With spring slowly but surely creeping into my area, it’s finally about time for me to consider what projects I would like to work on going into the summer. Normally I would take some sort of woodworking class to start off the season. Taking a class usually got me psyched up for trying some new project or technique, but as of now I won’t be taking any classes that I can foresee. Time, money, and philosophy have all played a part in that decision, yet that doesn’t mean I don’t want to do anything woodworking related when it comes to my continuing woodworking education. So I’ve decided to sign up for the Hand Tool School internet woodworking course. Wait a minute!! Am I not the guy that is always beating his chest about hand tool snobs and woodworking elitists? Yes, that is still me, and I still stand by my statements. But I never said that I don’t like hand tools.
The truth is that I use hand tools on every build. I use hand tools more than power tools when it comes down to it. I would not be able to woodwork without hand tools. I’ve even made some projects completely by hand if you can believe that. My issue was never with hand tools, but with those that feel you should only woodwork using them and nothing else. I will always hold that you should woodwork however it makes you happy using whatever tools you have, not using some rigid guidelines which limit you to one mindset and one toolset. That being said, I am always open to new ideas, unlike quite a few woodworkers I’ve encountered on the internet. I’ve always enjoyed certain handwork operations and I will even brag a little bit and say that I am actually pretty good at it, especially considering the relatively short amount of time I’ve been a woodworker. The other side of the coin is that I am already fairly adept at using a tablesaw, which is really the only powertool I use on a regular basis (and will always use). So a hand tool course is the next logical step in my woodworking progression. The Hand Tool School is reasonably priced, has gotten some great reviews, offers and interesting list of topics and projects, and I can take the classes whenever I feel like taking them. All of that made my decision pretty easy.
The only question now is when to begin. I want to finish my two tables project first, and then I want to get the new top for my workbench finished. The old top has taken a beating and in fairness was only supposed to be a temporary solution that has lasted more than two years. Last week I took a big step in getting my workshop organized, but I still have one or two more things I want to do in there before I call it ready-to-go. I’ve also promised to make a Stickley #72 magazine cabinet for a relative, but I will probably save that for the summer. Another thing to consider is the recommended tool list on the Hand Tool School website. I had most of the tools on there but I was missing a few, namely a rip saw and a scrub plane. There is nothing more I would like to do than drop a few Benjamins on some new tools, but I also don’t want to anger the little lady. I have to do a little research and see if I can start the course without every tool on the list without it holding me back. Another thing is the use of rough lumber. I don’t have direct access to a lot of rough lumber in my area. I either get my stuff from a small place not far from my house, which sells more pre-surfaced wood than rough boards, or I go to a home center. So I also have to check and see what the situation with the course is in that regard. I want to be thorough and get the most out of the course. You may not know it to look at me, or by reading my blog, but I was actually a very good student at every level of schooling; I’m just a little rough around the edges is all.
If all goes well I’m hoping to be enrolled and started in roughly three weeks. That should leave me enough time to get the shop finished, my tables finished, and my new benchtop on its way. I’m really looking forward to this; it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. It should be a great time and a great learning experience. Who knows? I may throw away my table saw (actually there is no way) and become a hand tool snob. I might even change my last name to Handtool.
***NOTE*** There are weblinks to many of the sites I go to most at the bottom right of the blog page, including The Hand Tool School.