The Craftsperson and Their Tools
By Mark Simpson
When I think of how “Craftspeople” do their work I think of tools. Good tools. They pick good tools because they know that it is easier to get the job done when you have the right tool, and it is well made. They don’t use a tool that is the wrong size for them, the tool fits their hand. They may also modify their tools to better fit their hand.
Sometimes a craftsperson will make entirely new tools for their work. It might be a special jig for cutting the same type of cut in a lot of lumber, or for drilling the same sort of hole. Sometimes these special jigs even come into common use, such as a door lock installation jig, or a mitre box.
Because a craftsperson uses their own tools, and special tools, they might seem to have a handicap when they don’t have those tools. But a unless the job cannot be done except with a particular tool (it is very difficult to cut a piece of wood with a hammer), they can still get the job done (albeit perhaps a bit slower).
This is because they know how to do the job; the tools are just how they go about it.
Some people think that the idiom: “A poor craftsman blames his tools.” implies that tools are not important. This does not mean that tools are not important! This means that a craftsperson knows that the failure to do a good job is not the fault of the tool; but the fault of the craftsperson: their skill, or their choice of tool.
Do you pick the right tool for the job? Do you change it to fit your hand? Do you make special tools for the work?