My local PBS station has recently begun to air The Woodwright's Shop. As I
sit there watching good ol' Roy hack away with his saws and chisels and 20
different kinds of planes, I wonder how many people actually continue this
woodworking process. Traditional? Hmmm.
Geeze. Roy even dresses like a turn-of-the-last-century pushcart vendor in
New York City.
Hey - I truly admire his skill and ambition, but I don't think a lot of
people have the time to create objects like his these days. If you're retired,
you're probably not going to be physically able to push planes and chisels for
very long before Mr. Arthritis or Tendonitis makes everything hurt.
After watching his show, I feel tired, but also a little ashamed that I've
got routers, a planer, and a shaper and other toys with plugs attached. But
Norm is on right afterwards, and I feel a lot better! :)
Roy is fun to watch, and even more fun to listen too. Lot of showmanship,
and, I might add, one hell of a great book on same _Khruschev's Shoe_ shows
his scholarship as well.
You're probably fairly new to the hobby? Hand tools allow your
family/friends to gift you with useful items for years, and the more you
have, the more you'll find yourself using them. This is a "good enough"
hobby, in spite of micrometers and machine setup anxiety often discussed
Don't feel ashamed, but don't ignore the hand tools, either. They were the
foundation of the hobby, and are still used by many today, both master
craftmen (e.g. Ian Kirby) and amateur journeymen. If the power ever gets
too expensive to buy, we'll have to fall back on such, and so it's best to
become familiar with hand tools and use them occasionally. I suspect
pulling a smoothing or jack plane down a board to help it to square can be
more satisfying, if more work, than just slapping it on a jointer and
Incidentally, read Norm's *Measure Twice, Cut Once* to find out what he
really thinks about hand tools. You might be surprised at what the Master
Router has to say about things as simple as a block plane and a plumb bob.
Bruce -- Harper Blue
Wielder of the Hole-y Serving Spoon of Antioch
More than once I've wanted to take young Roy out behind the woodshed.
I know it would help my testosterone flow and that would elevate my
A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to
you when you have forgotten the words.
More than you might guess. There are a lot of woodworkers in the
world who simply can't afford to buy power tools; and a fair
number of woodworkers where there isn't any electric power.
Of the woodworkers I've known, the best seem to be comfortable
with both neandertools and normitools. My own feeling (and BTW,
I'm /not/ anywhere near being one of the best) is that learning
to use a neandertool well implies learning about how different
kinds of wood behave when a cutting or smoothing tool is applied.
That information seems most easily acquired when the tool is
applied at human speed rather than at speeds where the woodworker
can't see anything except the aftermath.
Much that is learned at low speed has relevence to planning and
executing at high speed. Have difficulty understanding why you're
having tearout? Try that same operation using a chisel or a
routing plane - it's an enriching experience.
So? If he's comfortable and safe, what matter? As the saying
goes: "Everybody's a bit strange except, of course, you and I -
and I'm not altogether sure about /you/." (-:
Issues worth bringing up. Just how much time do we have - and how
shall we use it? Shall we use it to create? If so, what shall we
create? Should we create to honor the past - or to improve the
future? Can we do both at once? Sometimes it helps to slow down
(to slower than 3600 RPM) to consider this kind of question.
My very favorite helpers are Mr. Aleve and Mr. Laziness. Aleve
keeps the aches under control and laziness leads me to create
tools, fixtures, etc that require less physical strength and
There are worse things than physical pain (try "worthless" on for
size and I think you'll agree). When I can't push a plane any
longer, I think I'll be ready to push daisies.
I don't think it's the tool that's important - I think it's what
the woodworker makes with the tool that'll matter most.
I enjoy using my power tools. Amazing what they can do. What give me the
most satisfaction? Using a plane or chisel to tweak the wood get a perfect
fit on mating parts.
I'm not about to rip 12/4 maple by hand, but neander tools have a definite
place in the shop.
My feelings exactly. And while I'm not as old as some of you
wreckers, I'm nearing a half-century, so I'm no kid. And frankly,
since moving to the Roy clan, my hands, wrists, forearms, etc. are all
in better shape than they've been since I was in my twenties.
If it gets to the point where I can't push a smoothing plane or
saw, then I'll probably just devote my time to carving, or just sit on
the porch and become an old grouch before I wither away. ;-)
Strange, you used future tense for the 'old grouch' bit.
Since I've got your attention Chuck, what is your experience with wooden
palm planes, I am having a little trouble getting mine just right. There's a
woodshow here soon and I can get Terry Gordon to walk me through it but I
thought I'd ask.
I don't specifically have any experience with "palm" planes, but I
have a few wooden smoothers and others. I usually just set the plane on
a flat surface, and place the iron in so it sits straight, push the
wedge in and give it a light tap to lock it. Then with my fingers
underneath the mouth I lift the plane and feel for lateral adjustment
(carefully) with the pads of my fingers. If it feels good I give the
wedge a firmer tap and try it on a baord.
If not, I tap either side for lateral adjustment and/or tap the heel
to retract the iron slightly or the iron to increase the cut. After any
adjustments, I always fisnih with a couple of firm taps on the wedge.
(In practice, the adjustment takes less time than it does to write
On Sun, 23 May 2004 17:48:05 GMT, "NoOne N Particular"
Anyone who works with their hands gets cuts, scrapes, and/or bruises
on them all the time if they're working honestly. It's the nature of
========================================================= I drank WHAT? + http://www.diversify.com
--Socrates + Web Application Programming
Bingo! I worked my way through college, and for a while when I got out of
the service, shoeing horses and doing general blacksmith work, besides
playing music ... always a resigned guess as to which finger/hand/foot/toe
was not going to be readily available the next week due to a
Woodworking is wuss's work by comparison, to the point that I rarely notice
the splinters and minor cuts ... unless blood stains a good piece of qswo.
On 25 May 2004 07:21:18 -0700, email@example.com (Conan The Librarian)
brought forth from the murky depths:
I've been making it a point to dust in front of the bench and tools
before starting work. The blowgun is a constant fixture in the air
hose nowadays and a 3-second burst cleans the tool and area. I'd
simply -hate- to fall into a TS or BS blade, or slip with a plane
and find my work stuck through my esophagus, KWIM,V?
I'm heading down to Medford tomorrow to pick up a gallon of ammonia.
Pacific Survey Supply carries the 29.7% strength for $7.50/gallon.
Now if the DHS doesn't pick me up for buying it, I may have a fumed
oak dictionary stand shortly. (I decided that I'd wait for white oak
for that ent. center which I'd look at every day in case the red turns
too green. ;)
Larry (10-finger) Jaques
Life's a Frisbee: When you die, your soul goes up on the roof.
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