This woodworking tips card is about using hand tools. It’s important that you use hand tools, even though you may have several powered options available. Hand tools are important to the development of your intuitive senses as a woodworker. They allow you to feel more of the process, and that’s important. Here is why:
Use Hand Tools
It’s important to use as many senses as possible when you are working in your shop. The obvious senses are sight and touch, but there are others that are not as simple. The closer you are to the piece you are working on, the more connected you will become.
It’s not about sleeping with the project under your pillow, but more about not letting machines distance you from your work.
For example, anyone can feed boards into a thickness sander. In a factory, I bet the training is relatively short for someone just sending boards through the machine. This is technically woodworking, but you are distanced from the project by the machine.
The same would go for any kind of assembly line style work. You might be making a car, but you really have no idea how a car is made. You may not even understand what your step actually does either, because you are trained to do the one small thing over and over again. Here is how you make sure that you are not getting short changed by your Woodworking machines…
Keep Learning About Hand Tools
As you are learning about Woodworking, make sure that you are using hand tools. Edged hand tools in particular are the ones that I am talking about. Learn how to use a hand plane, cabinet scraper, and a chisel. Each of these tools is important, and they can all be mastered if you give them the time.
I use my edged tools all the time. They are always on the bench, and within easy reach. If I need to cut something or smooth something, I can reach for my hand plane and take care of the process. I still use machines for many things, but my hand tools are always my bench and ready to use.
There are many benefits to using hand tools, and the one that most people don’t think of is speed. If you really think about it, it takes a long time to use your Woodworking machines.
Hand Tools are Faster
I dont care how nice your router table is, it’s faster to chamfer the edge of a board with a hand plane than it is to use a router table. The reason is you don’t need to set up the hand plane to start cutting. When you take into consideration the setup and take down time, you actually lose time working with machines.
The same goes for a quick bit of leveling on a board. By the time you get out your power sander, plug it in, select the right sandpaper, and put it on the pad, you could have removed that same defect ten times with a cabinet scraper. It’s amazing how much time we waste to save time with a power tool.
The catch is that once you are set up on a power tool, the results are many times more clean. However, you can get the same results with hand tools if you practice. You don’t need to lock yourself in the garage until you are perfect. All you need to do is use the tool as much as possible and you will learn over time.
Don’t Become an Assembler
Learning about hand tools will keep you working towards being a better woodworker. You will not have to worry about becoming an assembler rather than a woodworker, because you will be shaping the wood yourself, and learning all the time.
There comes a point where you can buy things already so close to finished that you are building things more than creating things. This gets into the assembler territory. In the beginning, it is fine to purchase items that are closer to finished. However, in the end you really want to learn the skills that it takes to work the pieces yourself.
This is where hand tools keep you grounded. I have a thickness planer, and I use it all the time for thinning thicker boards. However, I don’t need to use it to trim down smaller areas. For things like that I use a hand plane or a chisel. Knowing how to use hand tools makes it so that I can accomplish these tasks without relying on the machine all the time.
Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks
While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.
You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.