Sunday, 26 October 2008

Dedicated to those who got me this far...

I set this blog up a few years ago when I was in the process of making the transition from power tools to hand tools thinking I was going to need a way to show off all of the beautiful things I was going to make to my family and friends. It has sat empty up until now simply because none of those beautiful things materialized. Who knew back then that learning how to use hand tools properly was such a long and difficult task.

My first labour of love was to build myself a new tool cabinet to house my limited hand tool collection. Ironically, I built the cabinet itself using nothing but power tools. Go figure. Since then, I have reconfigured the interior of that cabinet three times, each time using nothing but hand tools. The first attempt was a simple configuration that didn't leave room for any new tools that I didn't know I required. The second was more complex, but a disaster in its execution because, frankly, I didn't have a clue how to work the tools properly. I am now in the middle of my third reconfigure, which, by the looks of things, may take me the rest of my life to complete.

The first thing I discovered when I turned off the power, and thankfully I discovered it very quickly, was that dull hand tools don't work. I set off on a quest to learn how to sharpen properly. I took a seminar on the subject from a local retailer, which was a waste of time. I scoured the commercial sites on the web, which didn't do justice to the subject. Finally, I found some guy's blog where he took the time to give all the details about the art of sharpening a blade. Sadly, I didn't bookmark his site or record his name as I would like to go back and thank him.

The time that guy took to detail the in's and out's of blade sharpening changed everything for me. It took me a while to get the hang of it, but now there is not a flat edge in my cabinet that isn't scary sharp. The curved gouges are a different matter as I haven't learned that art yet, but my set of scary sharp chisels and planes are now the biggest treat to use, it is beyond explanation.

While I can't remember that guy's name, I have decided to dedicate this blog to him and all the other unselfish individuals out there who I learn from on an almost daily basis. The following is a list of the few I follow daily, in no order of preference because they are all good, and I will add more as I come across them.

The Village Carpenter  -

Ok, I was a little surprised when I first came upon this site to discover that it was produced by a girl, but then I picked my knuckles up off the floor and started to read what she had to say. Wow! Not only does she give great insight into how to do something with wood, she takes you to places I have never heard of before offering the reader insights into the history of woodworking. Seeing her results is a real treat for the eyes and following her descriptions of the process she went through getting there is a treat for the brain. Intelligent, articulate and informative are three words that sum up this site.

WoodTreks  -

If there was an Emmy for woodworking blogs this guy would win every year because not only are his presentations the most professional I have ever seen, his content is downright fascinating. I have no idea how he gets himself and his camera into some of the places he has documented but I am certainly happy he has. While the content is way beyond what I currently am capable of, there are two major benefits gained from each of his videos - he offers up something to aspire to and his demonstrators never hold back showing the viewer the little tricks and insights needed to achieve good results. This site is nothing less than a joy to behold and a goldmine of information.

Full Chisel Blog  -

Being a product of the 60's there is only one way I can describe this site - Far out, man! The author of this one is as "earthy" as you can get. There is no pretensions here and it seems that whatever comes to mind in the time he spends in his shop ends up on his blog. Here, you can learn a great deal about the simpler things in woodworking with quality and functionality at the forefront. What I most appreciate in this site is his dedication to design, whether in an old, rusted hacksaw or a simple watercoloured print. Here you get to enjoy the true basics of woodworking while learning a great deal in the process.

The Wood Whisperer  -

This is the site that brought the teaching of woodworking into the 21st century. While he started out as a power tool guy, he has slowly seen the light and is now showing us his knowledge regarding the proper use of hand tools. He excels in teaching proper layout and planning in the execution of the job at hand, as well as design. He is also a huge proponent of amateur blogs and his informative site is a goldmine for finding links to other informative sites.

In the Workshop with Charles Neil  -

I've been following this site just about from its inception. If there ever was a site that holds back nothing, this is it. It is pretty rare that you see this author pick up a hand tool but that does not mean you cannot learn from him. He is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to finishing, wood movement and joinery and he is certainly not shy about sharing it with anyone who asks. He supports his teaching endevours by selling DVD's on different topics and I purchased his set on finishing. It was the best 175 bucks I ever spent. Down to earth, informative and a hoot to read.

This is not a blog site but actually an individual who sells vintage handsaws on eBay. If you are an avid blog reader you will have already seen his name come up from time to time. While I guess Disston of the past should be acknowledged for producing these saws, it is Woodnut4 that brought them back to life and made them into something that even I, a complete novice, can appreciate immediately. In the process of refurbishing each saw, which is extensive, he sharpens and sets them and I would doubt that Mr. Disston himself could find fault in his work. This guy is a true pro who takes untold pride in his work. The four saws I have purchased from him so far are the pride of my cabinet and I hope to be able to buy a few more from him.

So there is my current short list of sites I view on a daily basis. There are others that I frequent but these are what I believe to be, in my humble opinion, the cream of the crop. These are the people who unselfishly offer up their knowledge that increases my enjoyment of this hobby and I thank them for it.

If you have a few links of your own that you would like to share, please comment them to me as I would greatly appreciate it.



1 comment:

  1. Mitchell - I've been reading you're posts the past few days and congrats on launching this blog. I think your readers will enjoy your perspective on acquiring hand tool skills and working in small spaces. I hope that this is a growing area of the hobby. Keith

    PS - and thanks so very much for your kind words about my video blog ( It means a lot to me.