Sunday, April 01, 2007

Tools are instruments by which the hands give expression to thought. - Gustaf Larsson

If you begin looking at tools, you will notice they come in all sizes. I have a friend Arlie who has the big ones. If you need to move a mountain of dirt, call Arlie. He has large trucks, back hoes, track hoes, cranes, bulldozers and a very large road grader. He is an expert in the use of each, and can do some really amazing and rather sensitive work with his tools. If his tools aren't large enough or powerful enough, he knows how to use dynamite. But please don't invite Arlie to your flower garden. The results would be disastrous. Even his smallest back hoe takes too large a bite.

It has been said that every tool leaves it mark. This is true until more subtle tools remove the marks of those used before. If you cut an edge with the band saw, the markings are rough. A hand plane will remove those marks and leave more subtle markings of its own. A table saw will leave markings on the edge of the wood. A sanding block will remove those, and by moving through a progression of sanding grits, the markings are reduced to microscopic proportions. Pretty obvious, right? We move in a progression of tools from coarse to fine, each in turn to "give expression to thought."

There are more subtle things going on at the same time. It is obvious that the man uses the tool to shape the wood. It may be less obvious that the tool shapes the man. If you want to check this out, buy a back hoe. You can find a good one for about $80,000. Spend enough time on it to get good at its operation. You will find yourself digging ditches and foundations to offset the capital investment. You will be very busy. Take care of business and treat people with respect and like my friend Arlie, you will be respected in your community. But people won't ask you to garden.

Tomorrow, or later today, I hope to talk about chisels and the hand.

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