My purpose in writing this blog is to share my woodworking thoughts and experiences with others. Being very busy leaves me little time for friends to have woodworking discussions with so I will do this with you. Don’t be alarmed I’m not going to bore you with my life’s history, just my passion for woodworking, and for me that is building Federal Period reproduction furniture.
Lately I have been thinking a lot about the tools of woodworking. I remember my woodworking beginning, several decades ago, when I built everything with power tools. At that time I didn’t have any woodworking hand tools in my shop. A short time after I started woodworking I became interested in dealing and collecting antique and vintage woodworking hand tools, which I still do today. Being a New Britain, CT native with my grandfather, grandmother, and father working at Stanley Tools during my youth I naturally gravitated to restoring, collecting and dealing in Stanley made woodworking tools. Over time my two passions sort of melded and I became a hand tool user.
I have no intentions or desire to stir up the hand tool versus power tool debate. There is a place in the modern woodshop for both. Building furniture with only hand tools is certainly possible, the most desirable furniture in the world was built long before power tools were invented, however I can’t imagine building furniture without my power tools. Those woodworkers who build with only hand tools have my deepest admiration and thanks for keeping the old ways alive. My shop time is so limited that power tools allow me to be much more productive, particularly in the milling operations. But, when it comes time to fit joints my hand tools are always my first choice.
The bare minimum of hand tools for a modern furniture shop would be several well tuned planes, a set of bench/paring chisels, a cabinet scraper and several card scrapers. Of course you would also need the necessary sharpening equipment. I would never want to be put in a position of having to choose between my power tools and my hand tools, but if I were I would choose my hand tools every time. I can build furniture with just hand tools, but I can’t produce the quality of joinery that I demand with only power tools.
Thanks for listening. Your comments are certainly welcome.