In my opinion, hand tools are what really separate one woodworker from another. Most wood worker’s, for instance, can use a table saw with generally good skill. The same cannot be said of wood workers and hand tools.
There are, of course, glaring exceptions: Many extremely gifted woodworkers work nearly exclusively with power tools. David Pye comes to mind almost immediately. His fluting machine is a sight to behold. The bowls and artifacts created with this amazing machine are beyond belief. Back to the subject of hand tools - the point I am trying to make is that we can read book after book and chat on forums on how to use hand tools until the cows come home, but in the end it all boils down to three things - practice, practice, practice!
Let’s take my personal experience with the hand plane for instance. My first hand plane was a simple block plane that I bought years ago. I just could not get it to do what I wanted, so I put it aside and forgot about it. But, there was always that little voice in my head that kept telling me that I was missing out on something that would really make a difference in my work.
Long story short: I began making wooden hand planes based on a design originated by James Krenov, whom I have always considered to be my mentor. Again skipping over a lot of detail to keep us on track (the details are covered in the wooden planes section) the making and use of these wonderful tools taught me everything I know about putting ‘my mark’ on my projects. The learning process definitely took some effort on my part. No pain, no gain, as they say. It could be argued that I doubled the difficulty of becoming proficient with hand planes by wanting to learn how to make them first and then secondly, learning to use them. I won’t argue that. But I am very happy that I took the time to do all of that because the ultra-smooth surfaces of my work reflect the sweat and time I spent in developing my wooden hand plane skills. Again, it took practice, practice, practice!
The Following Hand Tools Will Be Discussed
In addition, where applicable, we will cover the sharpening of each of these tools. The sharpening of Japanese saws will not be covered.