As some of you may have read on my profile page, I have been wanting to get into woodworking for a long time now. I have been reading the magazines, watching the shows, and reading on forums for years. I had not been able to take the plunge due to budget and space limitations. Not to mention that when I was in the Navy, I didn’t want to have to worry about shipping my equipment every time I changed commands. It seems that no one ever really makes it through a government relocation without some major damage to personal items. Now that I am out of the Navy and in a semi permanent location, I may be able to take the plunge.
If you look at my workshop page, you will see that my selection of tools is very limited and fairly pathetic. Most of what I have was purchased with home repair in mind. The drill press and angle grinder were purchased for fabricating parts for my RC cars. The only woodworking power tools I have are the Craftsman router and Ryobi table saw. Those were given to me after my uncle died. Not exactly what I would have purchased myself, but they were free.
Needless to say, I need to outfit myself with some tools. I don’t want to buy junk, but my budget is VERY limited. I had just sold back some vacation time and my wife gave me $400 to spend on tools. Let me tell you something you guys probably know all too well. That kind of money isn’t much when you are starting fresh. It is more of a teaser than anything. I looked at all kinds of options. I couldn’t really come up with any good ones though. I have 150 acres of 40% wooded land which contains Cedar, Oak, and I believe Maple. Due to my budget, I had intended to get my own lumber from around my house. So, that would mean a Jointer and surface planer were in order. I thought that if I could find a jointer and a surface planer within my budget, then I was going to just make my table saw work for now. With a bit of research, I discovered that it wasn’t going to happen.
But I didn’t give up. I kept reading and searching. Before I ever came up with an answer for my needs, I started reading about some recent table saw injuries. That did it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared, but I don’t want to risk my fingers to a $100 table saw. I also know that many people never loose a finger and some go 30+ years without an accident, but I don’t want to trust cheap tools and can’t afford the good stuff. So, with my current budget in mind, a solid table saw was not happening.
So my decision to become a super stealthy ninja lumber assassin was made. I’m going to do it all with hand tools. Well, almost all. I started reading up on the various planes and again, budget had to play a role. I decided to make the nearly two hour drive to Woodcraft to check out the Groz planes since they were fairly cheap. Turns out, they were on sale this weekend. I know that you get what you pay for, but I needed to see these things first hand. I left them on the shelf for someone more desperate than me. I couldn’t see wasting my money on them. But I did not come home empty handed. I purchased a couple of video’s by Rob Cosman. The first one was Rough to Ready. It takes you through the steps of preparing rough lumber with hand tools. The other video was Hand planing and sharpening. I figured that it would be needed if I intended to be able to accomplish anything worth while.
I still needed to come up with a way to afford the different planes needed to work the wood. That’s when I remembered the Hock wooden plane kit. For $108 I could have a plane with a good iron and it could be as long or short as I wanted. I could also make several different planes and just swap the iron from one to the other until I could afford more irons. That’s when one of the sales guys showed me David Fincks book called Making and Mastering wood planes. Couldn’t get much better than that. I’ve been watching his videos on YouTube for a while. To make a good wooden plane, it helps to have a good plane for truing the sole and sides. So I picked up a Stanley SW 60 1/2 LABP.
Now, I just need to get the Hock kit, finish reading the book, and get to making planes. The way I see it, I’ll begin with making a scrub plane, #4 bench plane, #7 or #8 Jointer, and some kind of shoulder plane. By the time I am done with that, I should have a bit more saved up for some other hand tools. My first projects after making the planes will be a shooting board, my work bench and a sawing bench. Maybe some Krenov style saw horses could be worked in there too.
Sorry for being so long winded, but a lot went into deciding the direction I would be going with my woodworking endeavors. Traditional woodworking should be much cheaper, and if all I ever do is make a few hand planes, so be it. If more money comes my way and I can afford a good table saw and some other power tools, then I may venture into working with power tools. Also, I will be doing a tool review on the Stanley plane from a novice woodworker point of view. I have a few things to say about it but need some time to take pictures and figure out how to post them on this site. I will also review the books a videos.
-- US Navy Veteran Morgantown, KY