Interesting epiphany: hand tools vs electric, and how I think about woodworking

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  • #478845
    GfBGfB
    Member

    I was cutting dovetails in my garage yesterday, when I got a call from a friend who needed some MDF cut for her house. When she arrived with the strip of MDF to be cut, I pulled out my electric jig saw. This was the epiphany; that I hadn’t touched a power tool for about 3 months! That is a rare thing for me, as there’s always carpentry stuff to do around the house.

    I can fit all my hand tools in a small cabinet I built that sits right on my workbench. My power tools take up a full 1/4 of my one-car garage, I swear! And now they’re largely just sitting there collecting dust. I now recognize that I can make squarer, more precise pieces with my hands than I think I ever could with electrics. Sure, hand tools take me longer, but it’s totally enjoyable and worth the time.

    Amazing how hand woodworking has transformed my way of thinking. Paul Sellers was right.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #479727
    David BDavid B
    Participant

    @dbockel2

    I couldn’t cut a straight line with a jig saw if you paid me. Almost impossible with such a slim stick of steel moving around so rapidly. Like you, I have several power tools that I was given several years ago (table saw, mitre saw/chop saw, circular saw, electric planer…)–they gather dust and take up space. The only reason I would consider pulling them out would be to make one of those end-grain cutting boards that take so much ripsawing/resawing. Otherwise, they’re just a dust/noise factory.

    #539093
    Curtis EnlowCurtis Enlow
    Participant

    @orcasea

    I have never, ever heard someone losing a finger to a hand saw.

    #539152
    EdEd
    Participant

    @ed

    @orcasea I have a hand injury from a hand saw that will stay with me.

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by EdEd.
    #539329
    David BDavid B
    Participant

    @dbockel2

    @ed. Maybe, but I bet you only sawed your finger with 1 stroke! Much less damage than you would’ve incurred from a whoops! with a table saw.

    To be fair, the only injuries I think I have caused myself in the wood shop have actually come from hand tools (almost always from bad technique or frustration). I put a chisel through my knew a few years back (because I had not yet built a proper bench and was trying to use my knee to brace the wood I was chopping. And I have more than a few times done a “hand-plane-knuckle-buster” that I would bet most of us have done before (when I pull back the plane too far and end up slamming my leading hand against the corner of the piece I am trying to plane).

    OK, I do remember once putting a power drill through my thumbnail when it slipped. That hurt.

    #539377
    EdEd
    Participant

    @ed

    @dbockel2 I ruptured the tendon in my middle finger. The doctor wanted to do surgery, but I declined because I sensed that guitar exercises were helping and was afraid that surgery would “fix” it for good but with a loss of dexterity. The intern said that guitar exercises helping was quite possible, so I stayed with it. In the end, it healed but I can tell that even the slightest bump is a big deal, and I always know it’s there. I also have an eye injury from a hand tool shop that has healed as much as it’s ever going to. It’s a mistake to say, “I don’t use machines so….” What you don’t use doesn’t matter. Instead, you should say, “I use X and the risks are…” and educate yourself over what can happen so that you don’t reinvent the wheel. Given enough time, odds are you will. Back when I worked in a shop, I was lucky that there were decent people there who would tell you when you were doing something stupid. It was up to me to listen.

    #539393
    David BDavid B
    Participant

    @dbockel2

    Wow @ed, that is a more serious accident than I would’ve imagined and I certainly didn’t mean to imply that hand tools are neither dangerous nor without risk (hence my disclosure of my own mishaps with them). My chisel to the knee could have been quite serious had it been somewhere else. It was so sharp it went effortlessly through my blue jeans and right through the back/upper portion of my knee requiring 5-7 stitches. Fortunately there is really nothing but a cavity behind the knee in that location and the slice was so clean that it healed quickly and without issue (after the stitches and a $350 emergency room visit that is).

    One thing we can all agree on, the risk of injury to our ears from loud machines is not a risk we face with hand tools (or at least I can’t conceive of how it could be, save for stabbing my ear with an awl).

    Always use proper techniques and safety precautions and be aware of the risks you take with anything you do in life, be it woodwork, driving, investing, exercising, etc…:)

    • This reply was modified 11 months, 3 weeks ago by David BDavid B.
    #547879
    Thomas BittnerThomas Bittner
    Participant

    @bittntj

    I have cut part of my fingers off in a table saw incident. I have scars from hand tools most certainly not as serious. I use both power tools and hand tools today. (I couldn’t agree more with the Jig saw comments). Both kinds of tools have their place in woodworking.
    As a former “power tool only” woodworker, most of the time I try and use hand tools today. Much more satisfying, much more accurate and you really get a feel for how the wood is reacting. What a great hobby!

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