The Chisel and The Grinder

B.T. Higgins 

One day, the blacksmith decided he would make the Chisel. He heated the metal in his furnace until it glowed bright white. With tongs he pulled the Chisel from the fire and struck it with his hammer, making it flat. Then he heated the Chisel again. This time, he folded the metal back on itself before he beat it again with ringing blows. Again into the fire. When he brought it out, he picked up a smaller hammer and shaped the Chisel. The Tang. The neck. The blade. The bevel. Soon it looked right. He heated it again and dipped it in warm oil. The sizzling sound of the quenching filled the blacksmith’s workshop.  

The blacksmith set the Chisel down on a table next to the Grinder and went to another part of his workshop to shape a handle for the Chisel.  

“He is making me into a fine chisel,” said the Chisel to the Grinder. 

The Grinder looked down at the Chisel. “You might be beautiful once I am done with you.” 

“What do you mean?” The Chisel asked. “Can’t you see me? The blacksmith has formed all my parts. Don’t you think my blade is long?”  

“You’re rough and crude and unfinished,” said the Grinder. “But don’t worry. I will fix you. Then you might be right.” 

The Chisel did not agree at all.  

Late in the afternoon, the blacksmith returned to fit a long wooden handle to the Chisel’s tang. The wood was smooth, richly browned by oil and polish. He fitted it firmly to the Chisel, so that they became one. The Chisel felt finished now. “Look at my handle and tell me I’m rough and crude,” The Chisel said to the Grinder.  

The Grinder looked at the Chisel. “Maybe you will be something after I finish with you, maybe not.”  

“What?” said the Chisel. “Are you blind?”  

Night fell and the blacksmith left the workshop. The Chisel lay by the Grinder, wondering what more the blacksmith might have in mind for him in the morning.  

As soon as the light went out, the Grinder described for the Chisel what a chisel was supposed to look like. Glistening. Sharp. Finely decorated by a master engraver.  

The Chisel felt deflated. The Chisel’s metal had none of those things. 

“Don’t be too disappointed,” The Grinder said, “I can fix you.” The Grinder flipped its power on and its wheel began to whirl. The Grinder touched its wheel to the Chisel, the room lit up with sparks and the Chisel was thrown across the table.  

“Are you sure about this?” The Chisel’s blade now had a long crooked gash along its edge. 

“Trust me. I CAN fix you. Soon you may even be beautiful.” The Grinder shuffled across the table and lowered its wheel to a different place on the chisel. A blast of sparks and the Chisel shot through the air like a bullet, clattering onto the concrete floor. The Chisel noticed several dents in its handle and a deep grind in its neck.  

“I’m not so sure about this,” said the Chisel. 

Grinder climbed down to the Chisel on the floor and stabbed its spinning wheel at the Chisel. Each touch blasted sparks into the air and spun the Chisel like a top. The more the Grinder tried to fix the Chisel the worse things got. Nicks and scratches covered the Chisel. The Grinder grew frustrated. “If you would just hold still, I would be done by now.”  

“We aren’t doing this right,” said the Chisel. “I look worse.” 

“I KNOW I CAN FIX YOU!” The Grinder shouted and went back to work. After many more tries the Chisel looked horrible. 

“Stop it at once,” the Chisel said. “Let me try.”  

The Grinder looked confused. “What do you mean?” 

“If you hold still,” suggested the Chisel. “I will fix myself.” The Grinder held still and the Chisel lowered its tip slowly toward the racing grinding wheel. The tip of the Chisel caught violently and flung the Chisel into the air. Twang! The Chisel stuck in the ceiling boards like a throwing knife, wobbling and vibrating like a bell.  

“What did you do?” Asked the Grinder from down on the floor. “Come down at once!” 

“I don’t know how,” said the Chisel. No matter how much the Chisel tried to dislodge from the ceiling, nothing worked. The Grinder stared up at the Chisel all night. They fell asleep like that. Hopeless.      

Finally, the morning came. The blacksmith came into his workshop and saw the Grinder sitting on the ground. He puzzled over this for a moment and then looked up. The Chisel felt very embarrassed to be stuck in the ceiling board. 

The blacksmith replaced the Grinder on the table and pulled hard on the Chisel. It came out of the ceiling reluctantly. Then the blacksmith turned on a light by the Grinder with a cup of oil nearby and began to work. Sparks flew downward and bounced off the concrete, but the Chisel did not fly across the room. Under the steady hand of the blacksmith, the Chisel didn’t budge from the correct angle. The blacksmith dipped the Chisel in oil so it wouldn’t overheat and ruin its tempering. Slowly, the blacksmith transformed the Chisel into a tool. Sharp blade. Shiny bevel. Some of their destructive marks disappeared under his skill, some he let remain.  

The blacksmith engraved his mark upon the Chisel and slipped it into a pouch filled with all of his other tools. The Chisel’s handle looked beautiful but worn. Its blade had several gouges and dings, but its edge was now perfectly sharp.  The Chisel waited in the pouch, wondering what the blacksmith had in mind for the morning.  

Digging Deeper

Only under the steady hand of the Maker can

life’s conflicts bring a sharpened edge.


“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

 Proverbs 27:17

“Let them know that it is your hand, that you, Lord have done it.”

Psalms 109:27


Discussion Questions

  1. How do the expectations of others affect you?
  2. What are some ways other people have tried to “fix you?”
  3. What kind of person would you become if you put yourself completely in the hands of your Maker, allowing Him to use life’s conflicts to forge you?

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