Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 2
   November 2011
   From the Collection

Panel-marking gauge

Personalizing a tool can be done in many ways, depending on the material or style of the item needing to be identified, from the most simplistic methods of writing one's name on the tool, painting it a specific color or perhaps making a recognizable mark on it, to more sophisticated methods of identification. The use of a name stamp was a common practice for cabinetmakers when marking their tools. In some cases, it also became the brand or trademark for items that were produced.

The most personal of all identifiers is the creation of a working tool for everyday use that exhibits the skill of the maker. This tool should not be mistaken for a so-called apprentice or test piece or even a salesman's sample. Making items of that type were sometimes the final step in the apprentice/journeyman/master process, to signify the skill acquired through many years of diligent study. Once the exercise was completed, the tool was often given to the master as a parting gift. It was only after the apprentice had served his time and was a working journeyman that some surplus time may have been found and put to use to make a tool that gave the maker the satisfaction of exhibiting his skill. More likely, this tool was part of the long-honored tradition of creating a personal tool to be part of the journeyman's working kit and to be shared by all who were allowed to see it in use or in its place in the tool chest.

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