I have been wanting to share a personal story which ends with a question to
see what kind of replies folks have.
The story starts like this: A few years ago I took up an interest in old
time banjo. I read a few books about the history of the banjo, and bought a
few CDs, an open back banjo, and learned to play a bit (earlier than that I
was infatuated with "acoustic-blues" guitar, but that story is over 15 years
long). I decided it would be "a good project" to build a minstrel-style
banjo. For one thing, the task seemed more approachable than building a
guitar--at least for a "first" project! ;)
I started with Compiano and Natelson's text on guitar making and found a
newsgroup concerned with building such banjos. I spent dozens of hours
reading about processes involved with building banjos that we're similar to
the banjos those used in the middle part of the 19th century. Along the
way, I became aware of what an interesting thing woodworking was/is (as the
typical reader here is well-aware, their really are 2 different contexts).
Then I read The Plane Book (every sentence, studied the pictures)and The
Sharpening Book. And I found this newsgroup which I read every day, bought
The Bandsaw Book, The Table Saw Book, at least 10 books on woodworking from
the used book store and the library, subscribed to 3 woodworking magazines.
I picked up two more for myself this Christmas including Woodworking and the
Router: Revised.... . That's not to mention the Grizzely, Rockler, and
Lie-Neilson catalogs! All of the activity I described in less than 2 years!
Currently, I am an apartment dweller, so I've just picked up a few hand
tools--I'll probably buy a tablesaw, drill press, and router when I can
provide a good home for them.
I "played" with wood and metal and electricity in the garage when I was
young, and I took all the shop classes my high school offered. Except for
working on my cars a bit (rebuilt carb, installed radio,etc.), that's
really all of the "practical" experience that I have. I think the single
most important woodworking lesson I learned in high school, over 25 years
ago, was about safety. Since high school, I've done considerable work in
math and computer science. Familiarity with the processes used in those
discipines I expect will contribute to my doing better woodworking. For
instance, since high school, I've acquired the patience to build a
prototype, and the idea of building a finger-joint and a dove-tail joint
just for the education that comes from working at it is appealing to me. I
don't expect to cut a dove-tail joint perfectly the first time. I don't
think I even have the right saw ;)
Tools...even math and computer science are tools...taking a step back, even
musical instruments can be viewed as tools, but for me I think the latter
are really instruments of curiosity. I have a guitar, (digital) piano,
banjo, and most recently picked up a fiddle--in fact two, the second in need
of my resetting the soundpost.
So I have provided you with some evidence that I may have possibly picked up
a tool affliction... So I ask you folks, who have been at this longer and
may even have a tool affliction worse than I do, what is at the heart of a
tool affliction? I have some thoughts about this, but I'd prefer not to
affect your answers. Comments obviously invited! Thanks for reading.