Are there any Traditional Woodworkers among us?

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Forum topic by gr8outdrsmn posted 12-18-2008 05:44 PM 6530 views 0 times favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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60 posts in 3418 days

12-18-2008 05:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: traditional

I have always liked doing things the old fashioned way. I think i get it from my father, who is very meticulous and takes care and precision in everything he does. As I am just getting into woodworking, I am leaning towards setting up a more traditional shop. I was wondering how many of you do things the old ways (hand-cutting your dovetails, hand planing, draw knifing, chiseling, etc)?

For those of you that do things the old fashioned way, do you have any pointers/advice, links to websites, or can you reccomend particular brands of tools that seem to work better? If I am going to do it, I am going to do it right, so any and all advice will be greatly appreciated. Thanks


-- Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.

41 replies so far

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3726 days

#1 posted 12-18-2008 05:56 PM

Perhaps the most important “tool” for a traditional woodworker is a good cabinet maker’s bench with the bench dogs and hold downs. It will be front and center in your shop and used on virtually every project.

That said, you are also going to become proficient in sharpening. A good set of water stones, a sharpening guide, and a selection of wet/dry sandpaper attached to flat glass plates will be in frequent use.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4092 days

#2 posted 12-18-2008 06:01 PM

Acquire skills, not tools.

-- 温故知新

View gr8outdrsmn's profile


60 posts in 3418 days

#3 posted 12-18-2008 06:05 PM

Thanks 8iowa. Right now space is limited so i only have a 2’ x 5’ bench that has a removable top section and the lower section will hold the router table (i’ll post pics when the project is finished so you can see what i am talking about) So, the good bench will unfortunately have to wait until i can get some more room.

Ok dr, any reccomendations of where i could go to learn these skills? (web, books, etc)

-- Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.

View Harold's profile


310 posts in 3812 days

#4 posted 12-18-2008 07:22 PM

I agree with 8iowa, in fact i will go even farther, I believe it is the most important tool you will ever own/build. I believe ever other tool, chisel, plane or saw is a accessory for your bench. Traditional woodworking is literally built from the bench, the techniques in planing, cutting joinery…in preparing your stock..everything begins with the bench. If space is a premium then build a smaller bench, regardless I sincerely believe a bench should be one of the first projects you tackle. A economical set of bench chisels will work while you acquire the techniques, not only in the physical work but also the skill of sharpening( the bench is the No.1 tool and sharpening in the No.1 skill) And…!!!! if your not enjoying yourself your doing something wrong. Ask someone here at LJ’s….or if finances and location will allow it take a course or class, or attend a demonstration. Start simple, but set you expectations high.

-- If knowledge is not shared, it is forgotten.

View DrDirt's profile


4423 posts in 3707 days

#5 posted 12-18-2008 07:38 PM

GR8 There are a bunch of schools out there – I am a fan of Marc Adams – but that is in part he is closest to me. You will find there tends to be a pool of folks that teach certain skills and often have courses at many of the schools.
I do know that for working from scratch – Roy Underhill is teaching I believe at the end of July hand tools, green wood and basically turning logs into useful stuff.
In addition many others like Chis Schwartz, Chris Gochnour, graham Blackburn and others teach specifically for hand tool furninture making – - just depends what part of the country you are in and the dreaded budget.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

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4423 posts in 3707 days

#6 posted 12-18-2008 07:49 PM

Hit submit before the ol brain finished thinking –
but I would definitely look towards one of these classes.
Learning ‘on the fly’ to use a tablesaw and router is not so bad as long as one is careful. But a few days with someone who really knows their stuff on Hand tools is an outright necessity- learning sharpening, tuning of tools and joinery in a week from an expert you will be farther ahead than if you spent a year beating your head against a wall. It is possible to get there but a lot less fun.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Charlie_Wintercoats's profile


36 posts in 3418 days

#7 posted 12-18-2008 07:59 PM

I am stuck on power tools. I tried using a chisel yesterday on a cabinet and did more damage than good. It is the first time i used a chisel and need practice obviously. I cant comprehend using those tools for the time consumption factor. I did watch that show the woodrights shop when I was little (that guy who makes evertyhing by hand)... he even made a threaded wooden rod for something. Doing that stuff would be fun… but I dont have the patience.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3632 days

#8 posted 12-18-2008 08:57 PM

All great ideas, I would just like to add, a hand tool is only useful when it is sharp. Unless you want to spend more time sharpening than woodworking, I would suggest looking into a Tormek.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View EricS's profile


11 posts in 3503 days

#9 posted 12-18-2008 09:03 PM

Here is a link to a blog written by a guy who uses only hand tools. He makes some beautiful stuff using only hand tools.

View Vladimir's profile


1 post in 3411 days

#10 posted 12-18-2008 09:28 PM

A good strong workbench is by far the most important tool for the trade/hobby. Following the bench are saws, chisels, and planes. The tools should be good quality to obtain good results; however, cheaper tools can be refurbished to make that happen. 8iowa has a strong and most valid point in terms of sharpening, so I won’t add to that. You will be sharpening frequently. For the most part, the hand tools will save you loads of cash rather than blowing it all on top of the line power tools. The work you will do will provide you with invaluable experience on crafting too. One person which always did everything the traditional way is Jim Kingshott, read up on him and read some of his books. That dude breaks everything down into potatoe-head language and provided me the greatest amount of insight into the craft through his videos. The best thing of all is his video stuff is usually available in libraries for free viewing. I hope that helps.

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3729 days

#11 posted 12-18-2008 10:38 PM

I’m with Charlie on this one, it’s hard enough trying to make a buck in woodworking, I can’t imagine how much more extra time it would take useing only hand tools.

View gr8outdrsmn's profile


60 posts in 3418 days

#12 posted 12-19-2008 12:55 AM

Wow, thanks for some great info. I will have the sharpening ability down very soon. My dad can put a razor edge on anything, so hopefully he can pass that ability on to me.

I will definitely check out Jim Kingshott, thanks for that.

Tchisel, I will be checking out your site later on tonight when i get done doing some last minute shopping. Thanks

Thanks again everyone, this really is a great forum. You guys have a wealth of knowledge/experience.

-- Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive.

View Loren's profile (online now)


10260 posts in 3612 days

#13 posted 12-19-2008 01:34 AM

I can do a lot of stuff the old ways. If you want to be
a really good craftsman you need to get the hand-tool
skills anyway.

If you are doing it for a hobby working in a traditional manner
is relaxing and fun – if you have patience.

For making money? When I do jobs for money you might gape
at how fast I move. Whatever tool or method is fastest, that’s
what I use. Sometimes it’s a handtool in that case too.

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3780 days

#14 posted 12-19-2008 02:26 AM

Traditional = fun, modern = money.

Dovetails were made by a bunch of grunts because glues weren’t very good….if those grunts had the glue we have now, they would have dropped dovetails in an instant.

With that said, having good hand skills will only make your machine skill projects better. You just have to decide what you want to do and why.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3729 days

#15 posted 12-19-2008 04:45 AM

Catspaw, I don’t know that I would say that about dovetails, glue alone isn’t going to hold a drawer side on vey well. The reason you don’r see many dovetailing in cabinet shops is they use a joint that is faster to cut, but not necessarily better. I still prefer a dovetail joint, but trying to get someone to pay you for the time to incorporate it into something they want is tough. It’s all about speed for the producer, and price for the majority of consumers nowdays. I don’t do much for anyone anymore, so speed isn’t a big issue, but I do think that with machinery I get better results. Ofcourse there are some things you just can’t do with machinery, but that seems to be geting to be less and less every year.

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