Woodworking has been a passion of mine for two decades. When my family moved to California in 2002 I inherited some tools from my granddad, who had upgraded and turned houses in his retirement years. With a table saw, a router, a circular saw, a saber saw, a belt sander, and a few other power tools from his shop, I had the basics I needed to build furniture. My first project was to build loft beds with built-in desks underneath for my two daughters. The beds were highly sturdy, but certainly not fine furniture. Since then I’ve added not only a shop/garage to our house, but many tools. Though I use all of my power tools (many added since), the ones I love using are the hand tools, especially hand planes. The problem with hand planes is that to get to love them, they take a lot of preparation, in particular the used ones bought at yard sales. Literally tens of hours can be eaten up taking apart, flattening, cleaning, sharpening, and finally adjusting a plane into working shape. The result though is magic when a flat piece of metal with a blade protruding beneath removes an almost transparent shaving from a piece of wood that curls and drops away leaving a smooth surface needing no sanding. Not that it always works that way, because the choice of plane and the sharpness of the blade are paramount. And sometimes the power tool is best. Knowing the right tool for the job and having that tool in top working order makes the job possible and even easy. Although I do not consider myself a fine woodworker, I have built some quality furniture that I can pass to my children and grandchildren (one so far!).
The lessons I’ve garnered from woodworking apply to virtually all of life. To do anything of worth effectively, the right tools honed to fine sharpness are necessary, whether physical, intellectual, or spiritual. Stephen Covey referred to “sharpening the saw” as one of the seven habits of highly effective people. One can only sharpen the saw by having one, and then spending the time to make it work well. In our impatient world, doing is valued more than preparation. But to do effectively, preparation is essential, and preparation takes time.
One more thing. Tools that are safe and last a life-time are well-designed and fabricated in the factory. The integrity and character of the tool flows from the maker of the tool. Cheap tools produce cheap results and sometimes injury. Quality tools stand the test of time and produce solid and safe results, even when pushed to their limits. I am still using the tools my granddad used and they still work as well now as when I received them. Quality and integrity are the reason. My personal hope is that my life has the quality and integrity of my Creator because I have allowed the Master Craftsmen to forge me into his image. And I hope that when my life is pushed to its limits, that my character and integrity will stand. I hope the same for you.