Letters from Paul Schobernd


War Wounds


Dearest Gentle Galoots,

I have been considering some of the recent posts regarding the danger inherent in old tools and would like to address this issue from personal experience. My "war" wounds are many and well-deserved!

Over the years I have found that a lack of "mindfulness" is a really major issue when it comes to being injured.

I am most apt to plane my finger, let a sharp knife slide across my hand or get stabbed by an awl being pushed through leather when my mind is otherwise engaged. I imagine this is a key issue that many of us overlook when we are working with hand tools.

When we flick on a tailed apprentice the noise sends us warning signals.

That router or table saw or grinder gets our attention, particularly if we are only occasional users. The sound alone fairly screams danger and I am watching where my fingers are at all times.

But our good old tools seem like old friends to us. This is when we are apt to get careless or try to let our mind multi-task. Focusing on the task at hand to the exclusion of other tasks minimizes the risk.

I think this is particularly true when using really potentially dangerous tools such as axes and adze. I was trained to use the adze in the "under the foot" technique. It works well most of the time, but I never let my mind wander when that blade is headed for my foot. I don't like axes much because they are for me the most dangerous of tools.

Swinging a 3 or 4 pound hammer, while splitting firewood, tends to scatter my thoughts over the course of hours. I find the task boring after awhile and my mind wanders until the axe hits a knot and the blade goes careening out of control. Then it is back to "mindfulness" until I again forget to remember.

Let's be careful out there, our non-electrified big boy toys can bite back if we don't respect them.

Paul in Normal, Illinois
February, 2006


Millers Falls Drills


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