My Hand Tool Journey #1: The Journey Begins

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Blog entry by Kent Shepherd posted 11-12-2009 11:20 PM 2243 reads 4 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of My Hand Tool Journey series Part 2: Hand Plane Use »

stefang offered a challenge the other day for us to create a blog on hand tool use. That was good timing, because it’s been on my mind for some time now. This will be a series in several parts—I don’t yet know how many. If you are lucky, I will have the sense to know when to quit. If not—Well, I suppose you may stop reading and go do something worthwhile—Like work in your shop. I hope you stick around.

As I’ve stated before, I grew up working in my Dad’s shutter shop in the mid 60’s. No, I’m really not that old, I just started very, very early. My first experience with hand tools wasn’t all that great. While Dad had a lot of great qualities, the use of hand tools was not one of them. When we went to install shutters, we often used a block plane. It was a Stanely, and probably could have been a good tool, if sharpened and set up right.——It wasn’t! The good news is, we used all pine at that time for our shutters, so it wasn’t too difficult. Dad would occasionally take out the iron and sharpen it on a course stone on the bench grinder. Wow, I cringe now thinking of that!!!! We also used a chisel for some pretty rough work—same sharpening technique. That was pretty much the extent of my use of hand tools of any kind.

Now, fast forward about 34 years or so. I started getting the Bridge City Toolworks catalog. I loved just looking at all the cool stuff, so it was just a matter of time before I took the plunge and began to buy layout tools. At one time I bought what I believe they called “The Works” , which was all the layout tools they had made, up until that time. You have to understand, the constuction business here actually used to pay pretty well—not so much anymore. A few years later, Bridge City came out with their block plane. Of course I was already hooked because of the fantastic tools I already owned, so it wasn’t difficult for me to justify the cost of this plane. I was not dissapointed. Wow, doesn’t begin to describe this plane. Thus, my hand tool journey began with a bang, and hasn’t stopped since. Slowed down some—Like most of you the economy is killing me too.

Yes, I’ve already read tons of comments in the past on the “ridiculouly high” price for any tool of this quality, but it’s usually coming from those who have never used them. At 20 years old, I had no clue what a well tuned plane was like, and I sure didn’t know the difference in quality between brands.This blog is based on my personal experience using them. Not all my hand tools are high-dollar tools. My point of this blog is to explain my own journey into the world of hand tools. To do this, I will share my own tool collection with all of you, and how I use them in my work. Yes, I do use them—all the time. Hand tools have become a very valuable part of my woodworking, and my use, as well as my passion continues to grow as my skills improve.

To begin with, I want to share my collection with you. Then, in the sessions to follow, I will attempt to share how these tools benefit my work.

Here they are—Well, most of them anyway——Enjoy!

I do hope you come back for the other sessions. Maybe you can pick up something here, just like I do reading your blogs.


21 comments so far

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 2670 days

#1 posted 11-12-2009 11:52 PM

Okay, I’m drooling. Some really nice tools you have there. Know what you mean about BCTW though.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View rtb's profile


1101 posts in 3137 days

#2 posted 11-12-2009 11:52 PM

I’m coming along for the ride (knowledge). I only have a few hand tools and probably will not get many more due to physical restrictions But knowing about the and how there are used is still a valuable part of my education that I look forward to expanding. It appears that we share an appreciation for European steel.

-- RTB. stray animals are just looking for love

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 3096 days

#3 posted 11-12-2009 11:54 PM

Nice collection of hand tools.

View grizzman's profile


7783 posts in 2727 days

#4 posted 11-13-2009 12:14 AM

yes..i love beautiful hand tools..and i too have physical limitaions..but i do enjoy seeing others and there talents expand..i look forward to this and learning what you put out kent..thanks for sharing

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Karson's profile


35032 posts in 3824 days

#5 posted 11-13-2009 12:31 AM

Kent a nice collection. Have any of your kids left any out laying in the sand box.

It’s not a pleasent experience.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2715 posts in 2710 days

#6 posted 11-13-2009 12:44 AM

Karson, If they had done that, they wouldn’t be my kids anymore. Or they might be dead—Justifiable homicide right?
Actually, my kids were pretty much grown before I got most of these. How else do you think I could afford that stuff?


View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 2749 days

#7 posted 11-13-2009 01:42 AM

I am certainly looking forward to reading all you have to share on the topic.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2588 days

#8 posted 11-13-2009 01:53 AM

Very impressive. Not done getting my shop up to speed yet, but when I get into my hobby projects, sometime this winter I hope, I will be wanting hand tools.

I’ve favorited your blog and will watch closely. Thanks for accepting Mike’s challenge, I for one will appreciate what you have to say…...........

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

9331 posts in 3476 days

#9 posted 11-13-2009 03:19 AM

That’s quite a collection!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View blackcherry's profile


3292 posts in 3247 days

#10 posted 11-13-2009 03:20 AM

Kent you know how to have fun man that’s quit a collection of must have hand tools and I bet those are the one’s just laying around on the workbench.LOL…Blkcherry

View Blake's profile


3442 posts in 3298 days

#11 posted 11-13-2009 07:10 AM

I really enjoyed the tour!

I’ve been working one a similar blog of my own: Hand Tool Journey

...I’m right there with ya.

-- Happy woodworking!

View studie's profile


618 posts in 2570 days

#12 posted 11-13-2009 07:18 AM

Like music to my eyes! I can just hear the sound of those sharp instruments shaving fine wood. I’ll agree that sharpening is the other side to a sharp blade, Thanks for showing your awesome collection!

-- $tudie

View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 3001 days

#13 posted 11-13-2009 07:23 AM

Kent very nice tool collection, look forward to the rest of the series. Good start.

-- Custom furniture

View WayneC's profile


12642 posts in 3521 days

#14 posted 11-13-2009 07:24 AM

Very, very nice. I think I am going to have to get a second job to add some these to my shop.

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5108 posts in 2618 days

#15 posted 11-13-2009 08:40 AM

Kent: The next time I come down to Lubbock I want to come see your shop and pillfer some of those tools!lol. I’ll come by the store first, check to see if you’re there, and then go swipe a couple!! lol lol.
Very nice collection. I know you’re proud of them—I would be.

-- At my age, an "all--nighter" is not having to get up and pee...!!!

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