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Forum topic by Matt posted 03-18-2009 10:29 PM 3148 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3367 days

03-18-2009 10:29 PM

Hi guys,

I’ve been a ‘powered’ woodworker, off and on, for quite a while. I am, by no means, as good as most of the folks on LJ. However, I’ve been reading and reading on hand tools. I am thinking I would like to get a collection started in the next few months. Nothing serious. Just adding a piece here and there when I see the ‘right deal’. I don’t mind ‘old iron’ (or wood) as long as the quality is where it needs to be.

I would also like to start with a saw or set of chisels, as that is what I do have a higher probability of using in the near future.

I am not posting this to start some Intergalactic Pissin’ Contest over the best brands, etc. Just point me in the direction of the goods.

With that, are there any resources that you recommend? Links, sites, books, etc. I love to read and do research so the more the better. If you do decide to give me a hand with my studies, please don’t forget to include planes and others. I will get to them eventually. Just not at first.

Thanks in advance!

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

29 replies so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3983 days

#1 posted 03-18-2009 10:38 PM

I just got a set of Narex chisels from Highland Hardware. It’s a set of 6 for $49.

They were best value in Fine woodworking 2009 tool magazine. They look pretty good

Beats paying about 5-6 times the price for a set of Lie-Nielsen chisels.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3643 days

#2 posted 03-18-2009 10:47 PM

I’d second Gary, I was going to get the same Narex set from Leevalley. I ended up getting a good deal on a set of German chisels on craigslist, – which is another good option to check once in a while ( but if you’re looking for a specific tool -today- your best bet is the online/local stores.

As far as “building a collection” I’m not a true believer of “collecting” stuff… just get the right tool for each current project you have in front of you to make things easier for you. the so called “collection” will grow as you and your projects do.

Dont forget to budget for sharpening materials (jigs/abrasives/etc) as this will make the difference between a tool you reach for, or a tool you lock away.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3918 days

#3 posted 03-18-2009 11:01 PM

I picked up a set of Marples I think you can get them at Lowe’s. I tried to use them right off the shelf and thought I just got the cheep ones that’s why they dulled so quick and did not give good results (on the first project) not even thinking what made them cheep. As time went on I learned more about sharpening and practised on these chisels WOW what a difference! They cut like a razor and did better then when they were new (Lesson Learned) NOT yet. I found that the cheep one at Lowe’s verses the Hi dollar have a big difference in the type steel they use to make them. So my advice is get the cheapest ones you can at first. The only difference is you will have to sharpen them very often, which is a good thing because you will need the practice before you put a $30.00 chisel to a stone. Where you should not skimp is on stones which by the way are more expensive then some chisels Do some reading on sharpening at the same time. I have a jig I use with a roller and go down to 8000 grit stone starting with 1000 on the micro bevel.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4094 days

#4 posted 03-18-2009 11:04 PM

Amazingly, I still just use my Stanley and Buck brand chisels. I sharpen them on my belt sander and then lap them on my strop board. They will peel the hair off of your arm.

My background is that of a remodeling contractor and I lean heavily toward the power tools because of it. But that does not mean I am against hand tools.

It may be the skills that need to be developed which is cheaper than buying tools. Although I love buying tools, and I love using them even more.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View JuniorJoiner's profile (online now)


486 posts in 3434 days

#5 posted 03-18-2009 11:22 PM

If i had to pick something to make the switch from power to hand tools, it would be a card scraper and a fine cut bastard file to sharpen it with. I like the bacho scrapers because most places sell them, and they are fine steel.
some people get fancy with sharpening them, not necessary for them to work.
the speed at which they prep a surface instead of sanding, and the lack of airbourne dust, will make you wonder why you would ever sand again.
chisels are mostly personal preferance for the type of work you do. I have three sets, and they all do very specific jobs. starting out i would try to find a used set, and sharpen them. don’t spend too much money until you are certain hand tools are going to be a major part of your woodworking.
I always try to buy tools I would buy used , meaning if i outgrow them, someone else would want them.

whatever you decide i hope to see more of your projects in the future
best of luck

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View treeman's profile


208 posts in 3444 days

#6 posted 03-18-2009 11:31 PM

Hi Matt,

Like you, I have been using almost exclusively power tools for all of my woodworking projects. I only used hand tools as a last resort and with mixed results. I have recently restored a Stanley Bailey #5 I got from my father. I flattened the sole and really sharpened the blade properly for the first time in my life. WOW; what a difference. It will shave hair as well as take full length whisper shavings off of oak.

This success encouraged me to look for a couple of other planes. I have recently purchased a Stanley Bailey #4 and #7C. I have the #4 working as well as the #5 but haven’t tackled the tune up on the #7 yet. Not only do you get the joy of using the tool but the pleasure of taking a neglected tool and turning it into a gem.

I am still trying to get a reasonable deal on a good shoulder plane on eBay but they have been pretty pricey of late. Good luck with your venture.

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3358 days

#7 posted 03-19-2009 01:19 AM

I come from the other direction. I was trained to use hand tools by my father and grandfather (both finish carpenters). I transitioned to power tools to make things faster and eaasier, but not necessarily better. I have come back part way over the years.

If I was building a kit from scratch, I would have:

A good set of chisels and a way to keep them sharp. I use waterstones for almost 90% of my sharpening. I like Robert Sorbys and Crown for fine work and Stanleys for rough work and outdoor projects.
Some good hand saws. I like the Japanese razor saws and dowetail saws. A coping saw or fret saw comes in handy for hand cut dovetails.
A set of files and rifflers and scrapers.
A set of planes low angle block, block plane, shoulder plane a #4 and a #5 bench plane.
A few carving chisels and gouges come in handy for adding details to projects.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4016 days

#8 posted 03-19-2009 02:05 AM

Learn to be the wood.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Chris's profile


339 posts in 3352 days

#9 posted 03-19-2009 02:56 AM

I agree with the Narex reccomendation; my brother in law got them last year. I was lucky enough to get several of my grandfathers chisels, and I’ve picked up one or two off ebay as well, despite being leery of buying used tools without handling them.

-- Chris

View Don Niermann  's profile

Don Niermann

219 posts in 3967 days

#10 posted 03-19-2009 03:16 AM

I have a set of Marples they work fine for me.

-- WOOD/DON ( has the right to ones opinion but not the right to ones own facts...)

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3388 days

#11 posted 03-19-2009 03:21 AM


Japanese Woodworking Tools, Toshio Odate….nice book about Japanese tools
Choosing and Using Hand Tools, by Andy Rae, all around, Hand Tools…..good book!
The Handplane Book, by Garrett Hack…..Collecting and using hand planes
Hand Tool Skills, The Best of Fine Woodworking (Magazine) Tauton press.

Web Sites:…...ask for the catalog, good reference….Nice tools

As a reference of most esential tools…..Yeung Chan tools…

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3809 posts in 4016 days

#12 posted 03-19-2009 05:38 AM

I really like the shoemaker too!


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Matt's profile


181 posts in 3367 days

#13 posted 03-19-2009 06:10 AM

Ok, I’ve been using searches and filters on eBay to see all the various vintage, new, cheap, and expensive hand tools. You can learn a whole lot from simple ‘window shopping’ and reading the more thorough descriptions. Wow, what a world. We have talked quite a bit about chisels. Would you guys mind talking about planes and saws now?

I want to make some nice boxes for my twin 8 year old girls this summer. The thought of making them with hand tools sounds very appealing to me. If you had to recommend a first plane and saw for this purpose, I would really appreciate it. They can be new or used. However, I think used tools are a little risky for me, right now, since I can’t distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. That is, until I do a lot more reading!

If you guys give me enough leads, I’ll compile my education and discoveries all in one spot for all the new ‘Jocks’ to use.

Thanks in advance,

-- Matt - My Websites - - Hand Tools :: - Small Shops

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

943 posts in 3388 days

#14 posted 03-19-2009 12:49 PM

Three Handplanes to start with,could be:
1.Block Plane. I like Adjustable mouth, Low Angles like Veritas, Lie Nielsen.
2.Smooth Plane, #3 or #4…..........Lie Nielsen, Veritas, Clifton, Ulmia.
This Used Stanley “Sweet Heart” is in great condition…
3.Jack Plane…......#5, same brand names above

The big question here is: Japanese or Western Style Saws?????

There is a brand name I really like, its GYOKUCHO. A couple of Dosuki saws, rip and crosscut would be a good start.
www.leevalleytools has a nice selection as well.

Western Style Saws.

Lie Nielsen. for small work like boxes or dovetailing, consider a Dovetail Saw.

Wenzloff & Sons

Handtools might seem expensive at first glance, but they are an excellent investment, they retain the value incredibly.

-- Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain" Frank Lloyd Wright

View Kaytrim's profile


63 posts in 3570 days

#15 posted 03-19-2009 04:10 PM

Here is a good site that should help push you along the slippery slope of handplanes. Lots of good info and links to other sources including books.

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