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Thread: I need some hand tool shop advice

  1. #1
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    Question I need some hand tool shop advice

    Hello again, all -

    Been a while since I've been on, life intervened. Hopefully back again for good. Part of life intervening includes a recent relocation to the Raleigh, NC area (Apex) where we've settled into our own home, finally. No more renting! With luck, I'm never moving again (this one makes 14 in the last 22 years), and our new home has a finished basement that I've been able to (mostly) claim for my workshop. Given that I got rid of my jointer and my TS before the last move, I'm looking at setting up as a (mostly) hand tool shop and would really like your advice. Now, typically I'd go search the workshop forum (**and I have**), but I'm finding the combination of finished basement and hand tool workshop hard to blend together to get good search results. Thus, I turn to you guys.

    The basement is a walkout that faces west, with french doors that lead out to the back yard. It's divided into two parts, one that is carpeted, one that has engineered hardwood. The French doors are mostly centered in the wood floor section, the other (carpeted) part has three windows in front of which I really, really want to put a workbench. Other than that, I have a blank slate. My last shop was half of a 2-car garage, this space is much larger. (Note to self: Post photos, it's easier than describing.) There is a stub for a WC, but no water in the basement. However, it's built into the back part of the house, the front is a "crawlspace" basement (8' ceilings, for the most part, but no floor), so I've relatively easy access to tie in through the wall for electricity, water, etc.

    What I'd appreciate from you guys is some advice on what I should consider for a hand tool workshop. I know I'm going to want a sharpening station, but for example, but what other workshop items should be considered differently from a typical power tool shop? I will probably maintain some power tools in the garage to break down and surface some lumber (the basement is finished, so I can't do much noise insulation and don't really want to add in dust control when I want to stick to hand tools), so like I said - hand tool shop advice. Have I beaten the horse to death, yet?

    Thanks in advance for any help, guys. I'm getting eager to start setting something up, but I'm not sure where to start!


    Regards,

    daniel
    Not all chemicals are bad. Without hydrogen or oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.

  2. #2
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    What kind of/size projects do you want to make?

    I've been getting by with a 10x10 balcony in an apartment, a small 12"x5' benchtop, a saw horse, and a couple of japanese-style planing boards that I use when working in the house. I've got a couple of saws, set of chisels, a few planes, a bit and brace, and a few shaping tools, and a bunch of marking and measuring tools that I made, and that suits me fine for my projects. But, you're probably more experienced than I am, and have a better idea of what you need/use/want to make.

    If I have any good advice, though, it'd be this: I always work more efficiently when I have more space, and less clutter. That means storage for tools and stock, and work surfaces that are sufficient for what you need, but don't take up too much space. I've really benefited from a minimalist approach, which is kind of necessary in my environment. But, I think it helps to have that mentality even if you do have space.

    I also like to think in terms of mobility; I like to go places, and bring my tools with me and work. So, a small set of hand tools that can do everything that I generally need them to, and small, portable work surfaces are a must for me. But, that also means that I can easily rearrange things as I see fit in my "shop." The great thing about hand tools, IMO, is that you don't need a bunch of big, space-eating machines that are hard to move, and impossible to take anywhere.

    My (portable) sharpening station is, currently, a small, fine credit-card sized diamond stone that I keep in my wallet. lol.

    Those are just examples of my needs, and how I address them, though. If you have a bigger area, and a few appliances for convenience (a bandsaw?), and space for things like a dedicated sharpening station, I can definitely see how those things would add convenience as long as they don't take up too much space.

    Edit: Cleanup might be difficult on the carpeted surface. I use a tarp to cover my carpet in the house when working, but it's not ideal, and you do get wood chips everywhere and need to vacuum before long. That kind of cleanup time will slow you down and, I think, is unnecessarily burdensome. Can you remove or permanently cover the carpet?
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 04-02-2016 at 4:01 PM.

  3. #3
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    You might want to look around for some of the books on early American (and other) workshops. There are also some books by folks on modern hand tool only workshops. Jim Tolpin, for instance, has "The New Traditional Woodworker." Christopher Schwarz, who gets teased a lot on the internet, has also spent time thinking about shop layout, and done some writing on it.

    Check out your local library, and not just what it offers. Your district may participate in the WorldCat (as in "World Catalog") or other interlibrary loan programs, which can, often, bring you books your library system doesn't have for free.

    The texts I found when I first started woodworking all put a lot of energy into discussing the workbench, and rightly so. Depending on the kind of work you'll be doing, you'll want to design a workbench that fits your workholding needs. If you don't know, it's hard to go wrong with most of the designs.

    What I have found, too, is that you need somewhere to put stock that you're not working at the moment - another, simpler table/bench near the workbench. And a lot of people now are swearing by sawbenches - lower benches designed for handsawing - crosscut and rip - of stock.

    If I could (a) bring myself to give up the power tools, and (b) had somewhere to put the automotive and building trades tools, I could put together a pretty decent hand tool shop in my 11x11 shoplet. But I struggle on with too much in too small a space.

  4. #4
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    While not specifically devoted to hand tools, here's a terrific article on setting up a shop in a small garage. It might have some ideas for you: http://www.finewoodworking.com/works...ar-garage.aspx

  5. #5
    Build a workbench and start working on it and then you will see some organic workflow patterns emerge. Otherwise one can spend too much time planning.

  6. #6
    I've made the circuit from power tools to hand tools. I still like, use, and appreciate my TS, BS, mitre saw, etc.; but, working with old handsaws, carcass saws, and bow saws is just more so awesome. I'm re-learning most everything.

    A substantive workbench along with cabinets and shelving should be first: buying the tools that are essential to building each component.
    Sharpening station is a must; and, I still use my Baldor grinder and Tormek along side of my choice waterstones.
    And, buy good wood for your projects.
    And, then, buy the tools necessary for each successive project.

    Hope you achieve what you've set out to do!

  7. #7
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    If a picture is worth 1000 words:

    The wife tossed an old jewelry cabinet, it makes a great tool holder. The drawers behind those doors are all velvet lined. The top opens up to reveal a hidden compartment....Still working on making it sturdier, soon it will have casters as will a couple other tool cabinets.

    *Click on pictures to enlarge them*

    JewelryCabinet2.jpg

    The neoprene matt on the table works great to protect tools and keep them from sliding around, at some point it will be built into the table top. Do you see all 5 tool rolls (1 for gouges, 1 for rasps, 1 for chisels, 1 for rabbit/plow/router plane blades, 1for carving knives...) The rubber tray works great to contain water for stone sharpening, keep parts all in one place...

    Neoprene2.jpg

    Maybe you can find the parts for my adjustable bench build in the background of the bench/task light picture? There are valuable work holding devices that supplement a good bench. I have used a compact Hammer bench for many years, the shavehorse is being converted to a dumb head, then I will be able to finish the legs for my second sawbench (in front of shavehorse) finish the tool handles for my Gennou, finish some chairs...

    OtherWorkHolding2.jpg

    My new sharpening station gets used frequently, Do you see the Stuart Beaty tool rest and angle setting device? The other one is the Lee Valley offering.

    SharpeningStation2.jpg

    There are many systems for hanging tools from the wall, peg board drove me nuts, seemed like I was always nocking something off it. This system is called StoreWall. There are many devices for hanging/supporting tools offered by this company. We have cabinets hanging on it in the garage. It is sturdy and easy to install.

    StoreWall2.jpg

    Festool offers great light tool container systems. Lee Valley sells Tanos tool holding boxes, which match up/stack with the Festool Systainers. There is even a truck to move groups of them around the shop or back & forth to classes, other work sites...It is amazing how many tools I can cram into those boxes. I just got the last parts to make a mobile tool carrying container with casters too.

    Tanos:Systainers2.jpg

    I love my task lights. One has a magnifying lens in it, which helps set plane blades, see anything better, the other has a great double extension arm which allows me to place it exactly where I need it.

    TaskLighting2.jpg
    Last edited by Mike Holbrook; 04-03-2016 at 2:14 AM.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by daniel lane View Post
    Hello again, all -

    The basement is a walkout that faces west, with french doors that lead out to the back yard. It's divided into two parts, one that is carpeted, one that has engineered hardwood. The French doors are mostly centered in the wood floor section, the other (carpeted) part has three windows in front of which I really, really want to put a workbench. Other than that, I have a blank slate. My last shop was half of a 2-car garage, this space is much larger. (Note to self: Post photos, it's easier than describing.) There is a stub for a WC, but no water in the basement. However, it's built into the back part of the house, the front is a "crawlspace" basement (8' ceilings, for the most part, but no floor), so I've relatively easy access to tie in through the wall for electricity, water, etc.

    What I'd appreciate from you guys is some advice on what I should consider for a hand tool workshop. I know I'm going to want a sharpening station, but for example, but what other workshop items should be considered differently from a typical power tool shop? I will probably maintain some power tools in the garage to break down and surface some lumber (the basement is finished, so I can't do much noise insulation and don't really want to add in dust control when I want to stick to hand tools), so like I said - hand tool shop advice. Have I beaten the horse to death, yet?

    Thanks in advance for any help, guys. I'm getting eager to start setting something up, but I'm not sure where to start!


    Regards,

    daniel
    Hi Dan,
    Don't limit your search to the forum, google will provide a lot. Renaissance Woodworker, Paul Sellers, Popular Woodworker, Fine Woodworking, all have articles on the subject. There are others as well.

    I am in the same position as you, a few power tools, but I do mostly hand work. All my power tools are in the garage for now, bench and hand tools are in the basement. I am going to bring the band saw and drill press inside eventually, after some rearranging and throwing some stuff out. I hope to get rid of the table saw. The only thing I use it for now is plywood. I may sell it and get a track saw.

    Start with the workbench. Place it in the middle of the room, in front of the french doors. That will help with light. Work out from the bench. Think of work flow, as a triangle. Bench, sharpening, assembly or bench, tool chest, saw bench. Setting up a shop is a little trial and error, until you find something that works for you and the work that you do.

  9. #9
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    Hi Daniel,

    Michael Dunbar has, in the last few pages of his book: "Restoring, Tuning, and Using Classic Woodworking Tools," an appendix: "tools for the workshop," which lists the hand tools he considers necessary for the hand tool woodshop. He actually lists 3 different lists being: 1. tools for the basic shop, 2.tools for the intermediate shop, and 3. tools for the complete shop. It sounds like you need the tools for the basic shop, and will eventually grow into the final list.

    He speaks from experience, as when he started his career as a chair maker, he had a very small shop, and had no room for power tools, so he had to use almost exclusively hand tools. He made his living doing such, so he is speaking from real life experience, not theory. I have also read that if we were to visit the shop of many early American woodworkers, we would be amazed how small their shops were. They worked at their bench, and brought the tools and lumber to the bench, where almost all of the work was done.

    For the Basic Shop, He lists: 1. a jack plane and smoothing plane, 2. a 3/16" beading plane, b. low angle block plane, c. fillister plane, d. 3/4" dado plane, and e. plow plane, 3. combination plane (Stanley 45 and mentions that it can replace some of the above), 4. wooden spokeshave, 7" , drawknife, and a scraper (Stanley #80), 5. a. 7 point crosscut, b. 6 pt rip, and c. 12 pt sash saw, 6. a. 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and 1" firmer chisels, b. 1/2 and 3/4" regular sweep out cannel gouges, and c. 1/4 and 3/8" mortise chisels, and 7. a 10" sweep brace and #4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14 bits.

    He doesn't have it on his list, but he also used bow saws.

    There are more items listed to this basic list for the more complete shops.

    I highly recommend Michael Dunbars book, which I listed above, to the beginner to this type of woodworking, who wants to use and restore vintage tools.

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 04-03-2016 at 4:20 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Apex, NC
    Posts
    545
    Thanks, all, for the advice and ideas. I know it's been a while since I've been around, so no worries, but I've been woodworking for quite a while and have a decent collection of tools already, even hand tools. (Can always use more!) Primarily I've done smaller items like boxes, shelves, and small cabinets, but I built an ATC a while back and intend to be moving to larger items like that. If nothing else, I promised my wife a dresser!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Houghton View Post
    You might want to look around for some of the books on early American (and other) workshops. There are also some books by folks on modern hand tool only workshops. Jim Tolpin, for instance, has "The New Traditional Woodworker." Christopher Schwarz, who gets teased a lot on the internet, has also spent time thinking about shop layout, and done some writing on it.
    Bill, thanks for reminding me. I have Jim's book, but it's not been unpacked yet. I need to go find my WW books and get them all out and look what to re-read!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reinis Kanders View Post
    Build a workbench and start working on it and then you will see some organic workflow patterns emerge. Otherwise one can spend too much time planning.
    Reinis, this is great advice. I can often overthink things, I believe I'll be better suited to building a workbench and even that act alone will help me figure out an organic work flow that will help me design the space. Great idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Holbrook View Post
    If a picture is worth 1000 words...
    Mike, thanks for the pictures. You've reminded me that the first thing I need to figure out is a sharpening station! Since there's no water in the basement (yet), I will focus on getting that set up - it's only a PEX tube away through the crawspace wall!

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sidener View Post
    I am in the same position as you, a few power tools, but I do mostly hand work. All my power tools are in the garage for now, bench and hand tools are in the basement. I am going to bring the band saw and drill press inside eventually, after some rearranging and throwing some stuff out. I hope to get rid of the table saw. The only thing I use it for now is plywood. I may sell it and get a track saw.

    Start with the workbench. Place it in the middle of the room, in front of the french doors. That will help with light. Work out from the bench. Think of work flow, as a triangle. Bench, sharpening, assembly or bench, tool chest, saw bench. Setting up a shop is a little trial and error, until you find something that works for you and the work that you do.
    Paul, I think it's more accurate to say I'm finding myself in the same position as you. My BS and DP are in the basement already (I didn't want to figure it out later, so I had the movers take them down), everything else with a tail is in the garage. I think I'll disagree on the bench placement, but it's not fair to fuss because I've not posted pictures. Bench in front of the 3 windows will provide more light than in front of the French doors, and gives me the benefit of a better view. I'll try to get some photos posted, but I need to clear out some of the temporary things that are in the way and I'm traveling all week, so it'll probably be next weekend. I'll get some measurements and draw up the space, as well - it will help me with my layout.

    Once again, thanks all. If anyone else has any thoughts on things to consider when setting up a hand tool shop, please chip in!


    Regards,

    daniel

    P.S. Just bought some stuff from LV, sadly noticed my last purchase was 2014. Looking forward to getting back into things!
    Not all chemicals are bad. Without hydrogen or oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.

  11. #11
    There is some interesting discussion of tools in the book on Studley’s tool cabinet, as well as a list of tools. http://lostartpress.com/collections/...ducts/virtuoso

    I asked about tool lists (for a page on Additional Tools on the Shapeokoo wiki), and have the following links in my notes:

    - http://www.popularwoodworking.com/te...ther-tool-list
    - http://www.popularwoodworking.com/wo...ols-sloyd-list
    - http://www.renaissancewoodworker.com...and-tool-list/

    I thought the list of tools in this tool cabinet was interesting, esp. if one is going to do turning: http://www.rauantiques.com/item/wood...m.30-3632.html

  12. #12
    Join Date
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    I've got a recommendation for you. Go to alaskanwoodworker.com, click on "old tool catalogs", look for the E.C. Atkins and click it. There's a catalog there called E.C. Atkins Saw Book for the Farm. It shows a lot of workshop blueprints, tools you might need, and neat projects you could work on. You'll hafta download it though. Hope it helps.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
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    Tokyo, Japan
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    1,550
    Daniel:

    I have been in a similar situation before. Here are my suggestions in order of priority:

    1. Make a measured floorplan of your basement, and layout everything on it first.

    2. Before you install the workbench and spread out your fine handtools, do a little bit of construction work on the basement. Make a bathroom. Simple toilet, overhead light, and toilet paper dispenser will do. This will save you time, and save you from the various headaches that result from tracking sawdust and shavings around the house, and help the marriage.

    3. Next to to the toilet, but in the main room, install a large, heavy duty sink with a side counter of stainless (not the same as stainless steel since it has no iron in it, and a magnet won't stick) that drains into the sink. I assume that by installing this close to the toilet, there will be water and drainage close by. Ideally, a used commercial stainless restaurant model. Eateries go out of business everyday by the dozens and there is a market for their used equipment so resellers won't be hard to find. Stainless steel scrappers may also have some, as will plumbers. You don't need pretty. This will be invaluable to you. The side counter will be your sharpening station. Easy to cleanup, and water always right there.

    4. Install a hardwood threshold, as high as 1" or more, at the door between the basement to the house. The door should butt against this threshold (not go over the top of it) when closed. This will help a lot to keep sawdust and shavings from migrating into the house.

    5. Layout your bench, and glue-up, and sharpening areas on your floorplan drawing, and plan the overhead lighting to match. Then install this lighting in advance of moving in your stuff. Cheapo shoplight fluorescent units from Costco, Walmart, or Home Despot will do fine. Plan a wall-mounted spotlight on the wall toward one end of your bench to create a raking light across your bench.

    6. Make or weld (steel is most efficient) strong brackets for storing lumber on the wall. Reinforce the wall on the surface with horizontal 2"x4's, and install these brackets. Make them out of C channel and triangulated and paint them. Three levels should do, four brackets per level, depending on how long your lumber will be and how much room you have available. This will be the darkest, least traveled area of your shop. Buy a folding ladder to place by this if you don't have one already.

    7. Install some steel shelves for storing stuff like paint, glue, hardware, nails, and stuff in boxes and other things not bothered by dust. Going vertical gives you more floorspace, makes it easier to find stuff, and keeps stuff from getting underfoot. Costco specials work fine. The chrome plated wire shelves with casters installed are extremely useful and can be moved around easily for cleaning or if your layout changes.

    8. Consider laying Tyvek sheeting and plywood over the carpet, and perhaps even over the wooden floor to protect from abrasion and wear, slivers, dirt, glue and paint drops, and to save the resale value. Softer on you feet and easier on your back too.

    Stan
    Last edited by Stanley Covington; 04-03-2016 at 10:11 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Adams View Post
    ... tool lists... and have the following links....
    Another list I just noticed, (mentioned in another thread here,) is an article by Deneb (of LN) in the April issue of Popular Woodworking mag titled "The Core Hand Tools". He gives reasons for each and explains how they fit into a workshop's flow. (This list is more expansive than the ones William links to.)

    PS- Deneb works for Lie-Nielsen as an instructor and the photos show a lot of LN tools, but the article doesn't push them at all. He discusses tools generically by type. (He doesn't go into refurb'ing or tuning vintage tools, but certainly includes them as a possibilities.)

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanley Covington View Post
    8. Consider laying Tyvek sheeting and plywood over the carpet, and perhaps even over the wooden floor to protect from abrasion and wear, slivers, dirt, glue and paint drops, and to save the resale value. Softer on you feet and easier on your back too.
    Don't put down anything waterproof if your shop is on a ground floor that rests on a slab, though. Trust me, you'll regret it.

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