Hand Tool Behavior - The Psychology of Hand Tools

Inanimate Objects Aren't
I've had a theory about small inanimate objects. The idea started coming into clearer focus as I got more and more into woodworking and small (relative to the Heavy Iron machines) inanimate objects began proliferating in The Shop. I put a tool or some other inanimate object down on a benchtop or shelf and when I go back to get it minutes, hours or days later - it's gone. When I don't need it, somehow it always manages to be in the way so I have to move it. But when I reach for it seconds later it has vanished, sometimes transported acrossed the shop and buried under other "stuff".
Now we all know that anything that can roll will. Has something to do with some guy named Newton. Why the inventor of the fig bar causes things to roll is a mystery to me but it's his fault that tools that can roll do. Anyway, anything with a cutting edge will, too often to be a coincidence, jump off a flat horizontal surface onto a concrete floor, almost always landing on the cutting edge or, worse yet - on the corner of the cutting edge - sort of like a cat landing on its feet or the jellied side of a piece of toast always landing jelly side down. Not only will they jump - they'll hide once they make it to the floor, usually under something heavy - AND - next to, on top of, or under something that bites or scratches and may or may not be venomous.
This is actually a corollary to the theorem that all inanimate objects are very sensitive, insecure and have a self destructive streak. If they feel they've been slighted, or ignored for too long, they'll try to hurt themselves at the first opportunity. Two cast iron planes, placed feet apart will, for no apparent reason, inexplicably bang into each other, managing to chip off a piece of one or both or bend something that's suppose to be straight.
Understanding the psychology of your inanimate objects is the first step in getting them to cooperate with you and each other. You can reduce their insecurity by giving them a nice home - each a comfy place of its own - a place in a rack in a nice tool cabinet, a fitted resting place in a dovetailed drawer, for the really sensitive ones - a nice custom box, for carving tools - a snugly pocket in a tool roll as they seem more content amongst others of their kind. You will need to keep them separated or, like children in the back seat of a car during a long trip, they'll go into "He's touching me/ I'm not touching him!" or jostling and rough housing mode.
Be warned however, once each has a home YOU MUST return each to its respective residence. They can be very territorial and the last thing you want is for a war to break out In a wall cabinet full of sharp things.
Spend some quality time with each of them and make sure you're generous with compliments. "Now this is a wonderful tool - nice to look at, just the right feel in hand and it does its job better than any other tool in the shop!" "You're a joy to use!" With mortising chisels you should avoid terms like "pretty" or "beautiful". Try "Now this is a beefy SOB, a REAL chisel." With small paring chisels and japanese dovetail saws say things like "What an elegant tool, so delicate yet so effective." Or "DEADBLOW - a perfect name for a perfect tool!" When you get visitors to the shop brag about them a little, the tools, not the visitor.
NEVER get angry at a tool or cuss at it or call it names - unless the name is an affectionate one. If a tool misbehaves it's usually because of something stupid YOU did. Cutting tools WILL think that any blood loss or stitches are THEIR fault and that can lead to depression. Depressed tools don't work very well. If you get injured by a tool make sure the tool knows It was due to your carelessness or poor technique.
Start each day in the shop with a pleasant greeting "What a glorious day we're going to have." Visit with each one during the day, if only for a moment, and things will go a lot better. At the end of the day thank them and affirm their worth before turning off the lights.
And if you can, get some Camelia Oil. Edged tools LOVE Camelia Oil.
charlie b
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There is a word for what you are describing. resistentialism (ri-zis-TEN-shul-iz-um) noun The theory that inanimate objects demonstrate hostile behavior against us. http://www.wordsmith.org/words/resistentialism.html
Art

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How about inanimate organizations or behaviors?
e.g. That stock you sold yesterday because for the past 2 months it's been going down $1, up 0.50, down $1.50, up $0.75, down $0.50, up $0.10 (you get the idea) and you've reached the threshold where you don't want to lose any more profits. The day after you sell, it's up $2.00, next day up $0.75, then: down $0.25, up $1.25, down $0.40, up $0.50, etc -- behavior not seen for the past 6 to 8 months.
... or (and my wife thinks I'm paranoid for this, but I have multiple examples of it happening):
On a two lane road with no opportunity to pass, you get behind someone going 10 mph below speed limit, you follow for miles, and, with delight, you note that the slow car is signalling to turn at the next intersection. You'll be free to cruise the remaining miles of your trip. Except ... At the same intersection, the slow car's replacement is waiting -- a gravel truck who pulls out as the car ahead of you is slowing down to turn -- you're back to 10 mph below speed limit the rest of the way.
I've actually experienced an interesting variant of this twice in the past month: In the first case, the replacement car pulled out in front of the turning slow car, then proceeded down the road ahead of me at 10 mph or more below speed limit. I reached my turn, turned off left to my road home -- the car ahead of me who had been going so slow, then signalled to turn right, pulled off into the gravel 100 yards beyond my turn, and made a U-turn heading back the direction from which we had come. In the second instance, I followed a car going way below speed limit all the way from my turn off of the highway up to the turn to my road home; again, as I signalled to turn left, 100 yards ahead of me, he turned off into the gravel and headed back the direction we had come. Arrrgh!

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How about the ones that you pass, then they pass you and slow down, and then you have to pass them again? It's like dude, I've had cruise set at 73 miles an hour for the past 6 hours - what's your DEAL?!
JP ************************** Road Umbrage.

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I believe that makes Tom Robbins sort of a resistentialist. I just bought a set of Hirsch firmer chisels from LV tonight, and I can't wait to give them a nice home - and hone.
Great post.
JP

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Amen, brudda.
I have one of those chisels that is in dire need of a good shrink. No matter where I put it on my work bench it will roll across the entire thing and fall onto the concrete floor. I watched it once. I put it near the back edge of my workbench. It managed to roll a full 24" across the bench and fell onto the concrete floor - point first of course. And I had many other round objects on the bench at the time that were perfectly happy to stay by the sidelines and watch this chisel do it's thing. The handle is tapered so it couldn't just roll like a cylinder. It had to roll in an arc, bump into something else and turn around. Roll in another arc the other way and bump into something else and turn around again. It was remarkable just how hard this poor misguided chisel had to work to get off the bench. It worked so hard that I didn't have the heart to stop it. The bench may have a little tilt, but non of the other round objects seemed to mind.
Wayne
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