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Thread: From power to hand tools.....

  1. #1
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    Question From power to hand tools.....

    I'm sort of moving this way and wondered how many hand tool users have gone from full power tools shop to a sparser hand tools setup. And, if so do you miss the power tools or regret the simplification?

    I'm selling my lathe tomorrow and have my Felder saw for sale. I'm also considering parting with my miter station and my hammer jointer/planer. If so, that would leave me with just a hand tools work bench and hand tools, an axiom cnc machine, a minimax band saw and a nova drill press. Other than dust collection, that would be the extent of my new setup and I'm sort of liking the idea of trying to simplify things and move at a slower pace...Ö.. which I seem to be doing anyway.


    So, anyone move from power to hand tools and really regret it? Anyone do it and find it refreshing and renewing the interest in the hobby? Just looking for thoughts. Thanks.

  2. Iíd vote for a hybrid set up. That Hammer planer joiner will save you a lot of dog work.

  3. #3
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    I eliminated some of my power machinery and kept some. What drove me that way was to get out of the part-time cabinet/furniture/remodeling/contracting business and the need to go-go as fast as I could. I believe that you could easily drop the miter station and router table (if you have one). You could also drop a TS if you are moving away from sheet goods. In my opinion, the decision to drop the planer/jointer will be the biggest decision you will face. If you buy lots of S4S or the like, you won't miss the combo unit. Another part of the equation is project size - smaller projects, not so bad without the jointer/planer. Larger projects such as dining tables, hutches, chest-of-drawers, etc, the combo machine may be of better use. If you buy rough timber, it will depend on how comfortable you are with starting from scratch when dimensioning wood. Although, the BS can definitely help with that. I have not regretted moving to a hybrid situation and can see that doing pure hand work only would not at all be the end of the world, but I would miss my BS. I will admit that the idea of doing 100% of thickness planning by hand would slow things down for me. For you? Only you can answer that.
    David

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    My suggestion would have been to keep the lathe. It comes in handy for tool handles and making bench dogs if you use round bench dogs.

    Most of us who frequent the Neanderthal Cave do use some power tools. Mine are drill press, bandsaw and lathe. Of course my tools occasionally need work on a power sharpening system and a belt sander also comes in handy. After that my main power tool for wood is a chain saw.

    My electric router sits unused. Molding planes are more enjoyable.

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

  5. #5
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    I don't miss the noise of dust collection.

    The real difficulty was in thinking about making things straight, square and flat - without machined surfaces.

    Dunno about a large, but my current project involves extensive resawing. I missed my bandsaw.

    https://books.google.com/books/about...kp_read_button

  6. #6
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    I sold my contractors table saw, thickness planer and power jointer to a friend who lives only a mile away from me. Guess what: I can go to his shop and use them anytime I need to. So far though I have only gone over to use the table saw once to cut some table legs from a wide board. Bottom line is that I probably miss the table saw the most even though I still have a band saw, drill press and had to buy a power mortiser because the noise of cutting mortises by hand was disturbing my family. My shop is small so the decision was pretty much automatic for me.
    I wish that I knew what I know now... Rod Stewart from Ooh La La

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Parrish View Post
    I'm sort of moving this way and wondered how many hand tool users have gone from full power tools shop to a sparser hand tools setup. And, if so do you miss the power tools or regret the simplification?

    I'm selling my lathe tomorrow and have my Felder saw for sale. I'm also considering parting with my miter station and my hammer jointer/planer. If so, that would leave me with just a hand tools work bench and hand tools, an axiom cnc machine, a minimax band saw and a nova drill press. Other than dust collection, that would be the extent of my new setup and I'm sort of liking the idea of trying to simplify things and move at a slower pace...Ö.. which I seem to be doing anyway.


    So, anyone move from power to hand tools and really regret it? Anyone do it and find it refreshing and renewing the interest in the hobby? Just looking for thoughts. Thanks.
    Greg, there is no right of wrong in woodworking, and the choice of tools is such a personal matter, especially if you are an amateur.

    Some will say that they can work as speedily with hand tools as another might work with power. Is that meant to sway one to do the same as they? Another might argue that power tools save a great deal of unnecessary effort, and free one to use hand tools. But someone will then say that they enjoy the grunt work. Who can argue with that?

    So what you get are personal views. Consider them in the context of how they make you evaluate your own ideas and desires. Don't follow them just because.

    I have been working with tools and building things all my life. As with some, I moved towards building furniture about 30 years ago from renovating homes. My tools were rather crude power tools, such as circular saws and jig saws, and corded drills. The hand tools were chisels and perhaps a block plane. Along the way I discovered hand tools - better chisels, a Stanley #3 and #5 1/2, and then Badger Pond, a woodwork forum. I learned to sharpen edges! By this stage I had acquired a table saw and a large Elu Router, but no other power tools. I prepared all my boards with a growing number of hand planes. Fast forward about 20 years, and I had added an awful, noisy lunchbox thicknesser, which probably was used three times in it life. I found an 8" jointer to be useful. A cheap 14" bandsaw come along, and was so useful. Over recent years these were upgraded to better quality machines. The hand tools continued along their own path, both upward and specialised.

    Today I have a workshop that moves comfortably between power- and hand tools. I do tend to use power for the preparation of boards, and hand tools for their refinement. I would not like to be without either. One is not better than another for me; they each have their place. It has taken many, many years to earn and own some spectacular tools, and I enjoy them all immensely. The point is, if you are not enjoying yours, or the use they provide, then consider where - or if - they should be there. That is personal.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  8. #8
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    I've sort of been forced into nearly total hand tool use by circumstance. I had a shop full of basic power tools. I always enjoyed hand tool woodworking, but broke down and and dimensioned stock by machine mostly. Then joinery and finishing were all done by hand. But my living situation changed, I had to abandon the shop and sell or give away most of my machine tools.

    Now I live in a small apartment with an 8 x 8 room that I use as a shop. I have a small bench, the Dutch tool chest that I've been building and only hand tools (except for a Dewalt 20V drill).

    I've pared down my tools to pretty much the basics. I do have a bunch of tools in storage and if I need something I don't have at home I can get it, but hardly do it anymore. I've learned to use what's at hand.

    I am strictly a hobbyist these days, and this change has certainly changed the type of projects that I build. Smaller, simpler things, not big case work, because it just doesn't fit. I find that I enjoy woodworking more with hand tools and don't miss anything but the bandsaw.

    DC

  9. #9
    Those are some relatively high end power tools you have there.

    I went from your typical homeowner almost all contractor grade power tools to almost entirely hand tools. The one power tool that still gets use now and then is the thickness planer. Thicknessing a couple boards entirely by hand is kind of fun. Thickness every board for a table or other large build is NOT fun in my book as it is mind-numbing and low skill work that can easily take up a couple weekends for a project that should only take a couple weekends in the first place. All of my other power tools I can easily do without and they rarely get dusted off.

    That said, stuff comes up of the homeowner variety. Something needs to be repaired. You need some more shelves in the basement. The backyard needs some fencing or a planter box or something. These are projects that might carry zero pride in craftsmanship, speed might be of the essence, and you donít even want to do them except that you donít want to pay someone else to do them! Thatís where having your power tools comes in really handy. If you can get good money for your tools, it might be wise to turn some of that into a basic set of contractor tools.

    For what itís worth, woodworking was originally something I didnít do as a hobby, but as a necessity for the home or for my business. I then tried to really get into it as a way to bond with my father-in-law (who has a very very nice ďIím retiredĒ power tool shop). But I just didnít enjoy it and it was going nowhere fast. Then I started exploring hand tools and it was a straight shot down the rabbit hole at warp speed. Itís my main hobby and I spend a lot of time doing it. No more build-it-because-you-need-it and now just tons of build-it-because-I-wanna.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the feedback. Purely a hobby here and I'm no where near retirement. I've gone through phases in woodworking as I'm sure most have. Each time I get a new tool that covers a new area of woodworking there is an excitement to use it and to get all into it. Some have held their interest and others just have not. The lathe is one that I have had an interest to make a bowl, and then it sits for 8 months. The table saw has become another similar tool for me. Just not used often and given space constraints I feel it would have been better in my case to have kept my older PM66 instead of the slider. Anyway, I don't regret any of my ventures thus far, but am trying to tailor the space around the things I'm actually doing so that I can reconfigure the remaining space for another hobby. Most things I've made in the past year have involved smaller items. Cutting boards, coaster sets, business card holders, Christmas ornaments, etc. All of these items I could have made with the CNC, Bandsaw, Jointer/Planer and some hand tools. I like projects that are smaller and fit my space. I like to work at a slower pace. So, this is primarily whats driving my change.

    The other piece of it is I'm wanting to also incorporate more hand tool usage. I get the idea of the jointer being important and quite frankly its the reason it has been last on my list to part with. I've often said that a bandsaw and jointer/planer can build most items when you add a few hand tools. Anyway, just wanted to stimulate some discussion as reading others thoughts helps me think through my own process many times.

    Thank you.

  11. #11
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    Greg, I'm a dedicated hand tool user. I don't have any of the power tools you mention, though I did have most of the traditional tailed apprentices early on in my woodworking career. The only power tool I miss with any regularity is a good bandsaw. That said, until you're sure, I wouldn't sell everything. Also, many of the things you mentioned that you like to make are best done in quantity with power tools. I've written this many times in books, blogs, and articles: there is no merit badge for hand tool woodworking. Do what makes you happy.
    Your endgrain is like your bellybutton. Yes, I know you have it. No, I don't want to see it.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Parrish View Post
    The other piece of it is I'm wanting to also incorporate more hand tool usage. I get the idea of the jointer being important and quite frankly its the reason it has been last on my list to part with. I've often said that a bandsaw and jointer/planer can build most items when you add a few hand tools. Anyway, just wanted to stimulate some discussion as reading others thoughts helps me think through my own process many times.
    One of the things I did to transition out of power tool usage was to challenge myself with doing a project completely with hand tools. My first project was a blanket chest. No power tools at all, including all of the rip and cross-cutting, along with flattening and thicknessing from rough cut wood. The project came out well enough and it really gave me confidence that I could do it.

    DC

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg Parrish View Post
    I've often said that a bandsaw and jointer/planer can build most items when you add a few hand tools.
    That's the gist of Tolpin's book.

    The J/P can be eliminated if you have a decent lumber supplier, or buy the seasoned stash from Old Timers.

    If you're migrating to casework and free standing furniture, Poplar as a secondary wood is pleasant to work by hand. Softer species will make the transition easier.

    Mahogany was prized for the same reasons.

    I would suggest making things from the wood you think smells best, while planing. That's what eats up most of my shop time.

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