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  • Getting started, need advice

    I've been working on acquiring a set of power tools at my cottage shop (my house does not afford me space for power tools). The problem is, it is my cottage shop and as such, lots of other things end up pulling at my time (like guests, my kids, the beach, the water craft, etc). So I get precious little time to do woodworking there - though I still intend to.

    Elsewhere here someone posted a link to Schwarz's "Anarchist's Tool Chest ". The premise was interesting to me, so I bought it, along with Wearing's "The Essential Woodworker". I ended up not liking Schwarz's book very much after the first chapter or two. But they got me thinking - maybe I could do something with handtools at home - they don't require much space, they're quiet, and they don't produce much dust. If I worked at home I'd have a lot more time to do woodworking.

    Right now, I'm just thinking of playing around with hand tools to see where it takes me - not really planning on building anything big (really no room for assembly in my basement, anyways).

    I have a few hand tools which I bought on whims along the way (that's why there is no rhyme or reason to this set):
    - Bridge City JS-7 adjustable dozuki back saw -
    - Clifton number 4 smoothing plane
    - Clifton number 5 Jack plane
    - set of Narex mortise chisels
    - Veritas standard and fine-cut dovetail saws, and Veritas crosscut saw
    - Footprint chisels I bought at HD for a project, before I even knew that chisels need to be sharpened beforehand.
    - a cheap lightweight workbench with an end vise.

    Is there something else I ought to consider getting before going down this route ? Are there some critical pieces I am missing from a basic kit ? (I'm sure there are).

    I should say I am the kind of person who likes to buy quality things. I love the idea of buying planes, for instance, on the cheap and learning how to tune them once I know what I am doing and looking for, but I don't want my first experiences in the hand tool world to be spending hours rehabilitating old tools and scouring Ebay, especially as I understand I could sink a lot of time into finding a tool that might have things wrong with it. So I'm perfectly willing to shell out some money for nice stuff that will save me from having to figure that minutiae out. Even if I end up hating the hand tool world, I know that good tools will be resaleable for not much loss.

    But should I buy some beater planes to learn how to sharpen and tune first ? Should I buy e.g. the Veritas MkII Sharpening system to avoid having to learn how to hand sharpen and get down to cutting wood first, or should I go Scary Sharp or some other route ? Etc, Etc.

    Any other advice - pointers to books or websites I ought to read, classes I ought to consider, etc - would be greatly appreciated. I've already started lurking on some of the hand tool forums at various websites. I thought LV had some hand tool classes but nothing is showing on their website right now.

    thanks for reading - terry
    "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen"
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  • #2

    Re: Getting started, need advice

    Re: Getting started, need advice

    I prefer to use hand tools for many of the reasons you have stated, but, I find a few power tools to be essential. I would get a bandsaw and a drill press. As for sharpening, the Veritas Mk II and some water stones would be good. I tried the Scary Sharp system and prefer water stones. The King/Norton stones are fine and the 1000/4000 stones will put a reasonable edge on most tools. New steels look to be coming in the future and will need different abrasives so you may want to consider Lee Valley's new Bester or Sigma Power stones. The Sigma stones do not seem to polish normal steels so you would still need a regular polishing stone. The Besters will probably sharpen and polish all kinds of steel and may be your best choice as general sharpening/polishing stones. Hopefully someone else can confirm this about the Besters.

    You need a few more planes, a low angle block plane and a longer jointer (Stanley #7 type). If you go the old/used route you should know that bringing these up to good condition can be time consuming. If your time is limited and you want to get at the furniture/woodworking soon then buying high quality new planes would be the way to go. I only have one new plane and quite a few old ones as I find restoring them to be enjoyable and that is what I am in the shop for, enjoying a bit of time working with my hands.

    Everyone should own Mr. Lee's book on sharpening.

    Jim

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    • #3

      Re: Getting started, need advice

      Re: Getting started, need advice

      I am on the same scenario you are, but seemingly a few steps ahead so all these questions you have are very fresh to me. My approach was to buy the tools that are necessary to take me from rough lumber to flat, square boards. That meant some kind of sharpening gear, measuring tools and the proper planes. From there, the tools I wanted depended on the project I was making, building my toolset as I go.

      From my own experience, I can advise on somethings here:

      1. It's not clear you will be working from rough lumber. If you do intend to do so, you might be interested in a longer soled Jointer plane for flattening, like a #7 or higher, some measuring tools to ensure your planing is resulting in flat, sqaure boards of the desired thickness and some kind of clamping to hold the board to your bench. You probably already have a vise of some sort on your bench if it's design was intended for Woodworking.
      2. It's not clear what size of projects you will work on. This is because if you bench is really lightweight, you might want to add some weight to it or making sure it's secured to the wall or floor somehow so it's not moving around if you plan to plane large boards. Stability of the bench is what is your target. Most basement concrete floors aren't super level either, so you might have to adjust/shim the legs to reduce wobble. Adding non-slip pads is a good idea too.
      3. Get yourself setup with proper sharpening arrangement if you are serious about handtools. I say arrangement because there are multiple approaches to having a sharpening setup. I have chosen to use an array of water stones (220x, 800x, 4000x and 8000x) and a very coarse stone to lap all because they wear unevenly as they are used. I also use the same Veritas Sharpening system you mentioned for my chisels and my plane irons. There are other options like sandpaper on glass, grinding machines with wheels, etc... Depends what your budget, space and comfort level is.
      4. I don't advise that you get 'beater' planes. I tried this route. I spent more time being frustrated than learning. I ended up getting a set of new planes from LV: Block, Small Shoulder, #4 and #7, as well as scrapers. This allowed me to not only learn, but also have a high Quality tools for real work once I became comfortable using them. That set seems to be enough for basic work.
      5. If you want to practice sharpening, you can simply buy extra irons for the planes you own. For the purpose of sharpening practice, I would advise to get softer irons as well, because they need to be sharpened more often, making you practice more. It won't be a waste either because at some point once you are proficient in sharpening, you can put those extra irons to real use and put different bevels and profiles on them for different purposes.
      6. If your tools are dull, there won't be much point in making cuts with wood. It will be more frustrating than enjoyable.
      7. You don't mention any marking or measuring tools or clamps. Almost everything you will do will need some of these kinds of things. That's a whole thread unto itself.
      8. If your shop floor is concrete, you may want to consider some kind of mats/pads/covering in the areas that you will be working with your planes, chisels and measuring tools the most. Not only to protect your tools if they fall off the bench, but for your own comfort as well.
      9. Finally, if you have the time, enroll in a course at your local community college. Most have a construction/cabinetry program and the first course you will take is likely to be focused on hand tools. My own experience at Algonquin college was a very good one. They covered all the basic tools as well as talking about wood and lots of practical work building something with different kinds of joins.
      Last edited by Allegrus; 07-06-2011, 10:33 AM.

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      • #4

        Re: Getting started, need advice

        Re: Getting started, need advice

        Terry,

        Here's at least a couple of couple of hours of videos on handtools and handtool techniques by Bob Rozareki on his Logan Cabinet Shoppe website....

        http://www.logancabinetshoppe.com/podcast.html

        good luck

        michael

        Comment


        • #5

          Re: Getting started, need advice

          Re: Getting started, need advice

          Thanks everyone for your comments so far. I'll need some time to digest Jim's and Allegrus' comments, though.

          Michael, thanks for the links to the videos. They look like just the ticket. However, they were unbearable to watch this evening - I'm not sure if it's my Net connection tonight, but it was extremely choppy and despite calling them podcasts, I couldn't figure out how to download them.

          Hopefully it was just a temporary thing and it will be different later.

          thanks again guys.
          terry
          "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen"

          Comment


          • #6

            Re: Getting started, need advice

            Re: Getting started, need advice

            Originally posted by JimT11 View Post
            The Sigma stones do not seem to polish normal steels so you would still need a regular polishing stone. The Besters will probably sharpen and polish all kinds of steel and may be your best choice as general sharpening/polishing stones. Hopefully someone else can confirm this about the Besters.
            I can't confirm anything as I have no direct experience with Besters or Sigma's and I am still working with old sharpening media... you know oil stones and shaptons! I did take a quick look at the Sigma's and I cannot see why they would not polish normal steels. It would seem to me that there is a 10,000 grit stone and it would do it in quick order according to the water stone guide on the LV site. Can you explain?

            Otherwise it seems to be a decision between the two regarding speed of sharpening and durability.

            Comment

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            • #7

              Re: Getting started, need advice

              Re: Getting started, need advice

              Originally posted by Brad McDonald View Post
              I can't confirm anything as I have no direct experience with Besters or Sigma's and I am still working with old sharpening media... you know oil stones and shaptons! I did take a quick look at the Sigma's and I cannot see why they would not polish normal steels. It would seem to me that there is a 10,000 grit stone and it would do it in quick order according to the water stone guide on the LV site. Can you explain?

              Otherwise it seems to be a decision between the two regarding speed of sharpening and durability.
              I have the Sigma Power Select II 3000 and 10000. I used them recently when flattening the back of an old chisel and an old plane blade. They did not leave polished/shinny surfaces. I tried an old 6000 stone and they both shined up fine. Back to the 10000 grit stone and the shine went away. I have an old dissection microscope, the kind used for looking at insects and that kind of thing. I looked at the surface of the plane blade at 400 power and the Sigma stone produced what looked like a finely pebbled surface. The surface produced by the old 6000 grit stone looked polished and under the scope you could see the surface was all shiny scratches. I can only speculate as to why I got the differences, and would probably be wrong so I will leave that alone. I should point out that the surface produced by the Sigma 10000, while misty, was a better surface than the shiny scratched surface from my old stone. The thing is I seem to need the shine to be able to spot all the deep scratches from previous grits so that I will know when I am finished.

              I also sharpened a D2 steel mortise chisel with on the Sigma stones and it's back polished up fine, but the back was in good shape and only needed a small amount of work and there was very little loose grit.

              The Sigma stones were very fast and left a very good edge, the Sigma "pebbles" are smaller than the scratches from the old stone. I plan to use them for most of my sharpening in the future, but when flattening a back I need a shiny surface to know when I have removed all the scratches from previous grits. They are probably not good for someone who is learning to sharpen. They do flatten a back quickly so I will use them first and then check for deep scratches that need more work with my old 6000 stone. Once the back is flat and all the deep scratches are gone I will just stay with the Sigma stones for future sharpening.

              NuggyBuggy, sorry for going off topic in your thread.

              Jim
              Last edited by JimT11; 07-07-2011, 10:56 AM.

              Comment


              • #8

                Re: Getting started, need advice

                Re: Getting started, need advice

                OK, I've got some more questions.

                1. JimT: If I buy the Veritas sharpening machine, why do I need waterstones ? I was under the impression that I could do all the sharpening with the Veritas.

                2. If I buy high-quality planes, e.g. Veritas, do I need to worry about flattening the soles ? Because this seems like the sort of operation better learned on a beater plane - I'd hate to wreck my brand new $200 plane.

                3. Sounds like I need to learn how to sharpen my tools before I can do a single thing. Correct ?

                Allegrus: I plan to be working from rough lumber. Ultimately I would like to be able to build furniture and cabinets, however I am not sure I will get there in my home space - I have no room to even a moderate sized glue-up. So at home, I am looking for small-sized projects - maybe boxes ? - and just hoping to have fun working the wood and learning how to do so.

                I do expect that the hunt for old planes that I could rehabilitate, and then the rehabilitation, could be very enjoyable. It fits right with my temperament and personality. However, I agree with both Allegrus and JimT that it's probably time-consuming and frustrating at this point in my journey. So I am content with investing in some new planes.

                JimT: I'm off to LV to buy Leonard Lee's book, on your recommendation. Thanks !

                Allegrus: I've looked for courses before, but never found one that worked with my schedule. I found a place called Wm Perry Studios which looked promising, but he recently informed me he is no longer doing group classes - only private and semi-private instruction. I'm going to monitor LV's seminar schedule closely, which is what Mr. Perry recommended.

                Thank guys. I appreciate your help.
                "I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen"

                Comment


                • #9

                  Re: Getting started, need advice

                  Re: Getting started, need advice

                  1. Sorry about the confusion, I was talking about the manual Veritas Mk.II Honing Guide that is used with stones. Your call, but if you have space limits the honing guide and a few water stones will take up a lot less space than the electric sharpeners.

                  2. High quality planes will not need their soles flattened and the blades will be well machined and it is easy to flatten and polish the backs of the blades.

                  3. YES!!!!

                  Boxes are good. Your local library will have some good books on making boxes.

                  Have fun
                  Jim

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Getting started, need advice

                    Re: Getting started, need advice

                    Originally posted by JimT11 View Post
                    I have the Sigma Power Select II 3000 and 10000. I used them recently when flattening the back of an old chisel and an old plane blade...
                    Jim,

                    I get it now... check out the following link for some insight into this phenomenon. It actually makes a lot of sense give the characteristics of the Sigma stones (and agrees with your D2 experience.)

                    http://hocktools.wordpress.com/2009/...rface-mystery/

                    As you noted though from your old stones, which produced a shiny surface, to the matte Sigma finish that this did not provide an indicator of the sharpness. I think it is hard to quantify how different the edges are from a 10,000 Sigma to a 8,000 Bester. It would be interesting to see a study though!

                    Brad

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Getting started, need advice

                      Re: Getting started, need advice

                      Originally posted by Brad McDonald View Post
                      Jim,

                      I get it now... check out the following link for some insight into this phenomenon. It actually makes a lot of sense give the characteristics of the Sigma stones (and agrees with your D2 experience.)

                      http://hocktools.wordpress.com/2009/...rface-mystery/

                      As you noted though from your old stones, which produced a shiny surface, to the matte Sigma finish that this did not provide an indicator of the sharpness. I think it is hard to quantify how different the edges are from a 10,000 Sigma to a 8,000 Bester. It would be interesting to see a study though!

                      Brad
                      Agreed.

                      Shiny does always mean sharper/flatter than matte.

                      As Ron Hock's article and the longer articles referenced in one or more of the comments to his article, shiny or matte seems to be a side characteristic of the type of sharpening media.
                      Two examples:
                      I have some very fine grit NATURAL Japanese waterstones and when I take the shiny surface left by my King manmade 8000 grit stone on a blade then and use my natural Japanese waterstones I get a further sharper edge but a surface that is now matte/misty.
                      The second example is the charcoal matte finish on the back of Lee Valley's own plane blades (at least since the last several years): these backs are uber flat and taking a 4000 grit stone to them will make the surface shiny but the resulting scratches, when examined under a 100x handheld microscope, show up as corrugations of the back surface and corrugations running into the blade edge, that is, a less flat back than when they left the store.


                      good luck

                      michael

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