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Thread: I need some hand tool shop advice

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Tokyo, Japan
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Chase View Post
    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.
    Very good point!

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Tokyo, Japan
    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Denton View Post
    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, 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.

    Yikes. That's way more than what I would consider "basic." And, frankly, many of those things aren't needed.

    Bare bones essentials, IMO, would be:

    1. Jack Plane
    2. set of Bench Chisels; should probably include at least a 1/4" and 3/4".
    3. a good Tenon saw, or dovetail saw. These will work for joinery as well as crosscuts and basically anything except ripping long lengths to size. You can also get a rip saw if you really want to. Don't bother with a crosscut; though you probably already have one anyway.
    4. a drill. You could opt for gimlets and a bit and brace, or egg-beater style hand drill. A conventional electric drill may be the cheapest option though.
    5. a file and rasp. A 4-in-1 rasp will handle most of your shaping needs, and I like a half-round file as well.
    6. a scraper. Cabinet, or card scraper. Just something to smooth surfaces that are prone to tearout.

    That's it, really. A set of chisels, a backsaw, and a jack plane can do almost any job. Any additional tools are just for convenience.

    And, of course, you need a sharpening stone, or just some sandpaper to keep your tools sharp. Perhaps a triangular file to sharpen your saws as well.

    As for additional conveniences, I like a spokeshave, drawknife, hatchet, and bow saw (for ripping. You can also make them for joinery, and coping as well. Honestly, it seems that if you want a good saw of any kind on a budget, making your own in bow-saw form is the best route. But, maybe everyone isn't in to that style saw, I understand). A coping saw for cutting curves is nice too, and various size planes can make work more efficient, but aren't required. You might also want a router plane, though you can make a "poor man's router" (or just about any other plane you want, honestly) with just a chisel.

    Don't worry about beading/moulding planes unless you really want to do that kind of thing; you can make a lot of nice furniture (and other things) without that. Way too specialized a tool to be on a list of "basics", IMO; I don't even foresee any use for them in the kind of work that I do. You also don't need low-angle planes (unless you really want one for shooting the end grain on boards), or mortise chisels, etc. As you learn more about techniques in traditional woodworking, you'll figure out what you really need/will make use of, and you can purchase "conveniences" as you go, after you learn fundamental skills with a smaller toolset. Just watch "The English Woodworker" to see what all you can do with a mere set of chisels, for instance. Just because most people use highly specialized tools for a purpose, doesn't mean that you can't accomplish the same thing with more basic tools. And sometimes, it's not even that much more work or time to do so.
    Last edited by Luke Dupont; 04-05-2016 at 10:15 PM.

  3. Depending on space I have found a couple of food down smaller workbenches work well for various tasks (I am set up in a garage so space is at a premium). Pinterest is a good resource for ideas!


  4. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Libertyville, IL (Chicago - North)

    Before filling the shop, I have three considerations for you.

    1) Rent a paint sprayer and cover everything with white paint -- ceiling walls, ducts, beams.... It's fast and cheap. I did that and am really glad I did. It really brightens things up.
    2) I used the 2' x 2' OSB panels with the plastic barrier on the bottom, which are made for basement floors (DRIcore). That was another very fast and relatively inexpensive job done before moving anything else in to the shop. It has worked very well.
    3) French cleats. They allow you to hang panels and various things without worrying about if you might move them. Everything can be rearranged any time.


  5. #20
    Luke, really, really, really like your list. It’s very like to what I had available when I was young, and I’d have more money and more complete projects if I’d stuck to it and had never delayed a project waiting on finding the perfect tool.

    You left out a set though:

    0. Layout tools

    And was curious what everyone’s opinions on them were — one old gentleman I knew kept a Stanley Odd Jobs in his apron and swore by it, along w/ a nifty vintage rule which had inset brass depth gauges at _both_ ends (anyone know the brand?), and a lovely sliding bevel, and used an old worn Uncle Henry pocket knife w/ the two smaller blades sharpened only on opposite sides as a marking knife — the latter he kept in his pocket and a Blackwing pencil (the ones w/ the rectangular erasers) behind one ear. His shop was filled w/ story sticks, and I believe there must have been at least one yardstick, and some bendable sticks w/ twine for curves, but that was it AFAIR.

    Also tools needed for installing hardware.
    Last edited by William Adams; 04-11-2016 at 8:32 AM.

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