Can Good Tools Make You a Better Woodworker?

I am sure that most woodworkers appreciate good tools, and while fine tools may enable one to do better quality work than crude tools, a high quality tool will in no way compensate for a lack of skill or care. However, a good tool can certainly inspire the user to do their best work, and I was reminded of this reading an article in issue 53 of Woodwork titled Wood and Iron: The Journey of John Burt. Glenn Gordon wrote:

… Some of them are not everyday Japanese carpenters’ tools but works of the highest craft in themselves… they insist that your skill be equal to their quality.

There are certain tools in my shop that are not for general use – they are reserved for when the finest work is required. They are not stored any differently from their regular-use counterparts, and some of them may be indistinguishable to others, but I know which tools they are. I know what to reach for when the highest level of work is required.

When I pick up these tools, all focus is on the task at hand. It is the only thing that matters.

2 thoughts on “Can Good Tools Make You a Better Woodworker?

  1. True words, at least for me. The plane whose blade gets and retains it’s wicked sharp edge, the chisel that doesn’t fatigue the hand, the light touch hammer whose contact point is always true: we all have them and know them.

  2. I do not disagree with this sentiment.

    I love having tools in my shop that have meaning to me, whether they are tools I’ve made myself or had made for me in a variety of my favorite woods, like 5,000 year old bog oak or curly Honduran mahogany or some of my rare West Indies Satinwood.

    Every time I reach for one of these tools, I think about the time and effort and love and attention that went into making such a fantastic item and I think that helps me to put extra time and attention and focus and soul into the project currently on my bench.

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