During my 23 years of working in group shops, I’ve seen a lot of oddball behavior. Most of it is run-of-the-mill laziness – never emptying the dust collector, putting your rotting food waste in the bench room garbage cans and never ever returning the router wrenches to their designated nail. (Honest, I once found the wrenches on the back of the toilet.)
The weirdest thing I’ve observed, however, is straight-up duplicity when it comes to tools.
Ever since I could afford good tools, I’ve bought them. And I make no apologies for spending more than $6.37 on a block plane. When you own nice tools and work in a group shop, however, people give you crap. They’ll sing the praises of the plastic-handled Greenlee chisels they bought in a dollar bin at a meat market in Tijuana. Or the paring chisel they made out of a bumper of a Ford F-150. Or the prybar made from the springs of the aforementioned F-150. Or the tack rags they cooked up themselves.
These are all true examples.
What I’m here to say is that most of these guys are blowing hot air. When they needed a bevel gauge that held its setting, they were the first to snitch my Vesper bevel from my tool chest.
And so today, as I was hanging up a new (actually very old) Plumb 16 oz. hammer for shop use, I thought about the most-borrowed tools in my chest. These are the tools that the cheapskates borrow constantly.
I can’t think of a higher endorsement.
- My Chris Vesper sliding bevels and squares. People rail against the prices but they greedily swipe all of my Vesper stuff. I am constantly returning his tools to my chest (and I’m now thinking about a lock).
- My Starrett 6” and 12” combination squares. Sorry that your plastic home center combo square sucks a trailer hitch.
- My Lie-Nielsen smoothing plane. Wait, I thought you said that all handplanes could be tuned to an equally high level?
- My Tite-Mark gauges. I guess you wanted a clean baseline for those dovetails.
- My 16 oz. hammer. You might as well borrow my underwear, you savage.
- My Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw. Is your Dozuki’s blade still bent?
- Sterling Toolworks Dovetail Marker. I thought you marked your dovetails by eye….
- Blue Spruce 16 oz. round mallet. Ah right, round-head mallets are for carvers.
- Veritas Shooting Plane. I thought it was too expensive and just a toy?
- My card scraper. Again with the underwear!
I could go on, but you get the point. Good tools cost money. And they are apparently worth the ridicule when you borrow them.
— Christopher Schwarz