Saturday, September 13, 2008

Book report: "Hand Tool essentials" by Popular Woodworking

Ok , I know I'm on a roll. I promise to try to keep this post a little shorter then the last one :)

So, I'd like to do a book report periodically. My learning has been MOSTLY from books, DVDs, magazines, web sites, and - without question - podcasts. I've listed some of my favorite woodworking web sites, blogs, and podcasts in the sidebar for you to explore, but I understand books are a different story....um, literally and figuratively. So, if I come accross a book that I think is easy and enjoyable to read as well as extremely informative, I don't hesitate to reccomend it.

Disclaimer: I understand that everyone learns differently, is at different levels in their woodworking, and might not find what I find as entertaining. That doesn't mean that I will refund your costs for a book that you didn't find as helpful as I did. Just thought I should make that clear. ;)


"Hand Tool essentials: refine your power tool projects with hand tool techniques" by Popular Woodworking
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So I was drawn to this book mainly because of the title...ok, and because "The Schwarz" wrote a third of the book alongside such greats as Lonnie Bird, David Charlesworth, Frank Klausz, and well, the list goes on. In fact, there were fourteen writers and editors from Popular Woodworking Magazine that contributed chapters to this book. It's the phlilosophy of the book that I love the most. The book starts with chapters about how hand tools fit in a power tool shop, how to shop for used tools, and considerations about how to set up your workbench area to use hand tools. Then on to the sharpening. And more sharpening. Nine chapters on sharpening covering everything from waterstones to sand paper and plane irons to drawknives. The theory being that the biggest obstacle to hand tool proficiency is not learning to sharpen them properly. I was inclined to agree. I think back to using dull tools and all the frustration that goes with them (no wonder why it's so easy to embrace power tools and their replaceable bits and blades).
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Then comes ten chapters on hand planes, starting with Chris Schwarz's run down of "Coarse, Medium, & Fine" - his well known take on how to approach milling boards with hand planes and/or power tools. The hand plane-fest continues with plane type explinations, restoring used planes, wooden planes, metal planes, infill planes, smoothing planes, block planes, shoulder planes, and how to edge joint by hand. Part 4 takes you to saws - west vs. east, techniques to sawing properly, a chapter on hand cut dovetails, and one on bench hooks. Part 5 is five chapters on chisel use, restoration, and modification. Part 6 includes chapters on awls, striking and marking knives, try squares, rasps, spokeshaves, and drawboarding. Finally - and if that isn't enough - you get chapters on making a Roubo-Style workbench, a wall hung tool cabinet, traditional sawbenches, and a chapter on a shooting board. Phew.....
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I have re-read it three times and still use it as a reference. The illustrations and pictures were excellent. At the end of many chapters were references for supply costs and where to find the supplies needed for the tools and techniques mentioned in that chapter. Although some of the info was a bit basic for me, I thought it was necessary for the content. If you have years of fine woodworking experience then you might not find it as informative as I did. But if you're new to woodworking or have limited hand tool knowlege then I think you might find this book very helpful. Check out the book listing below on Amazon - they have a nice preview of the table of contents and some of the introduction.
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I hate to say that Popular Woodworking offers this book on their site for $25, but Amazon offeres it for $16.50 with free shipping. Sorry Pop WWing, but a deal is a deal ;)
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If yougot any specific questions about content details, feel free to post them.
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Mike


5 comments:

Jeff said...

Hey Mike,

Don't forget to mention the "bible" of hand tools book, Garrett Hacks "The Handplane Book". Its a must have. Wait till you hear what I bought yesterday, you will laugh!

Jeff

Michael Marzullo said...

I got lots of books, yet :) Just the taunton Complete Illustrated guides could take me into the next year if I space them out a little. I should appologize, though. after reading the post, i realized that I didn't mention much of the content other than what anyone can see from the table of contents. I'll be sure to focus on more specifics that you can't read from an Amazon quick preview in the future.

Mike

Vic Hubbard said...

Another good read Mike! Now you've got to get into some photography and get some rehab photos up in a post...PLEASE! Thanks for the advice on selling my tool purchases to Sylvia. I'm luck enough that she actually supports my addiction to this stuff.

Michael Marzullo said...

you're too kind. the Hand plane extravaganza will continue with a few more posts about history, buying, and tuning used planes. in the mean time, there are a number of good links in the sidebar about hand plane history and tuning if you want to check them out.

oh, and Vic, if you start loosing ground with Silvia make sure to bring up the point that you could be off golfing, bowling, or out with drinking buddies but you choose to be home with her....and work in the shop. Women love hobbies that keep you close to home :)

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