Becoming one with file and rasp

A selection from my file arsenal.

Making hand-made tools requires plenty of file and rasp work. These tools are indispensable for the amount of control and precision shaping required for this trade. I love both of these types of tools, but I have to admit that long hours of filing and rasping can make both the body and mind very weary. My mind begins to wander, and I start thinking about computer controlled CNC machines, or perhaps a gang of neighborhood kids that work for only $1.00 per saw handle.

But then I realize that a tool made by a robot robs us of the hand-made qualities and uniqueness of these tools, and paying kids only $1.00 per saw handle violates child labor laws, and would be considered a sweat shop. I support neither.

So my mind wanders back to the task at hand, and I begin to break down my blade or handle blanks, notch by notch, stroke by stroke. I discover the subtleties of each tool, working with and against the grain of wood and metal. Sometimes the movements are bold and crude, hogging out material; sometimes so dainty, I wonder if I even removed any material.

Soon (several hours later), I look at the clock, and am amazed at how absorbed in the task I have been, shaping this small bit of utilitarian sculpture. The form has taken shape, in contrast to  its rough origin. I wonder, “Have I become one with file and rasp?”

The next work day dawns, and I find myself dreaming about robot sweat shops and such. Then I start shaping the material, with each stroke of the file and rasp. New forms blossom from crude materials, once again, I have become lost in the action, a snake chasing it’s tail.

My rasp collection.

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