Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Suddenly, I See

Believe it or not, this blog was never meant to be exclusive to hand tools. Power tools were included in the orginal plan (albeit, only a little bit), but feedback from readers, and an ever-growing attraction to hand tool blogs and forums, steered me toward my ultimate woodworking destiny.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not about to sell my table saw. And my band saw? Forget it. That guy's going to be buried with me. But after two and half years of blogging, I'm all up in the hand tool grill.

So much so, that I've started seeing everything through hand tool-colored lenses. I showed up early to our club meeting last night at the Woodcraft Store to peruse the inventory, and spied a metal table saw jig with hold downs that helps a person trim waney edges from a board. I remembered seeing something like this early on in my power tool days and thinking, "so that's how it's done."

But I looked at it last night and thought how edges like that can easily be corrected with hand tools.

As a variety-seeker, I'll often choose different techniques, on separate occasions, for the same operation—like jointing a waney edge. If I'm in a hurry, I'll use my bandsaw and power jointer. If I'm not (which is the norm), I might trim the bulk of it with a handsaw and then smooth it with a handplane. Or I might use a drawknife and plane. Or I'll use my favorite technique: trim some of the excess with an axe—but not too much—because then I get to use my scrub plane to get closer to the line, and then finish the edge with a finely-set bench plane.

I realized last night that I see almost everything from a hand tool perspective, and power tool jigs are no longer in the periphery.

More often than not, hand tool procedures are not as fast as power tools, but for me it's all about personal preference and what makes you happy. Also important to some of us, is that working wood by hand burns more calories. You've heard of the Freshman Fifteen? Yeah, well every winter I suffer from the Holiday Hundred. So I'd better stick with hand tools.