So Many Dolls

It must not be forgotten, however, that tools are for use, not for show. The man – and such, though scarce, are to be found – who regards his tools as if they were so many dolls, and is never weary of counting them, polishing the handles and arranging them, simply makes himself ridiculous.

On the other hand, the tools of some carvers might well complain of “offended dignity” (if they were entitled to any) on account of the careless manner in which they are thrown about the bench. They lie in every conceivable position, and present an appearance which (bar the horrors) might be taken to represent a deserted battlefield.

The Cabinet Maker, Jan. 1, 1881, from the column “The Workman’s Corner.” This was a series of articles on tools, particularly carving tools, featured in the magazine. You can read the complete excerpts by downloading them from Jeff Burks’s web site via this link. All thanks to Jeff, who has been digging up and organizing some excellent material of late.

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6 Responses to So Many Dolls

  1. Peter Ganev says:

    Been guilty of the doll syndrome too often… Good post.

  2. rmcnabb says:

    Yet another reason to work out of a tool chest. Maybe the best reason of all.

  3. John Cashman says:

    I rescued some card catalog cabinets when they were being purged in the Great Digital Massacree back in the nineties. A friend took one, thinking he could use it for tool storage. Turned out it was just the right size for his daughter’s Barbie dolls. They referred to it after that as “The Barbie Morgue.”

    If you don’t know what a real card catalog was, I will weep for you.

  4. Michael Rogen says:

    I’ve spent many hours on Jeff’s unbelievable site. If you have never been there, well you ought to go and pay a visit. But be prepared to spend some time…


    • Jeff Burks says: is a domain that I use to host pictures and files, the majority of which are private. There has never been a website there, and I doubt there ever will be. I think Chris is just pulling your leg when he refers to it as my “website”.

  5. Joe Natishan says:

    That’s a pretty narrow-minded view in the first paragraph. I both use and display my L-N planes and here’s why: 1) I felt it a disservice to store them in plane socks in a filing cabinet, they’re too nice for that, they’re now in a 55″ wide x 30″ tall x 4″ deep cabinet with tempered glass doors and right above the workbench; 2) they inspire me more when I can see them than when they’re hidden away; 3) I treat them better even if I don’t use them for a month or two (e.g. they’re more likely to get oiled when I can see them); 4) they never travel – I don’t have to load them into a tool chest; and 5) I really proud to own some L-N tools that’ll last me until I croak or can’t use them anymore and I hope to indirectly inspire some of my buddies to buy good tools.
    So, while it’s nice to extol the virtues of tool chests (for obvious reasons), the use of the word “ridiculous” is hardly appropriate just because I store my finest tools well between uses. Were I a full-time woodworker, I’d likely feel differently.
    That’s my nickel’s worth

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