Hand Tool Epiphany

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Forum topic by SuburbanDon posted 02-04-2014 05:02 AM 1126 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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487 posts in 3018 days

02-04-2014 05:02 AM

Today I had a hand tool epiphany. I’m a middle-experienced power tool operator. But lately I’ve been getting into sharpening my chisels and planes. The other day I was able to flatten some boards with a plane and really enjoyed the process.

Today I was prepping some tenon ends for a blanket chest and was able to mark the matching pieces identically for length and make nice razor sharp shoulders. Seems easy but I can mess that up.

I found myself slowing down and just getting into the work. So my epiphany is that I really discovered it’s better to be process-oriented than goal-oriented when woodworking.

-- --- Measure twice, mis-cut, start over, repeat ---

8 replies so far

View Planeman40's profile


1179 posts in 2785 days

#1 posted 02-04-2014 05:10 AM

After more than 50 years of wood and metal working as a hobby it is obvious that some people view working in wood and metal as a chore to accomplish something they want. Others enjoy the process of wood and metal working and get pleasure from it. Fortunately, I’m one of the latter. My son is one of the former.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2822 days

#2 posted 02-04-2014 05:34 AM

I spent a working life as a result oriented woodworker. It works very well in the real world. I have however in my retirement started to realize that the process can be a very enjoyable pastime and have taken to hand tools as a new challenge. I love it and will do more projects that way but I still understand the need for a goal oriented approach if you are trying to get something done or make a living. The way I look at it is that the zen of hand tools is a lovely luxury that I can now afford…... some of the time.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View richardwootton's profile


1699 posts in 1979 days

#3 posted 02-04-2014 05:53 AM

I gave up on my power tools a good while back. They scare the hell out of me and I can’t help but love the process of milling everything by hand. It’s ridiculously gratifying. Sure, I’ll never make any money that way, but I truly love it.

-- Richard, Hot Springs, Ar -- Galoot In Training

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1285 posts in 1698 days

#4 posted 02-04-2014 06:32 AM

Don’t forget woodworkers from all eras have always taken pride in being regarded by their peers in the shed as being skilled, fast and efficient. I don’t have to make money now but enjoy working like I do. I’m looking for a photo of Sam Malouf at age 80 making a freehand 3D bandsaw cut on a chair arm.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3358 days

#5 posted 02-04-2014 10:09 AM

I agree with you Don. Once you are retired you can do it however you want to. For my part, I love working with hand tools and I do so at every practical opportunity, but I still like my power tools for the extra laborious/boring tasks. I totally agree that enjoying the process is more important than just looking forward to the final result. This might have something to do with being retired, as many younger folks with a full time job, and a family may not always have the time to fully enjoy the process because they might never get to finish their projects using only hand tools.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 1986 days

#6 posted 02-04-2014 03:30 PM

Yeah definitely agree with Paul if you need to make a living or get something done fast then you’ve got to use whatever tool will be most efficient and that’s often a power tool. But that also means you’re accepting the injury risk as well. Indeed it’s a luxury to be able to slow down and enjoy the process and choose whichever you enjoy the most.

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235 posts in 1650 days

#7 posted 02-04-2014 03:44 PM

I don’t see why handtool woodworking can’t make you money if that’s what you want. I mean IMO you could probably make more money per piece with the right marketing and customer base. Of course you’ll make less pieces in a given time so it will kinda even out…but people will pay more for truly handcrafted items…at least IME from what I’ve seen at some markets in the Washington DC area.

View JayT's profile (online now)


5674 posts in 2235 days

#8 posted 02-04-2014 04:05 PM

Welcome to the dark side, there is no return!

I have come to realize the same thing over the past couple years. Slowing down and savoring the process makes the hobby much more enjoyable.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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