Tool or Art? You Decide

By Larry Bilotti | Updated Sep 5, 2012 10:22 PM

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Tool or Art?

When does a simple hand tool—let’s say a saw—become a work of art?  For tool collectors, the answer is an easy one: when the tool bears some historic pedigree or exhibits the natural patina of a well-used, but well-maintained carpenter’s companion.

For attendees of local art shows, the answer can be quite different, as I discovered when I stumbled upon these works of art at a local craft fair.  Rather than let unused saws go into early retirement, an enterprising artist decided to turn them into art forms.  With a little acrylic paint and a masterful hand, he was able to elevate the basic, crosscut, ragged-toothed handsaw from being an article of work into the work itself.

The artist, as befitting a true master, was not only conscientious of the medium (metal) but the scale and proportion, recognizing the long, tapered shape more suited to sweeping landscapes than portraits of one sort or another.  And as an original work of art and near-relic tool, the price is a bargain at $25 a saw.

So what does this post really say?  Whether you like your saws as useful tools or decorative artwork, the choice is yours!

For more on tools and workshops, consider:

Choosing Essential Tools for Woodworking
The Dominy Workshop at Winterthur Garden
The Essential Toolbox