This morning I was out cleaning off a wooden sign.  This is our identifier for our house – proclaiming that the Bakers live here!

Baker sign

Now, for years I have played with the eternal dispute of sandpaper versus blade.  My original mentoring in woodwork was with a purist.  Use only blades – sandpaper and electrical tools when you must.  No chemicals and only oil finishes.

Lately I have encountered the need to consider sandpaper.  When a dilapidated furniture piece is best finished with paint, then an electric sander is economical and fast.

This morning I returned to a paint scraper – an instrument with which I am comfortable and have extensive experience.  Holding it in my hand, I felt confident in the work to be done.  The final result was quite acceptable.  And I had fun.

I grew up playing par 3 golf at a local course.  My driver, five iron and putter became the staples of the game.  Later in life I was exposed to, and used the full range of golf clubs.  I still love to return to a full course, with only three clubs, and see if I can beat my opponents (which I still seem to be able to do). 

The tools of the trade are honed for a general approach to a situation.  Taking into account the general population, the instruments should work best for most people. 

Then there are those who are genuinely artists in their trade.  Their instruments may be those the marketplace offers as best practise.  Or they may be antiquated tools, or ones that no one has ever seen. 

The matter at hand is not whether a person is using the tools that our society expects them to use (or even demands that they should use).  The question is more along the lines of whether the craftsman is an artist with their tools.

Let me add that an true artist is teachable and strives for perfection.  They will pick up the latest tool that can help them to perfect their art.  But they will not be bound by society’s perceptions of what tools are the best!