I am no stranger to power tools, the ones that require gasoline or electricity to perform work for me.  In the long run, they expand the possibilities of what I can do, and I have their manual/analog counterparts to work with by way of comparison.  Still, in spite of their speed and precision, power tools have no real finesse.

Hand tools, when we get to the level of backsaws, bench planes, and carving chisels, especially those that were made before mass-production, are just inescapably elegant.  Chisels, in particular, are the most elemental tools of woodworking.  I believe that there is a sort of energy embodied in any artifact that was made by hand, but a chisel carries that energy from it’s maker, and the impression of every hand that has ever used it.  Power? Yeah.

I have been restoring old tools for years, fascinated with that genie-from-a-bottle effect of finally getting to a proper edge and putting the old fella to work.  Someone once asked me if all tools have names, and yes they do, but with long use and familiarity they become extensions of ourselves, bonded through generations of craftsmen back to the hearth where this piece of steel first came to life.  I no longer have to think, “the Sorby framing chisel…” or “the small Addis gouge…” consciously.  The tool and I have become an identity, I become invisible, and WE have power.  Preciousss…

About michaellangford2012

Timber framer, boatbuilder, dreamer, writer, musician; collector of books, tools, aphorisms. "There is nothing, absolutely nothing…half so much worth doing…as simply messing about in boats."
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1 Response to Precious

  1. deb says:

    Nice verbalization of our synthesis with hand tools.

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