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Newbie: Hand Tool Essentials for Guitar Cab making?

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Forum topic by stroml posted 03-25-2012 02:42 AM 1581 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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stroml

21 posts in 1714 days


03-25-2012 02:42 AM

Hey everyone,

First post. I’ve been browsing a bit and plan to do a little more searching around, but I wanted to get all of your opinions on essential hand tools.

My first 2 projects are to build an guitar amp head and cab. I have some basic power tool and hand tool knowledge but haven’t had a lot of practice in the last few years. I got inspired by watching John Bullar's Dovetail Joint hand cut video, and I’m hoping to use his video as a guideline for making these cabinets.

Aside from some clamps and a vice, I don’t have any woodworking hand tools to speak of and was wondering what all was necessary to cut and create dovetails.

From the video, it looks like the following are required:
  • Dovetail saw (also saw the LV dovetail guide with saw, which might be handy for a beginner)
  • Coping saw
  • Marking gauge
  • Marking knife
  • Chisels
  • Mallet

I am not opposed to buying decent, mid-priced tools, though I don’t want to go all out on a $100+ dovetail saw if it turns out I am not meant to do woodwork. On the other hand, you definitely need some quality tools to save on some beginner frustration, so it’s a Catch-22.

Is it too ambitious as a starter project to be making cabs with hand through dovetails? Also, for someone who has no prior woodworking experience, what brands, budget range, or specific models do you recommend for the tools required for these 2 projects?

-- Strom


4 replies so far

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cblak

26 posts in 1721 days


#1 posted 03-25-2012 05:07 AM

I think your on the right track with the list you have, stroml . You are right about buying cheap tools. They will only frustrate you, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend alot! For chisels i would recommend a set of Marples. You can pick up a set of 4 for about $35. I bought some many years ago for my first set, and they still serve me well today. As far as a dovetail saw, Im a little prejudice. Get one with a rigid back for dovetails ,the other ones tend to have difficulty staying on your line. I’ve spent (wasted) alot of money on cheap saws from all the hardware stores. If you plan on cutting alot of dovetails get a decent saw. I love my Veritas, but a $65 its an investment. You can get a decent Japanese saw for around $30-$50. I’ve learned over the years that hand tools are very specific to the user, so everyone will have a different opinion on what brand or style to get. If woodworking is something you hope to stick with, I would recommend buying the best you can afford. Besides, if you don’t stick with it, you can sell quality tools alot easier than cheap ones. (I’ve seen USED Lie-Nielson tools sell for more on ebay than they do NEW on Lie-Nielson’s web sight!) If you choose to get a marking gauge, I’d get one that has a “cutting wheel” instead of the pins. The most important thing is to make sure your tools are SHARP! It makes life alot easier and your woodworking more enjoyable! Have fun and good luck with your projects!

-- Ten seconds of patience, Ten years of peace.

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stroml

21 posts in 1714 days


#2 posted 03-25-2012 03:54 PM

Hey Chadwick,

Thanks for the insightful reply. I was already looking at the Marples 4-chisel set, as that seems to be the middle-of-the-road chisel of choice. I also considered the Veritas Western Dovetail saw, but at $65 for a single purpose saw it might be a little steep for me if woodworking does not turn out to be my calling. Any recommendations on a Japanese saw in the $30-$40 range?

Which marking gauges have the cutting wheel? I’m assuming LV has them, and I’d prefer to get all my materials in one place to avoid unnecessary shipping charges. It doesn’t necessarily need to be LV, but I don’t know where are the quality sites are for woodworking tools.

Lastly, are there any resources on sharpening chisels and japanese/western dovetail saws? Is it something I should be considering a DIY project, or is it better to take it to a shop? I’d like to say I am a patient person, but I once found it quite frustrating, due to my lack of experience, to file and shape frets on a guitar (22 in total, not 14tpi!), so I don’t want to do anything that’s going to discourage me from woodworking in its entirety.

Thanks again.

-- Strom

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cblak

26 posts in 1721 days


#3 posted 03-26-2012 11:22 PM

Unfortunately, many of the saws in the $30 price range are actually considered disposable. Thats not to say they CANT be sharpened. I just don’t know how! Western saws are easier to sharpen, (they are typically made with a thicker gauge steel)but you wont find a good one for $30. Your best selection of japanese saws is JapanWoodworker.com. They have saws that will fit your budget. They don’t sell junk, so just about any saw you find there will do just fine. Just make sure its recommended for Dovetails! As far as marking gauges go,the type i recommended have a little wheel on them instead of a pin. I again have Veritas and love it,however they are around $30. You don’t have to have a fancy one. Last i saw, Grizzly had one for around $8. If you don’t plan on doing alot of dovetails, just use a combination square and a utility knife, thats how i started and it works. Just take your time on the set up. As far as sharpening your chisels, i recommend checking out youtube, thier “how to” videos are really quite helpful.

Nothing will push you away from woodworking quicker than trying to work with DULL tools. Practice, before you start work on your finished piece! When you do start on it, start with the least visible dovetails.

For quality tools, the resources i use are Woodcraft, JapanWoodworker,TraditionalWoodworker,LeeVally, and of course Lie-Nielson. Im not a big fan of Rockler because they sell alot of “gimmicks” but i have spent my fair share there as well.
Definitely go with the Marples. You are capable of getting the same results as you would with a more expensive set. They just require sharpening more often.

-- Ten seconds of patience, Ten years of peace.

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stroml

21 posts in 1714 days


#4 posted 03-27-2012 05:48 PM

I’m thinking I might opt for the Veritas and some Narex chisels. Japanese blades replacements seem a bit pricey, especially if I keep a western saw forever and learn how to keep it sharp. Now I have to get some sort of sharpening stones or system for the chisels.

The list just keeps getting longer, doesn’t it :)

-- Strom

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