Those who have the skills have to be admired and there are still many out there willing to learn!
There is an old saying, ‘those who learn to work with wood tend to find it difficult to work with metal whereas those who learn to work with metal find it easy to work with wood’. This doesn’t apply to you old timers or those who were lucky enough to be taught by one. The reason I think this resonates some truth is purely the arduous nature of working with metal opposed to working with wood. Key factors could also apply including patience, endurance and strength needed for using two materials and the significant difference between precision engineering and working with wood.
Given that the majority of tools rely on steel as a major contributing factor this is probably the main reason so many unrestored used tools are in poor condition. It probably also explains why so many have adopted the use of throw away age of tools and there is no bigger evidence of this than the throw away saws.
Old school woodworking tradesmen will have learnt the art of maintaining and more importantly setting up their wide range of tools for specific purposes. Back in the day this was every bit as important to know these things and very much part of learning their profession.
Maintaining your tools is a very important factor and learning every sharpening technique will help you immensely, however restoring tools required a different set of skills and equipment plus a good resource of spare parts compatible to bring the tool back to it’s optimum performance.
Evidence that key skills are being lost? Well here’s a little insight to the conversations my father and I had recently, he remarked that used tools in general he bought back in the 1970’s – 2000 were in far better condition than they are today and required far less work to get them back into the market place. Maybe this just coincides with the throw away age and the lack of appreciation for tools by the younger generation.
There are those who just consider old tools for their prices, but I have to say whilst these may be good value against inferior modern types more often than not they still don’t perform as well as they could given the right treatment. Some opt to do it themselves but there are things to considered before doing so. Please read: DIY Used Tool Restoration, Is it worth the time?
Honing your skills and understanding how to get the best from your tools ultimately improves performance and the quality of your work, mastering every aspect required applies as much today, as it did back then and whether the individual is prepared to make the effort and step up to reach those heights, believe me when I say it’s worth the effort.
Thanks for reading.