Acquiring books and videos

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Blog entry by lashomb posted 10-25-2011 05:08 PM 5354 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

10 years or more ago, I bought a bunch of Bessey clamps on sale at Rockler Woodworking. In the years that followed, I subscribed to Woodworker’s Journal for a few years, Woodsmith for a few years. Bought (and sold) the Woodsmith Time-Life book collection. But I never really built anything, at least not anything I’d wanted to build. I’ve always lacked many of the tools and shop space and working on anything was a frustrating, compromised experience.

Well now I’m married and have a son who is almost 2 years old. And I want to get into woodworking. Not only as a hobby, but to replace the Ikea furniture that has pervaded our home.

I’ve taken interest in the resurgence of hand tool woodworking. I like the idea of learning the craft, and it’s also something I could involve my son in at a younger age, without worrying as much about the dangers of power tools.

I’ve started collecting and reading books, watching videos and starting my collection of tools. So far I’ve read The Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Christopher Schwarz, and have started on Joiner and Cabinet Maker, also from Lost Art Press. On deck are The New Traditional Woodworker by Jim Tolpin and The Complete Woodworker by Bernard E. Jones as well as Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking.

I’ve also watched several DVDs. The companion video for The Anarchist’s Tool Chest was a great inside look into what tools the author favors. I also watched Coarse, Medium and Fine from Lie-Neilsen Toolworks. Great video on the concept, and alot of fun to see the tools I’m trying to acquire at work.

As for my tools, I have only a few yet. My first purchase was a set of 8 of the new Stanley Sweetheart Socket Chisels. Which I haven’t used yet, because of course I have no sharpening gear, aside from a few coarse diamond stones (350 and 700 grit). I also picked up a vintage Stanley Jack plane, a Type 16 from what I can tell.

For now I will continue reading, watching and learning, and growing my collection of tools as fast as I can. I look forward to someday soon being able to build something by hand in my own shop.

-- > < --

10 comments so far

View Glenn's profile


141 posts in 3411 days

#1 posted 10-25-2011 05:56 PM

You wrote, “For now I will continue reading, watching and learning, and growing my collection of tools as fast as I can. I look forward to someday soon being able to build something by hand in my own shop.”

This is just personal opinion offered up in a helpful spirit, but I think you’re approaching it differently than I did. For me it is about the project, the wood, and the completed product, rather than the tools which are simply the means of getting there. When I first started, I simply picked something I needed (two adirondacks from a Lowe’s Creative Ideas magazine) and started building. I used way-too-expensive treated pine from Lowe’s and purchased the tools I needed to do the next step in the project.

When the chairs were completed, I repeated this process a few times, and before I knew it, I was a woodworker (in my mind, at least) with a very nicely outfitted garage shop. And it’s not top-of-the line Powermatic equipment either, but an eclectic hodge-podge of things I’ve collected over time, both inexpensive and too expensive. I’m a hybrid woodworker, using both handtools and powertools. My favorite saying is, “The right tool for the right job,” and I pick and choose from tools based on any number of factors. I can pretty much build anything I want now, and this is only a few years after I started.

My point is, you can wait until you have that perfect hand-tool collection and be an armchair woodworker for years and never build a thing. Or you can get a board, buy a small hand saw from Lowes (I recommend one that cuts on the pull stroke like a SharkSaw), and build a box. Once you do that, you will have achieved what you want, and you’ll never have to just wish again.

Best of luck to ya.

-- Glenn, Arkansas

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4121 days

#2 posted 10-25-2011 06:01 PM

I agree with Glenn, you need to jump in let some shavings fly. Knowledge is only one dimension…..

Given your current reading list, you might want to consider

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

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#3 posted 10-25-2011 06:26 PM

I understand you thirst for knowledge but putting it into practice is a necessary process. Even though I now have tons of tools when I first started woodworking I didn’t. So rather than waiting for the funds to come along to buy all top of the line tools start with very basic tools and upgrade as time goes on . If you want a table saw but can’t afford one buy a used circular saw. Like wise if you want hand tools start with tools like harbor freight,some of their tools aren’t that bad and replace them later as more funds become available . There is a LJs member from the Philippians(sorry I can’t recall his name) that lived in an apartment and had no space for a shop and tools or much money to buy any. He found some plywood at work bought and borrowed some low end tools and made a bench from the plywood and worked on a patio outside. This fine fellow kept making things like saw horses,bench hooks and he was off to the races getting wood from houses that were demolished and pallets. His knowledge and skill grew and he made bigger and better things. Some times it’s just getting started that’s the hard part after that you get lost in the fun and knowledge gained in what your doing. I know from experience you can spend forever getting ready to get going. Just go for it no matter how big or small that “it” might be.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Albert's profile


509 posts in 3613 days

#4 posted 10-25-2011 06:56 PM

I agree with the above, also, why spend a lot of money on collecting a lot of tools on a hobby that you have no experience wtih? You might find that woodworking is just not as interesting or fun as you thought it would be.

View ShaneA's profile (online now)


6956 posts in 2622 days

#5 posted 10-25-2011 06:59 PM

I am with the others, jump in, have some fun. No substitute for experience. You can get by in the beginning of your journey with less than you think. Maybe join a club or guild that offers shop time, and mentoring?

View tr33surg3on's profile


21 posts in 2448 days

#6 posted 10-25-2011 07:01 PM

Don’t neglect workbench books. I have Scott Landis’ The Workbench Book, and Schwarz’ Workbenches is great too. Workholding is essential for most hand tools and the requirements seem to be pretty different from the power tool world. I’m not much farther along than you are, but have a similarly small workspace. The New Traditional Woodworker is a fantastic book and I’d suggest working through the projects from the beginning as it is as much about the mindset as about the tools (and later projects require more hand planes than you might have). The Complete Dovetail takes a similar approach, though I have yet to apply anything from it. You might look into James Krenov’s books and David Finck’s Making and Mastering Wooden planes (while the book ironically uses mostly power tools to make the planes, they can be accomplished with hand tools as well). David Charlesworth’s Furniture-making Techniques looked good, but I only had it out of the library for a short while. Michael Dunbar’s “Restoring, Tuning & Using Classic Woodworking Tools” has very specific information about every kind of plane you’d ever need (table-leaf plane?). There are also some good public domain books from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that aren’t as slick as the current books, but have a lot of the same information. As far as magazines, I’ve had the best luck with Fine Woodworking for hand tool info, but that’s not based on much. Oh, also Bruce Hoadley’s “Understanding Wood,” Patrick Spielman’s “Gluing and Clamping” and Bob Flexner’s “Understanding Wood Finishing” A book on wood carving probably wouldn’t hurt either. I didn’t get my chisels sharp enough until I learned to sharpen carving gouges and test them against the grain on softwood. Also you can watch the Woodwright’s shop online. Ron Hock’s website has sharpening resources too. I’ve used scary sharp, but I’ve had the best results so far with an old oil stone. Practice helps a lot, so start making a box, or some tools or some jigs, a stool or just some wood shavings in between the reading.

-- Tim -- Tools to make tools to's tools all the way down.

View lashomb's profile


22 posts in 2471 days

#7 posted 10-25-2011 08:39 PM

Thanks for the advice guys. I think you’re right. My next priority will be setting up a work area, and figure out a project to start with. I’ll go from there.

-- > < --

View RussInMichigan's profile


600 posts in 2805 days

#8 posted 10-25-2011 09:00 PM

If you’re going to emphasize hand-tool builds, one of the best places to start is with shop accessories like a shooting boards, clamps, vises, dogs, tool storage and display, wood storage, gauges, knives, markers, and so on. They build the skill set and each and every one of them will add a bit of something special to all your projects.

All the best,

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3294 days

#9 posted 10-25-2011 09:27 PM

No book learning or video will give you the experience you need. The only way to learn and master woodworking is practice, practice, practice….and then more practice.

Even if you are not sure of something to make for a project….take some scraps or find some inexpensive woods to work with (I have lots of scraps….but I will work with cheap pine if I am out of sufficient cutt offs and pieces). Take these scraps and make joints….mitres, mortise and tenons….you name it….I do it both with machines and by hand…..everytime I practice a joint I set my self up for muscle memory and for less mistakes later on. You can also test the strength…see what the joint looks like…feels…etc….

Once you feel that you have mastered a joint….try some new ones….practice some older ones….you name it….but keep practicing….The more experience you garner, the better your woodworking will become…and the more confidence you will have….believe me experience counts.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View bubbyboy's profile


137 posts in 2717 days

#10 posted 10-25-2011 10:18 PM

Well with a 2 year old a good project would be a small bookcase for his bedroom. its also a relatively easy project to build and finish, it certainly does not need to be to fancy for a 2year old and he will love.

-- I just don't understand. I have cut it 3 times and it is still to short.

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