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Forum topic by MikeyLikesIt posted 12-03-2012 02:32 AM 2183 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 2249 days

12-03-2012 02:32 AM

Topic tags/keywords: newbie hand tool school limited budget

Hello all,
I started getting into woodworking about a month ago and since then I have spent countless hours researching tools and such so that I can try to avoid buying the same tool twice. At some point I have made myself more confused than when I started. I have a limited budget and I am not sure where to start. I ran across this site and I am considering doing semester 1 and 2 to start. Does anyone have any experience with this gentleman? Is this a good way to get started? I also read that reading the Anarchist’s Tool Chest by Chris Schwarz would be a good way to get started possibly.

I have an antique store near me that has some really dated planes from Stanley and Bailey, so I suppose that is an option but I really have no clue what Im looking for to determine if they are good buys or not.

Somebody set me straight!!

28 replies so far

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3189 days

#1 posted 12-03-2012 02:40 AM

The Anarchist’s Toolchest by Chris Schwarz is a great place to start if you’re interested in using hand tools. He gives a good overview of the various types of tools and how they are used. Some people don’t like his style, whereas others love everything he does. I think it’s a decent place to start. I don’t know anything about the hand tool school you listed.

Regarding the Stanley planes, there are so many variables involved that it’s hard to say, sight unseen, if you’re gonna get a good deal. Perhaps someone on here will be willing to sell you a plane or two. DonW has a lot of planes and he sells cleaned-up versions for good prices.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Sandra's profile


7207 posts in 2312 days

#2 posted 12-03-2012 02:53 AM


I haven’t been at this very long, and I’m a bit of a bookworm myself. I find it easy to get mired down in details and not actually ‘do’ anything. What has worked for me it to pick a project, and then buy the tools specifically needed to complete it. Along the way, I’m learning new skills. When I bought my table saw, I bought a book on table saws so that I could work safely. But it was only in using the table saw that I gained confidence.

So while you do need some knowledge to be able to work safely, all the research in the world doesn’t stack up to the value of experience.

Good luck

-- No, I don't want to buy the pink hammer.

View patron's profile


13641 posts in 3578 days

#3 posted 12-03-2012 03:05 AM

you have found a site here
with some of the best
and most experienced woodworkers

ask whatever you need to learn/do

and someone will be able to help

welcome to LJ’s

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View MikeyLikesIt's profile


17 posts in 2249 days

#4 posted 12-03-2012 03:38 AM

Brandon – Thanks for the insight on the book. I might just go ahead and get it, maybe I’ll do the electronic file…

Sandra – you managed to sum up exactly what has happened. I have gotten entirely to hung up in the details and as a result, I haven’t built anything. This must change.

Patron – your right, the advice and friendliness within the community here at LJ is what made me decide to register. I look forward to picking a lot of brains round here.

Thanks for all the advice! Does anyone have any insight on the aforementioned ” hand tool school?”

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3235 days

#5 posted 12-03-2012 04:02 AM

Shannon, has some nice stuff. Only watched his free videos. Also of a similar nature, Paul Sellers has an online offering. I personally would lean toward Mr. Seller’s style but that is very subjective.

Take a look at their free videos and see if it meets your needs.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2861 days

#6 posted 12-03-2012 04:06 AM

build a box. any box. miter the corners or butt them put a top and a bottom on it. just about all wood working is a box of sorts. it is a great start and you will quickly learn what you need to know. what tools you need, what tools you may want. when you are finished building put some finish on it. your next box will be better if you analyze what you liked and did not like. learn from the mistakes, and re-enforce what went right. there is plenty of help here. welcome to LJs

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4131 days

#7 posted 12-03-2012 04:21 AM

buy a “kit”

Like “Ikea”

what could go wrong ?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View MikeyLikesIt's profile


17 posts in 2249 days

#8 posted 12-03-2012 05:00 AM

David – ill be sure and take a look at Mr. sellers site, thanks for the insight.

Jumbo – Your right, I need to just start somewhere, I could use a box or ten :)

Thanks all! This site is fantastic!

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2814 days

#9 posted 12-03-2012 05:26 AM

Welcome to LJ’s MikeyLikesIt!

Great advice above, maybe get some scrap wood on Craigslist and
build a couple of boxes, or a shelves for your new to you hand planes.

Enjoy the journey, it’s going to be a great one.

View MikeyLikesIt's profile


17 posts in 2249 days

#10 posted 12-03-2012 06:18 AM

Waho6o9 – Thanks for the encouragement. I need to remind myself that it’s about the journey rather than the destination.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 3189 days

#11 posted 12-03-2012 11:29 AM

Mikey, I work pretty much exclusively in hand tools. When I transitioned about four or five years ago I started reading, A LOT. Personally, I think there is no one source for learning. Books were primarily my big source for info, but I also watched some videos (youtube is FILLED with stuff), I watched some podcasts (lots on there too, free), and read woodworking magazines (Pop. Woodworking, Wood, FineWoodworking, etc)

If you are going to start woodworking and learning it from the basement level, you are going to need to learn an awful lot of info. You need to learn the tools, how to sharpen them (a completely separate skill), how the tools accomplish different tasks, how wood projects are built (joinery techniques), and your tools’ supporting cast (workbench, clamps, vises, etc).

I have no experience with the Hand Tool School you mentioned. I have seen many of Shannon Roger’s podcasts however, which are entertaining. I am not the kind of person that is going to learn a lot from his offering in The Handtool School, so I chose not to pay for that. It might be good for you however.

Here are two things I would suggest: go to your local bookstore and check out their books on woodworking. Barnes and Noble for instance has a lot of books on woodworking. While the Anarchist’s Toolchest is a good read, it is in no way the be all end all for learning how to work with handtools. In fact, I place it low on the list if I were making a list (by the way, I am definitely a fan of Schwarz). Anyway, at your local bookstore, you can see and touch what they have which will be helpful in deciding what you want. Next thing I suggest is to check a woodworking class in your area. This will give you a feel for where your talent level is and a good experience to be around tools. By seeing and using the tools, you will get a feel for what you need and what you want. Sometimes what you want and what you need are at very different ends of the spectrum.

And lastly, there is this site. It is a wealth of info available to you in real time. People on here (myself included) document our work on blogs so you can see the processes in pictures and read about them. These could be very helpful to you as well. Best part about LJs: FREE!

I think the more education you give yourself before you jump in, the more benefits you will reap down the road by wisely spending your limited budget dollars on tools and everything else that goes with the hobby.

-- Mike

View MikeyLikesIt's profile


17 posts in 2249 days

#12 posted 12-03-2012 03:43 PM

paratrooper34 – Very detailed and helpful advice. You are right, there is a ton of info to learn. My wife mentioned the other night, why do you pick the most complex hobbies like golf and woodworking lol. I worked as an electrician for several years, so I am not a stranger to tools. Which is why I am trying to be careful how I spend my money. I know first hand how easy it is to buy the same tool twice. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but I need to minimize it as best I can.

Thanks again!

View Duality240's profile


33 posts in 2246 days

#13 posted 12-03-2012 04:05 PM


Although you mentioned planes in your original post, you haven’t clearly stated whether you want to get into old fashioned woodworking using only hand tools or if power tools are o.k. I don’t use many hand tools but I would assume that if the Planes you are looking at are being sold in an Antique Shop, you can pretty well guarantee that they are overpriced.
If you want to jump feet first into woodworking and you don’t mind using power tools, I would suggest a table saw be your first purchase. Most shops are built around the table saw for good reason. It is one of the most versatile woodworking tools you can own. 95% of the projects I build are built exclusively using the table saw. With the right jigs, a table saw can do just about everything.
Welcome to LJ’s (I’m new here myself) and more importantly, welcome to the world of woodworking.

-- I've been doing this for years but I am still a newb

View waho6o9's profile


8539 posts in 2814 days

#14 posted 12-03-2012 04:13 PM

You’re welcome Mikey. The above site is awesome and will
help shorten the learning curve.

Hand made tools rock, looking forward to your progress and projects
as well.

I have an extra block plane with your name on it, PM me should you want

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 4025 days

#15 posted 12-03-2012 07:34 PM


Paralysis by analysis is very common today since there is so much info available online. The Hand Tool School was build around the idea of getting people working quickly while building some very useful project for your shop. This was you build skills while not spending a fortune on wood and having to worry that each project comes out perfectly. You will just ding up the projects by using them in the shop anyway. One thing I should mention however is that if you do pursue a membership to not buy a bunch of tools first before signing up. Not everything I list is required right away and there are may alternatives (cheaper ones too). Tool buying should happen as needed not en masse. Finally, have you checked out the free preview of lesson one? It is quite long but I think a good introduction.

Also feel free to hit me up with any questions you have or stop by one of the monthly live sessions. These are open to the public and I’m available to answer questions or demonstrate anything you ask from an email or the chatroom. The next one is Tues 12/11 (next week) but the dates are always listed in the top right corner of the site. I also email out to my mailing list when they happen so let me know if you want to be added.

Enough sales pitch, welcome to the wonderful world of woodworking and no matter the course you take you will find that woodworkers are extremely helpful and will go above and beyond.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

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