More of what I do....and a pretty good rant! LOL!

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Tony_S posted 03-09-2013 03:04 AM 3721 reads 2 times favorited 28 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Just thought I might show off a bit…well not really LOL! I don’t often post pictures of my work. I’m a pretty humble guy in that manner.
I just thought since I tend to get a bit ‘opinionated’ on certain subjects….here and there…(translates into ‘piss people off’ sometimes)LOL! That I’d post some more pictures of my soul…maybe so people can understand me a little better

Just to let a select few know that you don’t ‘need’ a Bailey 5 1/2 in your hands to have a full understanding of what superior quality, craftsmanship, precision and huge personal satisfaction is all about…with a little bit of Feng shui and a sprinkling of Zen to boot.
Believe me when I tell you….This IS my heart and soul. You don’t do this for the money.

It’s been suggested by a few on this forum and outright SAID by a few others(on many occasions), that you just “cant” manage the same “quality”....the same “precision”...the same “satisfaction”....the same….”Zen”, with power tools, as you can with hand tools(planes).
As they look down their nose at you…

I think I have a pretty good grasp on ‘all of the above’ as I’m quite sure a lot of the ‘elitist’ hand toolers do as well. But, don’t tell me…I don’t ‘understand’...and don’t tell me I ‘can’t’.
I do…and I can.
Satisfaction is an extremely personal thing. Don’t ever belittle someone who is standing in front of a 16” jointer and assume that they aren’t, or can’t be getting the same…Zen, as you with your jointer plane.

Get a sense that the subject pisses me off a little bit? LOL! I’ll stop now!

BTW….Krenov is one of my heros.

Anyway, hope you enjoy.
Here’s a couple of stairs I just finished yesterday.
The second is in the background of the first pic.
Mirror images of each other built for a 800 square foot front foyer.

Some finished jobs.
Front cover of a regional builders mag.

Similar design(same builder) with 2 1/2” thick Sapele treads with Walnut stringers and rail.

A Maple(you’d never know it)spiral

A Circular

Jatoba circular with granite tread inlays.

same stair from below

Hope you enjoyed the pictures…. pissing and moaning aside! ;)

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

28 comments so far

View DrewT's profile


33 posts in 2420 days

#1 posted 03-09-2013 03:34 AM

How many years to acquire that level of skill? Beautiful work…

View WhoMe's profile


1568 posts in 3754 days

#2 posted 03-09-2013 04:04 AM

All I can say is wow….........................
How do you transport those things…..

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View shipwright's profile


8381 posts in 3309 days

#3 posted 03-09-2013 04:05 AM

I just stumbled on this Tony. You do very nice work. I understand where you are coming from I think. Until I retired I was in a business that required results and you had to get it done. Hand tools would have been nice I guess but there just wasn’t time. Quality could never suffer and it never did but the attitude was always get the job done. We used hand tools where they were required but power whenever we could.

As for the Zen of the job, in my mind there is nothing that compares to the scent of yellow cedar coming out of a planer. A hand plane just doesn’t bring the scent out the same. .... I loved every hour of my boat building career and was always my happiest when I was creating a living vessel.

Maybe I’m wrong but I think we have things in common.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3509 days

#4 posted 03-09-2013 04:47 AM

Very nice. Are the curves built up, steamed or laminated?

As to the rant, there are tool snobs on both sides of the power tool and hand tool divide. However they are powered, quality tools are a joy to work with but the flip side to that is buying a Steinway piano doesn’t automatically make you ready to play Carnegie Hall either.

You can do good work with either. Seeing the quality of your work, I can pretty confidently say that if you were without your 16 in jointer and had to use a hand powered jointer, you would still be able to do work to the same standard, albeit a bit more slowly. You could probably come pretty close with a flint adze as well. The craftsman produces the work, not the tool.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View EdBo's profile


2 posts in 2416 days

#5 posted 03-09-2013 07:41 AM

I love the maple staircase!

View stefang's profile


16748 posts in 3845 days

#6 posted 03-09-2013 10:37 AM

Hi Tony. I am far from being a hand tool elitist, but I am always very happy when I can do some decent work with one. I choose hand tools only when they are the easiest option. My 5 function combo machine with the jointer and planer is basically a European hobby quality machine and therefore has many limitations. And even though it has performed very well for the past 16 years, it keeps my satisfaction level pretty low. I also have limited dust extraction, so with the airborne dust and the noise it can be nice to work quietly and virtually dust free with hand tools in my little shop.

I like to use hand tools when practical, but I am just a retired hobbyist with plenty of time on my hands. I don’t really think most of the folks who love hand tools are looking down on others. They are just expressing how good they feel when working with them. Thinking about how many years it has taken me to learn sharpening and using a few hand tools properly, I can well understand their joy. The pro’s like yourself are in an altogether different league and I think most everyone understands that hand tools are not an option for folks who make a living at woodworking. That in no way diminishes your stature or your skills as a craftsman.

Your stairways look really grand and very well crafted.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Tony_S's profile


1015 posts in 3594 days

#7 posted 03-09-2013 11:53 AM

Thanks for the complements. Very humbly appreciated.

Drew, Ive been building custom stairs and railing for about 22/23 years now. Still learning everyday.

Whome, we try to build as many in the shop as possible and transport can be anything from the back of a pickup, a 20’ flatbed trailer, a 30’ enclosed trailer. Some can’t be transported assembled and need to be built ‘onsite’.

Paul “Maybe I’m wrong but I think we have things in common”
Nope….I don’t think your wrong at all. I love what I do, and the way I do it.
22 years later, after many MANY 12 and 14 hour days, it’s pretty rare for me to not look forward to the next days work. There’s no shortage of frustration and humility on some of these jobs. Sometimes, so much so that you just want to cry. But…I thrive on it. Kind of ‘sadistic’! LOL!

95% of the curves are laminated(stairs and railing) Some of the real tightly curved, declining rail components are carved out of a solid block.
Thanks for the response to my rant. I fully agree with what you’ve posted here(although I don’t agree with SOME of what you posted on the thread in question)
I hope I’m not giving the impression that the hand toolers, you included, need to defend your choices. Or that I don’t understand why you’ve chosen the path you have.
Over the many years I’ve collected a pretty large arsenal of hand tools(varying styles of hand planes included) and I’m fully capable if sharpening a chisel or a plane iron to the point you could confidently shave your balls with them.
They all have a place. Some aspects of the joinery in the work I do CAN’T be done with power tools.(thus the ‘arsenal’).
It’s not the hand tools I have an issue with at all….it’s the condescending elitist attitude of some that are holding them.
Please feel free to comment further…I’ll do my best to behave myself!

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View Tony_S's profile


1015 posts in 3594 days

#8 posted 03-09-2013 12:01 PM

Thanks for the comments Mike. I agree with you…’most’ don’t look down, but a fair amount do. Truthfully…I read it everyday on this and other forums. 9 out of 10 times it doesn’t bother me at all…I guess it just builds up once in a while.
Thanks again Mike.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View Woodwayze's profile


63 posts in 4596 days

#9 posted 03-09-2013 12:24 PM

I use both power and hand tools, so I don’t have any particular ‘beef’ here.
I agree with Shipwright about the wood-scent too; until I realise that the reason for the increased ‘perfume’ is the amount of irritant dust the planer creates, above the use of a hand plane! So, as much as I enjoy the scent of cedar wood, I wear a face mask when I use the planer!

Best of luck

John (UK)

-- Working fast helps you to arrive at your mistakes in spectacular fashion. (Me 2009!)

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3341 days

#10 posted 03-09-2013 12:25 PM

Ok Tony….your’re my hero of the week !!!
Fantastic work. I have yet to tackle a complete curved staircase. I have done curved rails but not the whole monster that you have tackled quite nicely.
I’m in the same camp as you. Both power and hand tools can be blended to achieve the needed or desired result.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View camps764's profile


867 posts in 2871 days

#11 posted 03-09-2013 12:50 PM

Gorgeous work. Completely agree with your ideas, and really respect the work that I have seen.

-- Steve

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3378 days

#12 posted 03-09-2013 02:56 PM

Tony you do outstanding work and have a lot of talent. How long have you been working at this. Your work is beautiful.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View sras's profile (online now)


5200 posts in 3640 days

#13 posted 03-09-2013 03:04 PM

Absolutely beautiful staircases! Each one does look like a labor of love – and a treat for the eyes.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View jeepturner's profile


941 posts in 3303 days

#14 posted 03-09-2013 04:32 PM

Tony, Thanks for posting the pictures of your work. I admire the craftsmanship that went into making them. It is beautiful work. The reason I am replying though is to say, Great Rant. I agree with your sentiments.

-- Mel,

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2998 days

#15 posted 03-09-2013 04:58 PM

I grew up being told that it was a poor workman that blames his tools.

I think that can’t go the other way also. It’s a true craftsman that can create a thing of beauty with whatever is at hand.

A year or so ago a young Kenyan friend of mine sent me a photograph of a begger working in a small village.
The fellow had no arms as they had been cut off during one of the frequent “cleansing” operations that go on over there by different groups.
This fellow owned a machete and made one legged milking stools using only his feet and his mouth. These wouldn’t ever be called a thing of beauty, but he was more of a craftsman than I will probably ever be with my machine and my hand tools.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

showing 1 through 15 of 28 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics