Sometimes Cheaper Makes Sense / Mastering the Basics Always Does

It’s good to remember that the ideas and challenges of mastering a craft – any craft – have been around a while. No, the world of IT doesn’t match exactly to building woodworking or cooking or anything else, but the path to mastery is really close to the same. It takes time, but not just time. Years of experience doesn’t equate to mastery. I read this post recently (First tools, Sharpening, and Good Enough) that recommends buying cheap chisels for woodworking when you’re starting out. It’s interesting, because often cheap tools are just that – cheap – and they can make it harder instead of easier. The argument here, and one I agree with, is that sharpening chisels is a core skill, one that is both harder on the top end tools because the steel is harder and because the top end tools hold an edge longer, you practice less. Those are good things for an expert, but not good things for a beginner. Yes, the better tool might let the beginner get more done initially, but it leaves a gap in skills that may or may not every get fixed. It’s hard to get five or ten years into a craft/career and then go back to basics, most people feel like they are past that.

Something to think on.