Hand Tools Techniques

Not even the best woodworking hand tools will do you a bit of good if you don’t understand the proper techniques for using them. The fact is, learning woodworking with hand tools can be fairly difficult – but it’s easier than you may think. The editors of Popular Woodworking Magazine have used their decades of collective experience building this library of hand tool techniques that all woodworkers can use in the shop, and also offer their expert advice when buying hand tools.

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Bad Luck with Hand Drills

While many people get warm and wet feelings about their smoothing planes, I have those emotions about my hand drill. Maybe it’s because I use a hand drill almost daily for nails and screws, especially after building a ton of campaign furniture with all the inset brasses. So this summer I gave away my...

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The Better Way to Get a Plane to Stop Cutting

Making “stop shavings” – where the plane cuts only one part of the board – is one of the keys to better edge joints and lots of other handplane techniques. But few people in my hand-tool classes have ever been told how to do it right. Most people do it like they are taking...

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Making Rabbets with Woodworking Hand Tools

If you are just getting started with woodworking hand tools, you will quickly learn that the ability to cut rabbets is essential for making drawers, casework and many other projects. Drawer bottoms usually sit in dados or rabbets, and drawer fronts can be attached to rabbets in the sides. Cabinetmakers cut rabbets into end panels to accept...

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Sharpening Shortcuts

It goes without saying that there is a renewed interest in hand tool woodworking, and much has been written on the topic, and that’s great because there really is a lot to know about these tools that are “new” to many woodworkers. That said, my experience with hand tools has taught me one thing...

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What Hand Planes are Good For

The difference between school and real life is that in real life the tests come first and then the lessons. This is especially true of woodworking; you never know how far you should take one step of a project until you are knee-deep in the next step. That’s when you realize you didn’t fuss...

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Improve Hand Plane Performance

There was a time when nearly even adult male in the United States owned a Stanley #4 smooth plane. The one I have was passed down to me by my dad (a chemical engineer) who got it from his dad (a tool and die maker). When I was a kid, dad dragged the thing...

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Restoring an Early Spiers Smoothing Plane

The first time someone showed me a photo of an infill handplane, it was bewilderment at first sight. “That’s a handplane?” I asked. All I could see were a bunch of odd lumps of wood and some steel. This was years before both the Internet and modern toolmakers made this form of tool a...