Hand tool philosophy funk

  • Creator
  • #405726
    Rowdy Whaleback

    I’m sorry to say that I got into a right old self debate conundrum over hand tools.
    Now I still marvel at the amount of time and effort people spend making jigs for their routers and so on. However I thought it was “against the hand tool” philosophy to use aids.
    After reading Mr Krenovs book about his musings and seeing Mr Sellers aid for chopping mortices I finally took the plunge and purchased Mr Barrons dovetail guide (1:7 of course!). I have to say it’s fantastic all my joints came out parallell to each other. I happened to be using my Veritas dovetail saw and it stopped against the back at exactly the depth I needed.
    So this Topic is about the potential “snobbery” of hand tool woodwork and the funk we can get ourselves into.
    Have you experienced the same?

Viewing 4 replies - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)
  • Author
  • #406440
    Larry Geib


    Duplicate post.

    Larry Geib


    I don’t think anybody says you have to do everything without jigs or fixtures. Paul shows how to make uniform thickness stock, tapered stock, matched mortise and tenons, and dovetails, all with jigs. Shooting boards and mitre boxes are added by him to the list of aids.
    You mention Krenov. The same holds true for Tage Frid, Sam Maloof, Frank Klaus, and other greats who came before.

    Maloof in particular used jigs and electric routers for some of his most famous joinery. His work is in the Smithsonian. You can even buy the proper bits he designed.

    He still had a good mastery with hand tools.

    As to the Barron guide, I looks like a well thought out aid, but perhaps you are asking more of it than the maker intended. Wasn’t that the dovetails were at the right depth with your saw and stock just a blind stoke of luck?

    What happens if you have to cut 1/8”deeper or sharpen your saw a couple times? What if you don’t own a Veritas saw?

    You may find you are tailoring your work to the jig, and not your cuts to the work at hand. At that point you need to ask what skills you are learning.

    Paul shows how to make a dovetail jig that will not only cut to a a fixed angle and depth, but will make repeatable and interchangeable tails at intervals you determine.
    It’s made from scrap and doesn’t cost $55, so you can make a jig specific to the task at hand.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by Larry Geib.
    SmokyRick Crawford


    I have another hobby of blacksmithing. We have the same conversations going on there. Many “purists” saying that we shouldn’t use anything with a motor on it. When the reality is that these folks of old were just making a living. Like anyone else, they tried to find the best ways to do things. Many times motors can help, many times they aren’t really needed. You need to find your own path through this maze and do what seems right to you. If you are a re-enactor of a certain period, you may not want any motors at all. Otherwise you may want a mix of old and new. In the end it is all up to you what you use.

    In the middle of Northern Illinois, USA

    Rowdy Whaleback


    Larry, Smokyrick thanks,

    Larry, sorry, I may have confused the issue talking about the veritas. It just so happened for that bit of work the depth came to exactly what I needed. Mr Barron recommends (and sells) the Japanese saws which have a greater depth, however he does acknowledge that once a cut is made it becomes its own jig. I have made Pauls dovetail guide but have only ever used it for marking out.

    Smokyrick, you have summed up the issue and I had never thought of the “motors” thing. Apparently there is a whole movement of “un-plugged” woodworking that perhaps my reading on t’internet became victim to.

    Kind regards and happy Christmas

Viewing 4 replies - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

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