Most (but not all) of my projects in the shop involve wood ...

I've been told that in Australia one cannot carry a simple pocket knife.  So I guess that Mick Dundee's "Arkansas toothpick" was a bit of colorful fiction.  That said, I really cannot imagine walking around without one.  Hardly an hour goes by in the typical day when I don't pull it out for something.

I guess that's my way of saying that our tools are a big part of what makes us not just who we are, but also human.  Up until about 1960, there was a popular notion among paleontologists that the making of tools was the threshold, when finally crossed by protohumans, which that made them more us than not us.  Kenneth P, Oakley wrote a famous book dedicated to that notion.

Now, the more accepted demarcation centers on our language and communication skills, which evolved rapidly once we became fully bipedal and started using gestures extensively.  Dr. Spencer D. Kelly is probably "the" current leading expert in this area of research, and I highly recommend his Great Courses lecture series on the topic.

For me, a big part of being able to appreciate and pay homage to those that came before us, developing the myriad of tools we now enjoy, is to collect and use a few of the early masterpieces of the tool maker's art.  I am particularly fond of woodworking tools from the latter part of the 19th century, just before the electric motor killed off the most refined (and expensive) of them.  That was an era when it wasn't enough for a tool to simply be functional, it also had to be elegant - not so much ornate, but definitely not without a few embellishments.

The links provided here are to pages where a few of my projects and prized tools may be seen.  As always, questions and commentaries are welcome.