“It’s not bodge… it’s character!” – an old geriatric work mate used to say to me. And I felt this come to mind as I built my tool chest last weekend. I knew it would be nothing fancy since it was pretty much built as the hand tool equivalent of banging some boards straight through the thicknesser and nail gunning them together. But it still stand’s as a statement to show how you really don’t need to go to too much fuss with your hand tools to create something unique. Just imagine if I had gone the thicknesser / nail gun route; it would have certainly been a bland old box and I would have had to think of few extra details if I wanted it to look at least half decent. Now don’t think I’m getting all soppy and emotional but I do feel that the hand tools give that sense that the item is being brought to life.
The tooling marks on this chest are extreme but even when I’m building something really fine I never aim to smooth it all right back to create a perfect flat surface. I’ve just always loved the finish from leaving some hint of the tool. These are the marks of the maker and a sign of the labour that’s gone in to the piece; why would we want to disguise that? Through studying old furniture I’ve come to see the tool marks as the evidence of the method and technique and so personally I find it a big shame for them all to be erased.
We’ll tend to look to machines for speeding things up but I feel there’s a huge advantage that hand work has here. You can’t just leave in snipe off the planer and call it character or look at burn marks on a moulding and call it a beauty spot! In some regards machine work can require a more varied range of skills in the sense that these imperfections will need to be removed.
I’d say that if you built this chest following our plans then, despite it having the same design, yours would definitely have its own distinct signature which belongs to you – like a finger print. Your particular approach to a technique and use of your tools will all add to the story of the piece and I’m sure if it could be examined by the equivalent of a forensic scientist then there would be quirks of the maker to be identified.
Anyway, if YouTube starts behaving then we should be having our next video up to watch over the weekend.