Selection and Care - List of Tools - Saw Teeth - Panel Saw - Sharpening and Setting - Tenon Saw - Dovetail Saw - Bow Saw and Frame - Planes - Iron and Wooden Planes - Plane Irons - Jack Plane - Trying Plane - Smoothing Plane - Rabbet Plane - Plough - Old Woman's Tooth - Hollows and Rounds - Chisels - Gouges - Spokeshave -Gimlets - Bradawls - Brace and Bits - Gauge for Bits - Screwdrivers
The subject of tools is one of the utmost importance in any handicraft, and the workman cannot exercise too much care in their selection, both with regard to quality and variety.
There is much truth in the old sayings that 'A bad workman always complains of his tools,' and 'A good worker can use anything.' The former individual, however, seldom has good tools, or if they were so originally have been allowed to fall into bad condition. This is as much as to say that a bad workman is careless with his tools. It may be quite correct that a good workman can do with anything or with poor tools, but it is equally correct that he seldom does use such, for he takes a pride in having them of as good quality as they can be got, and in keeping them in good order. It is hardly too much to say that the quality of a man's work can be estimated by his tools - not by their number or magnificence of appearance, but by their condition. They may be worn and dirty-looking from use, so far as the handles and other secondary parts are concerned, but their edges are sharp and orderly. The amateur, I know, is very much taken with fancy tools, polished handles, and all that kind of thing, and such an appreciation of the beautiful may be all very well, but it is of far more importance to pay attention to their working qualities. If they are not adapted to their purpose they are of little value, however nice they may look. It is no use paying for mere appearance.
The novice must also be cautioned that the number and variety of tools in his possession do not necessarily make a man a good workman. A few tools, properly understood and used with facility, are of infinitely greater value than a large number which cannot be used with precision. Those who have plenty of money and do not mind the outlay, may, of course, lay in enough tools to stock a dealer, getting one of everything to begin with, but a much wiser and better plan will be, after purchasing the few tools which may be looked on as indispensable for a start, to add others as they are required. 1 suppose there never was an amateur who went in for, as he thought, a complete outfit at the beginning but found, in the course of time, that he wanted something more, and that many of the things he had got were seldom or never used. Men's tastes in regard to tools vary as much as in other matters, and the tool which one considers indispensable for any particular detail of work another may think of no great value. Then it must be remembered that special tools for special purposes often require a considerable amount of manipulative ability before they can be used with advantage, or with an appreciation of their value. The tool which in experienced hands might effect a saving of time and do the work in the neatest manner, might, to the beginner, be useless. It is, therefore, not necessary for him to get many things to start with, and the outlay need not be a heavy one. If I may venture on somewhat dangerous ground, I would say to the beginner that it is part of the dealer's business to recommend as many tools as possible, so that the intending purchaser should at least have some idea of what he really wants.
As has been said, the tools should be of good quality to begin with, and this does not necessarily imply the payment of the highest prices, for really useful, though not so highly finished, things can often be got at very moderate figures. In all cases it is best to get tools from a regular tool-dealer, and not from fancy shops where everything is dealt in. The cheap sets, made up and sold in the latter for amateurs, should be avoided, as they are little better than toys, and satisfactory work cannot be done with them.
The novice may be inclined to ask or expect some directions how to distinguish between good tools and bad. The best advice I can give him is to buy only from respectable dealers, of whom there are plenty, and to trust to their judgment about quality rather than to his own. The prices for equal qualities of tools will not be found to vary much wherever they may be bought, though occasionally, in small places where there is no competition, they may be higher than in large towns. In such cases the purchaser can always protect himself by buying from good London dealers, most of whom make equitable arrangements for carriage. The well-known house of Moseley & Son, for instance, pays carriage to any part of England on parcels over ten shillings in value, while Lunt allows a discount instead.
Care should be taken of tools when they are got. They should be kept in good working order, and not allowed to get rusty, as they soon will if left to lie about in a damp place. The amateur, using them only occasionally, should be particularly careful in this respect, though the remark is equally applicable to the professional cabinet-maker. He, however, may be supposed to have his tools in such constant use that any approach to rust on them will be checked at once. If tools must be allowed to remain unused in a damp place, the amateur should wipe them over now and then with a little oil or grease of some kind.
The edges of tools which are in use require constant attention, and should be sharpened as soon as they get at all dull; good work cannot be done with blunt tools. It is a bad habit with some amateurs, and one not quite unknown in the practical workshop, to allow all tools of a kind to get among the 'middlings' and then sharpen them up altogether. It is far better to attend to each as soon as it loses its keen edge, and then the trouble of sharpening is hardly noticed, for an occasional rub on the oilstone does all that is necessary.