New Year’s day is a big deal in Japan. In the mid ’90s a timber framer relayed a story he attributed to a group of visiting Japanese timber framers. They told him that on New Year’s Day they would clean and sharpen their tools. They were paying respect to their trade and starting the year in good form. I liked the idea and adopted it.

A set of timber framing chisels is a beautiful thing. My daily tools don’t pack the same Old World charm. They do see constant use and do need care. Here’s a list of what I’d like to accomplish this coming New Year’s Day.

I’ve been using the same make and model circular saw, a Makita 5007, for over 30 years. I’m on my third. Parts are readily available and easy to replace. I’ve replaced cords, switches and brushes. Not all electric motors have brushes. If your electric tools do they’ll be located on each side of the motor housing. Look for a slotted plug that accepts a flat head screwdriver. Remove those plugs and the brushes are below. A brush is a small piece of carbon attached to a spring. They make contact between the moving and stationary electrical bits of the motor. I know it’s time to replace mine when I start to notice sparking, a loss of power, or the tool is slow to wind down. My brushes are fine but I need to replace the spring that recoils the blade guard.

My compound mitre saw will get a new switch and dust collection bag. A new blade is in order too. When making cuts on a 45, you’d think I was starting a campfire.

Metal tools that get hammered on, including a center punch and 18-inch flat pry bar, have mushroomed ends. They need to be ground down. Getting bit by the damaged ends of your own tools is just insulting.

My toolbelt always benefits from being emptied, cleaned out and reloaded. There’s a lot of gear in and on it. I’ll shed what’s not in current use and clean what is.

Finally, I’ll go over my jobsite table saw. It’s been getting difficult to raise and lower the blade. Hopefully a good cleaning and lubrication will solve the problem.