Regardless of where a tool is made there is a great deal of energy and raw materials needed when manufacturing them and given 90% are designed to use a limited amount of times, one has to question whether this has a far worse affect on the environment than buying cheap fast fashion.
The production of any form of steel uses a significant amount of energy to create it, even before it reaches a manufacturer who uses more energy to form what are often disposable tools. It’s sinful and madness at best and the sooner it stops the better this planet will be for it.
Many tool companies seem to think it’s quite OK to produce this junk to service the DIY market place which undermines the value of traditional craftsmen. The fact so many trades use these junk tools rather than to learn essential skills such as sharpening has a profound impact on how customers see their trade. They too, can buy a cheap sharp saw with a limited shelf life to cut wood, add in some cheap sharp chisels, cheap circular saw and hey presto they think its easy to be a carpenter (Stop laughing) but you get my meaning and this devalues their opinion of certain craftsmen. Those who want to learn a craft will soon realise there is much more to it than this and are often dedicated to improve their skills over time but are often hindered by making poor choices that these cheap tools seem to offer.
If you are a carpenter using the same type of tools as your unskilled customers, how can you stand out? When you maintain your high quality tools it says a lot about you and your dedication to your craft. All you experienced guys out there know how they view a youngster who turns up on a job in brand new boots and gleaming new Dewalt electrical tools, if you think this why wouldn’t your customers think the same when you pull out your plastic handled saw and a cheap set of chisels?
Every cheap new tool bought by a tradesman is supporting this underlying factor and encourages and emboldens these junk tool manufacturers to make more of them.
The other aspect is that raw materials will continue to rise in price and the sweat shops of the world will be viewed as a real issue, rather than the current ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude many people possess. Ethics has a great roll to play and many craftspeople are ethical and connected to the source of the materials they use when they have a choice.
Quality needs to improve and things should be made to last for a lifetime as this is Eco Friendly with movements such as we are starting to witness protests on the streets from Climate Activists in the UK, Europe & USA along with other countries, attitudes need to change.
Many are going to need to learn new skills, many will have to apply a bit more effort, but if everyone did this, this would add up to a lot of reduced waste.
I’ve seen builders use new wood chisels until they are blunt and buy new ones, hand saws renewed regularly, circular saw blades, drill bits binned rather than sharpened, the waste goes on and on.
The fact is; old tools possess quality steel and has had superior production methods used to enhance it so they can be resharpened time and time again, holding a better edge. There is no need to buy new tools when old tools do a better job. The carbon footprint is not repeated as these tools have already been produced and for this reason alone this makes old tools more ethical and more importantly more environmentally friendly.
To my mind that makes good old tools more valuable than new ones unless they genuinely have something new to offer the craftsman. An example of this would be the Veritas saw file holder that will aid craftsmen to sharpen and maintain old saws effectively.
It’s like all those diamond sharpening plates, no maker has passed any tests here for longevity and are extremely energy reliant in their production. Whats wrong with having natural and man made oil stones that with good maintenance will last a lifetime?
Innovation in tool design is a good thing when its focus is based on maintaining good serviceable tools!