We have become accustomed to working with machinery. Actually, that's an understatement. Machines are an integral part of our lives both in the shop and out.
We were born into the age of machines and simply take them for granted. True, we have seen a lot of evolution and the machines of today are a far cry from the relatively simple machinery of even the recent past. It's hard to imagine working without them. When we plan a project, it's not a question of whether or not we will use machines but which machine will be the best choice for the job at hand.
There are times, however, when machines are not the best choice. Recently, I had to cut a notch in an oddly shaped and rather large piece. I probably spent more time trying to envision a jig that could be used for the cut, maybe with a router held in a cobbled up Rube Goldberg contraption. But my dependency on machines finally occurred to me.
The notch could be easily cut by hand. I certainly have the skill and, stashed away in a drawer of my tool chest, some fine Japanese handsaws that I haven’t used in years. Out they came, like old friends and the notch was cut in short order.
It was good to realize that I had not lost the basic skills and reminded me of a time when I did more work with handsaws, chisels and planes that I did with machinery. But that was before I started to depend on woodworking for a living!