power tools and hand tools living happily together?


petersb
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I have heard many folks using both hand and power tools in their work. I have recently bought a Buck Bros. 14" jack plane to give the planes a try. I tuned it up and made the best of what I could with it and I am pleasantly surprised at how nicely it works. So I have had my interests sparked and started reading more about using hand tools, more specifically, planes.

I have been reading of some folks that don't even use a tablesaw anymore and use a handplane to cleanup the sawn edges and state that they are smoother than what would come off of the tablesaw. That sounds great to me! Is this really a reason to not have a tablesaw? I really like my tablesaw. ;)

What I am wondering is, after the wood is dimensioned for assembly/glue up, and all the pieces are glued and clamped and glue is squeezing out of the joints, what do you do to clean up and get the surface ready for finishing? Trueing up the joints?

After having these nice handplaned, ready for finish surfaces and putting them together with glue, don't you have to do some other process for the final cleanup for finishing that ends up taking away the smooth planed surface? It seems that the handplaned surface is the desireable surface and any process after that would seem to "erase" or lessen that surface, unless the piece gets planed again? Sanded? Scraped?

If using hand planes is for the enjoyment of the process, I understand. But if it has a superior quality in the process of construction,or the final product, I don't see it.

Please help me understand the process.

Thank you.

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Brett, meet Can o' Worms. Can o' Worms, meet Brett. Ha! Seriously though, hand tools can be incorporated into a power tool shop in a number of ways. I can tell you how it works for me. Basically, its all about the fine work. My power tools do all the heavy lifting. You won't see me using a bow saw any time soon. But when tenon needs to be fit perfectly, nothing beats a few passes from a rabbet plane or a router plane. I can get perfectly tight-fitting joints with my power tools, but I feel I have more control and better ability to really dial it in with the hand tools.

To be honest, I don't do much final surfacing with my hand tools. I might give a board a few passes with my smoother just to remove milling marks and save me some time when I sand. And although some folks really prefer the final surface to be planed, remember that sandpaper technically IS a hand tool. And there's no reason you can't use it to do the final smoothing before finishing. Afterall, sandpaper is much older than power tools.

The key here is to use the tool that works and/or the one you find the most gratifying. That's what its all about if you ask me.

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Although until three years ago I did not own a power tool beyond an ancient electric drill (Kress Industrial I bought in 1975) I soon learned that here in France life without at least a planer thicknesser is all but impossible. Through the sad collapse of a business close by I now own nine machines! A 20" Dominion table saw a 600mm Bandsaw, a 16" x 36" Radial Arm saw, a Mortens 16" x 10" thicknesser, a Mortens M30 Shaper, a Sedgewick Shaper, an industrial mortice machine and most important of all a Marunaka automatic planer knife sharpening machine and, when I can learn how to set it up, an ancient saw blade sharpening system. I also have four industrial routers, plus all the hand tools I've had for over fifty years. Believe me I have no idea how or why I spent so many years with scrub planes, jointers and jack planes before I'd even started to make the project. However, like Marc I do all the fitting of joints by hand. And for reasons known best to me I never make dovetails with anything else but a dovetail saw, a coping saw and bevel edged chisels. But then, I'm a perverse sort of bugger really.

At the end of the day if the joints fit perfectly and the finish is equally perfect, I don't see too many clients giving a damn, especially if you don't reveal your hard earned secrets anyhow.

Pete

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Same as above. I love playing with hand tools, but I also have work to get done, so first stop is usually the table saw, jointer, and planer to get the boards to size, then hand tools for the detail work. Tenons and other joints roughed in close with whatever machine is appropriate, then final fitting by hand.

Squeeze-out is the same no matter what world you live in, and it's a personal choice how to deal with it.

As far as maintaining that hand finish across multiple glued-up boards, it's the same for anything that isn't going to be a continuous surface; try to avoid that squeeze-out or remove it with whatever technique works the best; scrapers, chisels, sandpaper, plane, whatever.

Usually I just tape those joints before assembly to protect the surfaces from the glue since I try to apply my finishes before assembly whenever possible.

If it's a continuous surface, like gluing up multiple boards for a tabletop or whatever, I'll get it roughed to thickness and then do the final surfacing after glue-up. If it's narrow enough to go through the thickness planer, then I'll use it. If it's wider than the machine will take (which is usually the reason I'd be gluing multiple boards together in the first place), then it's smoothed by hand afterwards using handplanes, scrapers, sandpaper, etc.

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I fell into the hand tool usage the same as you. Bought a selection of planes grouped on ebay and rehabbed them. I use the handtools primarily to fine tune and create a lot of the joinery.

Typical for me would be to use a machine jointer and lunch box planer followed by smoother to remove the milling marks, table saw and dado head for dadoes and rabets followed by a router plane to smooth and flatten the bottom. dovetail by hand unless doing a lot of drawers more than ten however will use the bandsaw to hog out the bulk of waste and pare with chisels. I'll use planes to flatten one side of a wide board that is wider than my 6" jointer to pass through the planer for final dimension.

Scrapers clean up glue joints and planes finish the surface cant tell you how much I enjoy not sanding. In fact the last 2 projects I did I only hand sanded lightly with 220 to clean up the piece for finishing, (kind of a quality inspection). I moved from a tapering jig on the tablesaw to cutting on the bandsaw and planing to the line with a number 5.

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Well, what all of you have described to me is pretty much what I had pictured in my mind.

I thought that there might have been some magic hand tool formula that I had been missing from other info that I had been reading.

I can see the draw to using handplanes. It has been fun to take a rough edge on a board and make it straight and smooth with a few swipes with the plane.

I just got my first jack plane and it seems to be a "step up" in adding some more options to my woodworking. In fact, I bought it specifically to take off some material from a curved top on a project that I seem to keep getting sidetracked from. :blink: I could have used a belt sander just the same. The hand plane was much more satisfying and less work, I think, to get prepped for finish.

Hopefully the lid is back on this "Can O' worms" ;)

Oh, I forgot to say "Thank you!"

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What I am wondering is, after the wood is dimensioned for assembly/glue up, and all the pieces are glued and clamped and glue is squeezing out of the joints, what do you do to clean up and get the surface ready for finishing? Trueing up the joints?

Hand planes, or scrapers. Scrapers more for getting rid of the glue squeeze out.

After having these nice handplaned, ready for finish surfaces and putting them together with glue, don't you have to do some other process for the final cleanup for finishing that ends up taking away the smooth planed surface?

No, except for taking care of the glue squeeze out and minor alignment issues.

It seems that the handplaned surface is the desireable surface and any process after that would seem to "erase" or lessen that surface, unless the piece gets planed again? Sanded? Scraped?

True. That's why I use a plane afterwards.

If using hand planes is for the enjoyment of the process, I understand. But if it has a superior quality in the process of construction,or the final product, I don't see it.

The issue of whether you can tell if a board was planed or sanded after the finish goes on is pretty controversial, with most reports saying that you can't tell. On an unfinished board, you can tell the difference, and if you apply a very fine thin finish, like spraying on a thin coat of shellac, you probably could tell the difference as well. But in most cases, you would say that planing is not better than sanding. On the other hand, that also means that sanding is not better than planing in terms of the final finish.

Planing is clearly superior to sanding in one important respect: it is a lot nicer to plane a board smooth than it is to sand it smooth. So for that reason alone, I would rather use hand planes than sandpaper.

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Hand planes, or scrapers. Scrapers more for getting rid of the glue squeeze out.

No, except for taking care of the glue squeeze out and minor alignment issues.

True. That's why I use a plane afterwards.

The issue of whether you can tell if a board was planed or sanded after the finish goes on is pretty controversial, with most reports saying that you can't tell. On an unfinished board, you can tell the difference, and if you apply a very fine thin finish, like spraying on a thin coat of shellac, you probably could tell the difference as well. But in most cases, you would say that planing is not better than sanding. On the other hand, that also means that sanding is not better than planing in terms of the final finish.

Planing is clearly superior to sanding in one important respect: it is a lot nicer to plane a board smooth than it is to sand it smooth. So for that reason alone, I would rather use hand planes than sandpaper.

Thanks a bunch Wilbur. That gives me some more insight. Now I just have to figure out how to use my plane more in my work. I am looking forward to the journey.

Brett

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was the can of worms that it was a buck bros :) kidding.

I have found that i started using more hand planes to replace one machine the powered jointer. my powered jointer has seen better days. i prefer just to let it sit now and flatten and square up one edge and run through a powered planer. I also find that those machines really need support machines like dust collectors etc. those machines have been out of reach as well. though i just started off with needing a block plane to handle certain tasks and got carried away in collection. I have a few and have grown to like hand planes etc. now looking back not sure it was cheaper than buying a 6 inch jointer, just that i spent the money spread out.

You will always have some amount of hand tool use in woodworking whether its just fine tuning joints or do some work that need a softer touch. even Norm popped out the hand saw or block plane for a task he couldn't figure out how to do with power either because of safety or reach.

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I think as a hobbyist you have to do what brings you joy in woodworking that's what is all about after all.

Whether the buzz of a power tool or the whisk of a hand tool if your enjoying it then have at it.

That beings said like Mark mentioned I am quickly learning (through hard lessons ;)) that hand tools have helped make my woodworking a little less stressful. Why fuss with adjusting the table saw until it perfect when you can over cut slightly and take a few shavings until it's perfect.

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Same as the others for me. One exception is that I don't have a power jointer so I use hand planes to get a stable reference surface then throw it into the power planer while I gently caress my jack plane saying "you don't need to do that, nooo, that's too difficult".

To remove machine marks from edges, either the block plane, jack, or nice skew edge trimming planes. Smoothing with the jack or smoother (25º and 55º respectively), but just to get it in quick sanding range then run the grits.

I use a shooting board a lot to clean crosscuts and it makes a visible difference; wish I started using one long ago.

Scrapers work wonders with slight ridges on panel glue-ups. They also warm your cold thumbs in the winter.

Beyond planes, I use hand saws and chisels alongside power tools. Rasps, spokeshaves, and draw knives for shaping.

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First of all, Brett, kudos to you for being able to tune a Buck Bros. plane to get it to work nicely. That's not always an easy thing to do. I would venture to say that if you have a good sharpening system down and replace the Buck Bros. iron with a hock iron, you might get an even nicer shaving.

Believe it or not, the mystique surrounding hand tools stems from post WW2 tool production and misconceptions that infiltrated our fathers, grandfathers, and shop teachers thinking over the later half of the 20th century. The dogma that power tools are more accurate and efficient is directly related to the mass production of tools after WW2 and the boom of DiY tools marketed to the homeowner starting in the 50's. These tools were made cheaply, and consequently poorly. A power tool became more reliable, more accurate, and easier to maintain a sharp edge - by simply changing out a blade or bit. But, a spinning blade or bit is arguably not as easy to control as one under hand power and needs a series of jigs or fixtures to assure accuracy. In the last few years, quality hand tools have become more available to consumers - either new ones or more availability of good, used tools (ebay, for example). Many woodworkers are challenging their previous generation's doctrine and are finding that a good hand tool serves them better than their power tools in certain situations.

Ultimately, you do the best woodworking with the tools you're the most comfortable with. This can be quite a journey for some, especially if you are trying to use crappy hand tools. In regards to hand planes, you need a good plane, good iron, good sharpening, and good wood to achieve finish-ready results with a plane. Without a good plane, the iron won't plane well. without s good iron, it won't hold a sharp edge well. without good sharpening you won't sever the fibers cleanly. and without a compliant wood, you won't get a smooth finish (figures or burls won't plane easily no matter how good the plane, etc.) You could plane cherry that was finish ready after planing and some figured maple that you'll have trouble getting smooth with 300gr sandpaper. Ultimately, the right tool for the job comes down to a number of variables - primarily the project, the wood, and the tools you're most comfortable with.

good luck!

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post-351-0-10366400-1289518552_thumb.jpg

First of all, Brett, kudos to you for being able to tune a Buck Bros. plane to get it to work nicely. That's not always an easy thing to do. I would venture to say that if you have a good sharpening system down and replace the Buck Bros. iron with a hock iron, you might get an even nicer shaving.

Believe it or not, the mystique surrounding hand tools stems from post WW2 tool production and misconceptions that infiltrated our fathers, grandfathers, and shop teachers thinking over the later half of the 20th century. The dogma that power tools are more accurate and efficient is directly related to the mass production of tools after WW2 and the boom of DiY tools marketed to the homeowner starting in the 50's. These tools were made cheaply, and consequently poorly. A power tool became more reliable, more accurate, and easier to maintain a sharp edge - by simply changing out a blade or bit. But, a spinning blade or bit is arguably not as easy to control as one under hand power and needs a series of jigs or fixtures to assure accuracy. In the last few years, quality hand tools have become more available to consumers - either new ones or more availability of good, used tools (ebay, for example). Many woodworkers are challenging their previous generation's doctrine and are finding that a good hand tool serves them better than their power tools in certain situations.

Ultimately, you do the best woodworking with the tools you're the most comfortable with. This can be quite a journey for some, especially if you are trying to use crappy hand tools. In regards to hand planes, you need a good plane, good iron, good sharpening, and good wood to achieve finish-ready results with a plane. Without a good plane, the iron won't plane well. without s good iron, it won't hold a sharp edge well. without good sharpening you won't sever the fibers cleanly. and without a compliant wood, you won't get a smooth finish (figures or burls won't plane easily no matter how good the plane, etc.) You could plane cherry that was finish ready after planing and some figured maple that you'll have trouble getting smooth with 300gr sandpaper. Ultimately, the right tool for the job comes down to a number of variables - primarily the project, the wood, and the tools you're most comfortable with.

good luck!

Thank you for some insight.

As far as the Buck Bros. plane, I may have been fortunate to get a better one than most OR.... I have never used a "nice" hand plane before and I don't know that the one I have is not good. :)

I also sanded the paint off of the handles to reveal some beech wood! I would have left them with grain exposed instead of painting them the ugly color that they had on them.

Thanks again.

Brett

Here are some pics of the plane to see how it cleaned up. I didn't take any befores. The curls are some that came off of the mahogany board that it is posed on. I am pretty pleased with it.

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Where I am finding hand tools excel is when you're kind of "winging it" in your design/build. I'm on my first project and found that I was more comfortable grabbing my router plane for a couple of the dadoes I needed to make, rather than creating some sort of jig that would let me do the same thing with a router. The bottom of one board was already curved and it was easier for me to mark the lines with a knife and straight edge. When it came to fitting a curved gusset to a dadoes curved leg, again, I grabbed a spokeshave instead of trying to figure out some sort of jig. I had used a template to flush trim to a point and a rabbit bit in a router to get the initial starting point for the fitting. While it was close, I would not have been happy with the fit at glue up. With the spoke shave I was able to shave a little here, a little there and achieve a nice tight fit.

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Just want to see who is paying attention

YAAAAwwwwn. Did someone say something? :blink:

Seriously, I just started checking out your site and I like it. I would consider taking your handtool school, but $$$ and time are at a premium at the moment. Fall came and it seems that any "spare" time time evaporated like denatured alcohol. Great idea with the school and I wish you much success in your venture. I will be checking in occasionally.

Brett

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