My Tool Collection, Part 1: Collecting vs. Hoarding
My woodworking journey is very personal to me. I understand that every other woodworker feels the same way about their own journey, so I try to keep the idea in mind when I hear or see other woodworkers talk/post about theirs. It’s challenging, though, when I see someone who just… buys tools. They don’t have any plans to do anything with them but put them in buckets or boxes in their basement. They buy them because they are woodworkers and people expect them to be “tool collectors”, as well, I suppose.
I don’t really think of this as collecting; it’s more like hoarding.
Many years ago, at my really real job, I was asked to document a dialog box in one of the applications we use in-house. The dialog box allowed you to create complex search functions and save them. But then you could also share those saved search functions with other employees, so they didn’t have to take the time to create them, as well! Nice, right? The function had an appropriately-titled button called “Share”. Then they added another button, called “Unshare”, to make the saved search unavailable to anyone else.
I took issue with that last button label. Unshare isn’t a bleedin’ word, is it? Look, even my MS Word Spell Check knows that! So… I may have modified the label to something more appropriate. What is the opposite of “to share”? Anyone?
That’s right. Hoard. I created a Hoard button. And I gave it some appropriate single line help, too. “Selfishly retrieves your saved search, allowing nobody else to use it.”
Then something or other came up and I possibly forgot to change it back to what it should be. The next day, after the software build, I got a phone call from Bev in QA who wanted to talk about one of the button labels in the Saved Search dialog box…
Anyway, my point here is that hoarding isn’t a good thing (nor is making “Hoard” buttons, apparently). I think collections should have some purpose other than to just be a large gathering of tools that aren’t going to see the light of day until your kids are going through all of the boxes in your shop to label them for an estate sale, wondering what on earth you were doing with 15 Stanley No. 5 bench planes. They should be informative or educational or… preserving of some type of tool that may be otherwise lost. Besides, wouldn’t those tools better serve us by being used? Think of all the people who could have furthered the craft of woodworking if only someone had put a properly tuned Number 5 in their hands and let them experience that first shaving!
Look, I’m not saying all collecting is bad. There is certainly good collecting. And I know several people who are excellent collectors. But I think I see a significantly greater number of people who are not collecting, but hoarding. I suppose one could argue that the biggest purpose of a collection is the pleasure of gathering and collecting and, thus, it always meets the requirement of “doing something”, at least to the person gathering them together. You can make that argument, but… that doesn’t mean I’ll agree with it.
With that in mind, with the idea that a collection should be MORE than an assembly of tools of a certain type or disposition, I’ve decided to start discussing my collection of beading tools, to share what I’ve learned, to open you up to using a tool you might not have considered before, to expanding your realm of woodworking. If you aren’t really interested in what I collect, that’s cool; we’re all in this for different reasons and it takes a lot more than that to hurt my feelings. Feel free to skip over any future blog posts that start out, “My Tool Collection…”.
But maybe you’re intrigued by it. Maybe you collect them, as well (not likely, I know)! Maybe you have some information about certain beading tools that I don’t have and want to share it with me. Maybe you have a similar collection and appreciate some of the information I’ve gathered over the years! Or maybe you want to follow me down the rabbit hole as I learn about my own collection, just to see how far it takes me.
It’s a rather small collection, honestly, not even 20 tools at the moment, and I don’t see it expanding too much more in the future. But that is absolutely intentional, to be sure. I don’t want a workshop so stuffed with tools I won’t ever use that I can’t comfortably do my woodworking. I want to collect something that has some innate interest to me, that stirs some suppressed desire in me to have an interest in something mundane and long forgotten by most people. I want to collect something that I’ll also use, thus getting a double dose of enjoyment from them. And I want to collect something that doesn’t take up a huge amount of space.
So when I first saw the beading tool that started me down this path, and it immediately drew me in and made me want to use it and find out more about it, and it was very small, I knew I was on to something. I bought it on a whim (an expensive whim, to be sure) and, as I thought I would, made an instant connection with it when I pulled it out of the shipping box. As a bonus, not only was the tool small, but I figured there probably weren’t a lot of different beading tools made over the years, so my collection would be quite manageable.
What I don’t want this series of blog posts to become is something that could be labeled, “A History Of Beading Tools”. If it starts getting to be like that, I trust you’ll let me know, yah?
This is just the introductory post to my collection. The next post will begin with an example from Edward Preston and his unfathomable numbering system, the 1393s beading scraper. Until then!
PS. Apologies for the pause in blog updates the last few weeks. I finally got into Instagram (see link at top right) and found it to be a most agreeable social media tool! It sucked me in for a time, but I still love the longer written and multiple-picture format of a blog, so I’m trying to balance the two. I also had another opportunity come up that will push me into completely new woodworking territory. It is a little daunting, a little frightening, to be sure. But it will expand my realm of woodworking and make me a better woodworker for it. And I think I’m up for the task, though it may take up quite a bit of my time for the next two months. I’ll be happy to discuss at a future date, but would like to keep under wraps for the time being.
PPS. Oh, and don’t think I’ve forgotten about those tools I discussed last time. They are scrapers; rosewood handled scrapers. Most recently used for scraping paint in many cases, but originally used in the printing industry to scrape screens. I had an elderly retired woman who worked in the printing industry for 40 years confirm my assertion. She said I had a lovely gathering of rosewood handled screen scrapers.