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Thread: Elementary Neanderthal Questions

  1. #1
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    Elementary Neanderthal Questions

    Hi, as I'm exploring my new power tools, and not loving the noise and dust, I'm wondering do the hand tool folks to EVERYTHING by hand? Do you not use power tools at all? How could you possibly cut down plywood by hand?

    thanks all,
    cynthia
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
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    Cynthia, Neanderthalism seems to come in varying degrees. Most hand tool aficionados do have a few power tools hiding for certain tasks, but there are some folks who are pretty die-hard about it and try to do everything by hand.

    On your plywood question, with a bit of time and patience, a person can cut plywood with a plain ol' handsaw. That said, most hardcore Neanderthals wouldn't be caught dead using plywood on a project. They'd make panels out of solid wood and plane them flat like they did in the old days before plywood was widely available.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
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    I use a lot of both hand and power tools. My trestle table thread, for instance:

    I used a bandsaw to cut the rough shapes, and a belt sander to somewhat refine them. Then, I switched to hand tools - high angle planes to minimize chip-out (tried the power jointer and planer, with disastrous results); scrapers and scraper planes for the smoothing; brace & bits for drilling the rough mortises, and chisels & mallet for fiishing the mortises. I also used a coupl handsaws where power saws were inpractical.

    It seems the longer I'm involved in woodworking, the more inclined I am toward the 'quiet side.'
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  4. #4
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    that is becasue of our better halfs jim duck ,run , hide quick... actually cynthia i think there is more satifaction gained from doing as much as one feels comfortable with by hand rather power tools..
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  5. #5
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    Jim and Larry said it very, very well. I love using hand tools, but I'm no purist. And my power tools aren't hiding, way too big in my small shop. Since I have [and deserve] no apprentice, I figure I can use my "tailed apprentices" as needed to get the jobs done.

    Anyway, there are no rules about Neandering. You do what you want, in whatever combination of electron and muscle power that works for you.

    I think that many of us have come to view power tools as the easy way to do something. Often, a sharp and well tuned hand tool will do the job better, faster and more quietly. Just a matter of opening your mind and training your hands.

    [he said just before stepping off his soapbox]

  6. #6
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    I am reminded of a discussion we were having with Sam Maloof the great teacher about which tools is best. It Started when he was showing us how to shape the arm for a chair using a rasp. One of the students asked him if he ever tried a spoke shave and he said he hadn't in quite some time so he went over to his cabinet and got one out. He took a few passes with it and said "to slow" laid it down and finished up with his rasp. He said that "there is no right or wrong tool to do a job use the one you are most comfortable with."
    "There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it." - Sam Maloof
    The Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change;The Realist adjusts the sails.~ William Arthur Ward

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the insight guys....I love the image of the "tailed apprentice"......
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  8. #8
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    + 1 on what all the guys said. If you doing it as a hobby, to me part of the fun of hand tools especially old ones is imagining the guys that used them way way back in the day, when you try and do it today.

    I really chuckle to myself when i see all our sharpening gear and think those guys never had all the gadgets and fancy papers etc and at the same time they never had the machines.

    Now we mill a piece of wood as if we were machinists in a tool making shop. Yet some of the beauty of really old furniture is the tool marks that prove a human made it. There is a certain kind of romance to this hobby in my opinion.
    cheers

  9. #9
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    Some people dwell on how many steps thru the abrasive chorus they must do. My chisels get a grind on a 60 grit wheel when they start getting to far gone. (Doesn't happen too often) And then a few licks on a whetstone. Has worked for me for about 50 years now. I did go modern awhile back and got some diamond whetstones just cause they're less hassle and mess.

    Another thing is the peaceful satisfaction of using a scraper toward the end to get the final finish. No noise, no stuff floating in the air, and a real feeling of accomplishment.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Newby View Post
    Some people dwell on how many steps thru the abrasive chorus they must do. My chisels get a grind on a 60 grit wheel when they start getting to far gone. (Doesn't happen too often) And then a few licks on a whetstone. Has worked for me for about 50 years now. I did go modern awhile back and got some diamond whetstones just cause they're less hassle and mess.
    Finally, somebody who's not absolutely obsessed with doing photo-micrograms of his sharpened edges! I agree with your methods, although I do use a Tormek for a lot of my stuff.

    I still hold that, after a dozen or so strokes across the wood, you can't tell the difference between a 600 grit sharpening and a 12,000 grit one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Newby View Post
    Another thing is the peaceful satisfaction of using a scraper toward the end to get the final finish. No noise, no stuff floating in the air, and a real feeling of accomplishment.
    Ahh, yes. The soft 'swish' of a plane iron across cherry, or a scraper across maple. - and being ankle deep in shavings. Very satisfying!
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

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