It All Starts Somewhere

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Blog entry by wastingtape posted 02-03-2013 08:57 AM 1128 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I spent several months researching power tools, comparing, shopping around, seeing them in person, and pricing it all out. But I couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that going down this road was going to be a constant treadmill of buying accessories and aftermarket jigs. Expensive jigs. And lots of accessories.

There was another problem coming about on the horizon: my son was born. That by itself isn’t the problem. However, for the first time ever during a purchase decision, I asked myself, “What is going to happen one day when he wants to learn how to use these?” You see, I had always bought tools for myself. But now I realized I was buying for two people. I started having doubts that buying a table saw was a good idea.

And then somehow I discovered a sub-culture within the woodworking community: the hand tool enthusiasts. Hmmm… it seemed like a good idea on the surface but would I regret it later on? I mean, I am a little impatient. It sure fixes the problem of safety around power tools, and it means I could share any skills or knowledge I have much earlier. And I do like hunting for bargains and garage sales, so it could fit?

So what’s a guy to do?

I started over with the research. It began to make sense.

I bought a rusty, crusty plane. A Wards Master #5 jack. It looked like this.

I then bought a lot of sandpaper and steel wool. I also learned about sharpening and bought a low speed grinder and waterstones 220 to 8000 grit.

That plane now looks like this (and actually cuts).

Hmmm… that didn’t go so bad. I kind of like the feel of doing something on my own. I like not having to wear a respirator, ear muffs, and gloves every time I want to do something. I like being able to get work done when the kiddo is sleeping at night.

So I bought something else. A Disston crosscut saw. It looks like this.

It is amazing.

Uh, ok. I think I just started something here…

Did I just trade buying lots of accessories for buying lots of hand tools? Maybe. But one is a lot cheaper and funner than the other. :)

7 comments so far

View EEngineer's profile


1113 posts in 3693 days

#1 posted 02-03-2013 12:49 PM

I find the general tenor of your post disturbing. You see, I grew up around my father’s workshop. When I was very young, my father was just starting out and didn’t have a lot of money for tools. But we lived not far from my grandfather, who had a complete woodworking shop with ALL the dangerous tools, and I made many trips with my father there for projects around the home that required power tools. As I got older my father accumulated quite a workshop of his own.

Most of my grandfather’s tools would give some of the safety-conscious guys here absolute fits! The centerpiece of the shop was a huge 36” bandsaw with no guards. The tablesaw didn’t have any guards and a splitter or kickback protection? Haha!!

From my earliest days both my father and grandfather made it clear which tools I could without any supervision (primarily hand-tools when I was very young), which tools I could use only with close supervision (and those increased as I got older) and which tools I could only get my father or grandfather to use while I watched from a safe distance (I only ever got to use the tablesaw or shaper unsupervised after I had taken woodworking shop classes in high school). My son, now 26, went through a similar process.

As a matter of fact, I think that my caution and respect for power tools was generated at a very early age by just how seriously my father and grandfather established and enforced these limits! Need I mention that my grandfather and father both died with all ten fingers intact? Need I also mention that I have all ten of my fingers?

In short, I do not believe that the danger any power tools represent to your children is a good reason not to have them. After all, you have knives in your house, don’t you? Electricity? I’ll bet you own at least one car. All of these things can be just as dangerous as power tools. You can’t remove all risk from your child without limiting severely how your child lives and how much he/she can learn from you.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3414 days

#2 posted 02-03-2013 12:54 PM

A wise way of thinking. You can still master all the right methods and techniques by using hand tools instead of big machines. Most machines were invented and produced to boost production for professionals. They are not necessarily fun to work with though. It is also amazing how efficient hand tools are compared to all the set-up time and jig making that machines require.

I have a lot of big machines, but as my handtool and sharpening skills have slowly increased over the years, and I find myself reaching for a handtool more often than using a machine. This has made my work environment more pleasant and I feel myself to be a better craftsman, even though I still rely on machines for much of my work.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View DocSavage45's profile


8650 posts in 2922 days

#3 posted 02-03-2013 06:57 PM

Woodworking is working the wood? My dad had a lot of handtools and maintenance tools, many of which I still have. My ideas of furniture building have been strongly influence by “New Yankee Workshop” and Norm Abrhams. Now I have come to an understanding as I read a training manual for Japanese Craftsman.

Sme folls can produce as quicly with hand tols as others with power tools. And vice versa?

It’s really about what we do with the tools?

There are many camps here on LJ but I would say you are on your own journey! I have many new hammers but my ugly OLD Stanley is the one most comfortable in my hands. And I just sold my Craftsman 10 inch belt driven tablesaw which I had for 20 years to an engineer who said “Oh, nice condition”

Now setting up a used grizzzly 3 hp single phase cabinet saw. It came when I was ready?

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View davidroberts's profile


1027 posts in 3565 days

#4 posted 02-03-2013 08:07 PM

No doubt one of my greatest fears was my young son wondering into my shop and getting hurt. I installed multiple safety devices on the machines so he could nto just push a button and cut his head off. As he grew older I taught he about how the machines work and about shop safety. He leaned more towards electronics, software and computers, and not so much woodworking. Now he is an electrical engineering/computer science major with a year to go and offers already coming in. I get distracted and like to brag on him. The point is, there will be many dangerous situations your son will face. Best to teach him how to handle himself around heavy equipment early, so he gain an appreciation for how to approach equipment.

I’m in the woodworking phase where the big equipment, even benchtop and handheld power tools, are used as roughing tools, and hand tools are used to fit and finish the project. Electric tools are a convenience for folks like me that only get to spend a few hours each week (if I’m lucky) in the shop. However, I do have profound respect for the craftsmanship that goes into making something, anything really, just using hand tools. Power tools cover up a lot of my lack of good woodworking skills.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View eff's profile


16 posts in 2031 days

#5 posted 02-03-2013 10:11 PM

I have only on thing to say, follow your bliss.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2567 days

#6 posted 02-03-2013 10:22 PM

I guess one thing that bothers me about this thread, (and not the OP in any way), is the fact that parents are now taught to keep the children safe instead of teaching them to keep their grubby little paws off of something that they do not own.

In my fathers and grand fathers shops, as well as in the trucks, working on equipment, etc., we were taught the word NO!

We knew that word from the time we were on the teat. We grew up with that word. It was one of the first words we could speak.

No it’s nearly illegal to tell a child no or correct it in any way.

A sad state of affairs.

Just sad.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Tugboater78's profile


2749 posts in 2271 days

#7 posted 04-27-2013 09:40 AM

Aye dallas

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

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