Where to start with woodwork hand tools…

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The question we are most asked is usually, what tool should I buy first or where do I start with woodwork hand tools.

Us in the business are so close to hand tools we often forget that some may find the whole concept of hand tools simply mystifying. It isn’t.

The good news is that in the 21st century most of the tools offered far exceed those of yesteryear performance wise. Better metallurgy, better tool steel, better design.

The hand tool categories to consider are planes, saws & chisels. We will approach each separately from a foundation tool point of view.

Hand planes do a few different jobs. Trimming, hogging out rough timber, flattening, smoothing.

Some hand plane basics follow…

The first plane is usually a smallish block plane. Our adjustable mouth block plane, No 60 1/2, is perfect to get started. It trims, planes end grain, removes an arris and is generally within arms reach of all woodworkers. Our 102 small block plane is a smaller version of the 60 1/2 earlier but without an adjustable mouth. It is often the second block plane a woodworker may use, perfect for smaller box making work or dovetail clean ups.

From a universal point of view, the Low Angle Jack Plane can prepare rough timber, flatten shorter lengths of timber & smooth well, with a sharp blade finely set and a closed up mouth. So the second tool we would recommend is the No 62 Low Angle Jack Plane.

If you are working with longer lengths of pre-prepared wood you may wish to flatten your workpiece(s). A longer plane like a No 7 or a No 7 1/2 jointer are designed to flatten and straighten wood.

Smoothing planes are shorter than Jack or Jointer planes. Our No 164 is a low angle, adjustable mouth, smooth plane. It is universal, as all bevel up planes are, but excels at smoothing the finished workpiece.

A rebate block plane like our No 507 can be used for making rebates to join or set in a panel, can make raised panels (like a cupboard door), trim joints and can plane tenon cheeks & shoulders. It is still a low angle block plane so it can perform those tasks above as well.

There are many other planes but the ones mentioned here would probably do 90% of woodwork tasks.

More on hand planes here.

Saws & chisels to follow…

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