Exploring hand tools
I’m personally gratified by the amount of progress I see in woodworking today. When the author of “Table Saw Magic” (really? magic?) says to me with a gleam in his eye that he’s ditching his power tools to “come over to your way”, what am I supposed to say besides “Hallelujah brother!”.
I don’t emotionally plug into my participation here. I’m just pleased to see folks trying new stuff, no longer convinced the modern industrial manufacturing models are the only way. Forget about better. As human beings we are explorers. I heard a radio show about Alzheimer’s patients who wander away from their homes. Its a huge problem, but also a glimpse of who we are, what we are meant to do. Does the Alzheimers cause the need to leave, or does it just remove our inhibitions to do what is natural for us?
Reading thru the various ww magazines and websites one can be lulled into the false impression that everything is known, everything has been done. I’m not trying to put anyone down. And I am just as guilty, if guilty is the right word, of being overly enthusiastic about things I’ve learned.
I just wanted to remind you, that the hand tool ship has room for more explorers. We don’t know everything.
I’m working on a spice chest for a Kelly Mehler class. It’s roughly 17×17″ and has 11 drawers. The drawer dividers are 1/4″ thick. Where do you get 1/4″ stock in an 18th c shop? You have only a few choices; plane it, split it, or saw it.
Despite it’s diminutive size, the resaw operations were considerable. The stock was 9″ wide (KD SYP). This is no kidding around stuff. I used a saw I made (copy from Roubo) for the purpose. I’m not at all satisfied with it. It cuts fast, but is difficult to control. Establishing a kerf (alone) is all but impossible. I began the cuts with a hand saw.
We should assume not EVERYTHING they did in 18th c woodshops was elegant and effortless. Some of their work must have been, as so many modern ww believe, drudgery. The problem is, steeped as we are in our ignorance, anchored as we are to our arm chairs, it’s difficult for us to know which operations were drudgery and which were not.
Jim Tolpin has changed his ship’s course. He’s begun a journey that will take him to far away lands. As such, he’s not so much a convert to a woodworking religion, but a model of what we all are or should become. We are explorers. Many a distant shore awaits our discovery.