Jigs


'They've figured out our shortcut and know how handy we aren't.'

The jig serves as the craftsperson's secret weapon. The sculptor, the painter, the quilter, the woodworker each employ special-purpose tool-guiding tools which remain almost unknown to the casual hobbyist. The master's freehand work might not produce anything any finer than any rank amateur could muster, but on the master's way to mastering their craft, they first mastered crafting the lowly jig, which could more consistently guide their hands guiding their tools. The absence of jigs in my toolbox clearly demonstrates that I am not a master of very many crafts. My father's old carpenter's square helps me mark true perpendiculars. A scrap of tape on a drill bit helps me avoid drilling holes too deeply. The pilot holes I drill before setting long screws not only prevent splitting the stock but guides the screws better than could my naked eye and unassisted hand.

Writers employ a variety of jigs, too, most of these almost invisible in the finished work.
I often employ a format template to better structure the content of my writing, an example of function following form. I copy and paste after drafting, losing that structure which guided the original drafting but retaining the subtle benefits of having used it. Nobody else ever need know. Poets employ formal structure to similarly frame their work. These structures and conventions tacitly improve the finished work's readability and acceptance. Sentence, paragraph, section, and chapter conventions also serve as jigs to contain the writer's work.

Roadways serve as driving jigs, helping structure and form, boundaries containing otherwise inescapable chaos. Parking spaces painted along the street act as jigs for those who might otherwise tend to waste that scarce space. Walkways and trails, too, condense and contain foot traffic to areas more easily maintained while conserving the spaces in-between. Every screw is a jigged nail. Every nail, a jigged plug, which used to need hand whittling, drilling, and placing. Every hinge, a jigged strap. My windows open along jigs reliably guiding their sliding. Even the treads on The Schooner's tires act as jigs to encourage consistent tracking.

The Muse returned from her last trip with a bag filled with kitchen gadgets, jigs intended to improve the ease of use and uniformity of result from some other kitchen utensil, each of which likely serve as some sort of jig, too. The tools of our trades, the apps and appendages we employ, are mostly tools to enhance the performance of the tools of our trade, and thereby jigs. Our ancient ancestors managed with little more than a rock while we can't seem to survive without a half-dozen jigs supporting the simple tool which originally replaced that humble rock. The term 'the jig's up,' might mean, 'they've figured out our shortcut and know how handy we aren't.'

©2018 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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