Getting started with traditional woodworking

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Forum topic by jonaskoski posted 06-05-2009 07:56 PM 5517 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 2698 days

06-05-2009 07:56 PM

Topic tags/keywords: traditional

I’d really like to get into building furniture and other items using only hand tools the way it was done before electricity and power tools. I know it’s much harder that way but I love working with my hands and I’m really excited to get started. Problem is I have no idea where to start. Anyone know of a book or website that can get me on the right track. I have very little experience, just remodeling, tile, etc. Nothing like building furniture.

13 replies so far

View kiwi1969's profile


609 posts in 2862 days

#1 posted 06-05-2009 08:21 PM

Thats a broad question, what do want to make? country, shaker, federal? What tools do you have now? Are you starting from scratch? Best bet, just cruise amazon. Look for Roy Underhill, David charlesworth, Jack Hill, Ian Kirby, Chris schwartz, theres more than that out there of course. On the web, just google it, you,ll be overwhelmed but just take it one step at a time.

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

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6 posts in 2698 days

#2 posted 06-05-2009 08:47 PM

Hence my problem. I really don’t even know what to search for. Is it called traditional woodworking? I think you know the kind of style I mean but I’m not sure what craftsmen call it. I’d like to lean all the basic of furniture making so I can make my own things, whatever the need may be. I just don’t like most of the furniture that I see. I’d prefer to do my own work and for some reason doing it with all hand tools sound like my kind of challenge. Thanks for the names I’ll look them up.

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3069 days

#3 posted 06-05-2009 08:54 PM

go to browse that side – it has many articles about different types of woodworking styles, with descriptions, and photos so you can get the idea of what it’s like – also has good source of tool techniques, and the likes. good place to start.

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

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6 posts in 2698 days

#4 posted 06-05-2009 09:01 PM

Thanks I will check that out.

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6 posts in 2698 days

#5 posted 06-05-2009 09:03 PM

Ok guessing you mean fine not fin…

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


17575 posts in 3096 days

#6 posted 06-05-2009 09:27 PM

Roy Underhill is the hand tool man. google him, He’s on PBS.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View PurpLev's profile


8523 posts in 3069 days

#7 posted 06-05-2009 09:35 PM

yes, I meant fine.. my bad – I edited the previous post I made to also include the link.

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

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6 posts in 2698 days

#8 posted 06-05-2009 10:50 PM

Thanks Topamax, I like your signature as well.

View JuniorJoiner's profile


463 posts in 2860 days

#9 posted 06-06-2009 12:50 AM

I would recommend the book, “country furniture” by Aldren A.Watson. and ditto the good remarks about roy underhill. also, woodworking magazine by F&W publications as well as popular woodworking , usually have at least one good hand tool article each issue.
and, if you have a used bookstore, anything by charles hayward is worth reading.
The biggest part of “traditional woodworking”is having sharp tools. so you may want to start there.
buy a tool, figure out how to sharpen it, then make shavings figuring out how to use it.

good luck

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

View grimt's profile


24 posts in 2980 days

#10 posted 06-09-2009 02:38 AM

Another great source of information is google books.
google books advanced search

search on “fine woodworking” and see what you get.

The material is not always complete and you can’t print the content but I have found this a fascinating way of keeping me away from getting in to the workshop and doing it ;-)

Google books also has a whole bunch of old American woodworker magazines.

Like you, I aspire to electricity free woodworking but find myself woefully inadequate in terms of skills and experience. I was lucky enough to have a friend who had a bunch of old tools hanging around that I could borrow and restore. I’m now slowly building up my arsenal through a combination of trademe (Kiwi equivalent to ebay) and buying new. I have never regretted any of my new purchases, with few exceptions you get what you pay for but it is an expensive business.

For me, the single most important tool is a decent workbench. There are many articles and posts on what makes a workbench so I won’t go in to that here. I’m making my own (not using hand tools exclusively) and finding it an amazingly rewarding experience.

Best of luck..

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3165 days

#11 posted 06-09-2009 03:07 AM

Fine has a segment called getting started in woodworking. It covers most of the basics, but not all with just hand tools. This site also has all of the Tauton publishing books. Woodworking Basics by Peter Korn is a good starter book. You may have to subscribe to the Fine wood working web site to access these articles. They have a 14 day free trial right now.

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Craftsman on the lake

2506 posts in 2858 days

#12 posted 06-09-2009 03:49 AM

I am a big fan. Here is an example of a book: fine furniture making. Nick Engler’s name is on the book so it has to be at least good. Right now there are hardcover like new/used hardcover versions of this book for one cent plus shipping. I don’t have this book but have ordered books like this many times and have never been disappointed with the results. A quick look inside the book (you can view some pages online) indicates that it seems to be hand tools based.

Here’s another: hand tool essentials for $1.80 new/used hardcover plus shipping.

Good luck with your choices!

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Francisco Luna's profile

Francisco Luna

936 posts in 2814 days

#13 posted 06-09-2009 04:06 AM

wow, I’m so excited when I read plans, projects like this!
I have always said, nobody can make a nice CAD drawing if never has tried hand, traditional drafting.
Hand tools are easier, safer and the results are unbeatable with any power tool. simple. Nowadays nobody produce the beauty that was produced in the Bedermeier period in europe for instance.

If I would be a teacher, I would initiate my students with sharpening. that will introduce you to any “Edge” tool. Also Drafting (Handdrafting) because Woodworking is basically drafting and cutting.

-- 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

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