I agree, that’s a nice and easy set up to start with. I’d say a block plane it’s handy for small areas, and touch ups. A no.5 is excellent but a bit heavy and tiring sometimes. I find that a nice rabbet block plane (shoulder + block) with two irons with different sharpening angles it’s essential to me. One fine flat rasp and a medium flat file would complete my set.
The key to making furniture is having a plan. (Or is that the key to life? I always forget.) The good news for beginning woodworkers is that you don’t need to develop the plan; you need only to follow it. Project plans are abundant and easily found (check out Chapter 21 for some project-plan resources). After you get familiar with the way plans are written, you can build just about anything (depending on your skills, of course).
Slice, dice and serve in style on this easy, attractive board. We’ll show you a simple way to dry-fit the parts, scribe the arc and then glue the whole thing together. We used a 4-ft. steel ruler to scribe the arcs, but a yardstick or any thin board would also work. Find complete how-to instructions on this woodworking crafts project here. Also, be sure to use water-resistant wood glue and keep your board out of the dishwasher or it might fall apart. And one more thing: Keep the boards as even as possible during glue-up to minimize sanding later. For great tips on gluing wood, check out this collection.
Second, I assumed that you want to do things the fast and easy way and not necessarily the old-fashioned way. As you’ll likely find out by talking to other woodworkers, you can find almost as many ways to perform a task as you can find woodworkers. Everyone has his own unique way to do things and mine involves taking advantage of modern tools and shortcuts, rather than using old-fashioned, time-consuming, and often frustrating approaches that can be done better with modern tools and approaches (do you sense a little bias here?). For example, if you want to find out how to craft dovetails by hand with a chisel and backsaw, buy another book. But if you want to make joints that are just as strong and beautiful in a fraction of the time with a router and a jig, then this book is for you. (Don’t worry, in this book, you will still get to see many of the traditional ways things are done, if for no other reason than to help you decide for yourself how you want to approach a task.)
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The block height’s going to be a personal thing, depending on what you use it for. Mine’s about knee height, which is on the low end, but I did use to do a tremendous amount of prepping straight from the tree. As you’re the same height as me, I’d say 33″ would be a tad on the high side. If you imagine you’ve got a longish piece of wood to work down the length, you want to be holding it almost vertical, rather than angled as it’s less likely to slip. The higher the working surface, the more angled it’s naturally going to become, hence why mine’s so low.