A Master Makes Their Own Tools YKTTW Discussion

A Master Makes Their Own Tools
A skilled master is expected to scavenge and build their own tools
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(permanent link) added: 2012-11-18 15:04:14 sponsor: JusticeZero edited by: acrobox (last reply: 2015-01-27 00:01:18)

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In a world where resources are not especially scarce, and where manufactured technology is the norm, a practitioner of some skill is still expected to go out and scavenge the materials and parts to hand-make their own tools of the trade. This isn't merely a case of making do, but rather, the expected way to do things.

It may be implied that toolmakers have some inherent connection with the tools they make, or it could be a cultural expectation, or it could be a part of the testing process to demonstrate mastery, with a presumption that the master has to know how the tool works.

Nonetheless, if you see a master at using some tool or weapon pull out their tool/weapon of choice, they probably were the one to build it, and probably had to dig up all the materials and refine them too, no matter how easy it would be to just go down the street and order one.

By making an object, it is imagined that you know that one object more intimately than someone who merely purchased off the rack, and were also able to work whatever tiny adjustments you prefer into the manufacture; alternately, the naturalism of crafting a tool by hand appeals to the "Harmony" side of a Harmony Versus Discipline debate. Often a sign of being a True Craftsman as well.


Comic Books
  • While Iron Man forging his first power armor in a cave with primitive tools does not count, Steel, one of the Superman types to appear immediately after The Death of Superman forged his suit of power armor in the very same way - however, he was a techie living in a major city and working out of his basement, and probably could have arranged some better tools than a hammer and anvil.

  • In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Tuco (The Ugly) built his own revolver by taking bit and pieces from a bunch of different guns in a gun store. None of that gun store's best ones was good enough for him.
  • The Natural: At the beginning of the movie, lightning strikes an oak tree outside the family home. Obviously, the thing to do is to turn the wood into a regulation baseball bat and use it to start a career as a professional baseball player.
  • Star Wars: Technology abounds everywhere, and yet the Jedi are asked to acquire all of the parts for and assemble their own lightsaber by hand from scavenged parts they find over their travels and are expected to have a personal connection with the crystal specifically. Played With by the Sith. While they may customize some parts, they use mass produced synthetic crystals (which also gives them their uniform red color).

  • Mentioned in a footnote in Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle when Agatha borrows someone's tools. The master craftsman in question objects strenuously, as he had made them himself as an apprentice. The Baron is trying to limit these types of practices in the interest of industrialization.
  • All The Weyrs Of Pern: AIVAS has each member of the team dissecting Thread make their own tools, despite the presence of a craft guild that could have easily provided enough tools for the team.
  • The Panserbjørne in His Dark Materials forge their own armour from "sky-iron". This is important, as they consider their personal suit of armour to house their soul.
  • In the book Iron Council, Judah becomes contemptuous of a military golem-creater when she unfolds and animates a pre-fabricated leather-and-metal golem to sic on his allies. Judah, himself, always makes golems from materials found on-site.
  • Two short stories by Richard Bach describe a hidden city which teaches the best pilots in the world. Initiates there, among other things, are required to build their own airplanes to train in, starting from primitive gliders and progressing upward through jet aircraft.

Live-Action TV

Tabletop Games
  • Shadowrun. In early editions, "real" deckers built their own cyberdecks from scratch by creating their own deck components. Deckers that bought standard parts to create their deck (or, even worse, a commercial cyberdeck) were looked down upon.

Video Games
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, this is the point of Prestige Class-unlocking sidequests. In order to take a specific specialization, the Inquisitor first has to construct a set of tools specific to it: for instance, Assassins need to forge a special dagger, Artificers require a trap-making kit, etc.
  • Edge Master from the Soul Series creates all of his own weapons so they are suited to his technique.
  • Spellforce: The Elite unit of the dwarves is the culmination of a warrior's career, reached when he forges his own armour and weapons from the difficult to work Moonsilver.
  • Craftknights in the Summon Night: Swordcraft Story trilogy use weapons they have themselves have forged and consider it dishonorable to fight with a weapon crafted by someone else, even in life or death situations.
    Blaire: Have you already forgotten about the Spirit of the Craftknight?
    Aera: No, sir...
    Blaire: You have to make your own weapon! No Craftknight would go into battle with somebody else's sword! It'd be like... wearing their underwear! Yeurgh!

Web Original
  • In RWBY, Ruby made her giant scythe/sniper rifle hybrid weapon herself, as with all students from Signal Academy. Given how many characters have crazy and unique weapons, it seems this practice is common (but not universal, since Jaune got his weapon as a heirloom) among Huntsmen and Huntresses.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender "Sokka's Master": Master swordsman Piandao cites this trope as an explanation for why his protégé Sokka should forge his own sword out of materials he chooses.
  • The Simpsons spoofs The Natural in "Homer at the Bat" when Homer has a homemade bat he uses to play softball. "Something told me this was a very special, very magical piece of wood...that I could make a bat out of." Once the other members of his team see him hit homer after homer they make their own bats too, out of things such as piano legs and artificial legs.
  • This is how the retired legend Zeke "Big Z" Topanga teaches talented upstart Cody Maverick how to surf the big waves in Surf's Up. Zeke tells him to find some koa wood, then plane that stock into a surfboard using a clamshell. Cody's first effort looks horrible and works worse. After more coaching from Zeke, Cody's second effort is much improved.

Real Life

  • Some archers today prefer "Primitive" bows, which they make themself. This is said to be more rewarding and enjoyable than learning with the more predictable manufactured bows.
  • In the martial art Capoeira, teachers are expected to learn to build their own musical instruments. This only grows silly when taken to the point where they are expected to burn/cut the wires out of radial tires as strings, despite the fact that piano wire works just as well and lasts longer (the wires are often removed by burning, which makes the wire brittle and faster to break).
  • In PC gaming, custom gaming PCs are better regarded than off-the-shelf models, and putting together your own PC is something of a rite of passage (although in practise, it's cheaper and easier to buy a custom built PC off a manufacturer who specialises in them, since they can buy the parts in bulk and you don't need to worry about £200 mistakes). Especially in regards to case mods (which also appear, to a lesser degree, in console gaming) and over-clocked components.
  • Programmers are expected to code their own engines for anything serious. Developers using premade engines like Game Maker or RPG Maker are not considered as serious developers.

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