Beginning questions. What tools are essential to learn? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 03-19-2019, 11:53 PM Thread Starter
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Beginning questions. What tools are essential to learn?

Hello all. This is my first post here, and I have a few questions. I have very little experience in woodworking aside from a bit of shop class in middle school. However, I’ve recently become quite fascinated with Japanese methods of construction where they don’t use any nails or glue, and I very much would like to learn how to do things that way.
I’m at the point right now where I’m trying to figure out what it’s going to cost me to get started learning as far as tools go. My intention would be to start out doing smaller things like boxes, then move something bigger like furniture or cabinets, and then eventually when I have all that down do something larger like a shed. I don’t really wanna use power tools at all, I prefer to do things by hand. So, From research I’ve done I know roughly what tools I’ll need (chisel, plane, dovetail saw, etc.) but having looked around I notice that there are several different kinds and sizes of saws, chisels and planes, and I’m not sure which ones (if not all of them) I need to get going. I also think there are probably some tools I may need that I’m not aware or thinking of, so I want to make sure I have all my bases covered. Can anyone give me a basic list of what I’d need to get started?
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post #2 of 15 Old 03-20-2019, 01:49 AM
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Here's a good source ...

You will find all you need here:
https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...and-tools.aspx


and here:
https://www.japanwoodworker.com/categories/planes


https://www.fine-tools.com/dai-making.html




Did you know that Japanese saws, Dozuki, have very thin blades and you pull them rather than push them into the work?
https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...vetailsaw.aspx


Their chisels are made in very traditional way using White steel and are expensive, but will last a lifetime, or two. I have some like these:
https://www.highlandwoodworking.com/...ssetofsix.aspx


This book deals with joinery methods, a must have:
https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Illu...RSPF055D9FVMJH



You will also want this book:
https://www.amazon.com/Understanding...ag=googhydr-20


as well as this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Wood-Identifi...ag=googhydr-20
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 03-20-2019 at 02:08 AM.
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post #3 of 15 Old 03-20-2019, 08:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
I donít really wanna use power tools at all, I prefer to do things by hand.
This table has no nails or screws.
Pinned lap joints.
It could be done w/hand tools and some patience.


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post #4 of 15 Old 03-20-2019, 11:41 AM
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Lie-Nielsen has a page of suggestions for someone starting out in hand tools. They donít sell Japanese tools, but they do give an idea of what you should start with.

https://www.lie-nielsen.com/nodes/4086/core-tools

One of the points I would like to highlight is the building of a quality workbench oriented to the use of had tools.


In woodworking there is always more then one way to accomplish something.
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post #5 of 15 Old 03-20-2019, 07:08 PM
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Credit card with high limit?

A diamond is how coal reacts under pressure.
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post #6 of 15 Old 03-21-2019, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Pineknot_86 View Post
Credit card with high limit?
looking like that’s the case. I was hoping not to have to spend a whole bunch of money to get started, but this looks like all the tools are going to cost some significant dough. Such is life, I suppose.
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post #7 of 15 Old 03-21-2019, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...This is my first post here, and I have a few questions. Can anyone give me a basic list of what Iíd need to get started?
...
Hello "Legman,"

That is not a real easy answer to give from my perspective...???...especially with the added vernacular of Japanese styles of woodworking...

I specialized in "folk styles"...particularity Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern Europe and Indigenous cultures. As such the tools for this are at a root vernacular level (aka "acient") but if your into the more refined Edo period of Japan's woodworking that is another family of tools entirely.

If you are open (???) to the process of learning, I would suggest starting at the traditional basics of woodworking as it has been taught for millenia...accept you will be learning it from the Japanese and/or Asian perceptive. Learning the "wood" first and the basic approaches to it. I think part of the reason I love the "folk styles" (no matter the culture) and I've stuck there for my career in woodworking, is that the "basic forms" and modalities are the most enduring of them all. Our oldest furniture, and buildings are built in these and related styles...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...Iím at the point right now where Iím trying to figure out what itís going to cost me to get started learning as far as tools go...
Hmmm...Time and/or Money...

Many can be had for very little if you willing to restore old tools, others you can make yourself as your skills enhance...

In a nut shell...you are going to spend between $800 and $1600 just to get the basic of a complete set...but...you don't need all of that to get going...so don't "freak out!!!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
... My intention would be to start out doing smaller things like boxes, then move something bigger like furniture or cabinets, and then eventually when I have all that down do something larger like a shed. ...
Those are all very realistic goals...

I have a colleague that will actually be teaching another course this year on Timber Framing in the Asian styles that is not only applicable to furniture but your shed project as well...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...I donít really wanna use power tools at all, I prefer to do things by hand.
...
Good for you...!!!......You don't have to use power tools...!!!

Some of us even make a living with mostly hand tools...

Today was an average day...just as one example, and the norm for me. I cut and cleaned mortise today for about 7 hours. I touched a power tool (a router) for about 25 to 35 minutes...the rest of the time I had chisels and 3lb Steel Carvers Mallet in my hand. Most of the time a 30mm "Teahouse (Sukui) House joinery chisel" {外丸鑿 - Soto maru nomi} or a Clapboard Slick...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...So, From research Iíve done I know roughly what tools Iíll need (chisel, plane, dovetail saw, etc.) but having looked around I notice that there are several different kinds and sizes of saws, chisels and planes, and Iím not sure which ones (if not all of them) I need to get going. I also think there are probably some tools I may need that Iím not aware or thinking of, so I want to make sure I have all my bases covered....
First (if I may) can I suggest you pick a really basic project that you would like to do in this style that you think is in your skill range? Then we can work backwards from there to look at the hand tools you will need to accomplish that but from the Japanese or Asian perspective...Remember again that "folk styles" (think Farmer, or Hunter/Trapper architecture/furniture styles) no matter the culture are the more basic and simplistic...as well as the least demanding in the way of tool needs...

Good Luck, and let me know if I can expand on anything?

j
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post #8 of 15 Old 03-21-2019, 11:47 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for the extremely informative reply! Firstly, I haven’t figured out how to separate quotes yet, so my apologies for not quoting different the parts of your post as I refer to them.
I hadn’t considered trying to get tools secondhand, but thanks for reminding me of that option. I think that my intent, really, is to do as much as I can with as few tools(including nails and glue) as possible, and so I think that I would be more interested in “folk styles” as you mention.
I’m not sure what I would pick as a first project. It’s been nearly a decade since I took wood shop, so you could assume “nearly zero” in terms of skill level. As I said in my original post, my intention was to start very small. However, I don’t have a “real” workbench yet either, and since the cost of one is rather prohibitive, I wonder if it might not be smart to try that first. I’m not positive that’d be a good idea as the very first thing I try though.
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post #9 of 15 Old 03-22-2019, 07:31 AM
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Love the beauty and essence of Japanese woodworking style...clean and functional.


Here are link to a few Asian Youtube craftsmen...it all about the wood and understanding it.


I****ani Furniture, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7F...U5I8FCHXQSQe9Q


Kobeomsuk Furniture, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVO...ygh7sB1KXgh_5g


a bunch...https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...se+woodworking


Have fun.


John
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post #10 of 15 Old 03-22-2019, 06:02 PM
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Well, the first thing you need is something you already have......advice. A way of asking questions and getting reliable answers. And you found us here so.....you've got that.

Next, I will say getting started does not have to be expensive. Just keep in mind that with tools, you get what you pay for and the quality of work you put out will definitely show the difference. So that being said, I have a lot of low cost tools from Harbor Freight and Home Depot. I also have some second hand tools that I have gotten from craigslist and a local pawn shop, as well as some antique tools bought at flea markets, antique malls, and yard sales.

I recently purchased a Veritas No4 and a marking gauge. I love the marking gauge, but the No4, I find that my go to is my 110+ year old Stanley. Veritas is based of the Stanley design, and essentially the same plane, but I always grab my Stanley. The Veritas cost me $280 plus tax and shipping. My Stanley cost me $12 at an antique mall and a day and a half to clean it up and make it usable.

So....the starting cost will really be up to you. My suggestion would be to start of with some low cost tools, get some practice under your belt, and then decide what you like, and what just seems to be subpar. The "works best" suggestions from everyone are really subjective and will change from person to person. Just like the style you choose to build will be your own, the tools you use will be up to you and what you find to work best for you and your style. The cost of it all will really just depend on what you decide to buy. It can vary quite drastically.

As a side note, I was started and making things for about $400 give or take. I lean more towards hand tools myself than power tools. Especially antique tools when possible. They were made by men, who weren't afraid to work, with their hands.

Nothing in life that is "worth the effort" is ever easy.
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post #11 of 15 Old 03-22-2019, 10:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...Thank you for the extremely informative reply! Firstly, I havenít figured out how to separate quotes yet, so my apologies for not quoting different the parts of your post as I refer to them...

Hi Legman,

First, you are most welcome...

Second, don't fret about "quotes" and all that stuff...it's not really important to your needs here and you will pick it up in time anyway as you spend time here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...I hadnít considered trying to get tools secondhand, but thanks for reminding me of that option. I think that my intent, really, is to do as much as I can with as few tools(including nails and glue) as possible, and so I think that I would be more interested in ďfolk stylesĒ as you mention.
I'm always getting sent links to sites in Japan that sell "second hand" nice old functional tools. Shipping can be expensive (sometimes) but the quality of the tools has yet to disappoint...!?...once you learn more about them...

I'm also pleased to read of your interest in starting with the "folk styles." Like any art or craft (or really anything for that matter?) it's always good practice to start with building a "solid foundation" be it a real building or your own skill sets. Apprentice I have had in the past (those that stay that is...LOL...) start by splitting lots of fire wood, and other very labor "tree oriented" activities...!!!

Why?

One, it gets rid of the "lazy" and the second primary reason is you just can't really "know wood" unless you learn from it in the most natural condition it can be in...."the tree!" I've actually had one a number of years ago that took to this to such a degree that he asked to be taught how to "climb and rig" trees for proper care and/or take down. He became a very accomplished young Timberwright not only designing and building small frames...but!!!...he also fell in love with Trees. He now owns and operates a very successful Arobrist business in North Carolina and has kept "woodworking" as his hobby...

You starting with the foundational elements of the craft (but with an Asian perspective) will serve you very well!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...Iím not sure what I would pick as a first project. Itís been nearly a decade since I took wood shop, so you could assume ďnearly zeroĒ in terms of skill level.
What do you like?

What moves your soul to understand, but is still something you think won't overburden you for a "first project?"

And...as a suggestion?...don't underestimate yourself!

A first project can be as simple as a stool or small table...or...it can be a small timber frame shed built traditionally...They use the same joinery (for the most part) and can actully take almost the same amount of time to do for a novice just learning...

Your only limited by your own imagination and motivations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegman View Post
...As I said in my original post, my intention was to start very small. However, I donít have a ďrealĒ workbench yet either, and since the cost of one is rather prohibitive, I wonder if it might not be smart to try that first. Iím not positive thatíd be a good idea as the very first thing I try though.
A work bench would be a grand project to start with...

What I will share (depending on just how "Asian") you wish to go in your learning is that they don't used "workbenches" as the Western's often think about them. When I'm doing work of such nature, quite often I am sitting on the shop floor...just like they do, or I'm sitting on the beam itself that I am work on...

I offer that more as a "cultural perspective" and "food for thought" not a suggestion, per se. A work bench is an awesome thing to have, and a great learning tool!!! I love building them and will be building several over the next year...in several forms, but all based on tradtional context of "green wood" and all wood joinery, as most have been built through the ages. So, for you, even getting the wood should cost you less (maybe even free) and really teach you a great deal about the craft of tradtional woodworking.

Your local library too may get you going on some of this depending on there collection. If you are a "book learner" then this to is a great asset at your disposal that doesn't const anything but time for the most part...



j
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post #12 of 15 Old 03-22-2019, 10:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnnie_dr View Post
Love the beauty and essence of Japanese woodworking style...clean and functional...Here are link to a few Asian Youtube craftsmen...it all about the wood and understanding it...Have fun...John

John, those are some excellent suggestions...!!!

I'm very fund of most of those channels but have a special "love" for "Mr. Chickadee,"...!!!...He is a dear friend, colleague, and a wonderful example of when "YouTube" really get's it right. I couldn't recommend his videos (and workshops!) more...


j
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post #13 of 15 Old 03-25-2019, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for all the replies! Looks like I have a lot of videos and resources to check out. And I’ll be checking online for any secondhand tools of course.
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post #14 of 15 Old 03-25-2019, 08:42 AM
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You will need a solid, stable, hefty workbench.



You may want to spend a lot of money on hand tools or you may want to spend less money on hand tools. However, without a solid, stable, hefty workbench, even an expensive hand tool won't perform up to its expectations. Similarly, an inexpensive hand tool will exceed expectations on a solid, stable, hefty workbench.



Also, Paul Sellers does his work with hand tools. He's my go-to video tutorial guy, (although he doesn't do Japanese woodworking).
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post #15 of 15 Old 03-25-2019, 01:20 PM
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Remember to budget for the accessories you need to maintain your tools. How will you sharpen those tools, for example?
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