In 1997 my parents built a new house. I was a rambunctious child, and my dad figured out a way to get me out of his hair for a while so he could work. He gave me a long board, a hammer and a box of nails. I spent days just hammering nails into one board, as content as I could be.
When the luster of the hammer wore off, my dad pulled out an old Disston and Sons ripsaw (which sits in my toolbox now). I couldn’t get the hang of it. I spent hours struggling to get a cut started, and when I finally did, I couldn’t cut a straight line. The saw didn’t make sense to me.
I recently watched “Talking Japanese Tools with Toshio Odate” on Popular Woodworking Videos, and suddenly that summer I spent struggling with the ripsaw made complete sense. In the “Saws” section of the video, Toshio uses a string to explain how Japanese saws work.
Toshio explains that when you put pressure on a string and pull it, the string pulls in a straight line. When you put pressure on a string and push it, the string bunches up against the pressure. That’s why I had so much trouble, the push motion of Western saws felt wrong to my arms. The pull motion of a Japanese saw just made sense to me.
In the video Toshio covers everything from tools to the difference between eastern and western education and philosophies. With over two hours conversation, I have rewatched the video a handful of times and still find new information in it. I don’t see that stopping anytime soon.
Perhaps the best part about this video is that for the next month you can watch it free on our streaming site. Actually, you can watch all of our videos free for a month.
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