|I focused on Power Tools Too Much in the Beginning|
One problem I faced starting off as a hobbyist woodworker was lack of guidance. There was no one to talk to about woodworking or get good advice from. The Internet and books were the only guides; they were good teachers but it took a while to pick up the small but crucial lessons.
For instance, in the beginning I thought power tools were the way to go and collected as many as I could afford. Later, I realised most of these tools required jigs, accessories and so on, all of which made the process of preparing for woodworking expensive and time consuming. Even a simple task like making a straight cut seemed to involve so much: a circular saw, a saw guide, dust collection, safety glasses, clamps and so on. Buying all this stuff cost me a fair bit of money and then there was the problem of setting up everything each time I needed to make a cut.
A lot of my problems were solved when I learned to use a hand saw. After a bit of practice I found it is quite easy to make a cut as good as any circular saw with a relatively cheap (` 800 or so) hand saw. No set up, clamps or jigs. I wish someone had shown me how to saw right in the beginning so that I did not have to buy a circular saw and the rest of the paraphernalia.
This is not to say that the circular saw is a useless tool - far from it. It is critical for carpenters and production line woodworkers who have to cut hundreds of feet of plywood each day. I have watched carpenters build interiors of shops and showrooms quickly using circular saws. A hand saw in such situations would be utterly ridiculous.
In other words, power tools have their place and so do hand tools. There is no need to be doctrinaire about it. The thing is to know what you want to do and how to do it most efficiently, quickly and comfortably.
As far as power tools are concerned there are two tools I could not do without: the power drill and the router. I reach out for both these machines all the time and shudder to think what I would do without them.
|My Extremely Useful Power Drill|
I have seen carpenters drill holes using the so called egg beater type drills and it’s a pretty pathetic spectacle. The power drill in contrast is functional and fast.
I have three drills but mostly use my old Black & Decker machine which I had bought years ago to fix things about the house, much before I began woodworking. This still works fine.
|A Variety of Drill Bits is Required for Various Jobs|
I have invested in several inexpensive sets of drill bits for different jobs and am quite happy with the lot. I buy special drill bits and specific sizes as and when the need arises. Fortunately a large variety of very good quality bits of all kinds are available in India these days.
I do not use my electric drill for driving screws; for that I have several screwdrivers of different types and sizes.
|A Router is Perhaps the Most Versatile Tool in Woodworking|
The other tool I use all the time is my router, which in my opinion is a fabulous and extremely versatile tool. The router can cut housings, grooves and slots easily and accurately. It is also excellent for making mouldings and shaping edges, apart from a whole lot of other things.
The router does need jigs to work efficiently but most can be made by the hobbyist woodworker. One requirement is a router table equipped with a fence. This allows the router to quickly and consistently make a vast variety of cuts. A hobbyist would not find it difficult to make a router table, especially of the kind I have illustrated in one of my blogs (Project: Basic Router Table which can be found at http://indiandiy.blogspot.in/2012/09/project-basic-router-table.html).
The router can also be used for joinery but this typically involves the use of very accurate jigs almost all of which are expensive and have to be imported. I find that cutting joints by hand is not difficult given practice and a few good quality hand tools (hand saw, chisels and a couple of speciality hand planes).
If I were to start woodworking all over again, I would most certainly start off by buying and learning how to use hand saws, chisels and hand planes. I would also buy an electric drill and router fairly early on. This combination would serve me well and put me on a steady learning path.
23 February 2014
23 February 2014