Hand Tools

There is a tremendous satisfaction in using hand tools for the manipulation of wood. I use power tools, as has every woodworker since the invention of water powered saws. The thing about power tools is that they are noisy, generate dust which is potentially damaging to health, they have a desire to remove bits of the operator unless kept under the strictest supervision, they take as long to set up as to use - and often longer, and they or their power source pollute the planet. 

The case for hand tools is that they are much safer, they work quietly, and slowly enough to allow the user to stop before removing too much material. They keep you fit and burn off calories (try hand sawing and planing an 8 x 6 oak beam into two 4 x 6 beams and you’ll know what I mean) Of course, they demand more from the user than just being able to set a fence and push buttons. From sharpening to set up and to knowledge of the material, it’s altogether a different experience.

Let’s start by sharpening. There’s sharp, and then there’s SHARP. A sharp edge would be defined as the meeting of two planar surfaces, and theoretically would be a single molecule in thickness at the point where material stops and air begins. Only obsydian is this sharp (that I know of) but we can aim at that with carbon steel. A sharp plane blade in a correctly tuned hand plane is a revelation to every power tool user. The surface it leaves is glossy and smooth, the shaving is long, even, and transparent. Areas of gnarly grain are sliced. Best of all - it was MY hand and arm that did this - my skill, my pleasure, no ear defenders - Mozart audible all the time. 

Try it - you’ll like it.

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