There are many advantages to making homemade tools. First, they save money over the cost of store bought tools. Second, most of the time they are easy to make. Finally, making homemade tools helps increase your knowledge of the tools you have, and develop the thinking required to solve most woodworking problems.
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Any time a jig or a tool is made in the shop, it saves money. Tools are expensive, and there isn’t a woodworker in the world who doesn’t want more of them. A tool that is made in the shop will typically be made from scraps. These remnants were paid for already, so the project is essentially free.
Even if a few pieces or parts need to be purchased from a store, the overall cost of a homemade tool is always less. If several tools or jigs are required for a new project, making them is a huge bonus. The money saved on the tools can be invested instead into more materials, ensuring that the new project will have everything it needs to be successful.
Most homemade tools are fairly easy to make. One of the biggest mistakes any store can do is put a picture of the jig they are selling in the catalog. Most woodworkers can think critically, and seeing the jig or tool typically reveals how to make it.
Some tools require very close tolerances. However, for the majority of tools, anyone with a little woodworking experience can make them. Spend a little time looking around at what is already being used, and combine ideas. There are typically a few versions of any jig or tool, and each one will have something that can be used to generate a final idea. Once decided upon, make the jig or tool yourself.
Homemade tools are a great way to increase what you have to work with in the shop without spending a lot of money. They also make you a stronger woodworker.
Finally, making tools broadens your woodworking ability. Most woodworkers are good at figuring things out on the fly. Making something takes skill, and making a tool or a jig is no different. The thing that sets tools apart from the main project is that is forces the woodworker to think differently.
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Being forced to solve different problems makes you a better woodworker. It broadens your understanding of the tools you have, because you will be using them to create something different. This change will trickle down to your other woodworking talents. The deeper understanding of the process will make the project easier. This will lead to better looking pieces.
When I got into guitar making, I had very few tools and not a lot of money. I knew what I needed, so I made the majority of my tools and jigs. This saved me quite a bit of money, and made me a stronger woodworker.
I eventually wrote a book called Acoustic Guitar Making: How to make Tools, Templates, and Jigs, which shows what I learned how to make. It has over 500 pages and over 1600 images, teaching any beginner getting into making guitars how to make their own tools. This is a huge help for new guitar makers, because the tools are a large hurtle.
For more on homemade tools, take a look at my other articles below:
Do you have any questions about making tools and jigs? Leave a comment and I will answer them. Happy Building.
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I give away the majority of my woodworking, wood finishing, and guitar making tips, but I also have several books if you want to take the next step.
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