LumberJocks

If you knew then what you know now...

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by Brian_M posted 01-20-2018 02:04 PM 1574 views 0 times favorited 48 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brian_M's profile

Brian_M

2 posts in 121 days


01-20-2018 02:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

First post, I’ll just toss out the “sorry” here and now for, well, anything I may do wrong (without intent or understanding).

So, I’m interested in getting into woodworking. It’s interested me on some level or another for a long while (decades?). I’m retired from IT, with a side career in motorcycle mechanics, more or less to a slow spot with rejuvenating/rescuing my 1930’s house and want to scratch this itch. I’d also like to shortcut some of the learning process by maybe, for once in my life, learning from the mistakes of others. I’ve real trouble with that, but I’m going to try. Oh, and I’m posting this in the hand-tool forum because I’ve not the room for things like table saws, jointers, planers and the like (at least the powered variety). I also find that I enjoy the idea of doing things a little more slowly, by hand…. part of what I liked about being a mechanic.

So, if you could go back to the beginning when you had nothing and advise yourself, how would you start? A certain project? Doing something that developed skills? Find a mentor?

I’m stuck in the muck of too much info. I swear that things like Youtube are a negative sometimes, despite the endless entertainment and information available.

Right now the tools I have are a set of 3 cheap chisels, a cheap box plane and some sort of panel saw my dad gave me decades ago (no idea if it’s rip or cross cut or if it’s even sharp, it IS rusty though :/ ). Oh, and a couple stones & jig for sharpening the chisels/plane blade.

Cheers!


48 replies so far

View Knockonit's profile

Knockonit

374 posts in 196 days


#1 posted 01-20-2018 02:43 PM

I learned the trade from two of the best carpenters i knew. and as they said i would, i’d eventually find new ways and methods to get the same result as them, but easier direction for me.

after the time with them, and on my own, i just dove in, one project after another, learning, and making lots of fire wood along the way, learned patience, as in my hurry to prove to myself i was an awesome carpenter, made quite a few costly mistakes, and embarrassing ones, so taught me to evaluate my skill set, and direction.
But will say not one mistake caused me to rethink my desire to learn wood working, only strengthened my drive to learn all i could and now at almost 70 am still learning from forums similar to this and a few youngsters i’ve met in the last few years being in construction. Good to see the young’uns, making inroads to new methods and tricks.

dive in, make some dust, expect challenges, and mistakes, learn from them, and go forth, become a master of the wood making, and being a master is not being called one by your piers, but the satisfaction of a job well done, with the best skil set you have at the time, and time will if not a total idiot, make you better each successful project.
jmo

Rj in az

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

4720 posts in 2345 days


#2 posted 01-20-2018 03:07 PM

For starters, make something. A simple box, a step stool, a tool tote, saw horses, saw bench; anything but get started. You will find that your tools will be critical, if the chisels are dull, then learn to sharpen them. Sharpening tools is a foundation skill, nothing can happen with dull tools. Clean up that handsaw and get it sharpened or learn how to do it yourself. You’ll quickly find out whether it is rip or crosscut. The main thing is to pick a project, put your tools in working order get started. Things will progress from there.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View dbeck's profile

dbeck

62 posts in 353 days


#3 posted 01-20-2018 03:31 PM

First learn to sharpen and sharpen well(takes a LONG time) then pick something you would like to redo of build, plan it out in steps that teach at each step a new skill. I would pick something that i practiced handsaw skills first(like a simple lap joint) but you will need to choose how to get dimension lumber, buy or do it yourself. Slowly build your skills and aquire more tools as needed. Popular first projects would be things like a bench or tool box etc..

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

993 posts in 903 days


#4 posted 01-20-2018 03:36 PM

I would recommend acquiring the best quality tools you can afford the first time around. The “cheap” tools, as you call them, that you have now may prove frustrating to work with, especially if you don’t have the room for power tools in you arsenal. If you’ll be cutting, planing, beveling, mitering, etc. all by hand, you’ll end up frustrated if you can’t keep a sharp edge or cut a straight line because your tools aren’t up to the task.

That’s not to say that you need to fill your shop with nothing but Festool and Lie Nielsen. In fact, craigslist and other such outlets are great places to search for bargains on used tools. A good, used Stanley plane, even if it’s 60 years old, will perform much better than any new plane you can buy off the shelf at Home Depot.

I agree with bondo. Decide to make something and have at it. Boxes and stuff like that are great. I’d suggest a project that will carry you further. Maybe a jig like a shooting board that will help you along with other projects. You’ll need a work bench soon enough. Start planning.

Pick a project, figure out what tools you’ll need, and get them. Eventually, you’ll have a shop that’s outfitted with the tools you’ll need to continue making more stuff. Just source what you need now and later on you’ll look back and see a shop full of tools. Beware, though. You’ll always find that there’s something you need or want that you don’t have. That’s kinda the beauty of it.

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2599 posts in 642 days


#5 posted 01-20-2018 04:04 PM


... I’m interested in getting into woodworking … I’ve not the room for things like table saws, jointers, planers and the like (at least the powered variety). I also find that I enjoy the idea of doing things a little more slowly, by hand … part of what I liked about being a mechanic … Right now the tools I have are a set of 3 cheap chisels, a cheap box plane and some sort of panel saw my dad gave me decades ago (no idea if it s rip or cross cut or if it s even sharp, it IS rusty though :/ ). Oh, and a couple stones & jig for sharpening the chisels/plane blade.

Cheers!

- Brian_M

A brother from another mother! Welcome aboard, Brian. Sounds like you have the same arsenal of tools I started with. Good for you! Do yourself a favor and seek out Paul Sellers on YouTube and watch until your eyes bleed. I agree with Bondo … make something! Personally, I would start with a saw bench and then corresponding saw horses. Progress very slowly when it comes to acquiring tools. Think about what it is you are trying to achieve, and if you can not do it with what you have on hand … then buy the tool! Oh yeah … buy used! That way you can hone your sharpening skills and knowledge of the tool itself … not to mention save a ton of money!

Perhaps down the road you will find your niche. What type of woodworking is your passion? Sounds like you have already decided to go the unplugged route, and I applaud you for that. I have built a variety of things over the years, but I believe Prie Dieux have become my specialty, so to speak. I derive a great deal of pleasure from designing and building these.

Go slow, have fun, and if you have questions, do not hesitate to ask!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

11605 posts in 2374 days


#6 posted 01-20-2018 06:26 PM

1. I’ve never regretted buying a quality tool. It’s the cheap ones I regret.

2. Build a bigger shop.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Johnny7's profile

Johnny7

373 posts in 1085 days


#7 posted 01-20-2018 08:01 PM


seek out Paul Sellers on YouTube and watch until your eyes bleed.

- Ron Aylor

I second this idea—one of the highest and best uses of the internet, so far as hand tool woodworking is concerned.

View AxkMan's profile

AxkMan

55 posts in 120 days


#8 posted 01-20-2018 09:18 PM

I don’t know much what to share in wisdom on this right away. Most people have troubles they encounter and the wood working can be an ongoing experience. You have to find your style in it all. Some like shakers, some contemporary, some precision, some just do it and its great. The types of wood workers you find vary greatly and the types you get advise from will also vary in detail you need.

My advise is to build on it. Start with the tools you know and have come to learn. Most tools don’t take years to master, but may cost you a few trial and errors to respect them. It can be exciting I found, but there goes your brand new power tool because of excitement… On the other hand, too much careful planning is actually laziness and you need to get more involved instead of thinking too much about it. If I act like I work at a lumber mill and I’ll get to the storage area when I get to it I found that it gets too messed up in the end.

Sketches are a great place, but then so is architecture to me. I like them, but sometimes I’d rather just live in the free world of wood. Its nomadic for me sometimes but at the same time can be an intellectual challenge of how they do it.

I use the ladder method and work from stage to stage. I mostly deal in cabinetry myself, but I’m not afraid to dive into construction like projects either. It can be challenging finding an exact spot, but never be afraid of the joy of wood despite mistakes. I always enjoy the experience even if it is just wood!

I like IT too.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1665 posts in 1984 days


#9 posted 01-20-2018 09:29 PM

Admitting that you know little to nothing is a great 1st step. As such, I see nothing wrong with starting at the beginning. This is the book, copyrighted in the ‘60’s, my son had in HS in ‘07-‘09. Technical Woodworking Groneman & Glazer McGraw-Hill Pub. Find it or something similar at the library or somewhere. It covers a lot you wont need with power tools, but covers hand tools too. Provides explanations of tool types and intended use, and covers safety without overdoing it. What I like about it is that as an old textbook, it’s teaching vs marketing a brand, which too many of the current “experts” do (I realize they are trying to make a living).

My favorite current expert for hand tools is Paul Sellers, no contest. He focuses on the tool type and how and why to use it. He mentions some brands, but they tend to be high value not high cost. As many stated, sharpening hand tools is important. Lot of ways to do it. I detail my process and why in my blog.

One other thing – study and practice finishing along with other skills. I find far to many people focused on ww methods and tools, wood types, etc , put in $ and a lot of time into a project, and then its like “oh sh*t I need to finish this”. Finish should be part of the design process, and in mind during the build. Too many folks really limit themselves when it comes to finishes. Again, start with books. My pics:

Great Wood Finishes Jeff Jewitt Taunton Press 2000
Understanding Wood Finishing Bob Flexner Reader’s Digest 2005

Some will argue they are dated. While water based finishes have continued to improve, the basic chemistry and knowledgebase has not, and the newer info isnt in a book. You get from the mfr and from testing. Flexner goes into more chemistry, which I like, and it isnt real technical. There are some differences or additions between them, which is why I recommend both. A ww project is no different than writing a program, just different knowledge and skills.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18707 posts in 2562 days


#10 posted 01-21-2018 12:14 AM

There are so many variables here. Pick something and build it.

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Just_Iain's profile

Just_Iain

286 posts in 410 days


#11 posted 01-21-2018 12:57 AM

I read an interesting story from I believe Chris Schwarz. To paraphrase, he was just getting started at Popular Woodworking Magazine and he was at either a class or woodworking show. Anyway, he got to use a very high end plane and remarked how great it was. The owner said no, it was just properly sharpened.

So finding out how great it can be, try to track down a local woodworker and take some lessons. Maybe buy a used ‘older’ Stanley #4 plane and take it along. You want to learn how to sharpen and what sharp is in a tool so also learn what a sharp chisel is like to work with and learn to sharpen your own (again a buy 1 used chisel). Don’t buy a lot until you take some lessons. And buy one at time until you learn your sharpen and maintain. Too many options and too many distractions will keep your nose to the computer and away from the bench.

Best of luck,
Iain

P.S. I bought a lot of used tools last year and so many to clean and sharpen and time is tight for me… Hence why I’m saying to start slow.

-- For those about to die, remember your bicycle helmet!

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

3811 posts in 707 days


#12 posted 01-21-2018 03:42 AM

HTL said it best ….there are 100 ways to do things ….all depends on your tools and experience :<))

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View pottz's profile

pottz

2597 posts in 978 days


#13 posted 01-21-2018 04:03 AM

all I can say is if woodworking is your passion and you love it youll find a way to build things from the crapiest tools there are.forget about buying expensive tools now,first discover if you have the fire and passion to create something from nothing.if you don’t the best tools there are wont help.some of the best woodworkers ive ever seen work in shops that are shacks and use primitive tools,but create works of art.as some have said pick a simple project and see if you have the fire!if not don’t waste the money on tools you wont even know how to properly use.i wish you a lifetime of enjoyment.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile

woodbutcherbynight

4515 posts in 2403 days


#14 posted 01-21-2018 05:43 AM

Well if I had to do it all over again I would have bought 15 acres of land, got a 2nd hand trailer, built a 10,000 square foot shop and never got married to my ex wife.

LOL

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View pottz's profile

pottz

2597 posts in 978 days


#15 posted 01-21-2018 05:46 AM



Well if I had to do it all over again I would have bought 15 acres of land, got a 2nd hand trailer, built a 10,000 square foot shop and never got married to my ex wife.

LOL

- woodbutcherbynight

AMEN BROTHER!!!!YOU AND ME BOTH.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

showing 1 through 15 of 48 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com