Occasional Table Class (Hand Tool Build) #1: The Big Announcement; And a Bit About The Tools.

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Blog entry by RGtools posted 08-11-2011 05:54 AM 7641 reads 30 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Occasional Table Class (Hand Tool Build) series Part 2: The Recommended Tool Set, the Whys and Where's (part 1) »

Recently I was contacted by MsDebbie to instruct a class on hand work (a big “thank you” to you and the person…you know who you are…who recommended me for the task). The focus is to be on someone who is getting into hand work or just starting and wants to use hand tools only. The whole point was to focus on the basic skills of calorie burning woodwork, quality and efficiency. I plan to start the class in late October which should help students scramble for tools if need be.

But what the heck do I build? It got my gears going, to say the least. I wanted nothing more than to dispel some of the myths about handwork but I did not want to intimidate my students with a daunting project or a bloated tool set…enter Robert Wearing. His guidance for a table cannot be improved upon, although it very fortunately leaves room for interpretation. The goal is to build an occasional table, be it a coffee table, or a side table, with simple clean lines using nothing but hand tools. But which hand tools?

The fun begins here, I decided after a lot of thought to go with two tool kits, one for the aspiring galoot who is just getting started in hand tool work, and the other for someone who may have a fully outfitted power shop but would like to try their hand with their hands but does not want to blow their money on a bunch of tools they don’t know if they will use. First lets talk about the recommended kit for the fledgling galoot.

The Full Monty.

The bench the saw-bench and the tools on them are all you need for this project (and many others for the matter) Keep in mind that the bench and saw bench can (and probably should be) improvised for now.
Later I would like to get into detail about each type of tool and I know I will not be able to tonight. Let me just give you the basic list for now.

Jack plane
Jointer plane
Smoother plane
Block Plane

1/4 inch mortise chisel
3/4 or 3/8 bevel edge chisel
wide chisel 1” or greater

16 oz hammer

hand drill with 1/4 and 1/8 brad point bits
Slotted screwdrivers to fit screws on project

8tpi crosscut saw
4 1/2 (or similar coarse toothed) rip saw
Tenon saw (more detail later)
15 TPI dovetail

12 combo square
marking knife
Marking gauge

2 12” f style
4 long clamps for panel glue ups

This last group is what I call the lifesaver category
Router plane
Card scrapers

Thanks for looking and let me know if you are interested.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

19 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4868 days

#1 posted 08-11-2011 06:29 AM

Thanks for doing this. I will be following along with a lot of interest…. Still have a couple of months off my leg I fear…..

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View ksSlim's profile


1304 posts in 3661 days

#2 posted 08-11-2011 06:47 AM

I’ll be lurking and learning.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View pbyrne's profile


81 posts in 3463 days

#3 posted 08-11-2011 08:20 AM

I am looking forward to learning.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19615 posts in 3338 days

#4 posted 08-11-2011 01:04 PM

always willing to pick up some pointers.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3425 days

#5 posted 08-11-2011 03:07 PM

Thanks Wayne, I am looking forward to seeing you mend and watching you work as well.

KsSlim: lurk away and please don’t be afraid to ask question. Between myself and the other galoots on this site I am sure we can give you enough ideas to get out of just about any jam.

Pbyrn glad you are as excited as I am. I expect to learn quite a bit from the class myself.

Don, it would be nice to return the favor I am always picking up things from you.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16695 posts in 3389 days

#6 posted 08-12-2011 11:57 PM

I’m up for it, count me in!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 4491 days

#7 posted 08-13-2011 12:31 AM

OK! you have me hooked! Can’t wait.

-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3425 days

#8 posted 08-13-2011 02:34 AM

Good to hear Smitty. You have to stare at Roubos ugly cousin for a bit when you come into my shop though.

Bhack, glad I got your attention. Now If I can just catch some fish (been on a long losing streak).

I will be going into more detail on the tools set soon. Stay tuned!!

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View woodzy's profile


418 posts in 3449 days

#9 posted 08-27-2011 04:27 PM

I just finished the 7 parts you have posted and can’t wait for 8 through whatever. Your knowledge is invaluble to guys & gals like me out there. Your really helping me cut through all the bull … ... droppings. The box stores and many mags have a vested interest in selling tools that need replacement parts. It’s getting harder and harder to find a tool that you can maintain yourself with skills learned and masterd over time (sharpening, flattening, custominzing a tool for comfort or a specific need)

I only have one issue, i can’t help but click on every link you’ve posted. They’re great i’ve never visited any of the blogs or sites that you have links to. The Saw blog and the japaneses woodworker are my favorite.


-- Anthony

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3425 days

#10 posted 08-27-2011 05:42 PM

I have a lot more of those links to share…they are dangerous. Thanks for the encouragement woodzy. I look forward to working my way through these posts. I too hate the replace-ability of modern tools.

Talk to you soon.


-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View johnnymo's profile


309 posts in 3977 days

#11 posted 09-07-2011 04:14 AM

I’ll give it a shot…lets do this:)

-- John in Arizona (but it's a dry heat!)

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3425 days

#12 posted 09-07-2011 04:41 AM

Good John. The actual build starts in fall and is dependent on my harvest schedule but I am in the process of walking through the tools and how to sharpen them. Hope you have as much fun as I do with this.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View MokkouJosh's profile


3 posts in 3216 days

#13 posted 09-15-2011 03:52 PM

Looks great! Interested to see what the difference of your beginning tool kit suggestion is compared to others.

-- -Josh, Utah Woodworking Wannabe.

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3425 days

#14 posted 09-15-2011 08:52 PM

Thanks Josh. I think you’ll find more similarities than differences to be honest. Because the basic kit for handwork has pretty much been the same for a LONG time. A few posts in I offered a barebones kit as well for those who are on the ultra tight budget (been there).

Really when you think about your initial kit you need to think about the work you want to do and whet you need to do it (boxbuilders really don’t need jointer planes for instance), but this kit is fairly standard and should not have you buying tools you won’t use again.

Hope you enjoy the class, I am trying to cover sharpening right now but harvest is in full swing and taking quite a bit of my time so I am getting things posted as quickly as I can. I may just break down and post some links for the sharpening stuff but that feels a bit like cheating.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

View RGtools's profile


3372 posts in 3425 days

#15 posted 09-20-2011 08:58 PM

I forgot to mention it since this function was added after my class started. If you go to the Class tab and hit the subscribe button you should not miss any installments of the class.

-- Make furniture that lasts as long as the tree - Ryan

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