Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: La Grange, Kentucky
I started with power tools and started to learn to use hand tools when I discovered that there were things that I wanted to do that you just cannot do or cannot do very well with power tools. I was startled to discover that I preferred to use my hand tools. I enjoyed the quiet. I liked the fact that now I can spend a lot of the time I used to spend worrying about safety thinking about how to do the job at hand.
Now I am becoming comfortable with both power tools and hand tools and I have discovered that I now think differently about each step in the process of building something. If I need to get four 18" x 4" pieces out of a board, it is quicker to rip a long piece with a hand saw, trim up the cut with a plane and then do the cross cuts with a hand saw. If I need forty pieces, my table saw might be quicker. Or, if I have just gone through the process of setting my tablesaw up to do rabbets and then discover that I need to rip two more pieces, it is so much simpler and easier to just use my handsaws and not try to find that perfect setting again. And if I rip a board either by hand or on my table saw and then discover that it is a 32nd of an inch too wide, it is both quicker and easier to mark it, clamp it to my bench and take off the extra with my Siegley #7 bench plane. PLUS, if I am careful about the grain, I probably won't have to sand the piece later.
Some operations are actually more difficult to accomplish with power tools. I use my drill press all the time, but it was the wrong tool to use to cut the dog holes when I built a workbench because it is so difficult to support a 6' x 3' x 3' piece of lumber and move it through the drill press. Easier by far to clamp the piece down, lay out the dog holes and then use a brace and bit. And once that the bench is built and some dog holes need to be added, a brace and bit is the only way to go.
So hand tools have not just brought safety and tranquility to my shop: they also provide a whole set of new ways to address each step of the build process.