Sunday, October 5, 2014

Making Space for Hand Tools

Like many contemporary woodworkers, I started out with power tools.  I assembled the usual array--workbench, tablesaw and bandsaw, jointer, planer, router table and sanding equipment, among others.  I set up shop in a basement cleared of accumulated clutter and installed my power tools within reach of a good dust collector.  Convinced that power tools would meet all my future needs and desires, I went so far as to declare I'd never need to use handplanes.  I mean, just how wrong can a fellow be?

It wasn't long before I began acquiring handplanes and learning how to set them up and use them.  Then it was chisels.  And handsaws.  And so, I converted from a complete Normite to a hybrid woodworker with a growing desire to build things using hand tools.

But while my woodshop afforded me space for my power tools, there was no good place for hand tool work, no spot where I could use a sawbench to break down lumber, no place for a sharpening station, no open area for assembly, no way to keep my burgeoning lumber stash from frustrating my attempts to move around the shop.  I began to have visions of building a new woodshop outside to meet my growing need for space.  My wife even went so far as to suggest just that.

It took my friend Jeff to see what I could not--the potential for reorganizing the space available right in my basement to yield more usable work area.  And so, with his vision and assistance, we transformed the cellar in a few short hours and opened up at least half again as much space as I was already using.

Now all my power tools are in one area and my hand tool operations in another.  Now I can walk past my lumber rack without fear of tripping.  I can saw a board with plenty of clearance.  I can wheel my assembly table into an open space for four-sided access when needed.  I have room for a sharpening station near my workbench.

My wonderful wife was ready and willing for me to build a new woodshop.  Fortunately, with her support, I've been able to get nearly the same result at little expense.  I think I now need to build something to repay her.  But that's what it's all about, isn't it?  I think it's time to head down the stairs to my cellar woodshop and start something special.


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