With only two weeks to go until Handworks and one week until I travel out to the states, I’ve been trying to get a few things sorted and projects to a certain point, so they are ready for when I get back to the workshop. With all the usual stresses of preparing for a trip overseas, I’ve only been there just enough time necessary to get what I’ve needed to done, and not a lot more, and it’s got me thinking.
As excited as I am for the trip, and even more so for Handworks, I’m going to miss being in the shop for the couple of weeks that I’ll be away.
This seems particularly odd as I’m going on a trip to do more woodworking than I usually do when I can be in the workshop. I’ll be spending some time with a friend of mine who has a fully fitted cabinet shop and stacks and stacks of some of the most beautiful flame maple! Not to mention all the fun I’m sure everyone will have at the show.
But this isn’t as strange or new of an idea at all. In fact, Chris Schwarz explains it perfectly in the opening paragraphs of his 2010 book “The Anarchists Tool Chest” published by Lost Art Press.
“When I am too exhausted, ill, or busy to work in my shop, I will shuffle down the stairs to my 15′ x 25′ workshop and simply stand there for a few minutes with my hands on my tools.
To be sure’ I thought I was a touch nuts because of this personality quirk. But after reading oral histories and diaries of craftsmen from the last 300 years, I found it’s actually a common trait among artisans. I am drawn, married or perhaps addicted to the things that allow me to coax wood into new shapes.”
And that is exactly how I feel about my own workshop and tools. I too find myself worn out after a long day, be it in the shop or elsewhere, just looking at my tools and taking in the beauty in their war wounds and wear spots. We are joined to our tools in so many ways; we regularly say how a tool should feel like an extension of your own arm, and it should, and so much more.
You should know your tools every subtle feature, and you probably do, even if you don’t realise it.