Alan, John, Darrell and Gathered Galoots,
This is a great thread and I really appreciated going back to
2000 and reading Alan's Lament and Richard of Yorkshire's Stage
Great stuff and as I pass into retirement I can see myself
moving down those stages rather rapidly these days. It has been
a great ride collecting all of these wonderful tools. Without
getting into the sensual too far, I have to admit that I love
nothing better than sitting in my shop surrounded by all of the
The touch is what brings me to near ecstasy, beautiful
wood, smooth and sensuous, old iron and steel polished often by
decades of sweat and oils of the craftsman's hand. The smell of
the age that puts me into a lineage of others who have passed
before me and held and used this tool. There are for me a spirits
who share the journey in the quiet of my shop and I rarely feel
alone in this temple to the common man. There is nothing weird
in this, it is just a warm sense of continuity. The old wood
holds stories that it will tell if I look and feel with more
than my eyes and hands. In the well-used and well-kept tool I am
privy to parts of lives that have preceded my own and it is why
I cherish those tools which come down from my family. But, as
years roll on I realize that some tools must find new homes. Life is not about living in a museum!
This is where I have come to that stage of not only getting
rid of much of the excess, but more importantly finding homes
for those tools that mean more than money. I have found two
young men to support and as they mature in their skills and
understanding I bring out what they need next on their journey. It is a quirky way to thin my tools, but it feels right for me,
but it is not everyone's cup of tea.
As we sit and discuss what
they are working on - one is a cabinetmaker and the other a timberworker on his way to cabinetmaking skills
- they will tell
me what they are looking for to do their job better sans tailed
apprentices, though both are familiar with electron burning! If
I have what they need we will go to the shop and I will show
them what I have and what I recommend. Both have a blank check
in my collection with my right of refusal if it is not something
I am yet ready to part with or it is part of my working tools!
This has been a most satisfactory process for me. I still
have no shortage of tools, but yet I can help two guys who have
to make a living, but understand the spirit of old tools as a
trust, a piece of the past passed into the present and the
future. My only stipulation is that when the tools are no longer
needed that they pass them forward under the same conditions
which they received them, unless they are in financial duress
and then all bets are off. Life comes first.
Hopefully I have many years ahead, but this process keeps me
from burdening my children with tools they may not want. They
have first dibs, but are not particularly interested in old
tools beyond family. They also have first call on any of my
several thousand books, but my wife being a librarian knows how
to weed that collection to her tastes in short order!
As we get
older I think we start down those stages that Alan and Richard
proposed. I love to sharpen tools and make treen. I want to get
really good at those skills and maybe teach, but I don't need
every tool I own to do that.
But, there are a few tools I don't have yet.....