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When it comes to building furniture in my shop at home, I have zero desire for industrial-grade machinery. But when I need to get a class of students at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking to get 17 benches completely built in five days, I embrace the large-scale noisy stuff.

Some might call it selling out, but I call it the quickest way to get a workbench built that will allow you to practice handwork without fighting the wiggly table thing you bought from the home center one weekend.

However, the funny thing about all this machine work is that it always reminds me of the importance of mastering hand tools. When we needed to make small adjustments to 8’-long 6×6 timbers, the machinery just didn’t have the finesse. So we broke out the jack and jointer planes.

And when we needed to knock the top pieces into position while they were saturated with glue, we needed to fetch Mongo,


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