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.