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While I am normally a power tool kinda guy, every now and then I seem to channel James Krenov and will indulge myself in a 'smallish' project done by hand tools only. This is less an excersize in craftsmanship than a spiritual journey into the soul, where true quality resides. When this urge hits, I've gotta answer the call.
My turning point came very unexpectedly, as I suppose most do. Since I was a teenager I've considered myself a novice woodworker; more of a wood butcher, really. A hack. I had taught myself to do everything with an old radial arm saw, a sander, a drill and some ratty old hand tools. A few years ago, at age 55, my wife bought me a really nice table saw. I decided to make some jewelry boxes with it. With a smooth table top, powerful motor, accurate miter guide and practically no blade runout; the first box seemed to make itself. What a revelation! A blinding flash of the obvious! A quality tool makes for quality results. I then sprang for a good router, a decent thickness planer, some quality hand tools and presto! The projects came as in a dream. I now enjoy the work way more than before and the finished pieces look more workmanlike. This experience has changed my entire outlook on woodworking.
I used to do woodworking in my spare time years ago but I have no such luxury today. I'm in the last few, very busy, years of a long career before I can afford to retire. I've purchased tools, jigs and accessories here and there over the years and have them squirreled away against the day I can set up my shop and devote full time to it. My wish is to live long enough to see it happen.
Oh Santa, I've been very good,I don't want much:
a Jet JBM-5 Bench Mortising Machine
a Leigh 18" Dovetail Jig
a 3HP Delta Unisaw with 52" Biesmeyer Fence
a Delta 12" Variable speed Drill Press
a Delts 14" Band Saw
Variety packs: Once in a while I'll buy a variety pack of sandpaper, jigsaw blades or whatever, on sale. Inevitably it will have only one or two sheets, bits, blades, etc. that I actually ever use. Makes me crazy to go back to the package for another whatever and find it full of grits, tooth sets or bit sizes I never need. You'd think I'd learn....
I am assuming we're talking about portable tools. Any decent stationary tool I own would have to be seriously torn up for me to junk it. These are expensive tools....you would pay more for an automatic mortiser than for an automatic dishwasher, yet you wouldn't junk your dishasher if the main spray arm broke...you'd buy a new part. A portable tool, a drill or a router, on the other hand, is like a blender or food processor: by the time the bushings in the motor wear out, the various seals, bearings, and blades have also worn to the point that it's almost as much trouble to use as to work by hand.These tools are junk...not worth repair.Toss it, spring for a new one and re-discover the joy of woodworking. It's also a good way to keep your shop updated
Great looking benches! But I've gotta say what drew my attention was the table in the photo. Is that yours as well? Can you post some pics and tell us a litle about it?
Just a precaution: When filling the original screw hole prior to redrilling, remember to use a dowel of the same or very similar wood to your piece. Otherwise when you try to redrill, the bit will drift in the direction of the softer wood and you'll be worse off than ever. Ash and oak are close, but oak and maple, for instance, are too dissimilar and a small bit will drift. Been there, done that.
I am currently interested in the Arts and Crafts movement. I would love to see detailed plans for some Greene & Greene's more complicated pieces; sideboards, desks, dressers and the like. As well, I am fascinated by modern furniture design and would love to see detailed plans for some of the best of the woodbutchers' art.
I am at that saturation point where no new furniture comes in the house until a piece goes out. As a result, if I decide to build a specific piece of furniture I will often re-condition and re-use the wood from the old piece. I had some old commercially made living room furniture that I disassembled, ran through the planer and constructed a new coffee table and two end tables from. The money I saved at the lumber yard far outweighed what I could have gotten for the old piecs in a yard sale. Even better, I discovered in taking apart an upholstered couch several pieces of nicely figured oak which went into a jewelry box.
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