A hand tool epiphany takes place

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Blog entry by Betsy posted 10-27-2007 05:19 AM 866 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have no idea if “epiphany” is spelled correctly. But oh well.

Any who——tonight I got home from quite a long week of work and very few good hours at home at night. Tonight is my night. I’ve locked the dog inside so she can’t bring in any more visitors. Turned off the tv after the news and dinner, started the wash and went to the shop. My nice, quiet shop and started to work on a few projects.

One project ambition I have is to make those certain “needed” jigs that you seem to use over and over in the shop. The one that’s intrigued me recently is the bench hook. Three pieces of wood and away you go – you’ve got a cutting surface. I wanted to make that so I could use my new saws accurately to cut the dowels I would need for the box I am repairing. It’s getting there. Got to use my flush trimming saw to cut off dowels, sure was quicker and neater than sanding.

My second objective of the night was to try to make a hand cut dado. I’ve made tons of dados for case work and have done pretty well. But they do take time to set up and it’s noisy whether you use router or a table saw. I got out a piece of walnut scrap for my little project. I know it would be easier to practice on a softer, less expensive wood. But I’ve got tons of scraps and the reason i have so many is that I like to make furniture and boxes from walnut.

i cut three dados entirely by hand and they did not turn out to badl the first one was a bit to tight and a light rap of the mallet made no difference the second was mallet worty and went right in. The third one was the one you keep around to show folks. I really can do this. It was fun and intellecually not challenging – the challenge was technique and keeping the tools sharp. Will probably practice more tomororow. I’m thinking another 200-300 hand cut dados and I be able to use them on a project or in a teacher’s class.

Any way back to that epiphany thing. I was in my shop and it hit me – I have a great luxury to make things with hand tools. However, in the not to distant paste, if you did not learn to do a good job quickly your life could be in ruins along with the family There were tremenous pressures on the woodworkers of old. If they woked into the night – they used candles and made do.

That wad one thing that hit me. The other was the sequence of events in our woodworking education, self -taught or otherwise. No matter the tools – hand or power – we all seem to start in the same place. We all have to learn to make a good butt joint before you can move into dados and then onto dovetails. I imangine the apprenticies were told shen they whould be promoted to a new tool.job.

I’m a bit tired tonight do will being going to bed soon. But one more thing. I made my first cutting board and have hand planed it down smooth. I took it to my saw table and I even I was surpised ti was flat on the four cnorners. have not used winding siticks to see what I really have. But even if its ugly it will still chop vegetables.

Welll, by the looks of my typing and evenmore sore my rambling, I’d say I’m tried and need to hit the rack.

Good night all

Hope all have a great weekend. Mine is packed. Highly unlikely will involve any workworkin this weekend.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

4 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3517 days

#1 posted 10-27-2007 05:22 AM

Night Betsy. Sounds like an enjoyable evening.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4445 posts in 3382 days

#2 posted 10-27-2007 02:05 PM

it sounds like you are gaining. Good luck.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 3581 days

#3 posted 01-23-2008 09:45 PM

I just found this.. nice little blog with lots of things to contemplate!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3359 days

#4 posted 01-23-2008 10:18 PM

Great writing. It sounds like you’ve developed a deeper appreciation for the craft. I can identify with that. I love learning things.

-- Working at Woodworking

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