The Blog for GW Pens

A peek at what we make

And Now for Something Completely Different

The past couple of weeks has had me working on a bench for my daughter’s school. It’s really been a fun project, not only because it’s something a little different than I normally make but also because I designed it from scratch.

Something else that is a little different than the norm for my workshop is incorporating more hand tools. Typically I turn to power tools for my needs. They’re quick and efficient, and let’s face it- there’s something great about hearing the ‘whir’ of a machine start up (well, at least there is for me). But yesterday I found myself needing to make a tenon (a tenon is a part of a larger piece of wood that is cut to fit into a matching hole, or mortise, on another piece of wood (for my non-woodworking readers)).

There are a couple of ways to make a tenon. I could bring the piece to the table saw, lay it across the table and let the blade cut away the material at the end to form the tenon…but this section of wood is nearly 5 feet long. That wouldn’t yield accurate results with my particular saw. I could also use a router to remove the material, but the wood is a 2″ square. I was concerned the router would tilt this way or that, again not yielding an accurate cut. I decided the best solution was to bust out the hammer and chisel.

As I was carefully removing the wood, I started to think back to college when I was being taught how to cut dovetails by hand. Measuring, determining angles and spacing, using hand tools to give you the precise cuts you need. Everything becomes important- the blade placement, the pressure you use, the front-to-back angle of the chisel, the left-to-right angle of the chisel. Watching thin shavings fall to the floor, I started to realize just how much I miss it.

I still love my power tools and plan on adding some more to the mix (I do see a plunge router in my future), but really want to get back into using hand tools a bit more. And what’s better than hand tools? Hand made hand tools! Scott Meek Woodworks makes some really amazing hand planes that I hope to one day start adding to my workshop.


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This entry was posted on May 28, 2011 by and tagged , .
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