Tom Fidgen, a regular contributor to our magazine, works only with hand tools, so he has a slightly different way of looking at a project – and an honest respect for good, old-fashioned hard work. He seems to appreciate the small things in woodworking, gaining great satisfaction from a smoothly planed surface or a strong mortise and tenon joint, and it rubs off. Made by Hand takes the reader through the entire process of making six different projects with nothing but hand tools. He talks a lot about the philosophy behind his style of working and how you can bring some of the simple life into your next project. He doesn’t hit you over the head with electricity guilt – he realizes that balance is what most people ought to strive for. Tom’s welcoming, open writing style is also a nice surprise. It’s almost like you’re having a conversation with him right in your living room, discussing what really matters in woodworking.
I am surprised the the Hand and Eye combo by Tolpin didn’t make anyone’s list. I have also really found Chris Schwartz’s Anarchist’s design book very useful. Everything else that I really like is already in here somewhere; Moxon, Roubo, Estonia, Peart. The beginners book by Wearing is excellent, and I have taken to giving it to Eagle scouts at their Eagle Courts of Honor of late. (with an inscription about taking the raw stuff of life and developing the skills and tools to make from it what you need…); cheesy, I know, but it is a really good book to start folks off with.
For the most part, furniture restorers/refinishers/conservators in the United States lack the necessary hand-tool skills to do proper wood repairs. But avid readers of Popular Woodworking Magazine do possess the skills. Like me in the 1970s, you just need instruction on how to go about it. These books provide this. They greatly influenced the techniques I use in my shop, and many are shown in the “Repairing Furniture” video/DVD I made for Taunton.
Cabinetmaking at the highest level is an art, a discipline, a philosophy–even a way of life–in addition to being a useful craft. In this book one of the greatest living cabinetmakers reflects on the deeper meanings of his craft and explains for less accomplished workers how the right attitudes toward materials, tools, and time can increase the joys of this complex activity. Craftspeople in every medium will be inspired by this account of getting started and developing habits that lessen the difficulties of a complex craft.
When you're working with linseed oil, never -- I mean NEVER -- leave used rags lying around. Hang them up outside, away from anything combustible, and where there's enough air circulation to keep them cool. Or put them in a bucket of water, and hang them outside later. If you're just setting a rag down for the moment, set it out flat, without folds, on something non-flammable. Hanging outside in the breeze, the oil in the rags won't retain heat while they oxidize. For the oil to completely oxidize can take in a couple of days, if it's warm, or more than a week, if it's cold and rainy. When fully oxidized, the oil will be solid and the rags will be stiff. At that point, they're safe, and can be thrown in the trash. Toss them in the trash before that, and you might as well say goodbye to your garage.
The Handplane Book is a complete guide to one of the best known and most collectable hand tools. It covers all the basics, including how to buy a plane, tune it up, and use it. Fascinating background information on the development and manufacture of handplanes shows the rich heritage of this versatile tool. Focusing on planes from the golden age of the handplanes (19th and early 20th century), it also profiles tools from many sources around the world.
Of all the machines in a workshop, we think two deserve their own books, not just because they possess the greatest potential, but when used incorrectly, are most likely to bite back. Bill Hylton and Fred Matlack’s Woodworking with the Router comes close to being the Router Bible. This tome provides an excellent overview of routers and bits while also explaining how to build and use jigs for router tables and handheld routing. Similarly, Paul Anthony’s Complete Illustrated Guide to Tablesaws gives entry-level and experienced woodworkers the information they need to safely use this workshop workhorse and accomplish more with their saws. Both books have excellent photos and great illustrations.
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I made a template by scribing two adjoining squares on a piece of MDF, using compass and straightedge, then marking each corner with a centerpunch, then drilling the points with a 1/16" bit. I find I'm always breaking small bits, so I picked up a couple of each size some months ago, and on looking I found I had three 1/16" bits, which worked fine for what I intended.
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1. In this post, you kindly remind us not to make it too deep or worry too much about the height. I presume you still believe a bench cannot be too long or too heavy? I’m with you — just asking if that’s actually still your opinion, since the bench above appears to be yet another six footer. (If longer is better, why don’t you build an 8 or 10′ for your home shop?) TYIA – remember, I’ve bought all my lumber to start my new bench, but I haven’t milled anything yet, so you’re really helping in an immediate way here!
I used the factory edge of the half-panel of hardboard as a guide for cutting the ply. I wanted to cut a 5-1/2" strip, and my saw cuts 4-1/2" from the edge of the shoe, so I wanted the edge of the hardboard 10" from the edge of the ply. So I set my combination square to 10", and used it to mechanically set the distance. Hint - if you need two things to be precisely the same length, try to avoid measuring them separately. Use some mechanical mechanism for setting the distance.
Of course, few benches can be ideal, and this one does have some drawbacks. That being said, most of the disadvantages of this bench are minor annoyances rather than deal breakers. For instance, this bench does not include any kind of storage whatsoever. Though, it does have the option of adding numerous additional features like a storage area. Still, for the bench, you would expect a drawer at the very least, maybe a shelf below the main table area.