do they do?

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Blog entry by Div posted 02-14-2011 10:37 PM 15743 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Toolchap’s recent blog entitled “Goblins or gremlins” made me wonder what exactly the difference is between the two. My research led me to the book “Magicians and Fairies” that I found in our library. It had the following to say:

“Goblins are said to have human form, but are small and rather grotesque. They are spirits of the earth like fairies, pixies and elves but unlike the other spirits they are usually malicious. Goblins originally came from France, and then spread all over Europe, sailing to Britain on Viking ships. (I would guess some of them most have stowed away on the Mayflower too. Another adventurous band of gremlins must have boarded ships of the Dutch East India Company because one certainly finds them in South Africa as well. If someone should do a study on the role gremlins played in the history of mankind it will make for fascinating reading. This could be a great thesis for a doctorate in history. Too bad I’m a woodworker!) French mothers used to threaten naughty children that ‘the goblin will eat you; the goblin will take you away’. Stealing children is one of their nastier tricks, and they also torment humans by tipping over pails of milk, hiding hen’s eggs (which explains a lot about the recent lack of eggs in my chicken coop), blowing soot down chimneys and snuffing out candles. Hobgoblins are not as evil as goblins, just rather mischievous…….”

“Almost all fairies have been around since time began, but GREMLINS are a new race that revealed itself only in this century. Airforce pilots were the first people to come across gremlins: an engine that was perfectly all right the night before failed to start; or there was an unaccountable leakage of petrol from the tanks or air from the tires. Sightings have been made at different locations in various parts of the world, but it is generally agreed that there is a horde of malicious spirits whose sole purpose is to bring about all those little mishaps that plague our lives. GREMLINS LURK AROUND ANYONE WHO IS USING TOOLS OR MACHINERY.
So if you have ever wondered why there is always a knot in the plank of wood just where you want to saw it or why the sewing thread runs out just before you have got to the end of the seam – blame it on the gremlins! “

There you have it; it is GREMLINS we have to contend with in our shops. I think a long overdue requirement in the woodworking field is a GE(Gremlin Effect) Analysis. Data needs to be gathered: They are the ones who stretch my tape measure when I’m not looking. They are the ones we steal my pencil. They are the ones who roll my freshly sharpened chisel off the bench. They are the ones who…. (feel free to add your own)

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

15 comments so far

View PflugervilleSteve's profile


99 posts in 3066 days

#1 posted 02-14-2011 10:54 PM

Interesting you mention the air force… Murphy's law was supposedly coined in the late ‘40s or early 50’s in the air force.

The more complex something is, the easier it is for something to go wrong. Guess those gremlins are fascinated by complex things and like to stick their fingers where they shouldn’t…


View Grant Libramento's profile

Grant Libramento

176 posts in 3003 days

#2 posted 02-14-2011 11:28 PM

As I get older ,the family of gremlins in my workshop seems to be growing. They mostly hide my tools.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2964 days

#3 posted 02-14-2011 11:59 PM

KISS is good!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View mafe's profile


11730 posts in 3113 days

#4 posted 02-15-2011 12:19 AM

I think also they go and disturb our memory! At leat I can see they love to tease me by making me forget things, measures and so.
But my worst troll is the pencil troll, he seem to always have been there when I need to make a line.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Schwieb's profile


1858 posts in 3485 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 05:01 AM

They are the ones that spillled coffee on your working sketches for the next project.

Based on this line of thinking I definitely have a bigger problem with gremlins than goblins. Interesting how we look to find something but ourselves to blame when things don’t go exactly right.

I hope by KISS we mean K.I.S.S as in Keep it simple, stupid? If you find a cure for the pencil gremlin please share it. He always manages to even steal the one I always have above my right ear.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3938 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 08:50 AM

Though you’ve clarified the difference between gremlins and goblins( I think), it still may be a matter of conjecture whether something is malicious or mischievous or plain mysterious. Where do you draw the line?

I mean how do you know for sure which one it is? does it matter? – well yes it does..

If your pencil goes missing, should you just laugh at the hobgoblin playing a trick on you? should you be angry at the goblin who is clearly trying to delay you or sabotage your efforts or should you just be confounded ( and perhaps impressed) at how the gremlin made off with your pencil without you noticing?

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3917 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 08:58 AM

thus my avatar, the pencil troll, the gremlin, the mystery wood the “hey, last time I thought I had a pencil”

“wtf just happened”

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View toolchap's profile


150 posts in 2944 days

#8 posted 02-15-2011 03:00 PM

Murphy was an optimist. Gremlins are terrorists. Goblins are humorists. They make me pist.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3109 days

#9 posted 02-15-2011 05:24 PM

Toolchap is definitely correct, Pololenski’s Corollary clearly proves that Murphy was a blooming optomist
wearing rose colored glasses. If you can not find Polenski’s Corollay in your reference book, it is because
the Gremlins got into the printing shop again. Guess I will just have to grin and bear it, now if I could
just find my pencil to write that reminder I need I would be…........

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3358 days

#10 posted 02-15-2011 06:57 PM

That was very interesting Div except that you forgot to mention that the goblins also left England on the Viking ships, sailed back to Norway and became politicians!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Woodturner66's profile


76 posts in 2695 days

#11 posted 02-15-2011 07:19 PM

Gremlins do effect machinery. Besides doing woodworking I also belong to a motorcycle club. If you ever see a Motorcycle with a bell attached to the frame down low almost touching the ground, That is to keep the Gremlins away. They sneak out to the road and put things like pieces of tire, rocks, sand in the road just to be evil. So the Bells scare them away. So now i have several bells hanging in my workshop. Since I’ve done that i have not seen 1 Gremlin. Give it a try.

-- Chris Ward

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2964 days

#12 posted 02-15-2011 10:31 PM

Scwieb: Ken, I have a solution for you. Stick a pencil behind your other ear as well!

daltxguy: Steve, maybe you should ask Moron, he can SEE them!!!

Moron: Thanks, Now we know what they look like. Jeezz, how did you manage to take a pic of one!

Stefang: Mike, you ALSO have goblin politicians??

Woodturner: Chris, I’ll try anything. Just tomorrow I will hang some bells….

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3139 days

#13 posted 02-16-2011 01:54 AM

gremlings is deffently the worst …..didn´t you see the movie and they just showed 1/8 of it
the rest 7/8 they didn´t dare to show the world
we have a few teasing goblings around here mostly doing it in December but we know what will
happen if they don´t get the Risengrød with canel and butter , but I´m affraid after Mads´s last
chrismas post they want it with whipped cream and cherrysouce from now on I did hear ours
talked about how envy they were on Mads´s …I fear the worse and hope for the best this year

take care

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2912 days

#14 posted 03-04-2011 02:00 AM

Being a licensed pilot since 1963, I am quite familiar with Gremlins and have had numerous encounters with those mischievious little (expletive delete).

There is a little known clan of Gremlins that specialize in plaguing motorcyclists. They love deflating tires just before an important ride, syphoning oil from the crankcase and spreading gravel on tight curves on roads. I bear a number of scars from these little abominations and their interference with my various bikes over the years.

If someone ever invents a Gremlin repellent, he would be an overnight millionaire! (grin)

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2964 days

#15 posted 03-04-2011 11:57 PM

Yip, as a pilot you will know them well!
I know that other clan too. Only too well. I ate dirt a number of times because of their interference with my intentions!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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