My hand tools have been a bit frustrating, and I think I know why. Partially because they need some more sharpening, but that’s not all. There’s a good bit more sitting beneath the surface, waiting to be exposed, and more and more work with wood has started exposing that to me. I think I’ve finally realized the issue, and now it’s time to deal with the long, expensive journey to fix that.
Working outside like I’m forced to do, weather becomes a major factor in anything I do. This past weekend’s rain made it difficult for me to work on my stocking/coat hanger. Finally I said “screw it” and sharpened my hand saw and went to work on the screened in back porch. It was still damp in there, so I was concerned about firing up any kind of power saw. I couldn’t get the cuts I wanted with my saws. My hand saw cut wandered a bit, but my coping saw cuts were just awful. Finally I just said screw it with that piece, carefully inspected my circular saw for any king of moisture and the outlet outside as well. Both being dry, I fired it up and cut another piece of pine. This time I just chamfered the edges with my block plane. That worked out OK, but was a bit plane (no pun intended).
Yes, I probably need a lot more work with my hand tools. Yes, it’s a process to learn them correctly. Yes, I’ve been out of it for a while now and things aren’t going to go as smoothly as I may like. However, the whole process made me evaluate what I want out of woodworking. I love old tools, and I love restoring them, but is that enough? Is that, in and of itself, woodworking? Personally, I think that’s a hobby unto itself, and therefore it’s not actually woodworking…but close.
What I’m interested in is the art of woodworking. I want to create works that I can look at and wonder “I made that?” That question should be echoed by every one of my friends who see that…for a while. After a time, I could show them some amazing piece by Sam Maloof or David Marks and their reaction would be “Of course you made that” because they no longer think anything is impossible for me to build. I’m interested in creating strong, sturdy pieces of furniture that last for the rest of my life, my son’s life and his great-great grand children’s life if at all possible. I love seeing a project come together before my eyes and I love being able to solve a technical difficulty in my mind, only to see it come to fruition afterwards.
So, it’s time to build up my arsenal of power tools. I won’t be turning my back completely on hand tools though, so no worries there, but it’s time to round out my equipment. I once wrote a blog about boundaries, and how I needed to get past those, and yet all this time I had been living with a self imposed boundary of hand tools. I’m making good money now, and have enough disposable income to pick up some decent power tools, so now it’s time to knock down that boundary. It’s time to kick in the door and let the piece dictate the technique to me, and no one else, but not the other way around. It’s time to be available to as much opportunity as humanly possible.
After my stocking/coat hanger project, I need to build a bookcase for my mother. She probably broke her foot putting together one of those cheap-o things that she got a Big Lots this past weekend (she goes to an orthopedic doctor tomorrow to find out if she did), and to keep her from trying the other one, I had to promise to build her one out of real wood. Frankly, I need to build two because the one she managed to put together looks far to flimsy to be trusted with anything actually on it for a prolonged period of time. As such, I figure a router is where I need to concentrate my effort first, but after that I’m drawing a blank.
I have a few ideas though, but I’ll share them another time.
-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!