Thursday, April 14, 2011

some polish, some ride

I am spending a couple days reorganizing my wood shop. It is important to do it every now and then to keep things fresh and in optimal efficiency. I need to haul out lots of scrap wood to make things a bit neater when an editor from Fine Woodworking comes in May to take photos for a couple articles.

Beth Ireland told me about a friend who has ridden her Yamaha 650 in or through each of the 50 states. Her friend explains: "Some polish, I ride." There are many woodworkers who take delight in having their tools, just the right tools, expensive ones, the best they can afford. Sometimes these tools are expensive ornaments that get little or no use. I can relate. Tools can be so beautiful, so expensive you want to have them, keep them dust free and polish them to perfection. But the best polish comes in using them. An interview with Toshio Odate on the Fine Woodworking website describes the importance of using the things that a craftsman makes:
Indicating the rich, warm patina of a tremendous plank table in his kitchen, he (Odate) mentioned the idea of the “user’s finish”—the fact that no piece is really complete until, 50, 100, or 300 years down the road, the thousands of users’ hands handling a piece have given it the true finish, one that the maker could not give when the piece was assembled. It speaks of the present-day craftsman imbuing his or her work with their intention and sense of social responsibility, and projecting that skill and care towards the future, where further generations will be able to feel the woodworker’s spirit with them still.
The same can be said for tools. They become more beautiful and meaningful through use. So polish AND


Make, fix and create.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:35 AM

    What a great way to look at one's craft. It has to outlive us to really be complete.