Over the past few days, I've been pondering my tool usage. I've been using my hand tools more of late. Not because of a conscious decision to suddenly turn into a galoot or neanderthal (terms of which I've learned that wood workers who are primarily hand tool users affectionately call themselves) but rather because my power tools just don't seem to be up to the task in some cases.
Don't get me wrong, I consider myself the amongst the ultimate of Gemini's of wood working. I have no problem what-so-ever in enslaving electrons to do my bidding (some refer it to smashing them, but as a science geek, that would be very hazardous to ones health in the long run). Picture Tim the Toolman with his head thrown back grunting and calling out "More Power!". On the other hand, the quiet 'Shish' of a freshly sharpened hand plan across a piece of walnut or cherry is intoxicating and very zen. Just ask Shannon (The Renaissance Woodworker).
It's simply that I've learned early on that buying 'budget' tools will cost you more in the long run. Tools aren't cheap, and power tools are more expensive. At least the quality ones are. I'm sure there's someone out there that will argue the point and I welcome the education if you should happen to dare. I'm talking about the cost of the tools, not the labour that goes into using them. I don't care about that as I'm in this for the pleasure and not the money.
So, where does one start out when it comes to tools? I can't say that I'm fully qualified to give advice on the matter, but I would ask if you're interested in hand or power tools? If you don't know, check out your local wood working guild. Ask a buddy if you could watch her/him while they work. Even if you decide to go the power route, you will need some hand tools. A block plane, some chisels, a flush trim saw.
I recommend that you buy the best you can afford when it comes to the block plane and chisels. Lee Valley sells their Veritas brand of hand planes and they come ready to use right out of the box. I had a
On another note regarding tool selection, I observed and participated earlier today in a conversation on Twitter with Brian (of Extremely Average noted to the right in my blog roll) on the merits between a Festool Track Saw and a SawStop table saw with the initial discussion on which to get. I was observing at this point, silently cheering on the table saw as in my opinion while Festool makes good products, a circular saw with a clamping guide or even a drywall square can do the job just as effectively as long as you have a decent blade in the saw). I think the Saw Stop won, but the winner was never really announced before changing over to a discussion on the merits between getting a band saw or a table saw first. Brian was being mercilessly herded to go the band saw route by Shannon and another fellow Canadian (Larry AKA @woodnbits).
I believe Brian is going to blog about his discussion, but for what it's worth, I would love to have both. I have a table saw which I enjoy, but I have a lot of 6/4 and 8/4 lumber waiting to be used and I don't want to waste it by trying to resaw to have both. I have a table saw which I enjoy, but I have a lot of 6/4 and 8/4 lumber waiting to be used and I don't want to waste it by trying to resaw it by hand (exhausting) or trying to resaw it on my table saw (losing 1/8" before surfacing).
While I was disappointed to not be able to be in the shop longer, I am satisfied that this was a good day as I got to really put my thoughts down on the subject and now I need to wrap this up as my daughter is in need of her 10 PM snack before bed. Brian, I look forward to your blog on the discussion as well.
-Authors note 6/29/2010-
Because it was late and in my eagerness to get this article published, I didn't take the time to proof my post. I seem to have used the term 'mercilessly herded' without realizing its context and how it may be interpreted. It was meant to be taken in fun as a gentle ribbing that occurs between galoots and electron worshipers. Lesson learned.