now I finally know what to recommend my friends when I try to convince them to give handtools a try (I currently am doing an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking (unfortunately mostly particle board) and said friends they do the same and often have no clue what can be achieved with handtools alone) because up until now, I never knew what to recommend for sharpening as my setup is great but very expensive. And I guess if I recommend to get two stones instead of a combination stone, one can keep one side flat for flattening the backs of new chisels, and add a strop with some polishing compound I really can’t think of anything else one would need for a long time!
Some might expect to see a cordless drill on this list, but when we're talking about basic power woodworking tools, a corded drill is more versatile and powerful. Sure, the cordless is, well, cordless, which makes it more portable, but corded drills are less expensive and can do more than a cordless drill. There are some options to consider when choosing a corded power drill, such as whether you want a 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch chuck, keyed or keyless chuck, straight drill or hammer drill, and so on. Learn all about these options (along with some suggestions on what to look for when shopping) in this article on corded power drills.
Dividers (or compass) are used for taking and repeating a measurement over and over again on a work piece. Traditional woodworkers rarely take measurements with a tape measure when doing fine joinery work, but rather take a measurement with dividers then transfer that arbitrary (yet accurate) measurement to another work piece. This removes a degree of inaccuracy.
The first step in developing woodworking skills is to be able to discern the best glues, joints (ways of connecting two pieces of wood), and fasteners to use. Whether you need a dovetail joint for a drawer front or a mortise-and-tenon joint for a table leg, Chapter 10 introduces you to the wonderful world of wood joints. With an understanding of the joints in Chapter 10, you can build any furniture project and make it strong and durable.
I’m not sold on the need for a power jointer for flattening a surface. That said, I do have a Shopsmith 4″ jointer.. It’s great for jointing edges, and perhaps flattening the occasional rails and stiles, but it of course is inadequate for surfacing wide boards. Would a six inch jointer be better…..not by much. So what do we do? Go to an eight inch, or better yet a ten inch jointer? Now we’re getting into really big, heavy, and electrically hungry machines that are not really suitable for the small shop that is likely to be in a small shed or garage.
I dedicate several chapters in this book to exploring the exciting world of tools. From age-old hand tools to the most modern machine for milling wood, Chapters 5, 6, and 7 cover them all (well, not all of them, that would be insane, not to mention take up the entire book). Not only do you get to see what tools are what, you also get a glimpse into how to use each of them safely and effectively.
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Resist the temptation to buy common grades of wood for furniture even when the price seems great. Cutting all the defects out takes a ton of time. Besides, by the time you make the lesser quality wood usable, you don’t have much wood left over. When you buy a cheap board and cut it up to find usable parts, you spend more money than it costs you to buy the better quality stuff to begin with.
Chapter 13 details making bookcases — the basic part of a carcass. Chapter 14 digs into tables where you get a chance to practice your edge-to-edge joints for building tabletops and use the most common and durable joint that exists — the mortise and tenon. Chapter 15 goes a little farther by providing plans to make a dresser and an armoire. By the time you finish with these chapters, you’ll be well on your way to feeling comfortable making furniture and will be ready to tackle more ambitious projects.
No joke. As you get into building you’ll discover that woodworkers use jigs for everything, and that can be intimidating. The Kreg Jig company has absolutely knocked it out of the park in making jigs accessible, easy to use, and so incredibly useful that you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of that. They are affordable, and after just one build you will be singing the holy Kreg praises. I won’t go into each one, though I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Here’s a list of the jigs I have used and found incredibly helpful. (It’s a growing list!)