Friday, June 29, 2012

Just Use It

Have a hand tool that you want get better at using? I know I do. I've discovered a method that works pretty well. Use that tool to the exclusion of any other option to accomplish that task. Try using the tool, check out your results, see what can be better, perhaps research technique on the internet or in books, apply the new learning at the next attempt. I know this method has helped me with my hand sawing and planing.

I'm a bit extreme but for sawing in solid wood I've been using handsaws exclusively, rips and crosscuts. For sheet goods I'm using my track saw but for solids it's hand only. My sawing has improved greatly over the past several months. It was slow going at first but the improvements have been great. I've learned what to do and also about my tools and how to tune them to cut properly. I've learned to sharpen, set and adjust them to track a good line. Sawing plumb was probably my greatest challenge and something I'm still working on but I still get the project done. Ripping to a line is probably my second challenge but I'm getting more confident since I've gotten more plumb to the face.

In the planing area I currently have no power planing equipment. That may change but for now I'm dressing all my lumber with a Stanley #3, #5 and #8. Again I've learned a ton about technique (Thank you Robert Wearing) and sharpening and looking at lumber. Edge jointing took a while but I can now plane an edge square to a face pretty consistently.

One thing that helped keep me at it in the face of discouraging results at first was the enjoyment of the quiet in the shop and the reduced fine dust in the air which made being in my basement shop a more pleasant experience for me and my family.

Probably the resource I find most valuable and that I keep referring to over and over as I refine my hand tool techniques is "The Essential Woodworker" by Robert Wearing. This book covers the basics of hand tool technique like no other and has become my foundation for more advanced joinery outlined in books like "Modern Practical Joinery" which assume that you already have experience with the material in "The Essential Woodworker"

I would love to hear about your experiences learning hand tool techniques and what encourages you to keep learning.

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