Have you ever heard the phrase “A true craftsman never blames their tools?” I have. A lot.
I used to believe it, too. I used to believe that skill is what truly matters in craftsmanship and I should never blame my tools for the imperfections in my work. I would internalize any flaw or weakness in my work as a failure of my own skill.
I was incorrect.
That old adage is missing an important clause: A true craftsman owns the correct tools for the job they’re doing. Telling someone that it is never their tool’s fault fails to recognize that access to the correct, and high quality tools is a major limiting factor. It imagines a world where anyone, no matter how poor, can become a master simply through dedication.
Let me demonstrate with an example. Not that long ago, I made a pair of replica Star Trek Discovery insignia badges. I was quite proud of them. I used some resources very cleverly and they were pretty good. Recently, I got access to a milling machine, a high quality rotary tool, and a few grinding and polishing tools besides. I took the opportunity to create some more badges. With those tools added to my resource pool, I was able to create five badges in the time it took me to make two before. They were of much higher quality: stronger, more precise, and more repeatable.
I did not become meaningfully more skillful in the interim. The only thing that changed was access to resources.
A true craftsman does not blame their tools, because a true craftsman has the right tools. Conversely Without access to the right tools, one cannot hope to become a true craftsman.