Hand Tool Woodworking: Saws, Planes and More

Hand Tool Woodworking: Saws, Planes and More

Hand Tool Woodworking: Saws, Planes and More

Ah, the age-old question – what are the essential hand tools I need to get started in this wonderful world of woodworking? Well, my friend, I’m here to guide you through the maze of options and share my own experiences and insights. After all, I’ve been taming wood with nothing but my hands for longer than I care to admit.

When I first dipped my toes into this craft, I was tempted to surround myself with every saw, plane, and chisel under the sun. I mean, how else was I going to build that dream workbench, right? Wrong. I quickly learned that the key to successful hand tool woodworking is not accumulating a massive collection, but rather mastering a select few. And trust me, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be churning out projects like a pro with just a handful of trusty tools.

Let’s dive in, shall we? The foundation of my hand tool kit is a faithful Stanley No. 5 jack plane. Now, I know what you’re thinking – why not a No. 4? Well, my friend, the extra few inches of length on the No. 5 make all the difference when it comes to flattening and smoothing those boards. Plus, with a couple of different irons (one for rough work, one for finishing), you’ll be able to tackle just about any task. Richard Maguire echoes this sentiment, noting that the No. 5 is his go-to plane for a reason – it’s a workhorse that can handle it all.

Next up, let’s talk saws. Now, I know the internet is full of saw enthusiasts who will try to convince you that you need a whole arsenal, but hear me out. For your joinery work, a Japanese-style backsaw is a great place to start. They’re affordable, easy to maintain, and will cut like a dream. If you’re feeling a little flush, perhaps consider a Veritas tenon saw, but the humble backsaw will get the job done just fine. And for those rip cuts, a simple hardpoint panel saw from your local hardware store will be your new best friend. As one Redditor wisely pointed out, the key is to focus on learning how to use the saw properly, rather than chasing the latest and greatest.

Of course, no hand tool kit would be complete without a trusty set of chisels. I’d recommend starting with three – a 1/4″, 3/8″, and 3/4″ bevel-edged variety. These sizes will cover just about any mortise or dovetail you can throw at them. And when it comes to sharpening, don’t be intimidated. Richard Maguire has got you covered with his simple sharpening advice – just a good old-fashioned double-sided Norton oil stone and you’ll be slicing through wood like butter in no time.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – what about all those fancy planes and specialty tools I’ve been drooling over on YouTube? Well, slow your roll, my friend. While those pricey Lie-Nielsen and Veritas beauties are undoubtedly excellent, they’re not necessary to get started. In fact, one Redditor rightly pointed out that even buying all vintage tools can be a costly endeavor, and you may end up with more than you need. My advice? Master the basics first, then gradually add to your collection as your skills (and budget) allow.

And let’s not forget the humble mallet. I’m a big fan of the Thor mallet – it’s got just the right heft to drive those chisels without damaging the wood. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter when visitors come by the timber building workshop.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “But Richard, what about all the other tools you’ve been using in your videos? Where do they fit in?” Well, my friends, those are more like luxuries than necessities. Sure, a router plane or a coping saw can be handy, but they’re not essential for getting started. Think of them as the icing on the cake – once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, then you can start exploring those specialty tools.

And let’s not forget the importance of a solid workbench. Now, I know the temptation is to build an elaborate, show-stopping bench right from the start, but trust me, that’s a rabbit hole you don’t want to go down. As Richard wisely points out, a simple, sturdy bench is all you need to get the job done. Save the fancy stuff for later, when you’ve got a bit more experience under your belt.

So there you have it, my friends – the essential hand tool kit to get you started on your woodworking journey. Remember, the key is to start small, master the basics, and then gradually expand your collection as your skills and confidence grow. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll be the one sharing your wisdom with the next generation of hand tool enthusiasts. Happy woodworking!


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