Now I have the glue on these boards and am ready to drive some brads in and can’t find my hammer. “John, have you got my hammer? I do wish you would try and get some tools of your own; I don’t mind lending mine, but it is such a nuisance and inconvenience to me and takes up a lot of my time.”

“You first started by asking my permission to take them, now you say nothing but come and help yourself; you take them and never think of returning them unless I ask for them, and when I do get them they are in bad order: You borrow my planes, wood bits, chisels, oilstone, and even my pencil. Can’t you scrape up a pencil some place? What are you doing with my inch chisel? You have one of your own; why don’t you use that?”

“I tried to use it, Mr. Martin, but it is too dull and I knew yours would be sharp.”

“John, if you want to learn the trade you must learn to keep your tools in order. You can’t do work without tools, and you can’t do it with dull tools. If you are going to learn this trade you’d better start in at once and buy some. Get a few at a time, what you need most, and be sure and get nothing but the best.”

“Didn’t you tell me you took a piece of calico to a hop last Saturday night and it cost you three bucks? If you had put those three dollars in tools, don’t you think they would do more good and leave you something to show for it? Some fine morning you will wake up and find you are obliged to look for work in another shop; then you will wish you had given more of your attention to your trade and tools, and not so much of your time to calico and money for hops.”

“Journeymen are not obliged to, and do not care to, lend tools to any person, and less so to apprentices because they do not understand how to take proper care of them. When I was an apprentice, I took great pleasure in new tools when I knew they were my own, and they gave me a kind of ambition to care and work with them.”

“Try and keep yourself and your bench tidy. You have had that old, dirty, torn apron on until it can stand up alone. A clean apron don’t cost much, and your bench looks like a pawnshop window. When you lay anything on it you have to get a search warrant to find it; learn to be neat. Don’t forget what I said about saving your money and getting a few tools.”

Mr. Martin

American Machinist – October 2, 1902

Original appears on LostArtPress —Jeff Burks

I for one – should make more of an effort to keep my bench tidy – then I would not have to deal with events such as this.