Thursday, December 27, 2012

Essential Tools for Newbies: Part VII - Conclusion

Hopefully, I have made myself understood that this list of tools is a good place to begin a hand tool journey.  I know that it is unlikely that someone will purchase the tools I recommend and leave it at that, making furniture happily ever after.  Collect new tools as you need them and can afford them.  You can use the same thought processes to collect them as we did putting this basic tool kit together.

As I mentioned in an earlier comment, Christopher Schwarz does an excellent job showing us what we really need for tools when building furniture in his book, the Anarchist's Tool Chest.  This is a great goal of a place to wind up.  However, I think at some point everyone needs a place to start, and that's what I've tried to do here.

To summarize, here is my list:

The intention is this is a good place to start.  I had very little to go on when I started my hand tool journey, as no one I knew worked this way.  Hand tools were the only option for me as my workspace would not accommodate power tools. 

Hopefully someone else in the same boat will get a nugget or two from this series.

One of the reasons the list looks as it does is that I think you shouldn't need a second mortgage to acquire these tools.  This list is as short as I think it can be for you to have everything you need to build stuff.

The bonus feature is that these tools will all become essential for what you do from now on.  A bit extra spent on the best available will pay off in the fact that these tools will all last and perform your whole woodworking career. 

With the exception of the Ryoba saw.  This saw is on the list to enable you to do handwork, learn essential skills, and prevent you from having to buy five western saws just to get started. 

There are a few other things you will need besides these tools, however.  First, is space.  One big advantage of hand tools is you do not need nearly as much room.  Use the space you have.  I know of a few bloggers who do woodwork in living space.  Anything is possible.

Another thing you need is proper workholding.  Aldren Watson says that a workbench is the most important tool you will ever have.  I agree, but you can get started without one.  If necessary, use a sheet of plywood on your living room floor.  The Japanese style uses body weight and leverage to hold work for sawing and planing.  You could, too.  I will not cover all of the different ways that you could do woodworking with or without a bench. 

I also think that clamps are essential, but dependent on the type of work you do.  Do your own research to determine your needs and uses.  Buy stuff that you really need, as well as last a lifetime of use.  In fact, this sentence states my entire tool-collecting philosophy.

The last bit is there are a few tools you need for hand work that you really should make yourself.  I plan on making these tools using only the tools I have on this list to construct them with.  As I finish them, they will be added to the basic kit.  These tools will include a straight edge, winding sticks, a mallet, a square, and perhaps a marking gauge.  Maybe even a clamp or two.

Finally, there are some really neat projects that I plan on making on this blog using only the tools in my basic kit.  I'm dying to make some of the puzzles in  the back of Fairham's book, "Woodworking Joints," and also I need some boxes for gifts this coming year.  And, we'll see what else.

Hopefully this will inspire some to take up handwork, because it really isn't that hard.  If I can do it, I know you can, too.

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