This week I have been taking a fair amount of flinged poo – both private poo and public poo – about my involvement with Don Williams’s forthcoming book “Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley.”
The flinged feces goes something like this: As the author of “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” which argues for a simple and flexible chest, aren’t you a hypocrite for getting the masses excited about a chest that espouses an opposite viewpoint?
The Studley toolchest is an icon of our craft for several reasons. It is the Farrah Fawcett poster-child for the wall-hanging tool chest set. It is a socially productive application of obsessive behavior. It is, on one level, tool pornography. And it is a touchstone to a different kind of tool chest that was made by patternmakers.
If Studley and I were to sit down and have a beverage, I think we would agree on some things and disagree on others. He and I see eye-to-eye on the fact that you should have a limited set of quality tools – the best you can afford. We agree that all these tools should be in a chest that is easily accessible from the bench. And we would agree that making your own tools – or modifying stock tools – is good practice.
Where we seem to disagree is on the way we achieve these goals. Studley fitted every tool into a single-purpose slot. Studley put every tool in its place. And with great gothic style. I prefer the flexible school – I want my tools to be “free range,” for lack of a better expression.
Perhaps our personality differences could be summed up like this: When growing up, Studley probably preferred that his peas and gravy remained separate. Me, I like a melange of peas, gravy, bread crusts, cranberry jelly and bits of bird flesh in every fork-full.
But despite these small differences, I actually feel a kinship with the man. I’m not a mason. I’m not a piano-maker. I am not as nimble (more on this later). But we both like sharp tools that are made well and feel good in the hand.
And who doesn’t?
— Christopher Schwarz