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100% Hand Tools or Mix it Up ?

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Forum topic by TDog posted 774 days ago 1873 views 0 times favorited 40 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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TDog

233 posts in 863 days


774 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question plane carving tool chisel tablesaw joining rustic traditional

I am considering selling all my power tools except for my skill saw and table saw and going almost completely with high quality hand tools to force myself to learn and improve on hand tool work to develop a business of hand made heirloom quality furniture…after much trial and error, learning, learning, and more learning and more trial and error. With our economy, dumping my power tools seems tough to do for the cost end of the hourly work.

So what do you guys and gals here on lumberjocks feel about the hand tool work and satisfaction furniture and project making gives for pieces to be passed down family to family versus the time saving efficiency of more power tool use to save on hourly labor time and provide a more competitive price in our current economy?

What do you here at lumberjocks feel about hand tool traditional joinery furniture making and power tool use?

Debating on going the mostly hand tool route and selling the “ranch” of power tools….

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23


40 replies so far

View Marc5's profile

Marc5

304 posts in 1975 days


#1 posted 774 days ago

This very personal and I am sure you will get a ton of responses going both ways. My father was a carpenter / furniture maker that worked in a mill as a pattern maker. He taught me most of what I know about this field and he was a staunch power tool user. He had knowledge and all of the necessary hand tools to build without power but choose not. When he taught me how to use a hand plane and handsaw he said the only reason you need to know this is just in case your project exceeds your tool capacity.

I am currently working on a jewelry box for my wife that is completely done with hand tools and I will be starting a dining room table that will be built with the aid of power. So for me it is a blend of both. Using hand tools has improved my skills as a wood worker even in the use of power tools. I guess it is knowing the processes and mastering the tools either powered or not.

-- Marc

View crank49's profile

crank49

3378 posts in 1604 days


#2 posted 774 days ago

I think it’s great to work with hand tools.

My favorite saw is a “Pony” pull saw by Jorgensen.
BUT, if I’m in a hurry, I don’t have any problem using a power tool.
Everything has its place.

You can get a superior smooth surface with a hand plane much faster than with sandpaper, for instance.

I do things with a chisel I don’t know how I would ever do with a power tool.

But I’d hate to think I had to rip 200 board feet of oak with a hand saw. That would be crazy.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View newwoodbutcher's profile

newwoodbutcher

346 posts in 1483 days


#3 posted 774 days ago

I’m thinking many would be custom woodworking businesses are struggling to copmpete against low cost competition. It seems to me that the only people who would pay extra money for “truly hand crafted” furniture are the very rich (think 1%) or woodworkers (seldom buy). My way of thinking is that you must be able to improve your productivity to compete. Seems like 100% hand tool work is definitely going in the wrong direction. IMHO

-- Ken

View Tedster's profile

Tedster

2270 posts in 844 days


#4 posted 774 days ago

Unless you already have a market, I think ditching most of your power tools would be a bad business decision. Get the market first, then decided if you want to commit to it. If you can’t get the market, you have your power tools to fall back on.

-- I support the 28th Amendment. http://www.wolf-pac.com/28th

View bent's profile

bent

311 posts in 2302 days


#5 posted 774 days ago

have you ever gotten a commission and the buyer asked you to only use hand tools? i know i haven’t. it’s been my expirience, customers care about the end product, not the process.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

4837 posts in 1210 days


#6 posted 774 days ago

You might want to acquire more power and hand tools and become proficient in using both.
This way you can be more efficient when making your heirloom pieces.
The heirloom pieces in your project section look great, keep doing the good work.

View rockindavan's profile

rockindavan

283 posts in 1269 days


#7 posted 774 days ago

My sister-in-law bought a dinning room table with “hand tool marks,” which was nothing more than tear out and blade marks. She could care less that these are only mistakes that should never show up in a final project. Also she has no idea that they built it cheaply with all power tools then as a last ditch effort came back with a dull handplane and roughed up the surface. Pure handwork is a hard sell unless you are well known like Roy Underhill or like that amazing Japanese guy.

View TDog's profile

TDog

233 posts in 863 days


#8 posted 774 days ago

Marc5

That’s similar to my background. My dad was a carpenter, framer, and finally, a contractor. He taught me to sweep slabs in the knee high years then power tools later from the skill saw on up. My grandpa and uncle were more cabinet and furniture makers that influenced me with hand tools. I am leaning to the mix of both power and hand tools to do furniture projects. I am tempted right now to buy the powermatic mortise machine. Clean lines look very nice. Then, the hand work creates the originality. Thanks for the reply. Many of my buddies are mechanics and, I just can’t talk much on alternators and pistons. LOL

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23

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TDog

233 posts in 863 days


#9 posted 774 days ago

Crank 49,

I got ya on the ripping many feet by hand, looking forward to that sawstop cabinet saw after many more projects and savings. A whispering table saw is a great sound. I have a bench top craftsman but, I use my uncle’s powermatic cabinet saw a good bit, it cuts like a hot knife through butter.

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23

View TDog's profile

TDog

233 posts in 863 days


#10 posted 774 days ago

Newwoodbutcher,

You have a very good point.
Im thinking, pieces to sell at flea markets or “commissioned” need quality and good prices.
Maybe just special gifts and such for Christmas by hand, mixed with the table saw of course.

Thanks for the comments and opinions

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23

View TDog's profile

TDog

233 posts in 863 days


#11 posted 774 days ago

Ted,

Bingo. My dad and I have talked off and on about our tools in this economy.
If the regular job falls through, people usually need something fixed.
I have a state job currently, but I still don’t get to comfortable.

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23

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TDog

233 posts in 863 days


#12 posted 774 days ago

Bent,

good point, thanks.

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23

View Newage Neanderthal's profile

Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 1183 days


#13 posted 774 days ago

I only use hand tools, power tools annoy me and I don’t consider them “fun” or any of that jazz. Not at all for me as a hobbyist. With that said, if I was trying to feed my wife with woodworking, you can bet your ass I’d have as much power as I can get. At the very min I would have a jointer, planner, and BS to “rough” prepare the stock.

-- www.newageneanderthal.blogspot.com . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View TDog's profile

TDog

233 posts in 863 days


#14 posted 774 days ago

waho609

Thanks for the encouragement. Im at the point of
“the only way you truly learn how to do something is just go do it”
with as much advice and research from those in the profession (woodworking) as possible
Not waiting for everything to be just right, because it of course never will be…

-- "So many projects...so little time..." Psalm 23

View Don W's profile (online now)

Don W

14882 posts in 1201 days


#15 posted 774 days ago

I’m all for all hand tools. But I don’t do it and I’m not trying to make a living at it. Its ok to take the no power projects, but make sure you can get enough of them if its making the payments. Even then, stick the power tools in the back room, you’re gonna want them again.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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