East versus West

When I started hand tool woodwork I was convinced that Japanese tools were the answer to my flagging physical strength. I started out with a 6mm nomi and a small ryoba. I struggled.  I couldn’t saw to a line and setting the hoop and sharpening the chisel didn’t turn out just so.

Then I got a Bad Axe hybrid tenon/dovetail saw. It was sharp out of the box and glided through the wood.  Of course the wood was poplar but still…

Over the next few years I learned I could struggle with any tool; I often did. East or west, the tool needed input from the user. I also learned that if I persevered that I could do better.

This was brought into sharper focus today as I worked on roughing out the pieces of my milkman’s workbench.  I worked ripping down the 8/4 cherry I’m using.  I was struggling with my very nice Wenzloff rip panel saw.  I decided to give my larger ryoba a try. It worked quite nicely.

For me, I’m coming to the conclusion that I like both sets of tools depending on which of my muscles are working on a given day.

For everyone else? To quote an old supervisor and mentor: “practice makes better.”  There is no magic tool that will transform us into A world class woodworker; patience and perseverance just might. It will at least help us along the road.


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