Hard lessons #3: Tools I did not realize I can't live without

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Blog entry by mhawkins2 posted 09-03-2008 04:28 AM 1173 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Carbide Is Sharp Part 3 of Hard lessons series Part 4: In Search of the Perfect Miter »

Please excuse the double negative in the title but it is the most accurate way of stating my point. I’ll admit that much of my wood knowledge comes from The New Yankee Workshop, so I base my concepts of what tools are most useful on what I see used there. I don’t always see the usefulness of many of tools if I don’t see Norm use them

But now I must confess that there are two tools for which I now have a new appreciation of there immense usefulness.

1) A low angle block plane. I know what a plane does, but I never appreciated what it does. Recently I made some dadoes for shelves. I tested the fit the with a piece of scrap showing a good snug fit. OOPS the test scrap was apparently just a bit thinner than board from which the shelves were cut! As I tried pounding the boards in with a hammer, it occurred to me to grab my low angle block plane. A few quick passes on each end of the shelves and viola perfect fit. I now love this little plane.

2) 10” wooden hand screw clamps. I never figured out what I could use such an odd looking and frankly a little odd to use clamp. I found a couple on sale once and hadn’t used them. Until I need to put some edge banding on a long piece of plywood. How do you balance a long piece of plywood on one edge? By clamping both ends with one of these very useful clamps! If need be then clamp these clamps to the bench.

Two little inexpensive tools that can solve problems no other tool can. These two will see much more use in my hobby now. I look forward to more such pleasant lessons.

Thanks for reading.

-- mhawkins2 - why does my wife keep parking her car in my shop :)?

7 comments so far

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 3810 days

#1 posted 09-03-2008 04:37 AM

Uh Oh!

Sounds like the beginning of the curse. Next you’ll be lusting after a shoulder plane. It only gets worse from here on out my friend.

That’ll be two hail block planes and a five our wood screws.

-- Scott - Chico California

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3762 days

#2 posted 09-03-2008 04:48 AM

don’t forget about a nice sharp 1/4” chisel. seems a nice sharp small chisel comes in handy everywhere.

View mhawkins2's profile


51 posts in 3562 days

#3 posted 09-03-2008 04:56 AM

Actually I rather like the idea of hand planes over some of the power tool equivalents. I don’t have the room for a large jointer and I am not sure I like the idea of a big set of spinning knives that could pull my hand down into it. A No. 7 Jointer plane may take a little longer but the finish should be better and its much safer. Plus a small plane set for a shallow cut is safe enough that I can let one of my young children make shavings on a piece of scrap so they can join me in the shop.

-- mhawkins2 - why does my wife keep parking her car in my shop :)?

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4058 days

#4 posted 09-03-2008 05:22 AM

Scott has it right on the money. You’ll never know how worthwhile a (Veritas Medium) shoulder plane is until you have one around. And then there’s the card scraper – the best 6-10 bucks you’ll ever spend on a tool.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4321 days

#5 posted 09-03-2008 05:30 AM

that, and I’ve got more use out of my pull saw than any other tools in the basement.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3668 days

#6 posted 09-03-2008 05:32 AM

The hard wood clamps are great tools. Someone had a great article on getting the full use out of them (FWW?) very flexible tools.

Not only is a No 7 good for a nice finish (you do need to smooth plane it after however) it will make sure you are in shape to do even moderate sized boards.

View USCJeff's profile


1063 posts in 4062 days

#7 posted 10-16-2008 05:23 PM

Just stumbled on this thread. I have a cheap (and I mean CHEAP) block plane.Terrible. I do have a quality #4 that gets a workout in the garage. It’s small and large enough to do the work of some of the other planes. I really would love a LN or Veritas LA Block though. Wish list. Glad you let your kids play with you. My 2 year old son likes to sand. I’m not sure whats wrong with him. Come on, Sanding??

-- Jeff, South Carolina

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