April 22, 2014
Well Worn and Well Worked
Author: Dan Rieple
I don’t love love love love my tools. My wife and daughters yes, but not my tools. I do however, almost love the work that fine tools help us do. There isn’t a nicer sound than the long hiss of a well tuned jointer plane offering up a wood curl just a few cells thick. Further more, the resulting smoothness of the edge on the remaining board is truly amazing given the age of the lowly hand plane. No jointer on the planet (that I know of) can make such a fine smooth surface, but likewise, no hand plane can straighten the edges or flatten the faces of so many pieces of wood as a jointer in such a short time. Tools help us get stuff done better and faster that’s it, but there are definitely some that tend to be more of an extension of our hand than others, especially some of the hand tools.
I read a short article in Wood Shop News the other day that I enjoyed very much, though it did make me wonder. Not that it matters a lot, but after I leave this world, I wonder if my tools will live on to serve someone else as well as they have served me and who might that be. Anyway, the article was by a guy named Greg Coppa and was entitled, Worn by time, but still tough as nails. He was browsing through the used tool section of a favorite old hardware store. Mostly it was kind of melancholic but here is a part that gave me a chuckle. Greg writes, “Some files I came across were Nicholsons, perhaps made or inspected by my own great grandfather, John Petrucci, at what was once among the world’s largest and advanced tool manufacturing plants located down by Harris Avenue and Dean Street in the capitol city (Prov. R.I. I think) I smile because I remember an inside file maker’s joke I was told more than 50 years ago…
A well dressed woman comes into a hardware store and asks the clerk to recommend a good file to present to her husband on his birthday. The clerk surveys the assorted files in his display case and says to the woman, “How about this handy little bastard right here?” The woman is taken aback for a moment by the apparently rough language and points to another type of file and replies, “What’s wrong with that sonofabitch over there?”
So do ya know how the word “bastard” came to describe a type of file?
It got it’s name because “a bastard file is a file whose teeth configuration is in between a rough or coarse file. The word bastard can also mean something unusual or irregular.”
So there you have it. Pretty simple really.
Here are some of my favorite tools in action.