The image is iconic and familiar; an infant makes his first stumbling steps. With a push from couch or table, the small feet take a giant leap into a new world. Now add to this picture the child holding a butcher knife (and please don’t try this at home). Scary scene isn’t it. As I imagine myself sawing and (worse yet) chiseling on a piece of wood, I feel just about this way. But yet I push off into a big new world excited about the possibilities.
The first big decision, as I discovered, was what sort of hand tools I would get – Japanese or Western. The one choice, foreign and almost mystical. The other choice, as familiar as the rusty saw on my Grandfather’s garage wall. As I began to explore the choice, I soon realized that one wasn’t as foreign as I supposed and the other not as familiar. If a kanna is just a plane then I still have to learn a new periodic table of Stanley planes for every occasion.
My initial (and yet not necessarily exclusive) choice was to go with a Japanese saw (ryoba) and Chisel. In the end, it was a practical factor that swayed me – my aching back. It seemed that the pulling of a sharp, fine kerf Japanese saw more gentle than the pushing of a Western. Perhaps (and maybe unfairly) this harkens back to the muscle memory of pushing a home improvement special saw through a board sliding around a plastic miter box.
So should I have embraced my American heritage? I believe I did. Not only is the Japanese American story an equally valid American story, but the greatest American story (and one of our strengths) is pragmatism. Will I enjoy my choice, I will if it just works.
So with a nomi in one hand I stumble away from the safe couch into a new world.
-- Wood is not velveeta