New Class: All About Hand Tools with Christopher Schwarz

For 2008, there is only one place that I’m teaching a class that covers planes, chisels and saws. And that’s the Marc Adams School of Woodworking from May 19-23. Registration for this (and all the classes) opened today. As of now, there are still spaces available in the class.

In this fast-paced course you’ll learn everything a woodworker needs to sharpen, tune and use handplanes, chisels, scrapers and the wide arsenal of edge tools available today. This class is for anyone who has ever been curious, frustrated or intimidated by hand work. It begins with the absolute basic principles of cutting wood and ends (after only five days) with you knowing how to make essential furniture joints using hand tools and building a traditional English sawbench. Here’s what you’ll learn:

Sharpening: Even if you’ve never sharpened anything before, you’ll learn to put a keen edge on any tool , chisel, knife, plane blade, scraper , without spending hundreds of dollars on equipment. You’ll learn all about edge geometry and how to pick the right angle for a tool every time, plus the little tricks that aren’t in the books (back bevels and triple micro-bevels).

Tune-up: With your edges sharp, you’ll fine-tune and modify your hand tools so they behave predictably and beautifully. You’ll tune your planes to do the job they were intended to do, without spending hours and hours ridiculously lapping their soles. You’ll learn the real working differences between the traditional bevel-down planes and the newer bevel-up planes and get a chance to try both to compare for yourself. You’ll learn a 100-year-old trick for modifying your card scrapers that has been almost , but not quite , forgotten. And you’ll learn to modify the grips of your tools to suit your work, your workbench and your hand size.

Use: Once all your tools are properly sharp and tuned, you’ll discover how they work almost effortlessly if you understand just a few principles, including how to properly read the grain of any board and that not all tools are intended to be used “with the grain.”

You’ll also learn a good deal about the tools needed for handwork, including:

1. The three bench planes needed to make any board flat, plus how to tune them and use them.

2. The joinery planes that every woodworker should own.

3. The four handsaws necessary to hand-cut any furniture joint, from dovetails to dados.

4. The chisels needed for good woodworking, all about good bevel-edge chisels, mortising chisels and paring chisels.

Application: On the final day of the class you’ll put your new skills and knowledge to the test to build an English sawbench, one of the most useful hand-tool appliances ever invented.

This week-long class is great for beginning and intermediate hand-tool woodworkers alike.

– Christopher Schwarz