The Slightly Confused Woodworker

Home » woodworking » I firmly resolve

I firmly resolve


I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions; never have been. That doesn’t mean I have something against them, but I don’t know what I’ll be doing two weeks from now. So making superficial, open-ended plans just because it happens to be January 1st doesn’t really appeal to me.

That being said, I have some woodworking resolutions I would like to make.

Firstly, Shannon Rogers of the Hand Tool School made a resolution (or something like that) last year to not purchase any woodworking tools for the upcoming year. At least I think he did, I just saw this mentioned last week. Anyway, I think that is a good idea. So I resolve to not purchase any “new” woodworking tools for at least six months. I will not say that I’m not going to purchase any tools. If I happen to see an old tool (preferably one that needs restoration) for a decent price I may decide to buy it. I  really don’t need any new or old tools to be honest. I can make just about anything within my skills with the tools I already own.

And for the record, I’m not becoming an old tool junkie. But I would like to continue to practice refurbishing (old and new) tools, and what better way to do that than to purchase an inexpensive vintage tool that needs some work?

Secondly, I would like to make a nice piece of furniture using as much construction grade lumber as possible. Every hobbyist woodworker knows that lumber is not getting any cheaper. I’ve been experimenting lately with turning construction lumber into finished boards and having some pretty good results. Another thing, most of the construction lumber in my area is fir. I’ve found that I love the look of fir when finished with linseed oil or certain light tinted finishes by Minwax such as “Golden Oak”. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but I happen to think that naturally finished fir is beautiful.

Third on the list is saw sharpening. I can happily say that I’ve become fairly good (meaning consistent) at sharpening all of my edge tools. Saw sharpening, however, is an area where I have little experience. I can count the number of times I’ve really sharpened a saw on one hand. The good news is two-fold: I have been mostly successful so far with my attempts, and I have two nice saws (both given to me) that need to be sharpened. The bad news, though, is a challenge. I have never successfully sharpened a fine-toothed saw, such as a 20ppi dovetail saw. I’ve tried to sharpen my Spear and Jackson back-saw but the results were iffy. I didn’t make it any worse, but it wasn’t really much better either.



Last on the list (so far) is practicing dovetails again. When I first began woodworking seriously, I used to saw a set of dovetails almost every day. I got to be quite good at it without bragging too much. I don’t believe in sawing dovetails just for the sake of dovetails. But sawing dovetails is also a great way to improve your overall sawing skills, accurate layout, and chisel work, not to mention the fact that you need to sharpen your tools if you want nice joinery.

I probably won’t have the time to saw a set of dovetails every night, but three times per week shouldn’t be a problem.

Of course there is some furniture I would like to make as well, but I had been planning on doing that regardless. As far as the list, the not purchasing new tools part isn’t much of a problem. The others are just a matter of my own will power. Becoming a better saw sharpener is probably my number one priority as far as developing skill is concerned. The construction lumber is an ongoing experiment that I’ve already begun, and the dovetail practice is a revival of sorts.

Otherwise, I would just like to survive the winter without freezing my ass off.



  1. Wesley Beal says:

    I’ve decided that for me, refurbishing old tools is a valid and enjoyable hobby in it’s own right. Still shop-less, it’s allowed me to enjoy myself quite a bit.

    Ditto for saw sharpening. There’s potential for a real time sink there. Getting the basics of reshaping and establishing the rake and fleam angles. Varying those angles to change how the saw performs, and that’s all before any mention of progressive pitch or sloping gullets. Pretty sure that quite a few years can be devoted to experimenting with all the variables to be experimented with.

    • billlattpa says:

      It can definitely be fun and rewarding; I’m more worried about it becoming addicting. Thankfully, my latest lot, including a few handsaws, were given to me so I don’t have any guilt.

      Since I’ve been watching Paul Sellers videos on saw sharpening I’m also interested in trying different filings, and experimenting on those lines. At one time, there were people who did nothing but sharpen saws, in particular at places like logging camps and such. It was considered such a valued skill that they specialized in only that, so I can imagine many years of study can be put into learning all of the little nuances. It’s an interesting subject all on its own

  2. theindigowoodworker says:

    About 40 years ago I made my very first New Years resolution. I resolved to never make another one. So far I’ve been perfect. Hoping I get another 40 years to test my will power on it.

    • billlattpa says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever made a real New Year’s resolution to be honest. The way I look at it, If I need a specific day to strengthen my resolve, I’ve already messed up to begin with.

  3. Chris says:

    I’ve been experimenting with Doug fir recently as well. I had a left-over piece of 2×12 and cut it up into sticks for a shelving unit. The edges of the board give some nice quarter-sawn and rift-sawn pieces and it seems to saw and plane nicely. Haven’t been finishing things yet, but I’ll try your suggestion of Minwax and see how I like it. The one thing I find a pain is the extraordinary difference in density between the early and late wood in the growth rings which makes some more finicky joinery difficult. Maybe that’s just my lack of skill though.

    • billlattpa says:

      The edges of construction lumber are actually the main reason I’ve decided to try this experiment. Finding nice, rift sawn wood is actually more difficult than finding quarter sawn stuff at lumber yards, and wide construction lumber is loaded with it.
      As far as the density, I think it can be worked around by using the dense stuff on specific parts of a project, such as a table top, and trying to keep the woods “separated” if that makes sense. That is the recommendation for making a workbench with construction lumber, so I see no reason that wouldn’t apply to furniture.
      Thanks, and have a great New Year, and good luck with your upcoming projects!

Leave a Reply-I'll respond even if I don't like you.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 978 other followers

January 2016
« Dec   Feb »



Me and my shop helper

Top Rated



Kinderhook Woodcraft

A Former Remodeling Contractor Turned Woodworker

Want Some Honey

Beekeeping with the bees best interest in mind

Knotty Artisans

"Knotty By Nature"


A woodworking journey

The WoodWorking Junkie

The WoodWorking Junkie - Not a Real Junkie :D

Australian Workshop Creations

Australia's finest wooden boxes wooden signs & custom made gifts


Just another site


Woodworking, life and all things between


lost my what????


wood working, furniture building, timber framing, carpentry


An amature woodworker who works as a data analytics consultant


the pensieve of benjamin james lowery


Just another site

%d bloggers like this: