The flaw in my argument

A tool is just a tool, right? If it works who cares about the bling?

In my last post, citing Bill Frisell’s mismatched Fender Jaguar, I made the argument that a tool doesn’t need to be boutique or look fancy to get the job done. It doesn’t even need matching paint! For anyone who drools over vintage guitars, however, there’s an obvious flaw in my argument. That mismatched Jaguar looks to be circa 1965 and probably worth about as much as my car.

Bill may have had it for a while, and probably didn’t pay the eye-watering prices┬áthat comparable instruments are going for these days, but the fact remains: though it is only a tool, it’s a very nice tool.

On the other hand, I could piece together an identical instrument and still not have the mastery over the instrument that Frisell has.

So, take all that for what it’s worth. A tool is a tool. ┬áSometimes the premium tool is the right choice. Sometimes it does make you better or at least allow you to flourish where you may have languished with an inferior tool. Sometimes it inspires you. Sometimes it’s a bargain, especially given the exorbitant I see people asking for old Stanley planes on Craigslist around here (FS: Old hand planer. Mostly rust. Broom handle for tote. $185). It’s complicated, of course, like all things are.

I have an embarrassment of nice tools and sometimes I still struggle to get it right. At least I know that most of the time it’s not the tool’s fault. I guess there’s something in that.



5 Comments Add yours

  1. For whatever it’s worth, as a hobbyist, I justify some of my tool purchases on precisely that basis. I’d rather be testing the limits of my own skill, rather than those of my tool. I suppose I’m lucky enough to be able to make that choice.


  2. Ron Aylor says:

    Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.


    1. Agreed, but only up to a point. An 89 degree square is fine for rough carpentry but not fine joinery, no matter the skill. A cheapo plane whose sole isn’t properly flat would be maddening. Etc. I don’t want to spend my few hobby hours on such frustrations.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ron Aylor says:

        Square and flat are indeed relative terms, differing from shop to shop. I do believe we are hard pressed to find one on par with our own and vise versus.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ron Aylor says:

        … vice versa … I hate when my phone thinks it knows better what I’m trying to say … LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

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