Planes


 
 

Letters from Paul Schobernd


 
 

Life and Times of the Slippery Slope?

 

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 Theory!

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 tools.

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.....

Paul Schobernd
in Normal, Illinois


 
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