Thursday, December 15, 2011

Becoming a hand tool woodworker

I can remember, almost to the day, when I became a hand tool woodworker, novice division.  It was two years ago now that I watched the first episode of Bob Rozaieski's podcast series on building a Porringer tea table.  Designed for beginners, it taught in a step by step, clear way how to make cabriole legs with hand tools.  I remember thinking, "I don't know if I could ever do something like that, but I want to try."  I had some 12/4 alder, so the risk was small.  It went so well that I made another, then a third from claro walnut.

As I went along, I began accumulating and using hand tools, some new, some restored and made a tool chest to house them.  Increasingly, my power-tool-centered workshop didn't work.  It was cramped, the layout was wrong and the benches were wrong, just not designed for hand tool work.  This fall, I went on a tear, selling my tablesaw, my bench and an assembly table as well as numerous tools I wasn't using.  I made the Nicholson bench and repurposed an antique butcher block that belonged to my wife's parents as a joinery bench.  Next up is a second saw bench that, along with its mate and a piece of plywood, can double as a low assembly table.  This is where things stand:

I cannot tell you what a difference this represents.  Of course, you can't see the power tools around the periphery, but that's the point.  They are on the periphery.  The transformation may never be complete but a tipping point has been passed.

1 comment:

  1. Andy,

    My experience is very similar, I'm just following behind by about a year...keep up the great posts!