Issue 10 T.O.C. – George Walker – “A Whisper from the Past”


This post is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Ten. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come. 

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George Walker – A Whisper from the Past: The Lessons Tools Teach Us

As woodworkers, our tools are precious to us. We’ve grown accustomed to their quirks, learned their capabilities and weaknesses, and love the feel of their worn handles. They become extensions of our own hands. This connection between worker and tool has existed for millennia. But how have the Industrial and Digital Revolutions changed the way our culture defines “tools?”

Author George Walker explores the very tactile nature of hand tools, and the detailed information that they transmit to the user’s hands. From sawing a log to plowing a field, tools communicate a great deal about the nature of the medium, allowing us to “connect with nature and its risks.” The designs of these tools evolved over centuries, meeting specific needs while being refined through generations of use. 

Walker looks deeply into the relationship that makers have always had with the tools of their craft, and at the tradition of passing on those tools to new generations. This continues today but often in a much less clear line of succession: Tools are often dispersed through auctions or estate sales, to be snatched up by collectors or users. Walker shows how vital information about different aspects of these tools (makers, styles, local variations) can be preserved by collectors, but that the most valuable knowledge can only be found by putting a tool to use.

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