I am finally getting to practice my woodworking more after years of collecting tools. By using tool reviews and thinking of the kind of work I would like to do, I have accumulated a nice set of tools without purchasing many mistakes. I decided to use Paul Sellers book and videos and start learning from the beginning. He starts with projects that begin with a small set of tools. One of those tools is a spokeshave. Even though I know much of what is in the first lessons, I have picked up a few new tricks, and am learning to use my tools more efficiently. My most important tools are my workbench and vise. The workbench was tough to build as I was on the floor using hand planes; not a good way to work. I have no jointer; did get a small planer and made a sled for it so I can flatten a board. My tools are in my house, so there is no room for a big table saw or bandsaw. I have a chopsaw and a piece of an old Craftsman tablesaw I got for free. It has to be moved outside to use. A circular saw with a guide is handy. My guide has a plate on which the saw is mounted. The plate slides on aluminum angle (with help of rollers) which is screwed to plywood. Once the initial cut is made in the plywood, the plywood is simply lined up with your cut marks and clamped down.
Speaking of rugged simplicity and hand tools kit – I’m very surprised to not see an axe in it! I still remember how I was amazed to see a board being split by an axe in the spoon rack premium video. Do you plan to make a blog post on this sort of topic (also because not everyone has access to premium videos)? Would be interesting to see what other coarse tools you use and when and why, and your thoughts around them. After all, the longer we stay at coarse stage the less time it will take to make something and the more efficient we are.
John Oesleby, 11/7/2018 I lost my workshop and tools in the California wildfires, and thought this set would get me started again. It’s a good value, but does require some fine tuning. There are a lot of videos online. I found the following: The blades are lightweight, and need sharpening. The edge of one (the block plane) had been visibly overheated, and required some effort to get to undamaged steel. It doesn’t seem to hold an edge long. On the smoothing plane, the sole is concave, and will need some effort to flatten. The frog resisted adjustment because the adjustment screw was drilled a little to close to the sole. I got the frog into an acceptable position be removing the washers from the hold-down screws. The chip breaker needed some work to fit the blade properly. Overall, I feel the set was a decent value.
I just moved overseas and had to give up all of my power tools due to space limitations and power incompatibility. Upon arrival the first power tool that I bought was a cordless drill/driver and the second was a circular saw. I then modified the saw to improve its performance for cabinet quality work by putting a zero clearance baseplate (just a piece of 1/4″ plywood screwed to the base) this allows the saw to cut plywood panels without tearing up the edges. I also bought a length of aluminum rectangle tube stock for a straight edge. Together the straight edge and the zero clearance baseplate makes the circular saw a fairly accurate tool for plywood construction projects. It’s not as easy to use as a Festool track saw but it cuts almost as clean and cost about 1/5th the price.
John Oesleby, 11/7/2018 I lost my workshop and tools in the California wildfires, and thought this set would get me started again. It’s a good value, but does require some fine tuning. There are a lot of videos online. I found the following: The blades are lightweight, and need sharpening. The edge of one (the block plane) had been visibly overheated, and required some effort to get to undamaged steel. It doesn’t seem to hold an edge long. On the smoothing plane, the sole is concave, and will need some effort to flatten. The frog resisted adjustment because the adjustment screw was drilled a little to close to the sole. I got the frog into an acceptable position be removing the washers from the hold-down screws. The chip breaker needed some work to fit the blade properly. Overall, I feel the set was a decent value.
I prefer the large size because it will cut the most sizes. Years ago I purchased a medium shoulder plane, but it didn’t cut the larger sized joints, so I sold it and purchased a large shoulder plane so I could cut and trim most sized joints. Most of your traditional woodworking hand tools can be vintage/used, but used shoulder planes can be very hard to rehab and get “square”, so I recommend spending the extra money on a new shoulder plane. See my recommendations in my hand plane buying guide.
Part I is your introduction to woodworking, wood, and woodworking shops. Chapter 1 gives you an overview of the woodworking process and gets absolute beginners up to speed on this fascinating hobby. Chapter 2 helps you to understand the unique qualities of wood. You discover the various types of wood used in furniture and how to find and buy the right boards for your projects. Because woodworking is an inherently dangerous activity, Chapter 3 shows you how to create a safe working environment and gives you some guidelines for working as safely as possible.
I quickly found that power equipment was not broadening my capabilities as much as it was like an anchor tethering me to a limited band of work and taking up valuable shop space. I also didn’t like wearing the requisite dust mask, hearing protection and safety glasses all the time – it was like a mini sensory deprivation chamber. When I asked master cabinetmaker Dan Faia what he does for dust protection in his own shop, his succinct reply was “I never coughed up a curl.” That pithy remark reflected the very different view traditional woodworkers have – without all the big machines, the dust and noise, you can focus on the work, invest in a smaller set of high quality tools that should last a lifetime and enjoy the process as much as the result.
Your first backsaws should be (1) a dovetail saw, with fine rip teeth, used for cutting joinery along the grain (like dovetails), (2) a “carcass saw” used for cutting across the grain (fine cross cut teeth), and (3) a larger tenon saw used for cutting deeper cuts, like tenon cheeks, along the grain (rip teeth). All three saws are used very, very often in my workshop. You could certainly get by with just a larger dovetail saw and a carcass saw at first, if you don’t plan on immediately cutting large tenons. Buying backsaws can be very confusing because there is no standardized naming system, and a dovetail saw can be turned into a carcass saw (and vice-a-versa) by sharpening it differently. And practically everybody that’s selling antique saws mixes the names up. My buyer’s guide really clears this confusion up and will help you know what to look for.
Once you have the four aforementioned handheld power tools in your arsenal and you've had time to get comfortable with using them, its time to make your first (and likely most important) major tool purchase. The table saw is the heart and soul of every woodworking shop, the centerpiece around which all of the other tools are used and organized, so you'll want to buy the best table saw that your budget can comfortably afford. Take the time to learn which features you really want and the table saw that best fits your budget and your needs. This article will show you the most common features, and how to determine what features you need and how to know if those features are really well built, or simply added on to the saw because they are selling features.
Like yourself, I get great satisfaction from working with this small kit. Similar to your wine box, I’ve got this old ‘sausage box’ that I can fit everything in, if I’m out the job site or such. It’s a lovely feeling to know that with just this small box of tools, I can pay all my bills and eat. I just wish I could get the rest of my life so minimal!
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