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Thread: Hand tools only

  1. #1
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    Hand tools only

    How many of you do not use any power tools in your shop or only Use a band saw or very infrequently use some other power tool? Why do you choose to work this way?

  2. #2
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    Longview WA
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    My main power tool is a bandsaw. My other power tools are a lathe, drill press, cordless drill and a few other seldom used power tools.

    My original reason was my small work space didn't allow for many power tools. It was also quieter which allowed me to work on projects after getting off work at night.

    Now it is still quieter allowing me to listen to music while working. It also helps to make mistakes slower.

    Finally, it is good exercise.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. I don't have any power tools or machines. I do everything by hand because I enjoy it. I have a cordless power drill, a circular saw, and a miter saw, but I don't use any of them because I don't like using them.

    I would eventually like to get a lathe to do some turning, though.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
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    Lubbock, Tx
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    983
    I fit the bill you described although my bandsaw has sat for almost five years without being completely assembled. I hate the noise of the machines and the methodical hand tool approach fits my disability.

  5. #5

    Smile

    I have a large bandsaw which is frequently used, less used in order of use might go something like as follows ....
    bench grinder, tablesaw, routers, drill, lathe,vacuum cleaner and a belt/disc sander.
    The second last tool might be the answer to the question.

    I still would regard myself a hand tool woodworker though my thinking on this might change if I had a planer thicknesser with adequate DC and used dominos
    instead of joinery.
    The case could be made that everything could be done by hand with results no different, so its labour saving rather than needing a machine to do the job.
    My woodworking doesn't pay the bills though!

    Above all for me, if I had no light it would be very difficult for me to work around it, as my shop has no windows (and will stay that way)
    I should have wrote this at the very top of the list.
    Having to do with rubbish lamps at the moment, as I didn't bother fixing my temporary lamp after it fell (again) as I eventually found what hopefully will be a decent lamp on the bay.
    These long reach angle poise lamps are unbeatable, maybe you folks can just pick one up in town, our shops in Ireland aren't the best.
    Have a look at these things for only a few quid on the bay.
    Super Bright Swing Arm Clamp Desk Lamp LED Light with Metal Clip Office Home.

    If you think using a machine is in some way cheating you of your quest to be a journeyman or whatever, try having no available light source and no lamp.

    Apart from that rant it could also be the case of some folks having a goal at the end of the day (acoustic guitars for me)
    and a lot of stuff isn't required for that.
    Once I got into cabinetmaking watching Rob Cosman and the likes, I realised that using hand tools was more preferable than using and building all types of sanding machines.
    I only used that belt sander for maybe 10 mins last year after turning something on the lathe.
    I could sell it and get a handheld one, it was the first machine I bought and the least useful.

    The workbench and planes are and have been the most important (after the work lamp) since I realised the virtues of cutting vs sanding.
    That called for wanting a real good workbench, and the way to go about that for me was salvaging hardwoods from skips to laminate together.
    This meant getting a tablesaw which I would not have thought to be important beforehand.
    The other tools were got for a song, and if you're in for a penny your might aswell be in for a pound.
    Still sticking to the end goal, but the work methods have changed to using hand tools for lots of reasons.
    What a mess my workshop would have looked like with all those unnecessary sanding jigs, and I wouldn't have acquired a quarter of the skills that hand work requires.
    All because I heard someone say....well, I'm not Rob Cosman....



    I still will have many jigs to make and won't have space for many more machines, so that's one reason why I don't have more iron.
    I do see real bargain planer thicknesser machines for a song, but that won't do anything for me that the hand planes won't.
    The bandsaw can yield more timber veneers than any handsaw I've seen, and the tablesaw can do trenching cuts when I want to box cut out window rebates filled with putty
    I suppose this could all be done by hand, but I'm slow enough already.
    Tom
    Last edited by Tom Trees; 12-13-2019 at 9:42 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    South Coastal Massachusetts
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    5,439
    Space constraints, cost and dust control lead me to mostly utilize hand tools. Exceptions incorporating battery powered tools include mortising and drilling multiple holes - boring tasks.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Perth, Australia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Robinson View Post
    How many of you do not use any power tools in your shop or only Use a band saw or very infrequently use some other power tool? Why do you choose to work this way?
    With the exception of Warren, I do not hear others here only using hand tools.

    I think that what you make, the amount you make, and your deadlines, are decisive factors in permitting hands-only or not. I cannot say that I have ever worked with hand tools alone, since I have used a circular saw before I had a table saw for ripping. It was not until about 15 years ago that I purchased a jointer and thicknesser/planer, and I used to rough out everything with hand planes. I've been woodworking for about 35 years, so had plenty of practice doing it mostly-hand tools.

    Today I really value my power tools. I am 70 in January and really would not enjoy preparing boards by hand alone. I do not see this part of woodwork to be important. I build to see a vision come alive. I still use hand tools a great deal - indeed, they do all the important joinery and finishing. The machines do the grunt work.

    The other factor is that I have enough space for the power machines in my workshop - not a lot of space .. half a detached double garage ... but it is more than many have, and it is that group that will more naturally gravitate to hand tools only. I know ... that was me once upon a time: apartment life and working out of a chest and mobile vise on the kitchen table.

    If I moved to a much smaller space, the two machines I would want are a bandsaw and a drill press. There is so much you can do with each (one reason I justified spending the bucks very recently on a Nova Voyager).

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
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    8,200
    The Dungeon Shop is a Hybrid shop. Depending on what tasks are being done during shoptime.....it can be handtool, it can be machine tool, or..it can be both.

    Restrictions on power tools.....IF it don't fit in the shop, it don't go in to the shop. Mitersaw? Cordless, Armstrong motored. Planers? I am the planer. drill press is a benchtop model

    The tablesaw in the shop was my late Dad's. 8" direct drive. Some projects, it will get used...others the top of the saw is merely an assembly table. Haven't any dado blades for it.

    Whether I use power tool, or hand tool....it depends on what I am doing.....not on what others think I should use. I try to use the best type of tool for the job, according the tools I have on hand.

    Seems it is more about the skill in using the tools, than who made the tool.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Location
    Raleigh, NC
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    188
    Bandsaw for long rip cuts, thickness planer for dimensioning boards. I did a few resaws and thicknessing by hand with rip saw and scrub plane, decided I'd rather spend my limited shop time on the less brutish tasks. Oh I use a cordless drill for small holes too, but hand brace for larger ones.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    134
    Tom, buy a couple of these new LED lights:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Twenty bucks, and they're magnetized to stick strongly on any tool. I'm using mine now wherever I use the drill press, band saw, or sharpening station. I just bought another $4 steel disc to screw to the wall over my sharpening desk. It's a Brave New World that has such (things) in't.

    Down the road, buy some 48" LED ceiling lights. You can get then either with power cords to run through extension cords or hardwired if you have a junction box nearby. Let There Be Light.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Lafayette, CA
    Posts
    134
    I Am A determined Neanderthal, but I use the jointer, thickness planer, band saw, and table saw to get "close" to final foursquare, dimension, and smoothness. Then it's those lovely planes that behave rather well in my hands of late.

    For example: mortise and tenon. Mortise with a plunge router and jig I made from Young Je on YouTube (genius). Tenon shoulders started on the table saw, cheeks on the band saw, finish-fit with chisels and jointer plane. No draw-bore, yet. We'll see.

    I have not dipped my toe into the dovetail waters to date. Hand sawing scares me.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Seattle
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Robinson View Post
    How many of you do not use any power tools in your shop or only Use a band saw or very infrequently use some other power tool? Why do you choose to work this way?
    I use power tools and hand tools both. I am trying to use more hand tools as they allow me to work in night after work (noise factor).

    Among power tools I find planer as indispensable. In it's absence I would be stuck with S4S which costs too much compared to rough lumber. My job site table saw is the next tool that sees most use. I would someday like to trade my tablesaw with a good band saw though.

    Some tools I used to use but 'am finding lesser use now include: jointer, miter saw, router, cordless drill/driver.

  13. #13
    I use power tools shamelessly. And I mean that quite literally. It doesn't bother me in the least to use the planer, jointer, table saw, band saw, drill press, routers, morticers, sanders, chop saws, etc.

    I don't have any need to work like it's 1699. My body doesn't like standing and planing, and sawing, and chopping for hours on end anymore. And it takes forever. They invented all them machines for a reason. Plus even way back in the day, preparing rough stock was apprentice (i.e. young man's) work. That is why you became a master, to make someone else do the grunt work.

    I don't get into "hand tool" woodworking or "power tool" woodworking. I just do woodworking and use whatever tool makes sense at the time. I probably use more power tools than most hand tool woodworkers, and I know I use more hand tools than most power tool woodworkers. Usually I pick whatever is the fastest. Often that can be a hand tool, like planing or scraping the machines marks out of a table top. But then I normally use a random orbit sander afterwards though, to get an even surface sheen and roughness prior to finishing or staining. If both options take about the same time, I often pick hand tools, just to keep the skills fresh.

    Sometime I think people get too hung up on the whole hand tool vs power tool thing. There is no special prize for doing things the slowest and most difficult way possible, just to be "true" to one way or the other.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Jones 5443 View Post
    Tom, buy a couple of these new LED lights:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Twenty bucks, and they're magnetized to stick strongly on any tool. I'm using mine now wherever I use the drill press, band saw, or sharpening station. I just bought another $4 steel disc to screw to the wall over my sharpening desk. It's a Brave New World that has such (things) in't.

    Down the road, buy some 48" LED ceiling lights. You can get then either with power cords to run through extension cords or hardwired if you have a junction box nearby. Let There Be Light.
    Bob I would be highly skeptical on anything but the angle poise lamps from now on.
    I have a salvaged one from the dump that's at the folks place and the missus has another, both take the old school 60w incandescent bulbs.
    These are the best I've come across, so good I was going to make my own but couldn't source the springs.
    The extra size of the shade gives much better visibility compared to a gooseneck bedside lamp, I played around with making shades for these before.

    I was shopping in Lidl and impulse bought one of these
    Its a really blinding bright blue light but doesn't give the same visibility as the angle poise lamp.
    I find It doesn't show up a gap as well.
    Currently bungee corded to my microphone stand which was for my camera, so recent photos are a bit blurry.
    If I can't get a suitable bulb for the angle poise then I will swap it out with an old lamp fitting, I am presuming this might well need to be done.
    This is the lamp I was referring to on that auction site.



    I hope it comes soon, I've got to get sharpening my handsaws.
    Tom

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2019
    Location
    Central Florida
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    I donít know why this question is so interesting to me. And it really doesnít matter for the most part especially for those of us who donít make a living at this and is generally a function of ones means, space, desired level of out put, physical capabilities and just personal preference. But I think about it now and then, especially each time my father in law tries to give me the old Rockwell table saw jointer combo he used to build his house. Tom Trees comment
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Trees View Post
    if you're in for a penny your might aswell be in for a pound.
    pointed me toward the answer. If I got a table saw, Iíd still probably pass on the old Rockwell anyway, thanks Dad, but If I bought a table saw, I should get a good chop saw. And so why not a jointer and planer and so on. If efficiency matters, obviously a well equipped power shop is best. And if money were no object, Iíd probably have one just for the fun of it. But I think Iíve decided to stick mostly with the quiet rhythms of the ďgrunt workĒ of hand tools as long as my body lets me. And I canít deny thereís some romance with all that old rosewood and brass.

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