When I first started to learn how to make furniture I was helpless. I knew how to use power tools from working on historic homes but I was completely ignorant beyond that. I came to learn that a, “jointer” for instance, is a machine with a long steel bed usually 6” or wider. It straightens one plane of the board, why they don’t call it a straightener is beyond me. The, “planer“, which is the machine that sucks in the rough and dirty board in one end and sends chips and a cleaned up board out the other end should be called a paralleler. If you stick a warped board in it, out rolls a parallel warped board, it’s useless unless you use the straightener (the jointer) first. I was easily confused.
For a while I found the sheer amount and diversity of tools to be intriguing and probably, more than not, an obsession. Japanese chisels, American chisels, vintage chisels, the hand planes, hand tools vs. power tools, etc.. It is quickly obvious that there is more money to be made off woodworkers than woodworking. There are catalogs dedicated to woodworking gizmos, if you can come up with a woodworking tool idea, you can safely bet some guy in a garage is going to buy it, hang it on a peg board and circle it with a sharpie marker. Me, I stick my gizmos to a magnet, I’m always trying to be different.
The obsession with tools can be obnoxious. Every wife (or husband) of a woodworker exercises a Buddhist Monk amount of patience in hearing about how the Festool brand, German made and ridiculously pricey saw hooks up to a vacuum cleaner. I know deep in my heart that the only people that care about that kinda thing are the people who use it, but I don’t care. I get lost in it, I get excited, the feeling is brand new every time. I’m gushing just thinking about properly sized CFM dust collection with HEPA filtration.
Tools save us time and reduce monotony, they enable our ideas, they can be extensions of our selves. However more importantly, with out the idea, the skill, and the passion, tools are useless.
See the photo above, I’m not the only one that get’s excited about tools, Neil is riding on the box our Kuper veneer stitcher came in (Did I mention, it’s German!)