Most Important Woodworking Tool

Been giving some thought to what would be the most important woodworking tool, one that is indispensable to all woodworkers. Perhaps it is more of an asset than a tool, but my answer is:

Time.

With time, comes patience, and woodworking demands a huge amount of patience. The patience to do the job properly, to take all the necessary steps, whether that be tool maintenance, stock preparation, using safety equipment, and so on.

Time for practice – like any worthy pursuit, you need practice to perfect the craft. Sportsmen practice, chess players practice, surgeons practice (they also have a practice…..hmm wonder if they are related…..), and woodworkers practice. You don’t just jump in and hand-cut a dovetail joint. You practice, develop the skills, perfect the technique.

Tools – jigs and powertools in particular are “time-savers”. They don’t remove the need to practice, but they do allow the learning curve to be shorter (sometimes), or they speed up a task. Time is still the most critical asset. With time, you can hand-cut a dovetail, with less time, you could use a router and a template. With time you could form a mortise and tenon with a chisel and a mallet, with less time, you could use a Domino (Festool). In any case, time is the key.

You can buy time, and anyone contemplating a tool purchase is weighing up how much they are prepared to spend on time. Think about it – the next time (sic) you plan to buy a new tool, what is it you are considering? Yes, I can do this job another way, but it is slower, or I don’t have the skill yet, so would need time to learn how to do it, or I could BUY this jig/tool whatever. It could be that you offload some time consuming functions to others – pay someone to fix the car, so the time I would have spent learning how to do that is better used…in the shed. Buy a length of dowel – I could make it on the lathe, or I could save time, and buy it ready-made, and so it goes on.

The one thing that no woodworker can go without is time.

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