Tuesday, November 09, 2010

tool test...

Every tool has its ancestry, its history, its tradition, its legacy, and its use. Tools have given shape to every facet of human existence, whether by human intent or thoughtless use. Each tool will also evolve into new forms. Some tools will occupy important places in our lives for generations, some will have their own brief generation, capturing our total attention for a brief spurt, and then be displaced by newer, flashier iterations of similar device. With all the bells and whistles of complex modern toolery, it can be hard to sort wheat from chaff. What tools will have lasting impact and which not? Land fills are filling up with discarded bells and whistles, but I have never heard of a landfill for hammers.

It seems nearly every iteration in tool design is intended to do one of two things. Open doors to new functionality, or make certain things easier to do. Who needs to become a master at anything with the world pushing relentlessly toward ever easier ease of use?

The router bits shown in the photo above, are from Amana Tool Co. and as you can see in the photo, the bearings on the 1/4 in. bits are remarkably tiny compared to a conventional router bit and are designed to go where larger bearings will not allow. For instance, in sign making, to rout the insides of letters with a conventionally sized bit would be a difficult task. These make that job easy. Fine Woodworking sent me these bits for review with the idea that they might be useful in box making. Like every new tool, ideas come calling. One I've thought of is making Greene and Greene inspired boxes with overlarge box joints. The tiny roundover bit would be perfect for routing between the fingers, something that would have been done in the Craftsman era with hand tools and sanding strips.

Today in the Clear Spring School wood shop, 7th, 8th and 9th grade students will be working on their band sawn boxes.


  1. Anonymous5:38 AM

    I could have used those router bits yesterday when I was working on a spice rack. But I do like sitting at the bench with chisel and mallet, with music in the background.


  2. I envy your ability to make boxes and other things by hand. Every project I start never turns out even close to right. I tried making a simple tool box and I could never get it square. It was turned into firewood at the end of my ordeal. Now I limit myself to plastic tool boxes that I can buy online or at a store.

  3. Peter, I truly believe that with practice anyone can do what I do. Every mistake is a learning experience, and you are not the only craftsman to have used your first project as firewood.

    Working with kids puts everything in the right perspective. They take joy in everything they make, choosing to not be overly critical and allowing themselves the opportunity to learn what is needed for the next project without failure and disappointment getting in their way.

    I don't often turn Biblical, but There is a biblical quote that makes sense. "Become as little children." It is how we best learn. And the kingdom of your own creativity awaits. In other words, lower your standards and have fun. The good stuff will come down the road a bit.

  4. I like this one... every tool has its ancestry, its history, its tradition, its legacy, and its use. Just like us we have our own strength and our own path to live on. Very inspiring thought that I am sure touches every body that come across this article.