The Woodworker's Guide to Hand Tools (eBook)

The Woodworker's Guide to Hand Tools (eBook)

SKU# 077929

An A to Z Reference

Peter Korn

PDF eBook

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  • Product # 077929
  • Type PDF eBook
  • ISBN 978-1-60085-453-8
  • Published Date 1998

Hand tools are essential to woodworking, but, unlike power tools, they don't come with detailed owner's manuals. Think of this book as the missing manual for your hand tools.

Peter Korn covers virtually all the hand tools in the modern woodshop. For convenience, tools are listed alphabetically within chapters organized by function (abrading, cutting, planing, sawing...).

Beautifully illustrated, The Woodworker's Guide to Hand Tools explains:

  • what each tool is used for
  • which tools are essential for your shop
  • how to recognize quality when buying tools
  • how to tune up tools for top performance
  • and, in many cases, how to use each tool efficiently

Table of Contents













A common assumption of our age is that machines make things better than people can. For this reason, and because it is so much easier to push a switch than to nurture hand-eye coordination, most of us begin our woodworking journeys reliant on power tools. Then, along the way, as our sensitivity to wood and understanding of craftsmanship grow, we may begin to appreciate the practical benefits and subtle pleasures of traditional hand skills.

There is a romance to hand tools that should not overshadow their utility. They are far more than charming accents with which to decorate country cottages or ornament workshops. No contemporary woodshop is complete without functioning hand tools. No craftsman achieves excellence without first mastering their use.

Although hand tools are essential to the highest level of craftsmanship, there is a lack of information available to the woodworker who desires to attain proficiency with them. A new thickness planer comes with a detailed manual explaining setup, use, and maintenance and an exploded diagram to facilitate repair. A new handplane often comes only with wrapping tissue. Yet, of the two, the handplane requires more skill, knowledge, and time to set up and use successfully. Think of this book as the missing manual for your woodworking hand tools.

In these pages youll find a comprehensive representation of the specialized hand tools commonly employed by the contemporary wood furniture maker. Youll learn what each tool is used for, what to look for when buying one, how to tune it up for maximum performance, and, where appropriate, how to use it efficiently. Of necessity, more demanding tools such as bench planes merit longer treatments, while there is no need to belabor the obvious by explaining how to swing a hammer.

This book is intended as an ongoing source of information as you work. For ease of reference, I have set it up much like the Yellow Pages of a telephone book. Tools are listed alphabetically within functional groupings (abrading, cutting, sawing), which are likewise arranged alphabetically. Two categories that you will not find in these pages are woodturning tools and carving tools -- they are such extensive specialties as to require books of their own.

A word of advice: You dont need to rush out and buy all the tools you see within these pages in order to be a good woodworker. I have found it best to wait until I have a specific need and understand how a new tool will fulfill it. Even in our school shop at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, which I believe to be well equipped by any standard, you wont find every tool that is presented here.

What is the place of hand tools in the workshop? In part, the answer is a matter of temperament. Each craftsman finds a personal balance between machine and hand work. There is no right way to work. The 20-plus years that I have been making furniture have been, and continue to be, a learning process. As my experience increases, so does my respect for the practical advantages and aesthetic pleasures that hand tools provide.

Simply, you can do more things with wood using hand tools than you can using machinery. Hand tools enable the woodworker to create the widest possible range of designs. Of course, machines are reliable and fast, and great for straightforward tasks such as milling wood four-square or cutting simple mortises. And with enough capital expenditure, jigging, and fussing, they will also perform exceedingly complex tasks dependably. But for the one-of-a-kind or limited-production furniture maker who wants to incorporate compound-angle joinery in a chair, marquetry or carved detail in a casepiece, or a unique molded edge on a tabletop, a mastery of hand tools will get the job done quicker, better, and less expensively.

Wood is a sensuous, seductive material unlike any other. Every tree, every board, is individuated by characteristics of color, density, grain pattern, and workability. Hand tools enable the craftsman to meet wood on intimate terms, sensitive to every nuance, and endow him with finer control of the medium. There are extraordinary pieces of furniture in which the life of the tree and the subtle presence of the makers hand live on together, such as the work of James Krenov. This is a level of excellence well beyond the capability of machine work.

At the heart of the idea of craftsmanship is the notion of skill -- of hand-eye coordination won through years of practice. Certainly, the part of furniture making that I love best is being at the bench working with hand tools, whether cutting joinery or using a handplane. The joy of surfacing a lovely piece of ash with a well-tuned jack plane is exceptional -- the feel, sound, smell, and sight of the blade throwing off translucent shavings and leaving behind a surface of smoothness and clarity.

More than anything else, I go into my workshop for the experience of being there, for the joy of making. The furniture I create is the measure of that process, and hand tools are essential to it in every way. Whether you look to hand tools as a source of pleasure, quality, or efficiency, Im sure you will find this book of assistance.

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