Reply by tirebob

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Posted on I want to build things with hand tools

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134 posts in 2880 days

#1 posted 09-06-2011 08:24 PM

You should read Chris Schwarz’ book, The Anarchists Tool Chest. He goes in detail about what tools are most important to have, then what is nice to have, to be able to accomplish most handtool tasks… Myself, I broke the bank in the beginning and bought a ton of really premium stuff all at once, and while I don’t regret it, I find today I use certain tools a lot, and others not so much, which means I could have gotten away with spending less money and still do all the jobs I do now. Still though, it was a ton of fun buying all those cool tools! lol!

If you are going to buy one plane, the low angle jack plane is an awesome starting point. You can buy a few blades and tackle the widest variety of jobs with that one plane. You can remove stock fast, you can flatten, you can smooth and you can use it for shooting. Just switch blades to match the job you are doing. If you have multiple planes in the budget, a dedicated jointer and smoother are nice. I also really like my shoulder plane and router plane. The next plane I am going to buy is a plow plane. If you plane on doing a lot of boxes, drawers etc, plow planes are great!

A full set of decent chisels are nice, but you don’t need to break the bank to get something functional. You would be better off buying a few common sized good chisels and add more as you need them, rather than a full set of crap ones. Thinking economy, the Narex bevel edged ones are good for cheap, but the new Stanley Sweethearts are probably a little better. If you can hold off, Lee Valley if supposed to unveiling their new premium line of chisels soon, but not sure what the price tag will be on those yet.

Get yourself some decent saws. The Veritas dovetail and carcass saws are awesome, especially for the dollar…

If you are buying handtools with blades, a decent sharpening system is a must! Even the best tools will work like crap if not sharpened properly. There are many different methods, but I prefer waterstones for cost vs quality. There are many who use sandpaper which is cheaper to start, but adds up over time. Decent waterstones are not too much money and can last a long time. A DMT plate is a nice luxury for keeping your stones flat. I like to use the Veritas MKII honing guide while others prefer freehand, but the guide is pretty foolproof and lets you repeat great edges time after time.

You will need a good marking gauge, measuring tools, squares etc. If you plan on doing dovetails the dovetail markers are handy.

There will be many different preferences, but if you stick to the basics you will be fine and can just add tools as you find you need them. There are multiple ways to skin a cat, so even though a certain tool might make a job easier, it isn’t usually the only way. Once you figure out you are doing a certain job all the time, you can consider upgrading to a specialty tool then…

Where are you located? Lee Valley has great tools (their Veritas line is exceptional!), but others love their Lie Neilsen tools, and you can start getting into the boutique manufacturers who specialize in their specific tool types… It never ends! Haha!

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