We are all sentimental about something or other and I just happen to be sentimental about some of my tools. You see, they represent more than just a way to get things done but in fact are tangible reminders of some pretty wonderful people in my life.
Some of my tools are pretty old, just like me, which is perhaps why I like them. In fact, some are even OLDER than me! My table saw is probably 70-80 years old. I bought it used about 30 years ago and it was really old even then. Sure it has its foibles, but I know them. I can work with them. If I replaced it with a new shiny whizbang saw who would take in my old saw? I don’t have the heart to send it to the landfill after the thousands of boards it has sawn for me.
I also have a little 4″ jointer. I even extended the bed some with a plywood addition. Sure, it won’t handle the really big stuff, but I don’t make a lot of big stuff. Besides, I have hand planes that can help me with the bigger stuff. My Dad gave this to me probably 30 years ago as I was first setting up a shop. I imagine it was his first jointer. It will probably be my last. It is sturdy. Almost indestructible. Not like the crummy plastic and low-grade steel models you see so much of these days.
My drill press was in my Dad’s cabinet shop when I was a little kid. I don’t remember a time when it wasn’t in the family. It makes me smile when I use it because it reminds me of Dad and my boyhood home. It still has splatters of white paint on it where one of my brothers was mixing paint with the RPMs too high and the mixer shaft bent and sent paint flying everywhere. Once in a while when I sweep up the shop and see the paint I still laugh about that event!
My bandsaw and sander were gifts from my friend Clay. Clay runs a commercial shop doing amazing millwork and custom jobs. When I use those tools I often think about Clay and thank God for his godly life and his generous heart.
I use a lot of bar clamps with my woodworking. Some of them were gifted to me by my late wife. Some were my Dad’s and the others I bought from a friend’s father. I have even written initials on some of them to remind me where they came from. When I use them I often have fond memories of people who matter to me and need my prayers.
I also love an old folding wood ruler my Dad gave me. The ruler is such a tangible connection to Dad’s hands and the beautiful work he did for many years. Tape measures come and go, but this ruler endures!
I love my work as a designer and a woodworker, but the design tends to be more temporary. I am sure there are still some book covers I designed out there, but much of the magazines, newsletters, and marketing materials I have produced have long ago been tossed or recycled (please tell me you recycle!) The things I build in my shop are more virtual and real and I like that. There is something inescapably fine about something tangible that has come from your own hands.
I don’t ever want to be the guy who is so stuck in my ways that I am not open to new thoughts or new methods, but I am going to stick with my old tools and the people I love!