I know many of us have this problem. We buy a new set of chisels, fashion a mallet, or build a bench. We know their purpose; to be banged, thrown, and rolled, bashed, squished and thrashed.
When it’s new, we squirm at the thought of it’s first scratch or dent.
Before getting into fine woodworking as a hobby, I built a shop bench (8’x3′) for general household garage stuff. It wasn’t much; a 2×4 frame, plywood topped. But I worked hard to build it, sturdy and tough, and for a purpose. In my mind it was pretty.
A few years later on, it’s had 2 woodworking and 1 metal vice installed, along with nails for hanging various tools. I see a dirty top, encrusted with dust, wood and metal shavings, scratches and dents, stains, paint and oil. And I see pride … in the fact that this bench is fulfilling its purpose, that it has been central to years of shop tasks. It is no longer pristine … but it tells a story of me and my family, and the time my children and I have shared tinkering. I am proud to look upon it each time I step into my shop.
So to all of us who squirm at the thought … fret not. That’s just the beginning of a new story.
P.S. Most of us have tools that were bought used or handed down. Do you ever just think what history they may have? What cool things they may have built? Who were the owners?
Most of my tools are secondhand and I have spend many hours to bring them back to working condition.
Some of them belonged to craftsmen in the past and, despite the rust and dirt cover after years of being left in a shed/barn etc, they are tools that have been well used but never abused.
Every time I use them I hear tales from the past. I wonder on what projects Mr XXXX has used the tool, how long ago, in a workshop or on site. I have a plane made during WW2 and every time I use it in my mind comes the factory where it was made by women or children, because the men were fighting far away.
As for my bench, I made it a few years ago following PS instructions. It’s not perfect by any means and when I added some shelving I had to take into account the discrepancies. But I built it from scratch using only two plastic sawhorses and very few hand tools, it’s rock solid and I am proud of it. It’s not pristine any more and it needs a bit of flattening, but I am procrastinating because the marks and the stains tell my story and I love the feeling when I run my hand on the worktop.
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