First Steps with Sharp Objects #1: The Foreign and the Familiar

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Blog entry by Texchappy posted 05-01-2012 01:01 AM 1387 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of First Steps with Sharp Objects series Part 2: When Did I become the Way Back Machine? »

The image is iconic and familiar; an infant makes his first stumbling steps. With a push from couch or table, the small feet take a giant leap into a new world. Now add to this picture the child holding a butcher knife (and please don’t try this at home). Scary scene isn’t it. As I imagine myself sawing and (worse yet) chiseling on a piece of wood, I feel just about this way. But yet I push off into a big new world excited about the possibilities.

The first big decision, as I discovered, was what sort of hand tools I would get – Japanese or Western. The one choice, foreign and almost mystical. The other choice, as familiar as the rusty saw on my Grandfather’s garage wall. As I began to explore the choice, I soon realized that one wasn’t as foreign as I supposed and the other not as familiar. If a kanna is just a plane then I still have to learn a new periodic table of Stanley planes for every occasion.

My initial (and yet not necessarily exclusive) choice was to go with a Japanese saw (ryoba) and Chisel. In the end, it was a practical factor that swayed me – my aching back. It seemed that the pulling of a sharp, fine kerf Japanese saw more gentle than the pushing of a Western. Perhaps (and maybe unfairly) this harkens back to the muscle memory of pushing a home improvement special saw through a board sliding around a plastic miter box.

So should I have embraced my American heritage? I believe I did. Not only is the Japanese American story an equally valid American story, but the greatest American story (and one of our strengths) is pragmatism. Will I enjoy my choice, I will if it just works.

So with a nomi in one hand I stumble away from the safe couch into a new world.

-- Wood is not velveeta

3 comments so far

View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4835 days

#1 posted 05-01-2012 01:09 AM

When does your next novel come out? LOL …...J/K

What a great analogy!

View Michael's profile


17 posts in 3301 days

#2 posted 05-01-2012 11:42 AM

I am also at this point. Never had much training in hand tools. Used them very little. Now I look at them and want to expand my knowledge on using them, but I have discovered that there is a whole other world of tools there. So many choices.
Maybe I’ll take another shaky wobble around the coffee table again, holding on.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3568 days

#3 posted 05-01-2012 01:47 PM

I’m with ShipWreck, that was a rather well written post. I definitely agree with your point on pragmatism.

Whether you’re talking about Western or Eastern methods of tool use, it’s all just a means to an end. To use martial arts as a metaphor, Bruce Lee once said that the greatest technique is to have no technique at all. Of course, he didn’t mean that sloppy and uncoordinated movements made the best fighter. What he meant is that by confining yourself to a rigid and inflexible system, you only limit yourself as you progress into that system.

-- Brian Timmons -

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