As a kid I wasn’t a traditionalist, not by a long shot. I remember me and my brother banging out hundreds of hours competing on the Sega Megadrive. My earliest tool cravings weren’t for hand tools either but for the ones with power and noise. I remember my Dad had a cordless Makita when they first came out, and I loved it, and if I was really lucky he would let me have a go on his jigsaw. With that drill, jigsaw and the space of an afternoon the games I could produce for me and my brother were tremendous. Nothing motivates a small boy more than the prospect of shooting his brother, other than when the shooting is done with his very own creation – what an achievement. Rustic elastic band guns; that’s how I got bit with the making bug.
With the influences around me and my own ambitions, it didn’t take long for my bug to develop towards hand tools as I started to see their value and understand what they offered to my work. But getting started is much more about a spark of inspiration than mastering technique, so I’ve always thought the perceived speed and can-do nature of power tools to be as good a place to start as any.
You can go to a DIY store and pick up some basic power tools, furniture board and nails, have a rummage around in the garage back at home for an old hammer and you’re away. In that afternoon you could knock up something crude for the house and that’s you caught. The sense of achievement pushes your creativity and for your next project you’re edging to include some curves or a moulding, and you take another step forward on your own personal journey.
Once the making bug has you, you start looking around and taking note of furniture more. You find yourself looking at the tables while sat in a restaurant and you’re seeing things differently – you’ve become a bit of a maker, and the maker’s eye comes on only through making. You might puzzle over the intricacy of a raised panel door and very quickly realise that your stash of tools have reached their limits.
Often this is where the internet steps in; you stick in to Google “how do I…” and ‘boom’, up pops a forum and a blog. Online community has done wanders for keeping alive a real passion for hand tools and woodworking.
Nothing sparks interest quite like noise, power and progress. Whilst the kids of today are sat with their chubby mates at their computers it’s well worth noting that many will still be making, since one of the biggest selling games is MineCraft, a game where you build and create on screen. Making may well be what makes us human; the desire to make is in all of us and should be nurtured.