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
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.