Woodworking Hand Tools - How to Select the Best Tools For Your Money July 13 , 2016

I have seen people starting in woodworking that spend money on woodworking hand tools every year now for the past 25 years. Whilst it's essential to get the very best tools you can, it's not essential to spend a ton of money buying the most expensive tools. Neither is it essential that you buy every tool that the toolmaker recommends. crimped wire cup brush


It is a difficult set of choices. Toolmakers make their living by selling you tools that you don't need and selling you tools that are more expensive than you need to pay. Yet it isn't good practice to buy cheap tools. Cheap tools are made for the weekend woodworker and the handyman. Yet if you don't have the money they can, with a deal of your effort and work, be made to do a job. You may have to put some work into setting them up right, or reshaping parts of them so they perform better, but you can in the end get that cheap tool to do the job. But time is money. However, your time probably you don't pay for so maybe you can invest a few, or a lot of evenings, in flattening the backs of chisels, in grinding the bevels on blades that are ill formed and flattening the soles of old planes.


The professional craftsman or craftswoman would have a relatively small group of hand tools about their bench. They would all be razor sharp and they would know exactly where they were. Time is of an essence. Speed in workmanship is essentially about planning ahead and picking up and putting down tools, smooth effortless movements. To achieve this you need a relatively small assembly of well chosen tools that are sharp, sharp sharp.


What we are advising is a middle course. Beginners pay a lot of money to learn the relevant skills from craftsmen. Their time is costing them money so what we are suggesting is that you buy by and large relatively expensive tools that require the minimum of setting up, or fettling, as it's known in the trade.


I am not associated with any toolmaker or tool retailer. My advice to you is totally independent and is well informed. I've seen literally hundreds of people making these choices. Really the choice is dependent upon how each brand of plane fits in your hand. A Clifton plane may fit your hand better than a Lie Nielsen. Sorbie chisels are beautifully shaped, expensive, but need a little work on the backs of them. The same can be said of Ashley Iles chisels. Lie Nielsen chisels are extremely expensive and made in an H2 steel which we have reservations about recommending. However these are fairly popular with our students. What you need is a small collection of well chosen hand tools that will fit your pocket and fit your hand and enable you to make beautiful furniture


Choosing the correct hand tools is a difficult step to get right. We have put together a Woodworking DVD that give advice gathered over 30 years worth of experience to help you along the way. Visit our Woodworking DVDs selling page for more information. David Savage is an Internationally recognized professional Furniture Maker and Designer with over 30 years experience. Lopping Shears

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