My foray into hand tools

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Blog entry by aselmike posted 05-24-2012 03:54 AM 1481 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Up until just recently, I viewed hand tools as inefficient and difficult. It was black magic to me, and I knew no-one who did carpentry with anything but power tools. With much research, I have started to collect the information and possibly the tools necessary to work my way into carpentry sans power!

So far I’ve got a small Stanley block plane (pictured), a Bailey no 5, a small dovetail saw with no credentials, and a buck brothers 1/2” chisel. I’ve sharpened the dovetail saw as best I can. Additionally, the block plane and chisel were sharpened to 2500 grit at a 30 degree bevel.

So tonight after much merriment and lots of listening to NPR, I completed my first Dovetail joint! I also used my block plane to flush up the proud pins and tails. It was so much fun, especially using a hand plane for the first time. It was extremely rewarding sharpening my own chisel and plane iron.

I plan on continuing to practice my dovetails with frequency, to get it down. I also want to track down some different types of vintage saws, a set of chisels, and I plan on making a few wooden block planes.

Thanks to all here on Lumberjocks for posting so much useful information on a huge variety of topics. This site has been, and will continue to be an irreplaceable resource.

Michael Asel

-- Life is Good

9 comments so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16190 posts in 3124 days

#1 posted 05-24-2012 04:42 AM

Michael, that is outstanding to hear! And there’s still no one I know in my area that actually uses handtools to any significant degree, either. LJs is a great resource, and I would also recommend Robert Wearing’s Essential Woodworker by Lost Art Press. A true reference and how-to for hand tool technica and joinery.

Keep up the good work!

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

View Retsof's profile


134 posts in 2741 days

#2 posted 05-24-2012 05:14 AM

I was lucky enough to grow up with a Dad who did things the “old fashioned way”. We used to watch New Yankee Workshop, with Norm’s seemingly unlimited power tool budget, and wonder how we could make some of those projects without spending thousands on power planers, jointers, milling machines, etc.

It sometimes seems amazing to me, but people actually built fine furniture before electricity was invented. I love my power tools, but it’s nice to know a few different ways to accomplish the same thing. I look forward to the operations that I still do by hand just so I can work without a dust mask and hearing protection. It makes things so much more enjoyable.

-- "There seems to be a black hole in my garage that swallows up pencils and tape measures as soon as I put them down."

View jaedwards575's profile


90 posts in 3564 days

#3 posted 05-24-2012 06:06 AM

Welcome to the ancient world of hand tooling. There’s no turning back once you go down this road. I stared with a stanley #3, and it has been no turning back. Just watch your fingers, chisels and saw are not as loud as a table saw, but they still have no trouble cutting flesh.

-- Aaron Possom Town, TN

View mafe's profile


12104 posts in 3595 days

#4 posted 05-24-2012 08:26 AM

Congrat Michael, the first dovetails – kind of like the first kiss.
It looks good and like a wonderful open road ahed.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3621 days

#5 posted 05-24-2012 10:37 AM

another one lost to want hearing the silent sound of shavings poping out of the planes :-)
welcome to the slippery road where galoots rule :-)


View ShipWreck's profile


557 posts in 4258 days

#6 posted 05-24-2012 10:56 AM

Nice job Mike. I am fairly new to the dark side myself.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19331 posts in 3073 days

#7 posted 05-24-2012 11:37 AM

those dove tails look better than my first ones that’s for sure. Joinery without noise….......

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

View Brit's profile


7799 posts in 3348 days

#8 posted 05-24-2012 11:37 AM

Wow, you’ve made a great start Mike. If you want to find out more about hand tools and their use, you might like to ‘watch’ the following threads:

Handplanes of your dreams
Saws, using, collecting, buying and cleaning
Workbench Smackdown
Vintage Drill of your Dreams

There’s a significan amount of knowledge in these threads and you will get to know other LJs who like to use hand tools in their work and can then buddy with them and read their blogs also.

Hope that helps.

-- Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View aselmike's profile


10 posts in 2712 days

#9 posted 05-24-2012 12:50 PM

@ brit: I’ve had the pleasure of rifling through several of those topics, but haven’t participated in any of them yet. I really like the workbench thread alot, seeing as I spend several hours a day at mine!
I’m excited about my joinery adventures to come. I think I am going to do the “dovetail a day” plan and really own my dovetails by the end!
I’ll probably take pictures of my progress.

-- Life is Good

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