Ok, let me preface by saying that when I first got into woodworking, I started buying up every power tool there was (Mostly craigslist buys) and every nifty jig from taper jigs to dovetail guides to router bits, etc. In growing up in a house where my dad had essentially one main power tool in his shop (Not a woodworker, but a DIY handman contruction type shop.), a radial arm saw and then occasionally an old makita 10” miter saw, I had a love for power tools. For christmas and birthdays as I got older, my parents would buy me power tools. Miter saws, a cheap table saw, power drills, etc etc. I was raised in a world where things weren’t done by hand. I had the impression that power tools were way more accurate and faster than any hand tool could ever be. I’m sure, most beginner woodworkers assume that’s the case before they find the light of hand tools. I started getting into woodworking naturally from having these tools and wanting to build a few things around the house. My first projects were crude made with mostly plywood or mdf and then basically nailed together. It’s what opened the door. It became exciting. I wanted to learn more. I started reading magazines and watching videos and reading forums and started buying up all the power tools I could find. It started with a $75 Delta contractor saw, then a $150 grizzly bandsaw, then a $250 Ryobi lunch box planer (bought new on sale), then a little 6” really old craftsman jointer which I sold and then upgraded to an 8” delta DJ-20 jointer which I installed a shelix cutterhead for, and the list goes on and on and on. I can’t tell you how much money and time and effort I wasted restoring older power tools that made my 400 sq ft garage seem like a storage closet in size by the time I crammed it all in there. I ran 240v electric out there even.
Then I went to a woodworking show loaded with power tools to stumble across little humble Paul Sellers over in the corner. I watched him as he assembled his bench and created a shooting board for his presentation all with hand tools. I watched in amazement. No miter saws?? No routers? No table saws?? How is this possible?? I sat in on the 30 min presentation and my life with woodworking was forever changed. I bought his book and video series and I went straight home. Then I started watching video after video, buying book after book. I visited Williamsburg and watched them work, and being drawn in to the efficiency of how they worked and the quality of work they could put out without any electrons floating around. I find myself inspecting old furniture when I come across it and looking at the methods of their work. I find myself intrigued by very old buildings and how the doors, trim, and woodwork in the house were made.
So 3 years later, here I am, pretty much a “neander” woodworker. My jointer with it’s fancy shelix cutter head sits behind my bench and serves two purposes: storage of junk, and occasionally I use one of the flat beds to affix sandpaper to for flattening of old hand planes. My table saw has been out of the shop for almost a year now and moved to my work warehouse where it also serves as a nice flat surface to store crap on. And the miter saw (which occasionally gets used here at the work warehouse to quickly cut down whatever) is also not in my home shop. Even the bandsaw sees little use (mainly because it’s not a great one and adjusting it for a cut is not great. It could use an upgrade, but because it’s finicky to set up, I hardly use it as well. Now my hand saws see more and more work. And my hand planes stay sharp and dimension boards to a clean and smooth finish essentially ready for finish right after glue up. My jointer and lunch box planer and dust collector all take up valuable room!
So after my looooooong story which I’m sure is similar to most neander woodworkers in today’s world, I’m thinking of selling all these items and just investing the money from the sale of them into one good new bandsaw (which I think would get more use if it was a better model), or putting it towards some sort of vacation (haha!). Part of me is scared to take the plunge because I keep thinking, “What if? What if I need them What if??” But the more practical side of me is thinking “They’re taking up valuable room, dammit! Why are you keeping them!!” The truth is, the more I work with hand tools and saw by hand and hand plane, the faster and more efficient I become with them and the less I feel like I need the power tools to compensate for the work I’m not great at. I’m in no means GREAT at any woodworking I do, I’m still a beginner by a long shot, but I find I continually get better and better and faster and faster to where it’s becoming more and more second nature. Not to mention the pure safety aspect of it plus the great reduction in noise and dust is wonderful!
So after my long post, I’m thinking I’m going to take the plunge and sell them off and force myself to never have to double think about “What if I need them??” It’s a tough decision!
-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One, www.qualitycarpetonecrofton.com