(…YOUR WORDS NOT MINE)
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We’ve come to the end of the workbenches so today I’m grouping my machines in to a corner of the workshop as tightly as they’ll allow. And then I’m boxing them in. The day that I completed the last bench these no longer had a need within my work.
I came in to woodworking with hand tools. Learnt, practiced and developed with them so they were all that I knew. I also learnt to write with a pencil and as a result still do.
When I started building workbenches I had no sense of supply and demand (no sense of much really) but ultimately I couldn’t keep up with it. I introduced machines to keep up with the pace but it was something I never fully came to terms with, and it never solved the demand problem; I just expected myself to do more.
I work wood by hand; it’s who I am. These machines are getting packed away and I couldn’t be happier. (Bar maybe one but more on that later).
We get a lot of emails and comments that have an underlying sense of power tool guilt. Among the questions and the thanks and the odd rollocking, are apologies when someone shares with me something they’ve built and despite it being truly beautiful, they’re sorry they used power tools. There isn’t any need for guilt or apology, and I feel terrible that I clearly make people feel this way.
I don’t write about hand tools to make you feel guilty, and I’m certainly not being elitist. I write about what I know; the one thing that I understand like the back of my hand and have something worth sharing. I don’t know much about anything else.
If I were to talk about using machines in any depth then I would exhaust my knowledge in a couple of sentences. Turn on, poke wood in and watch it come out. And don’t forget your PPE.
Of course I could watch someone else do it, read a book and then regurgitate the info back to you. But then I’d feel guilty. We don’t need any more novices turned expert.
I introduced machines and the odd power tool to my work on the benches, but I couldn’t shake my hand tool approach. I am a poor machinist. Jigs don’t fit in to the flow of my work and I can’t begin to get my head around making fancy cuts at the bandsaw.
I started with hand tools and it isn’t easy for me to change.
Many woodworkers learn first of all with power tools and if they decide later down the line that they’d like to use to hand tools a bit more, then they’d still be approaching their work with a founded knowledge of using machines. Replicating components precisely, using fences etc.
The approaches are different and I’ve learnt to stick with what I’m good at. We can all learn new methods and ways when we want to though, just take it gradual so you don’t get put off. And never feel judged for the way that you do your work whatever tools you use, if you’re building and enjoying it then you’re doing it right. I always thought the most admirable thing was to be yourself.
On a side note, the workshop is coming together so there’ll be loads of meaty woodworking content and videos very soon. Thanks for bearing with us.