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10 Steps to Getting Started in Traditional Woodworking with Hand Tools #2: |Step 1| Understand & Buy the Right Hand Tools

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Blog entry by WoodAndShop posted 04-15-2014 03:01 PM 1144 reads 4 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Introduction to Joshua's 10 Steps Part 2 of 10 Steps to Getting Started in Traditional Woodworking with Hand Tools series Part 3: |Step 2| Setup Your Workshop & Tool Storage »

1.1 Which Hand Tools Do You Need?

After woodworking for several years, conducting “research”, and attending Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School, I’ve compiled three lists of hand tools: (1) urgent (what you need to get started), (2) semi-urgent (what you need to do more than just basic projects), and (3) non-urgent (improves convenience, tools for advanced projects, or items that are fun to have, but not vital). Used vintage hand tools are better in most cases (and less expensive), although some modern companies (like Lie-Nielsen Toolworks) manufacture very quality woodworking tools. View the summary list below or view my detailed hand tool list here.

1.1.2 Summary: Urgent, Semi-urgent, and Non-urgent woodworking hand tools:

1.2 Understanding Traditional Woodworking Hand Tools

1.2.1 Understanding Workbenches

The workbench is the most fundamental part of a traditional woodworker’s shop. Nearly everything happens on the workbench. In modern woodworking woodshops, the wood is taken to the machines to be milled & shaped at high speeds, with loud noises. This certainly has a place in modern consumerism. However, it’s not nearly as romantic or relaxing as a traditional woodworking workshop where the woodworker brings the wood to the workbench, and then brings all the hand tools to the wood.

1.2.1 Understanding Handplanes

VIDEO: Here’s a great video from the folks at Lie-Nielsen about understanding hand planes:

1.2.2 Understanding Hand Saws

VIDEO: This is a really great video, by Paul Sellers, that explains the differences between types of handsaws, and how to sharpen them. It’s a very long video, but worth it. I’m currently working on filming a much shorter one.

1.2.3 Understanding Chisels

Oh, how confusing chisels can be to beginners. Bench chisels, mortising chisels, paring chisels, carving chisels, turning chisels, skew chisels? Tang or socket or Japanese? Is your head spinning yet? I went through several set of chisels before discovering what I really needed. The above video will help clarify different types of chisels, but my chisel buying guide page will help you get a great set of quality chisels for less money.

1.2.4 Understanding Marking & Measuring Tools

Precision is a major key to enjoying woodworking with hand tools. But, like all the other tool categories, it can be a big overwhelming to understand all the different tools and gauges for laying out, marking, & measuring: mortise gauges, marking gauges, rules, squares, dividers (compass), panel gauges, etc. Confusing huh? The above video gives a basic introduction to these measuring devices, but my marking & measuring tool buying guide goes into specific brands & features to look for.

1.2.5 Understanding Clamps

Ah clamps. All function and no beauty. Fortunately that removes the emotional aspect when deciding which clamps to buy.

Clamps are essential for holding your workpiece together while gluing up. But which types of clamps exist? Which of those do you need? And how many of each type do you need? It’s taken me awhile to figure this out, and I’d love to share what I’ve learned so you don’t wasted your time and money.

1.2.6 Understanding Shop-made Appliances

Let’s face it. Some tools in your shop really shouldn’t be purchased, but made. For example, even beginner hand toolers should be able to crank out a bench hook, shooting board, square, and straight edge. In fact, these kinds of projects are the best to start with, because they won’t be on display in your living room! Most of them are purely functional. Plus, they’re essential for accurate joinery. Over time I’ll add more and more shop-made appliance videos (both making and using) to this section. Here’s a Popular Woodworking video where Christopher Schwarz shows how to use a bench hook (a very essential shop appliance):

1.2.7 Understanding Braces, Drills, & Bits

Shannon Rogers, The Renaissance Woodworker, gives a really good (although lengthy) introduction to braces, drills, & bits. Don’t worry, you won’t have to watch 23 minutes. The beginning 3 minutes of the video gives the basics of different tools, then the rest talks about a specific bit (center bit)…so ignore the last 20 minutes if you wish:

Now follow the below link for step 2!

Shortcut to Joshua’s 10 steps:
Step 1: Buy the Right Woodworking Hand Tools
Step 2: Setup Your Workshop & Tool Storage
Step 3: Learn how to Tune, Refurbish, & Sharpen Tools
Step 4: Learn how to Use Woodworking Hand Tools
Step 5: Learn how to Design Woodworking Projects
Step 6: Learn to Prepare Wood: Square & Straight
Step 7: Learn how to Layout & Mark the Wood
Step 8: Joinery: Learn how to Layout & Cut Joints
Step 9: Learn how to Assemble & Glue-up
Step 10: Learn how to Finish the Wood

-- Joshua Farnsworth - Free Traditional Hand Tool Woodworking Tutorials: http://WoodAndShop.com



6 comments so far

View MrFid's profile

MrFid

568 posts in 651 days


#1 posted 04-15-2014 03:37 PM

Wow lots of information here! Great blog you’ve put together. Welcome to LJs, by the way.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View WoodAndShop's profile

WoodAndShop

145 posts in 256 days


#2 posted 04-15-2014 05:04 PM

Thanks Bailey! I got all the 10 steps posted now, so please check it out, and please spread the word!

-- Joshua Farnsworth - Free Traditional Hand Tool Woodworking Tutorials: http://WoodAndShop.com

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1221 days


#3 posted 04-19-2014 07:03 AM

Well damn, you could have saved me a lot of money and grief if you had posted this a few years ago… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View WoodAndShop's profile

WoodAndShop

145 posts in 256 days


#4 posted 04-19-2014 11:03 PM

Ha ha Jorge! You know, I could have saved a lot of money myself if someone else had written this a few years ago! I bought a bunch of the wrong tools, which is why I wanted to help others avoid my mistakes. I’d be grateful if you could please subscribe to my website and share this with your friends!

-- Joshua Farnsworth - Free Traditional Hand Tool Woodworking Tutorials: http://WoodAndShop.com

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1221 days


#5 posted 04-20-2014 01:08 AM

Done… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View WoodAndShop's profile

WoodAndShop

145 posts in 256 days


#6 posted 04-20-2014 12:12 PM

Thanks Jorge!

-- Joshua Farnsworth - Free Traditional Hand Tool Woodworking Tutorials: http://WoodAndShop.com

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