When I was a kid, I would always hang around my dad whenever he was doing something “handy”. Whether it was fixing a toilet, or changing the oil in the car, I was right there watching, soaking it all in. One of the things that fascinated me the most was creating things out of wood. Most of my dad’s creations were very practical items, done quickly and modestly, with inexpensive materials. They got the job done.
After my first marriage, I began to look around for a hobby to occupy my free time. I was already doing lots of work around my new home, and had an adequately sized garage for a wood shop. So, I inherited a few of my dad’s stationary power tools to add to my meager collection of hand power tools, and off I went. Things were going very nicely, and I was turning out furnishings and other practical items that exceeded my dad’s humble contributions. But, the one constant in life is things change.
About 25 years ago I got bit by the hand tool bug. I was a relative novice woodworker, but was doing pretty well with my power tools. But, I had always been a history buff, and the idea of working wood the way our ancestors did was intriguing. So, I visited our local flea market a few times, and picked up some vintage hand planes in very nice shape (A Bailey #7, two Wards Master (Stanley contract), a #3 and a #5). I added a Sandvick crosscut saw, some inexpensive Stanley chisels, and a few other sundry items, and the adventure began. But, as sometimes happens, I got distracted, then pulled away, and finally all my tools, powered and un, gathered dust in the garage.
Move forward to this year, as retirement loomed, I decided to supplement my income with my old passion, wood working. I say supplement my income, but how much it will do so is not as big a concern with me as just getting back into it. So the last few months have been spent cleaning off the rust and dust, rebuilding jigs and stands, and getting my skills back.
I had spent the last 6 months or so working with my power tools, getting the feel back for them, when I started getting that familiar feeling. I pulled my hand tools out of the cabinet, and began to long for the quiet simplicity they offer. I decided to let my hand tools work side by side with my power tools, realizing that both can coexist in this world.
First priority was to get used to planing again. So, I re-read the books, and watched the videos (something in very short supply back when I started), and started making shavings. After much sweating, I have begun to see results. This week I decided to make a simple box, more for fun and trying a new technique than anything else. But, wood was a bit scarce, and I couldn’t get out at the time to pick up anything. Looking around the shop, I came across two 4 foot lengths of 2×4. A bit knotty, very twisted, perfect for my needs. I cut them into 2 foot lengths, and began to work planing them flat. Using the techniques I learned from Roy and Paul and others, I mangaged to put together two boards, perfectly flat and square on all four sides. I then re-sawed them into 1/2 thick (my first attempt at hand re-sawing was not so good, so I brought in the table saw).
This gave me 4 half inch boards for my small project. The best part was tonight, when I decided to plane up one more section of 2×4. I flattened one side, and then one edge, both flat and square. All of which took about 10 minutes total. About a third of the time of last nights work.
I think it’s starting to sink in