Wednesday, April 2, 2008


I know I'm spoiled. When it comes to woodworking I have access to a fairly large shop with a lot of really nice machinery. Two sliding table saws, dedicated blind dovetail machines, and the biggest bandsaw I've ever seen.

When I see in Fine Woodworking tips and jigs to do this or that, I get a little sinking feeling, knowing that one day I won't have access to a machine that does exactly what their jigs and tricks end up doing.

So, while I am saving a lot of these articles intended for the home shop, I am also spoiling myself further with my love of hand tools.

There is this large part of me that wants very few power tools, to do the brunt work, and have at least the same square footage dedicated to hand tools to do most of the work with.

I like the convenience of power tools, don't get me wrong, but they are noisy, take up a lot of space, and are incredibly expensive. And hand tools have this beauty and allure to them. Besides, it seems that power tools (mostly) just make cheap (sometimes) knock-offs of the beautiful hand worked pieces of the not-so-distant past.

Or so I feel at times.

Which isn't to say that hand tools aren't expensive either. Especially the good ones. Lie Nelson hand planes for example. Or this block plane system. Which I covet.

I want to hand cut dovetails, and utilize a whole host of hand planes to flatten a dining room table. Admittedly I will probably one ever want to do that once, for the dining table for my own house. But who knows, I may love it so much that I do it for every panel I put together.

Carving the bench gave me a lot of satisfaction. Of getting right in to the wood, making sure everything was sharp, and making it 'personal'. I get that same sort of feeling from turning as well. Even though the lathe is a power tool, that's not the tool. All the hand sharpened tools, choosing the right one for the right cut, and getting up close and personal with the wood you are working on.

It is infectious. If only I had endless resources to get all the hand tools I could ever want, and and endless supply of extra time to master each one. I guess I'll just have to start slowly, and give it the time I can. I guess that's what lifetimes are for.

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