Chisel & White Gloves

by MasterMason

Fraternal Greetings Brethren.

Well here we are again at the start of a New Year, and in my Lodge, the start of a New Masonic Year, our Installation was on Jan. 5th.

The topic this month is the “Chisel” and is the third Working Tool to be studied.  This paper was first presented in a 1972 lecture, however, 36 years later, I believe, it is still totally relevant.

The Chisel

The Chisel, whose principal characteristics(so says our Ritual), are its smallness and its sharpness; what gift at our birth can we think of as corresponding in its nature to the

“diminutive implement of exquisite temper”?

Our Ritual itself supplies the answer-Perseverance, that human quality which says “try, try, again”; which says “let’s have another go, next time the results should be better”; that very human quality in us which is prepared to labor long and tediously for the sake of a fine end result.

Those of my brethren who have, by chance, watched the serialized television production of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel “Jude the Obscure:, will recall that the story is about a young stone-mason, and that each television episode was introduced by a close-up of a stone-mason’s hands surfacing a block of ashlar with chisel and gavel.  Each blow with the gavel produces a short, precise movement of the chisel, and removes a tiny amount of material in working towards the final smooth surface.

Similarly, and symbolically, when considering the improvement of our characters as we travel through life, it is true that the rude material receives its fine finish by repeated efforts alone.

The men we most admire are not, in the main, persons who have accomplished some great and spectacular feat of charity, bravery, or moral victory; but those whom we know as unfailingly kind and considerate in little things.  Men, who would never dream of a shabby act, even a small one.  Men who, when angered or aroused, do not let slip the bitter, damaging, but irretrievable words, and bite their tongues, count to ten, and then either say something conciliatory, to help mend matters, or else say nothing at all.

Such men are irresistible, for the chisel of perseverance is

“of such exquisite temper as to make an impression on all but the hardest substances”

and indeed it is a case-hardened character who is not ultimately influences for good by the unfailing acts of courtesy and consideration of a man well skilled in the use of Masonic tools.  Such men are modest, but are well recognized in their community.  When their name is mentioned, people, say, “Oh, everyone respects him,” or “Oh, everyone seeks his advice,” or perhaps, “Oh, you can always depend upon him!”  But here in the “abode of friendship and brotherly love” we make use of a different phrase; we say “Ah yes, he is a Freemason!”

Brother Phil J. Croft, of King David Lodge No. 93, West Vancouver, B.C. where the Canadian Ritual is followed.

His talk on the Entered Apprentice Tools appeared in the March and April 1972 issues of the MASONIC BULLETIN, B.C.R.


Over the years, and in particular over the last few months, I have encountered a number of occasions where the subject of WHY, WHEN  & WHERE to wear white gloves has surfaced.  In an effort to add light to this custom, I have done some research and now share it with you.

GLOVESPage 461 Freemason’s Guide and Compendium,  Bernard E. Jones

“There is a time-immemorial tradition, both in Masonry and outside it, of the wearing and giving of gloves.   As Masonic Emblems, aprons and gloves are closely associated, and have the same import, being emblems of innocence and purity of heart.  In some countries the Initiate has been invested, in addition to the apron, with white gloves, such gloves being the emblem of “Clean Hands”. (Hands and Gloves are words coming from the same root).

“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?  Or who shall stand in his Holy Place?  He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart” Psalm xxiv. Verses 3 & 4.  Page 463.

One of the irregular prints, dated 1772, says that the Master addresses an Initiate with these words: “Put on these gloves, their whiteness is the symbol of purity, and of the innocence of a mason’s manners etc.”.


In my research I have consulted the Grand Lodge of BC & Yukon Constitutions and find no reference to this subject whatsoever.

Further, I have consulted the Book on Forms and Ceremonies for the same Jurisdiction and do find reference in the “Masonic Funeral Service”.  The reference is as follows:

“At a Masonic funeral, the Brethren should be suitably clothed, wearing the proper Masonic clothing of their rank, inside their coats, white gloves, and a sprig of evergreen on the left lapel of their coat.”

Having no access to the Rules and Regulations in other jurisdictions, I must of necessity have no comment as to usage elsewhere.

From a personal perspective, I believe that the wearing of white gloves in our Lodges, particularly when we are conducting Ritual, adds an additional degree of dignity and decorum to the proceedings.

There being no rules or regulations for, the wearing, or NOT wearing gloves,(with the exception of a Grand Master’s edict or the By-Laws of your Lodge), the decision, I believe, is up to the Mason himself to decide.


Friendship, on the other hand, serves a great host of different purposes all at the same time.

In whatever direction you turn, it still remains yours.

No barrier can shut it out, I can never be untimely; it can never be in the way.

We need friendship all the time, just as much as we need the proverbial prime necessities of life, fire and water.


Have a wonderful day and God Bless You and Yours                                              Norm

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