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Never one to work hard for the sake of hard work, I’m more than happy to take the shortest, easiest route to my goal. Of course, sometimes it’s just about the journey and not the goal, but if what I’m looking forward to is completion, Ill use the best available tool. This is where the difficulty comes in. ‘Best’ implies not only the tool that results in the best finished product, but also the tool that is most fun to use. Balancing these two — often contradictory — goals can be tricky. But it pays to keep an open mind rather than proceed out of habit or assumptions. For example, I much more enjoy using a handplane than a power sander; on the other hand, the machine can sometimes produce a quicker and maybe even better result. If I’m already plugged in and forging ahead with tablesaw and router it is easy to overlook the plane sitting on the shelf. Similarly, if I happen to be in a handtool frame of mind it can be a leap and a lurch to put down the handtool and go and get dustmasks, earplugs, and googles, etc.
This dilemma happened the other day when I had finished routing some dadoes for a custom shelving unit that needed to get finished in a hurry. The dadoes had ended up just a tad too narrow, and it took me a while to realize I was wasting a lot of time — annoying, finicky, unpleasant time at that — trying to re-rout the dadoes. And then, when I was almost done, thinking how much more pleasant — if slower — it had been in the ‘old’ days when I cut all this kind of thing by hand, I remembered my side snipes. Ah! efficiency AND pleasure!