Well developed hand tool skills are essential to efficiently creating fine furniture in the small shop, and are one of the great pleasures of making furniture as an avocation. With today’s emphasis on speed and instant gratification, many woodworkers have developed proficiency with power tools without learning the benefits and acquiring the skills of hand tool use. This course is designed to help you develop or improve these skills, which are intrinsic to the type of carefully made, high quality furniture we strive to create.
In the first course in our Craftsmanship series, we cover in depth the preparation and use of hand tools basic to the craft of furniture making. In a small shop, as opposed to a factory environment, use of hand tools is often more efficient than doing the required machine set up to produce results of comparable accuracy, to say nothing of lesser health risks and savings in space and machinery costs.
We work with students to develop their skills in preparing and using hand planes to produce beautiful surfaces ready for finish without the mess, cost and health risks involved in working through successive grits of sandpaper. We delve into the differences between various hand planes available to today’s craftsmen, and how they affect the performance of the tools. You’ll learn to sharpen and tune your planes to maximize their performance, and various means of getting a keen edge on irons quickly and efficiently. We go through a similar process with all of the basic hand tools used in the making of fine furniture, including chisels, scrapers, spokeshaves, hand saws and layout, marking and measuring tools.
By the end of the week, we pull it all together and have you hand cutting through dovetails. Along the way we’ll explore the physical nature and working properties of wood, a key to understanding what is and isn’t possible in building with this versatile yet at times frustrating material.