Crisis of Woodworking Identity/Style


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I'm just getting started in wood working. I thought I was going to go the full on hand tool route. I bought the Benchcrafted hardware to make a split top roubo, some bench planes, chisels, etc. And a crapload of hand tool books. Also the first two semesters of hand tool school.

 

But I've also got a Festool track saw, a jig saw, CT 26,  a Bosch router, a chop saw, and a lunchbox planer. 

 

 

I'm starting to think that while the 100% hand tool route may be fun I'd like to be able to build furniture for the house fairly quickly. 

 

So I'm considering grabbing a Domino, probably replacing the Bosch router with a Festool and getting to work on some projects. 

 

If I make the move toward more power tools do I even need this roubo as opposed to a MFT from Festool (yes, I've been bit by the green bug)? I could easily use all this soft maple I bought for furniture projects. I could pack the Benchrafted vises away for later or sell them off.

 

Is my furniture going to be less structurally sound if I use floating tenons from the domino instead of hand cut?

 

What triggered this wood working desire intially was to build a morris chair. I like the craftsman style, but it's not like I can't build that way with power and I also have to believe that building a morris with power is going to take a fraction of the time.

 

I know there will be a million different opinions here... but any thoughts?

 

I was kind of thinking at this point I could build stuff with power and slowly pick up pure hand tool skills for fun.

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I think the key point is that you say you are just getting started in woodworking...pick a project and make it and see what tools you enjoy using.  A shaker table is a great starter project...make half the joints with power tools, do the other half with hand tools, and see what you like.

 

As Eric says, nothing replaces chisels and planes...some days I feel like cutting my tenons with a table saw, some times I use my sweet Bad Axe Tenon saw...you'll figure it out.  My only advice: use the tools you have now and build...

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Is my furniture going to be less structurally sound if I use floating tenons from the domino instead of hand cut?

 

Any mortise and tenon joint relies proper fit and gluing. If you could hand or machine cut a m&t as well as a domino traditional is the winner over the long run. Dominos suffer the same long term glue failures as dowels. A poorly cut traditional m&t is not going to last the long haul either. Dominos have only been around for a very short time in terms joint longevity but are already exhibiting the same joint failures that dowels have for a hundred years. This doesn't mean they don't have a place but just like dowels there are places they don't belong if your looking for long term longevity. I have two dominos so am not in any way anti domino but do believe there is a place for specific joinery.

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jeremy i dont want to sound like a jerk but stop over thinking it. 

 

i for one am not one to talk since i plan everything into the ground.  only been doing this for a few years and what i have learned is basicly the tools dont make the wood worker you do.   and what you are trying to make now will not be who you after you realy start growing into your craft. 

 

your going to need a bench/table/counter/ ect......if you need a surface to work on get some saw horses, any surface will work if you want it heavy build the bench,  that way its versitile so  you can cut joints or hand plane a board. but you can also use it for an assembly table, off feed table for table saw, largest coffie cup holder ever but you will probably make use of a bench.   i have seen videos of dove tails made at a desk in a guys living room with a pair of wood clamps.  and i have seen videos of a million doller shop batch out dovetails with industrial quality machines.  it can be made on anything with just about anything.  alot of wood workers claim they prefer hand tools and after 10 years it is faster but for me accuracy and speed today i will get a router and dove tail jig.  and i get the idea of spending time with only the sound of your saw and you feel the zen thing. geting back to the roots of wood working doing it all my hand. but sometimes you will want to get your stuff milled right now and then spend 6 hours carving flowers around the rim of the table so a mix of tools is the way to go with me.    but i like to work with lots of people around me and music and activity thats what keeps me flowing and working on new stuff. 

 

as for being a 100 percent hand tool man that great if that is who you are if your just starting out i would not plan on only doing hand tools because frankly you might hate it and then quite wood working.  i started making small keep sake boxes and crafty iteams and found that i hate trying to get it perfect every piece has to be just right in order for it to go together.  so i started turning and found that i love the speed the instant accuracy that i dont need to spend days finishing and cuting and shaping that i can make a great bowl in a matter of 4 hours.  for me its more about shaping and art then it is about construction and i can just get in the grove of working and not worry about measurments and angles.

 

if you want to build furniture start with the easy screws, dowels, buscuits.  if you got the cash and want to get into it for real buy a domino.  granted those wont hold a glue line for the next 200 years but frankly those first projects your going to probably look back on and think what junk i can do better then that.  and frankly i have seen a quite a few "weekend wood workers" who think i can build anything if i only had everything and they spend so much time collecting tools that they dont build anything.  or they start making stuff and realize hey i can make any money at this and quite and sell everything off.  met a guy this weekend with a 3 hp 2 bag dust collector for a 1 car garage.  thought he would retire early on craft sales. found out it expensive and hard and quite what he was doing.  with thousands of dollers of equipment that he had to sell off for half of what he paid for it. 

 

so what i have learned and many old wood workers have told me decide on a project buy what you need or build what you need for that project and 20 years down the line you will have everything you need for any project.  if you have a small table saw make it work for you if you feel its time to upgrade then buy a cabinet saw when you need it. 

 

bit of a rant but again just start building spend the money on minimum as you need it and eather learn to enjoy the craft and keep at it or quite.  learn you dont like to use a router for joints and pick up some quality saws.  but i garontee you will always use a router at some time and you will always use a hand saw at some time so try both and as you mature you will learn what works for you. 

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Thanks all.. this is what happens when the boy wakes me up at 4am and I can't get back to sleep.

 

The general feel has been pick a project and figure out what you need and like. So off I go... now to decide whether or not to upgrade that crappy Craftsman table saw immediately or make do for now ;)

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Eric said it best but my story is similair to yours. A couple years ago I decided that I wanted to go the all hand tool route after only woodworking for about year. In order to keep this post brief I will no get into that whole diatribe, I will just say that it didn't work out for me. I got rid of almost all my hand tools and didn't doing in woodworking for almost a year. I had been active on the forums, watched videos and missed not doing any woodworking. I wanted to get back into but we just had a baby and the timing was right. Fast forward a few more months to this February and I made a big commitment to get back into but this time mostly with power tools and small amount of hand tools I had left from my purge. I have a good mix of festool's and a few grizzly machines.

 

I have a domino but have not gotten a chance to use it yet. Most say its a game changer but time will tell. That is really the only tool that I wish I would have thought twice about. I could have gotten a very sweet router table setup instead!

 

The Roubo is on my woodworking bucket list but I don't have space for it now and frankly don't have interest in building it yet. I think an MFT would work well with all your Festool's (wish I had one myself).

 

I would really consider upgrading the table saw before getting a domino or anything else for that matter. I see that you have a lunchbox planer but do you have a jointer? If not that might be something to consider.

 

Anyway good luck and keep us posted.

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+1 on Eric's post

I am using the hybrid approach. Unless you have a great deal of experience, milling lumber by hand is time consuming and frustrating. I love my 8" jointer and 13" planer for that task. It gives me more time to focus on the actual building of projects, which is really why we do this anyway, right? Using power tools for the more labor intensive tasks and using some hand tools to fine tune is both effective and enjoyable.

The domino is very cool and I hope to own one in the future, but in the meantime I'm learning to cut mortises with my router and tenons on my table saw, and fine tuning with my block plane and chisels.

Good luck!

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I think a decent tablesaw is the center of any shop. As long as the arbor runs true without wobble you can work around any other issues, but if it isn't steady or woefully underpowered replace it. The Domino is a great tool but you can do a lot without one, however mine gets used everyday except when we are finishing. Far more useful than a biscuit machine.

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I don't have a jointer yet. I was going to get the Grizzly 8" but I don't have 220v in my shop at the moment. Worst case I can run up to my parents house and use my father's jointer. I'm reluctant to buy a 6" if I know I'm going to upgrade.

 

I've begun digging into table saws. I'm interested in a Sawstop so I'm weighing the tradeoffs. I'm betting the contractor version will be enough for my needs, but I can't help but look at a Powermatic PM2000 and wonder if I'm going to want to upgrade to that (220 issue there as well).

 

The Roubo is immense so if I delay building it until I have the big tools in my shop I can plan things out a bit better and use all the soft maple I bought for projects. To be honest I'm concerned my lack of skill is about to screw up the first part of that build, the back slab. 

 

 

Dust collection and a decent table saw seem like my next two purchases... the shop vac and a DD did not cut the muster for the planer and I'm reluctant to use the CT26 with the DD.

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I don't have a jointer yet. I was going to get the Grizzly 8" but I don't have 220v in my shop at the moment. Worst case I can run up to my parents house and use my father's jointer. I'm reluctant to buy a 6" if I know I'm going to upgrade.

 

I've begun digging into table saws. I'm interested in a Sawstop so I'm weighing the tradeoffs. I'm betting the contractor version will be enough for my needs, but I can't help but look at a Powermatic PM2000 and wonder if I'm going to want to upgrade to that (220 issue there as well).

 

The Roubo is immense so if I delay building it until I have the big tools in my shop I can plan things out a bit better and use all the soft maple I bought for projects. To be honest I'm concerned my lack of skill is about to screw up the first part of that build, the back slab. 

 

 

Dust collection and a decent table saw seem like my next two purchases... the shop vac and a DD did not cut the muster for the planer and I'm reluctant to use the CT26 with the DD.

I took a hard look at the Contractor Sawstop  but decided that 2K was just too much money for a contractor saw. I don't have 220v but if I did I would have went for the 3 HP PCS or even the PM 2000. 

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i would spend the extra money now and upgrade the power to 220 and look at cregs list.  i bought a jet bandsaw for 120-160 bucks (cant remember) when the new one is 700-800 works great the guy was just moving to florda to retire.  i also got a delta 20" scroll saw for 70 bucks its worth closer to 300 the guy was again retiring.  you can find the deals you just have to look for them and pick them up when you can.  in the mean time use what you got and get 220.  i would definetly look to geting a quality jointer and planer rather then doing all that by hand.

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Jeremy, this is the exact reason that I tell most of the folks interested or having recently joined The Hand Tool School that buying all the tools right away may not be a good idea.  The all hand tool approach sounds lovely and quaint but it isn't for everyone.  I'd say actually that it isn't for most of us.  I can't tell you how many folks have gotten into it only to realize they aren't getting it or the hard work of milling is just dull and boring.  Heck there are at least 2 examples of that story represented in this thread alone!  The worst part is if you have already sunk a bunch of cash into hand tools and now you have buyers remorse and wishing you had used some of that to buy a planer, etc.  When I started this whole thing my goal was not to have people replace power tools in their shops but to provide an alternative and build fundamentals so you will never feel limited in your work by a lack of machine capacity or needing to build a convoluted jig for a difficult piece of joinery.  Being able to flatten a 24" wide top by hand or being able to just saw to a line with a compound angled joint means that you will never be in a situation where you can't do something because the machine won't work that way.  In the end you need to work the way YOU want to.  Remember I started all power tools and worked that way for more than 8 years before a love of history drove me into hand tools full time.  However, sometimes I just need to get 'er done.  So the planer gets flipped on and I move some wood.  The key is that I now don't need to rely on a jointer to first flatten faces because the hand tools do that regardless of board width. 

 

The idyllic bliss of hand tool woodworking has been overdone lately (and I'm partly to blame for that).  It works for some and not for others.  Where we go wrong is assuming that only one way is the way to work.

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Jeremy, this is the exact reason that I tell most of the folks interested or having recently joined The Hand Tool School that buying all the tools right away may not be a good idea.  The all hand tool approach sounds lovely and quaint but it isn't for everyone.  I'd say actually that it isn't for most of us.  I can't tell you how many folks have gotten into it only to realize they aren't getting it or the hard work of milling is just dull and boring.  Heck there are at least 2 examples of that story represented in this thread alone!  The worst part is if you have already sunk a bunch of cash into hand tools and now you have buyers remorse and wishing you had used some of that to buy a planer, etc.  When I started this whole thing my goal was not to have people replace power tools in their shops but to provide an alternative and build fundamentals so you will never feel limited in your work by a lack of machine capacity or needing to build a convoluted jig for a difficult piece of joinery.  Being able to flatten a 24" wide top by hand or being able to just saw to a line with a compound angled joint means that you will never be in a situation where you can't do something because the machine won't work that way.  In the end you need to work the way YOU want to.  Remember I started all power tools and worked that way for more than 8 years before a love of history drove me into hand tools full time.  However, sometimes I just need to get 'er done.  So the planer gets flipped on and I move some wood.  The key is that I now don't need to rely on a jointer to first flatten faces because the hand tools do that regardless of board width. 

 

The idyllic bliss of hand tool woodworking has been overdone lately (and I'm partly to blame for that).  It works for some and not for others.  Where we go wrong is assuming that only one way is the way to work.

 

 

Well put Shannon! 

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Thanks all.. this is what happens when the boy wakes me up at 4am and I can't get back to sleep.

 

The general feel has been pick a project and figure out what you need and like. So off I go... now to decide whether or not to upgrade that crappy Craftsman table saw immediately or make do for now ;)

Since you're buying Festool equipment denotes that money is not too much of a problem.  That said, time to upgrade the Craftsman table saw!

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re: roubo bench
keep in mind that it does not have to be as large as created in the Guild build or by others. The wagon vise does dictate at least a medium-sized bench. I am limited for space, so built mine about 21 x 60. Gives me lots of holding options and ability to have multiple tasks going on simultaneously, as long as they are not large. Mine also has some Rockler flip down wheels (flipping down takes some effort and technique, lowering the wheels is easy). I usually just keep the wheels down, but when doing significant planing, then the wheels drop down and I have a very stable workbench.

 

Eric covered lots of ground efficiently. Good overview.

I have the basic range of power tools and appreciate their availability to keep the projects' flow matching my objectives.
As my skills and experience develop, I do enjoy using the hand tools for fitting, shaping and refining.

Having power tools is much appreciated, but buying them not as exciting as hand tool lust with all of the fabulous offerings from dedicated toolmakers we can choose from.

 

Best to you on your adventure.

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