Monday, August 16, 2010

Tools for Conviviality

From Tools for Conviviality.
"A tool can grow out of man's control, first to become his master and finally to become his executioner. Tools can rule men sooner than they expect: the plow makes man the lord of a garden but also the refugee from a dust bowl. Nature's revenge can produce children less fit for life than their fathers, and born into a world less fit for them."
-Ivan Illich, Tools for Conviviality

So what types of tools should we as wise teachers and parents give to our children? Shall we start with the most powerful ones that give a distorted sense of self...a distorted sense of reality? It is a question we must ask.

In the meantime, I am working on chapter 3 of Small Cabinet Basics, this one a veneered cabinet for ties. It is easier than you might think, and in the photo below you can see using the router table to trim edging veneer on the Baltic birch cabinet sides. Tomorrow I'll vacuum veneer the sides and begin assembling the veneers to go on the front and back. I think my readers will love this project, even though at this point much of it still resides in my imagination.


  1. Anonymous11:55 AM

    Quite the thought. It does make one think about which tools should be introduced and taught to kids.


  2. I love the idea of small cabinets - the practising of real skills on a project that doesn't appear too daunting or complicated. I'll be looking forward to this book.
    On a side note, can you tell me your tip for preventing that side piece in your photo from becoming a projectile? I was taught never to capture a piece between the bit and the fence of a router, but would welcome further teaching.

  3. You are right on the climb feed being a dangerous operation in some circumstances, and some will insist on telling you never rather than giving the full scoop on why or why not. In this case, the cut is so very small in relation to the mass of the workpiece that it just can't do what a shaper cutter taking a big bite can do, not even close. Also, there is a tight fit between the bearing, the workpiece and the fence creating some resistance. There is just no chance for the climb feed to do what you think of a climb feed doing. And if it pulled the fingers toward the cut, the cutter itself is only exposed at the edge, protected by the bearing. The worst it could do would trim your fingernails.

    Sometimes we are told never to do things by people who don't really know why not except that somebody once had something inexplicable happen. I think it is better to come to a full understanding of the implications of what you do. And yes, with a big router bit, taking a big bite, what I do in the photo, you would never do.

  4. Thanks Doug, for not only responding so graciously to my comment, but also for highlighting the wisdom of learning through reason, rather than through mindless rules. You rock!