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Thread: Hand tool truisms what say you?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Carlsbad, CA

    Hand tool truisms what say you?

    I've been a self-taught hand tool woodworker for 40 years. Over that time I've heard lots of adages, axioms, cliches etc. that capture nuggets of wisdom that apply to our craft. To me, these sayings capture fundamental truths for doing quality work, and if gathered together could form a solid guiding philosophy for somebody interested in hand tool woodworking. I would love to hear the thoughts and insights of my fellow Creekers - what truism/guiding principles do you adhere to? Some common examples might be:

    "Measure twice, cut once"

    "Having the right tool for the job makes all the difference"

    "The most expensive tool is the one you have to replace because the first one you brought didn't work"

    I look forward to the groups collective wisdom. All comments are welcome!

    Thanks, Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    My sig line says it all.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Edmond, Oklahoma
    For the overly meticulous carpenters in the group (I tend to be a little that way):

    "Remember, you are building a house, not a piano."

    On using tools appropriate for the size of the job:

    "Don't try to force it, use a bigger hammer."

    Saying of one of the plant craftsman who would sometimes take chances that something he wanted to try might not be a good idea:

    "If the part doesn't fit, force it; if it breaks, it needed to be fixed anyway."

    My Dad to either one of his two (at the time) teenage sons who was in too much of a hurry to complete something rather than to do a good job on it:

    "Don't get in such a big toot." (We knew exactly what he meant.)

    On efficient work practices:

    "Plan your work and work your plan."

    On the value of becoming skilled at your work:

    "Do you see a man skilled in his work?"
    "He will stand before kings;"
    "He will not stand before obscure men." (Proverbs 22:29)

    Last edited by Stew Denton; 06-28-2021 at 5:16 PM.

  4. #4
    While I believe in most of those little cliche's, when I actually here someone say them it drives me nuts.
    Many of them contain good advice but they often come off as semi-sarcastic and smart-alecky.

  5. #5
    One from our NH woodworking guild which is also applicable here.

    We all have both something to teach and to learn.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    McKinney, TX
    There’s never time to do it right but always time to do it over.
    Steve Jenkins, McKinney, TX. 469 742-9694
    Always use the word "impossible" with extreme caution

  7. #7
    You can always be flatter, sharper, squarer.

    But you may be flat, sharp, and square enough.

    Aim for the first but be content with the second.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2019
    Fairbanks AK
    The more I use my handtools, the sharper they become.

    I have heard the tenses and persons switched around a few ways on that one but find it to be valid.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Edmond, Oklahoma

    I heard that one several times at the plant I worked at over 30 years ago. Always spoken by the plant manager and always directed at the maintenance department. His wording of the truism you list was always "Why is there never time to do it right, but there is always time to do it over."

    Last edited by Stew Denton; 06-28-2021 at 4:56 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Putney, Vermont
    An old time machinist once told me when I was first starting out,"If something is not working out, stop wasting time, and try something else."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Inkerman, Ontario, Canada
    There are two kinds of people;
    Those that sharpen their tools when they are dull.
    Those that sharpen them when they know they can be sharper.

  12. #12
    Leave the wood as long as possible, for as long as possible.

    No matter how many tools you have, If you cant see your work well, you will unlikely be able to get as precise as you can.

    It'll be grand... is the famous last words

    Love that one Michael


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    You mean something like?

    A Planer? I'm the planer, and this is what I use.

    Or..."What the rush? Hurrying around merely leads to mistakes...."

  14. #14
    If I'm working hard it's because I'm too stupid to do it the right way.

    Sweat the details, the big picture will take care of itself.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    My sig line says it all.
    I was thinking the same. The version posted in my shop is "Dull tools don't work."
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

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