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  • Large projects with hand tools only

    Does anyone here build large projects with hand tools only? Can you show some examples?

    Unfortunately my shop is not very well-outfitted with power tools for now... and we need a large wardrobe closet for our bedroom. On the one hand I am trying to stay away from places like IKEA so I am considering building it myself. On the other hand building closets (especially with drawers) freaks me out for some reason. I do not have much experience building cabinets, and I assume that probably using plywood is the best option for a large closet... but plywood does not play very nice with hand tools in my experience.

    I am now worried a bit that I am taking on a huge project that I will not be able to finish. So any motivational examples and/or advice are much appreciated
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  • #2

    Re: Large projects with hand tools only

    Pick up a Bible and read Genesis 6 onwards to see a description of a large woodworking project built with hand tools only!
    ggwoodsmurf and iguana like this.
    Happiness is a new blade!

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    • #3

      Re: Large projects with hand tools only

      Originally posted by guylavoie View Post
      Pick up a Bible and read Genesis 6 onwards to see a description of a large woodworking project built with hand tools only!
      https://answersingenesis.org/bible-t...build-the-ark/ not sure I have this much time!

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      • #4

        Re: Large projects with hand tools only

        Plywood has the advantage of stability and flatness. If you are concerned about hand tools and ply consider using solid wood and having it milled to your specs. That is what I did when all I had was a radial arm saw and hand tools. The wood was planed to my desired thickness so all I had to do was cut to length, etc and glue up the panels. Obviously more expensive than ply but a much better look. If the finish is paint ply is a great option but if you want a stain or similar finish ply is not as attractive a look. With ply you also have to consider edge banding and the issues that presents in cabinetry. As for being afraid of drawers there is lots of advice on the net and here to help you. And remember we learn by doing and our mistakes.

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        • #5

          Re: Large projects with hand tools only

          Have you considered something used and refinishing it. Lots of stuff on Kijiji and the restore . That way you would have something that you have sweat equity in and learn some finishing techniques. Be sure and take before and after pic.
          Bob just past Ayr

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          • #6

            Re: Large projects with hand tools only

            Plywood (and other 'wood-like' products) and traditional hand tools don't like each other; there is far too much 'not wood' stuff going on in those materials that your hand tool sharp edges will wither and disintegrate.

            So really ... if you choose hand tools (non-powered I mean), you choose real wood ... or you choose sharpening as a side profession.

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            • #7

              Re: Large projects with hand tools only

              You might also find a school program or other public access shop where power tools might be available to complete your rough milling and dimensioning. You could then do your finishing work at home with hand tools...

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              • #8

                Re: Large projects with hand tools only

                Perhaps if you have at least a type of project in mind (eg: piece of furniture) or a tool that you'd like it to involve, then someone might have a plan to suggest.
                Happiness is a new blade!

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                • #9

                  Re: Large projects with hand tools only

                  I’m going to suggest some may call hand tools anything that your hand controls ... like circular saws and routers. But, I believe you mean non-electrical hand tools. To use only hand tools in the true meaning for cabinet plywood work is like chopping down a tree with a steak knife. Given enough time it can be done, but why in all sanity would you use that approach. Same for plywood cabinet work. Need to use a circular saw or table saw to cut the sheets. Below is a large cabinet I made using hand tools ie; circular saw and router. I don’t own a table saw. So it can be done.
                  corpaul, JimPTBO and stotto like this.
                  Measure twice, cut once ... and if that doesn't work try again

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                  • #10

                    Re: Large projects with hand tools only

                    Originally posted by dwoody View Post
                    ... consider using solid wood and having it milled to your specs. ...
                    I think this is really good advice. Before machines, a master had one or more apprentices to prepare stock. With some experience and sharp tools, it isn't hard to do but does get a bit tedious for a large project. I believe Rob Cosman still offers his videos on 'Rough to Ready' and he aims for the highest standards in everything he does. And some people like the 'Zen' of prepping stock. The quiet, repetitive sounds of the saw and plane. You can actually listen to music while you work--not armoured in protective gear against screaming, flesh-hungry electrified monsters. YMMV.

                    I'd just add that a good workbench is extremely important for hand tool woodworking. Chasing a WorkMate around while trying to get something done is no fun.

                    Craig
                    Bob just past Ayr likes this.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Large projects with hand tools only

                      There are wider glued solid wood panels available that would make construction much easier.

                      For power tools a circular saw ( with several blades ), router, drill and sander would suffice. A working surface is almost almost a necessity even if it’s only a couple of sawhorses with 2x8” planks.

                      Plan projects that fairly simple and straight forward.

                      In many cases a good hand working tool will be more expensive than a workable electric hand tool.
                      Last edited by Egon; 02-01-2020, 08:34 AM.
                      Egon
                      from
                      The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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                      • #12

                        Re: Large projects with hand tools only

                        I've built this card catalogue all with hand tools.
                        Attached Files

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                        • #13

                          Re: Large projects with hand tools only

                          Thanks everyone for the advice. I decided to pick up a circular saw and go that route. I would love to build the wardrobe using 'traditional' hand tools only but after some consideration (and additional requirements in terms of size) I rather finish this project in a few weekends and reserve the traditional hand tool work for smaller projects

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