Woodworking Hand Tools

Here you’ll discover the best hand tool woodworking advice directly from the experts. We cover everything you need to know to improve your hand tool woodworking techniques and make more informed decisions about choosing and using hand tools. From simple sawing techniques to smart strategies for tackling tricky grain with a handplane or card scraper, Popular Woodworking’s best are to share their many years of experience and make you a better woodworker.

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The Lever Cap Isn’t a Screwdriver (Or is it?)

When I bought my first Stanley No. 5 in the mid-1990s, I regularly used the lever cap as a screwdriver to adjust the tension screw in the center of the frog and to tighten and loosen the cap iron screw. Then one of my fellow employees dressed me down. You should never do that,...

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An Imperfect Surface

For those of you who think that sanding and abrasive technology is a fairly new thing, I have news. Sanding is older than handplaning. As Geoffrey Killen points out in “Egyptian Woodworking and Furniture” (Shire, 1994), Egyptians did not use handplanes. Those tools were invented by the Romans or Greeks. Instead, Egyptian woodworkers used...

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Adjusting Wooden-bodied Planes

Handplanes that secure the cutter with a wedge need to be adjusted with a series of taps from a mallet or a hammer. The principles below apply broadly to all wedged planes, whether it’s a wooden jack plane, a delicate 1/16”-wide hollow plane or a wedged infill plane with a metal shell. However, you...

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David Barron Magnetic Dovetail Guide

by Megan Fitzpatrick pg. 18 If you’re struggling for cut perfection on your dovetails (or you’re just learning to cut this important joint), a magnetic dovetail guide from U.K.-based furniture maker and teacher David Barron is just the ticket. These guides are made of sturdy anodized aluminum and feature recessed rare-earth magnets – covered...

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Bad Axe ‘Bayonet’ Precision Carcase Saw

by James McConnell page 18 If there is any remaining question in the hand-tool world regarding the all-around capabilities of carcase saws, Mark Harrell has offered a definitive answer with the introduction of the new 14″ Bayonet Precision Carcase Saw from Bad Axe Tool Works. The Bayonet is both fast and deadly accurate. With...

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An Improvised (and Excellent) Sticking Board

Sticking boards are an excellent benchtop appliance when cutting mouldings by hand. A proper sticking board is an L-shaped device that holds the wood you want to “stick” (the old fashioned term for “cut mouldings.”) The fence on the sticking board prevents the wood from bowing along its length. The adjustable stops at the...

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Start Handplanes on the Skew

One of the little challenges for beginning handplane users to get a clean surface at the start of the cut, particularly with a smoothing plane. They push the tool forward and it leaves little bumpy chatter marks for about 3/8” of an inch until the plane starts to settle down and cut cleanly. The...

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About My Love of 35°

I sharpen all of my plane irons and chisels at 35°. Here’s why: I do this to keep my sharpening regimen as simple as possible. I don’t want to pick up a tool and wonder: What angle is this sharpened to? I also don’t want to sharpen a tool, discover that I used the...

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Revising ‘Handplane Essentials’

During the last few months I’ve been revising “Handplane Essentials,” an out-of print book that we published while I was the editor at Popular Woodworking Magazine. The revisions, additions and subtractions will be significant. We’re removing a lot of the reviews and features on planemakers who are no longer in business. And I hope...