I've watched this ng for quite some while and enjoy it immensely.
Some of the US stuff is not too relevant to UK, but I get the drift.
I'm, I suppose, a recreational woodworker. Have been so for 45 years. Decent
workshop equipped with all the tools I need. I do it for pleasure, knowledge
Not, or very rarely, for monetary gain. In short I enjoy what I do and I
enjoy doing it. In essence my time is not money, it's enjoyment.
I was taught how to work wood using hand tools.
Reading posts on this ng, you guys have power tools for just about anything
I'm not in the slightest envious because I enjoy what I do. And I'm getting
too damned old.
Do you ever use hand tools?
A few things I really like about this ng:
1) few bad tempered rants.
2) Rob H's 'what is it'.
3) Good and well informed folk.
4) Very useful tips and hints.
5) General bonhomie.
I'll go and look for my old tin hat and hide beneath the parapet.
Good luck to all,
Hand tools? You mean those things without cords? Sure, do that all the
time, but it's tough keeping the batteries charged! Always seems like it
goes dead halfway through a cut.
I do use human-powered hand tools occasionally. Depends on the project...
I've built things using only electric powered tools, but when it comes to
dovetails or joinery, hand tools are usually the preferred way to go. I'd
really miss my block planes if they were gone.
I have a full shop of power tools.
But the more I have, the more I appreciate my hand tools.
I built a workbench with a solid maple top, beech legs and
stretchers/rails.. I wanted to build a euro bench, but settled on a more
english style bench (a compromise), I really didn't need the euro style,
I had just wanted it.
I cut dovetails by hands, I power joint, and plane to rough size, I hand
plane to finish, it removes the scallops. I prefer planing to sanding.
If it's bigger than my jointer handles I will joint the whole thing by hand.
I have a good set of hand planes, a router plane, some moulding planes.
I have some really nice quality hand saws. Some more than 100 years old,
some brand new but extremely high quality saws.
The more I use my hand tools, the more gratification I get. But don't
get me wrong. There are times it's all power for speed and utility.
My biggest frustration is on wood that likes to tearout. Both power and
hand.. I just bought a load of tiger maple, and even though it's my
biggest frustration (tearout), its the journey and the beauty of the
wood. So I continue to try and master the skills that will allow me to
work this difficult to tame wood.
I like the *speed* of power tools unless I'm working on a small project.
I've built enough cabinets, bookcases, etc. that the *finished* product
is more important than the work on it.
On the other hand if I build a jewelry box or tool chest, the
fascination of putting one together is more important than the finished
I guess the only tool I don't own is a parapet; does Lee Valley carry
Sure. I often use a hammer, bought it new in 1943.
Ditto a brace, same vintage (I mostly use it as a cordless screw driver but
occasionally make holes).
Ditto a jack plane, same vintage. Block and smooth planes too but newer,
Saws but only dozukis. Well, sometimes a ryoba.
I have a pretty well equipped shop with lots of stuff that can take a finge
r faster than you can say duke of Windsor. OTOH, I have a good assortment
of chisels, a nifty marples trim saw and a couple of planes that refuse to
be friends with me. I've been after my local Woodcraft dealer to have a co
uple of classes in neanderthal woodworking. My grandfather was a finish ca
rpenter during the depression and I have his workbox and a few of his tools
-- brace, bits, handsaw and a few odds and ends. I have profound respect
for all who can turn a tree into something beautiful without electricity.
I'm never going to get there, but I'm hoping to take a few steps down that
On Sunday, April 28, 2013 6:26:52 PM UTC-5, Nick wrote:
Nick, good food for thought on your post.
In my opinion (hey... remember is worth what you paid for it!) there
are a lot of folks that are serious about woodworking, but don't have
the time to develop the skills needed to be "a neander" and go without
I can't imagine spending a weekend face planing down a piece of 5
quarter rough sawn 1X8 on both faces to get it to the proper
thickness, then lining it and shooting it with the proper plane. In
building a coffee table or dining room table or any other larger piece
of furniture as a "weekend and a few nights only a week guy", it would
take a couple of months just to prep the wood!
Also, many here are professionals in the trades, or semi
professionals, and that means speed, accuracy and repeatability are
the key components when executing a project. For me, there is no joy
is boring a hole with a bit and brace. There isn't any satisfaction
from using a homemade miter box with a back saw. I don't use a
screwdriver to put on kitchen hardware, but use a small drill.
Also, tools and their designs are made to follow the current trends of
building and the available materials. With our super thin, chippy,
splintery veneered products, our poorly prepared solid wood choices,
and newer growth lumber that might be better suited as pallet wood,
power tools help make up for the deficiencies of the material.
Probably the biggest example of this trend in my mind is the
development of brad/trim guns. As a young hand 40 years ago, I was
taught to use a hammer and nails, and using a nail gun was frowned on
as a distinct lack of skill. You learned to drive nails without
hitting the wood and if the wood was hard and expensive you drilled
pilot holes for the nails.
Now, even the base boards, door trims, crown moldings, chair rail,
etc. are hard, brittle materials that crack easily. Some kind of
South American fast growing finger jointed hardwood is what you get in
paint grade and it splits like the dickens with a regular hammer and
nails as attachment devices. Most stain grade trims I see are no more
than the clear section of yellow pine which is also hard, brittle, and
sometimes painful to use. With a brad/trim gun, once you learn proper
placement you can nail away with little fear of breaking the trims.
For a contractor, using a nail gun anymore is almost self defense
because of the available materials we use.
Then add to the fact we are on about the second generation of
tradesmen on carpentry that simply can't drive a nail...
On Mon, 29 Apr 2013 07:30:09 -0700 (PDT), "Gramp's shop"
You need to think about your woodworking a little differently. A
hundred years from now, your relatives will be speaking to a computer
telling it what they want built. They will wonder how *you* built
stuff using sharp blades attached to electrically driven machines.
That's not far off from what I've been doing.
I've carved four half-hull models this year.
It has been interesting figuring out how, but I'm happy with the results
Plane cedar boards to the desired thickness (machine).
Saw out the "lifts", waterline shapes (band saw).
Glue and clamp the lifts to make a plug. (hand)
Carve out the hull (18 inch hand saw as a whittling knife and block planes)
Sand, epoxy, prime, sand, sand, sand, sand, paint, paint, sand, sand,
sand, paint, sand, paint, sand.... repeat until finished.
I'll get some pictures up somewhere one of these days.
Oh, many things. Consider the architecture of the early 1900s. Lots of
details inside and out that would be exorbitantly expensive now. Not even
many who would know how to do them.
Shows too. Used to be you could get shoes in many widths (C, D, E, etc) as
well as lengths. Now medium and wide is about it.
Meat. Butchers used to get half beeves and cut what you wanted. Now it all
comes in cryopaks and the meat counter attendants - they aren't butchers -
couldn't cut bone in meat even if they had it. Seen a USDA stamp on a piece
of meat recently? Try asking for a flat bone sirloin.
Much of this has nothing to do machines, it has with lowering knowledge,
skill and craftmanship to a lower common denominator in the interest of
expediency and greater profits.
Generally, there has been a decrease of elegance, an increase in crassness.
Here in L/A, go into any of the major supermarket chains,
pick up a roast of choice and ask them to grind it.
Never going to happen.
BTW, they do have meat saws where they do specific tasks,
I know of ONE butcher shop in Orange county that will cut what you
Just to put that into perspective, there are over 17,000,000
people in Southern California.
Orange county has maybe 3-4,000,000.
Call that slim pickins IMHO.
Agreed. Most of it boils down to the cost of manual labour. I remember
reading a SciFi novel once where the hero complained about society at
the middle level building stuff by squeezing goop into a machine. It's
only the early or very advance societies that build stuff by hand.
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