The Path to Hand Tool Use

I recently started a thread on Woodnet, Woodworking Handtools, Asking, “What project got you started?”

The resulting posts were amazing. It was pretty obvious that the majority had gone as far as they could with conventional powered tools and they had to move to hand tools to achieve the results they desired.

A few folk however were drawn to the hand tool first. So the draw of the tool was first in their minds.

I plan to go to the Lie-Nielsen Toolworks Hand Tool Event in Austin this Friday. I expect to learn quite a bit. As a self taught/taught by reading and the net hand tool user, I suspect that I may have missed a few key points along the line. By watching in person, I expect to be able to see a bit more of the use that has been passed on by tradition.

Tradition, mentor teaching, that is the old path. Now days it is a much rarer path. For good or ill it is now the minority. Maybe they can teach me to use a Western saw well. Don’t count on it. 😉


3 comments to The Path to Hand Tool Use

  • Skip J.


    I am one of those few (?) who were attracted to handtools first, and the practical application of them to wood is/was secondary. For 3 decades then (now 4 decades)I had primarily done (weekend chore) DIY projects with portable power tools (PPT). I had/have almost every PPT known to man (humans) in either Makita or Bosch quality. Additional blades’n bits are also of good to better quality. The purpose then was to knock out chore projects as fast as possible, but with lasting quality.

    So a dissatisfaction was setting in – and also I was looking for something else than my previous one off-time interest – fishing. About 12 years ago I wound up with my FIL’s Stanley #4 (’50’s era)smooth plane after he passed away. At that time my only handtools were a couple of moderately priced handsaws. That launched me on a book/magazine reading research phase to tune it up and learn how to use it. After working on it several years a little at a time – I took my first wispy shaving. The crowning moment came when I realized I was improving it beyond it’s “new” condition to a level that my FIL never experienced himself when he used it.

    It’s been all downhill since then….

  • While my path into tools was one of creation, the justification for tool acquisition was part of the urge of creation.

    I just saw a tool in person that I don’t think I can resist. I also don’t think I could make it for less that the price it is being sold for. As it is beyond my immediate means, I am afraid that I am going to have to go a bit commercial on my craftsmanship.

    The tool, the dream tool, the tool I must have, is the JM-P Jointmaker Pro by

    Sad that my tool purity only took $1295 plus $59 shipping to break.

    So now I have to decide where to sell out.

    I do have a few requests out there, I like to honor them to keep my hand in the ring at times, but quick cash is the question. Mesquite Gun stocks are pretty easy. Hexagonal tool boxes are fun and I have a tentative request for one. I have a few chisel orders, but I don’t charge enough for them to match up. I think the low hanging fruit will be an easy infill kit. I have been looking at hand router planes and plow planes. I think an easy infill plow with a range of ‘teeth’ might be the answer.

    Alas for my days of innocence before the Bridge City Tool Works Demo at the Lie-Nelson Toll Event corrupted my pure woodworking soul.

    Yes, Skip, I have been seduced by a tool made by someone else.


  • Skip J.

    Mercy Bob;

    Sorry to hear that! Actually, it seems you are in with some pretty good company on that particular tool. It might enable you to increase production while maintaining quality or improving it. Thereby “enabling” the rest of your woodworking products program.

    Maybe you can consider it to be like your lathe, and so is such an essential to your work that it transcends the question of “handmade or not”.

    Hang in there Bob!


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>