In this article we will explore the idea of using the right tool for the right job and its long term effects to the tools themselves and the consequences of using the wrong tools.
We see first hand the state that some tools are allowed to get into and know first hand the work needed in bringing these tools back to life so they are capable of tackling the jobs they were intended for. I guess many have fallen into the hands of people who don’t understand them and why we see so many old screwdrivers covered in paint, obviously seen as some sort of paint stirrer. Hammers brutalised as rock braking implements when they are intended for shoes and woodworking tools that are often so far from refinement that they look like they never had a craftsman near them.
I know in my trade there were many who did the same job with indifferent degrees of competence which often resulted in disaster, I did my fair share of sorting out their work. Much of it came from people using the wrong tools for the job and lack of pride in what they did. I was trained to do things right, leave a good job regardless of what affect it had on our income, reputations are never gained through poor standards of work.
Think of using the wrong tools like this, yes you can run in wellies and swim in trousers but this is a lot harder than using the suitable footwear and swimwear garments! You can also drive from London to Aberdeen in a tractor but I could think of a number of better ways to travel.
The point I’m making here is that although it is possible to use the wrong tools for the job its not always best and there can be hidden issues that can occur as a result from using them for the wrong job.
New woodworkers for example will understandable have far less tools when they first start and will often use the tools for a variety of tasks, however this usually makes each task they aren’t designed to do much harder and can have an effect on mastering techniques and time when re-adapting when using the correct tools for the job.
Let’s for a moment discuss cutting a mortice with chisels, yes you could use your bevel edge chisels (as shown online) but there is a reason this task has traditionally used thicker dedicated chisels. The fact is that there is leverage involved and this will affect any finely sharpened chisel designed for paring for example with bending or chipping of the cutting edge. Likewise a mortising chisel will find paring difficult when a fine edge is required.
Another aspect is saws and why I have very little time for these modern saws with only a few geometries or tooth pattern. Back in the day many woodworkers would own a variety of saws with different sized teeth with varied rakes for both rip and cross cutting, these were needed when using a variety of wood types and their conditions. This illustrates clearly the depth of knowledge being diminished in what tools are perfect for what tasks, by todays disposable age.
My lads work here and they have always been taught to make the tool do the job and not to force things as it will reduce any tools life span and can cause injury. A simple example would be keeping a sharp edge rather than allowing it to become dull, not beating it with a metal hammer but instead using a wooden mallet. Dull tools being forced are responsible for far more serious injuries rather than those used correctly.
Small things make a big difference over time and to maintain vintage tools like past craftsmen did, requires the patience needed in doing things right at the right times. There is nothing worse than having to replace tools through neglect or misuse.
The best tool kits are built over time but this generally happens through the user’s recognition for their needs and the extent of them is usually inline with the users knowledge gained over time.