Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weighing Advice

So I'll readily admit that I have taken a lot of the advice of some of the hand tool woodworkers of our time to heart. Chris Schwarz has been a big influence, Adam Cherubini too, Jim Tolpin as well. I think there is a great deal to be learned from these guys and others as well. Whether you lean more to the hand or power side of the craft there is much to be learned from other woodworkers. There are also a lot of people that are ready to tell you what you "have" to have or "have" to do. These people don't work in your shop, have your space, have your tolerance for noise or dust, your shop budget or any of a number of other things. So pretty much you "have" to take their advice and weigh it critically against your own circumstances and challenges as a woodworker.

This can be harder than it sounds but it can save a lot of trouble and such in the long run. It also takes a real critical eye and a ruthless attitude and honesty.

As I've made my journey along an increasingly hand tool and portable path I came to a conclusion that I no longer wanted to have any stationary shop equipment in my shop. The area requirements were just too great with all the feed space and the needed addition of a dust collector just added to the space and noise issues.

That has become a core part of my new shop philosophy for myself. Just recently I sold my 14" band saw. The reason I sold it was because I couldn't dust collect it. I had gotten to the point where I was so used to having near zero airborne wood dust in the shop that I was dreading using the saw. So I either had to figure out effective dust collection or sell it. I ran through the numbers on noise, space, cost, etc, on dust collection and it didn't make sense. Out it went.

Believe me this was a difficult and long thought decision. Many people see the band saw as part of the hybrid/hand tool workshop, but it wasn't for me. So now for re-sawing I use a handsaw and may try a bow/frame saw. For scroll work I use either my Festool jigsaw with dust collection, a 12" bow saw or a coping saw. These are alternatives that I'm willing to work with to have the extra space and the lower noise. This may not be for you.

Your woodworking friends may think you're a bit crazy but they don't have to work in your shop. My point here is to not just accept what is perceived to be standard or what is promoted and to think critically about your shop and the alternatives that can make it work better based on your factors.

Anyone have a story to share on some alternatives they've employed that made their woodworking experience better?

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