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JOEL Joel's Blog

The Closest Tool Is The Best Tool


The Closest Tool Is The Best Tool 4I get asked all the time which tool is best and the answer which infuriates people is "whatever is closest at the time". And I think it's a good rule - given a choice between a tool a step a way that will do a decent job and another tool that lies buried elsewhere that might do a marginally better job - the closest tool wins out every time.

So it came to pass last Friday night that my four and a half year old son handed me a small scrap of wood that he was playing with (actually the same scrap that used to test marking knives and awls last year and had since discarded) and wanted me to clean it off. Apparently in the course of playing with it he marked up the surface and he needed them clean for some reason. The sandpaper I gave him did not work - it was too fine a grit and at home in my apartment I don't have my workbench, my workshop tools and coarser sandpaper. But how could I disappoint the boy? It would be easy to blow him off, take the wood to my shop and plane it properly. But how could I make the lad wait a day?

The closest tool was my Norris A5 that I happen to keep at home with the rest of my collectible tools. And for a workbench I held the wood in my hand. I didn't go a great job but I did it on time, under budget, and the customer was very satisfied.

ps - Sorry for the poor quality of the the picture, it was taken by me by holding my phone at arm's length.
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10/27/2009 David A. P.
Sounds like a win all around to me!
11/03/2009 Sean
For me close is important, but sharp even more so. Even if that chisel or plane is not the "technically right" sized one for the job, if it is sharp and to hand, it usually get the work and performs far better than the less sharp "right" tool would have.
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