This came to me from a friend and fellow tool hunter, Will Hight. It was tacked inside one of his father’s tool chests and through the miracle of modern technology I bring it to your attention. The original may have been printed at the turn of the century but the idea remains a hard truth even today.
We’ve all head or experienced the neighbor who borrow a tool then returns broken or in less then original condition. I’m going to take a leap here and say that most tool collectors and craftsmen don’t borrow; rather they save up and collect over time the tools that are needed. I know this is true for me and I’m also guessing for many of you. From an early age I was either taught or just came to realize the value of a tool. That’s a complex thing and really you could write volumes on it.
Tools of yore weren’t cheap and although they may have been well made don’t confuse that with hardy. I’ve read different statistics on carpentry tool pricing and some higher end pieces, like a plow plane with a full set of blades, could be upwards of a month’s wages. Something like a handsaw could be a few days’ to a week’s wages and to kink or bend a plate doesn’t take much effort. Take it from me!
As a collector and restorer, I always take note of the condition for the obvious reason such as resale, but also I enjoy the story it tells. Things like early owners’ marks are well placed and stamped with care by the first owners to the later hastily initials carved like a 10 year old. You see this in all aspects of saws. I’ve found PERFECT handles on saws that have well sharpened teeth and bent plates. These often become wall hangers and time capsules in a way. The lack of care also translates into the value one puts into the tool. You pay very little for something and it sees little care. I see owners’ marks like the growth rings in a tree; they color and shape the final product like a piece of birdseye maple and without them you’re left with a sheet of farm raised yellow pine. So if you tend to sand handles smooth and refinished I’d urge you to reconsider this heavy-handed reaction to the saw’s character.
So in closing, the thought behind this sign may be: think before you borrow, or more simply, keep your hands off my shit. I hope it makes you think a little harder about the relationship between humans and their tools and how their value affects the outcome of them. I’m sure it’s something as collectors we understand better than most and the reason we enjoy collecting a tool for every job!