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National Worship of Tools Day, March 11, 2020
By Terry Chapman

Worship of Tools Day

Worship of Tools Day is here! I wondered how long it has been around and if Hallmark has picked up on it yet. Turns out March 11 is Worship of Tools Day, right there in between President's Day and Pi Day (for us math nerds) on 3-14. I checked with Google to see where it came from and nobody seems to know. It was first mentioned in March 2015 and has continued since, mostly in columns and blogs like this one. To be sure I hadn't missed something, I looked it up in the Urban Dictionary and it defaults to "tool" as an arrogant jerk, usually a male. I guess I was not surprised at that, but I got a good laugh when they included a picture of Kanye West and my brother-in-law in the definition.

Worthy Tools

While trying to get hold of the idea, I kept coming back to tools worthy of worship. For example, while watching This Old House a few months ago, they were interviewing an astronaut about living and working on the Space Station. Naturally they asked him about the tool chest on the Station and I was gratified to hear the way to minimize the tool list is to put the whole Station together with 7/16 inch bolts. That way you only need one socket to disassemble or repair parts of the Station. That's the way I would have done it.

My favorite tool in my personal shop, the one I reach for constantly and the one I show visitors, is the low angle block plane. I pick it up last for a project and I use it to round over any sharp edges on a project. I savor this fantasy that many years from now some fellow believer will notice the tool marks on the edges and think, someone loved this piece and the tools used to make it enough to round these edges. Who's not looking for an afterlife and being remembered for their good works?

Hammer Time

If you want to go all the way to the head tool, you can't beat the hammer. (Is Trini Lopez still alive?) It surely must be the first tool — I can just see some Neanderthal picking up a rock and using it to crack some nuts or bust open a log to get to some edible morsel. Somebody got tired of smashing their fingers and figured out a way to get a handle on that rock and the rest is history. I build houses these days and find use for a hammer several times a week. Below is a photo of my three wooden handled hammers. There is a heavy framing hammer with an age limit molded into the head. There is a lovely medium trim hammer with a smooth face so as to not leave hammer tracks on your fine molding. My absolute favorite is a small trim hammer named by a high school carpentry class I was teaching as El Nino - Little Boy, or the Christ Child in Spanish. And so it comes full circle.

I have seen this video many times, but I still love it. I'm convinced it is real — what do you think?

Who knew, but in Viking culture, the hammer was/is a symbol of faith, blessing and justice. In Norse mythology, Mjolnir, The Hammer, is known as Thor's Hammer and is still used today on pendants and other small jewelry in the Scandinavian societies. In the currently popular Marvel movies, Thor's Hammer plays a major role. Mjolnir, Hammer of Righteousness, is capable of tremendous feats, but only by someone who is "worthy". In the movies, (which I have not seen), when a villain tries to pick up the hammer, it is impossible to lift and cannot be used for foul deeds.

Saints of the Worship Experience

I suspect many will agree Roy Underhill is an elder of Worship of Tools. What is it now, over thirty years of that TV show? (Draw knife joke — don't pull it too far, that's what happened to my half-brother!)

If you want to know what tools you need to put in a beginner's tool chest, start with that prophet, Christopher Schwarz and his Anarchist's Tool Chest. Chris lists the tools in order of need and minimizes the list so you don't have to buy too many and you know to get really good ones. It is an excellent book and could be used as the hymn book for Worship of Tools Day.

I'm sure we could all name others — Thomas Lie Nielsen, Christian Becksvoort, Peter Galbert, Caleb James, David Fisher, Mary May, Robin Wood, Peter Follansbee, Megan Fitzpatrick, Mike Dunbar, Jennie Alexander, Curtis Buchanan. There are so many who do good work and would have to be called elders of Worship of Tools.

A Good Place to Begin

If you are new to this gathering and Worship, I can't help but think a good place to begin is Highland Woodworking. For many years, before I had cash to spend on tools, I would spend hours walking around Highland's store in Atlanta looking at and longing for the tools on display, building the foundations for what eventually turned into my position today. If you have never seen it, the catalog they send out is considered by many to be a book worth studying. Take a look!

Terry Chapman is a Professional Engineer (Civil) and Land Surveyor who lives south of Atlanta. He has done woodworking for many years and particularly enjoys bowl turning and making Windsor Chairs. He currently works as Site Development Manager for a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity and has one son who pastors a Church in Connecticut. You can email him at cdeinc@mindspring.com.

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