On today’s show, we talk about joining the Frogpants Network, woodworking seasons, and our big topic for the day: the hand tool craze!

Email us at woodtalkonline@gmail.com or call and leave us a voice mail at (623) 242-5180 or Skype us at WoodTalkOnline. Don’t forget to visit the forum at WoodTalkOnline.com!

What’s on the Bench:

Shannon – Music appreciation trophy.
Matt – Cheap plywood troubles!!!
Marc – Cabinet refinish for mom.

From the Forum:

The Electric Hand Planer

Around the Web:

New Saw Sharpening Service
The Perfect Wooden Surfboard


Dyami had a question about “Woodworking Seasons”.

Main Topic

What’s with the hand tool craze and will the pendulum ever shift back to power tools?

iTunes Reviews:

Nitro Tom
“I recently moved and increased my commute by an hour. You guys make the drive enjoyable. It allows me to think woodworking while away from the shop. Keep doing this podcast, or I?ll quit going to work.”

24 replies on “WT85”

Im pretty green to woodworking and every time I am at at a tool store I look at the tools and usually try to add something new. Well one day I was at Lowes and asked where their hand planes where. The guy shows me this dewalt power planer. So instead of laughing at him I started to look at what he showed me. Yeah, those things are not for “wood working” Even a complete novice such as myself would never own one of those things. So I talked to my dad and he gave me one of his old planes. I took it home and tuned it up and could not have been more pleased with the manual labor option instead of the “power” option. They need to put up a sign above those beavers saying, this tool will eat your wood! Thanks for the new content and have a good one.

Man-a-pause!!! LOL!! I gotta use that sometime.

Power tools vs. hand – Average person here: I use both. I flatten one side with hand planes and then use power tool (planer) for the rest of the milling. Table saw for long ripping. Probably router for mortises. Hand tool for most joinery, fitting and final finishing .. dovetails, rabbets, grooves, dados, etc.

I’ve also been taking one to two classes a year. Last year Hand tool Essentials @ Port Townsend. This year, hand tools with Schwarz and sharpening/making a hand saw with Mr. Wenzloff.

Oh yeah .. I’ve been at it for 2 years. Not 20 like Kari. I think people need to hear this: the experts will tend to make it look easy. I think you need to do the work to get good. This is the same thing that happens to me when I watch 30 second Home Depot commercials and, to sell things, they make it look easy (I’ve been threatening to nail gun my TV if I see another HD “its easy commercial”)

I think, for me, hand tools will be a permanent addition for me because:
1). I’m space limited 2). I’ve figured out how to doing joinery more easily with hand tool and it feels safer 3) I’m not on a deadline.

I started as a power tool person (because of Marc) and then moved quickly to hand tools because of Schwarz (and space). I’m sure I’ll be a hybrid wood working 10 years from now. And I hope I’ll be better with both.

Question for pondering: I believe I heard somewhere that woodworkers tend to make/do what they’re familiar with. I’ve experienced this myself. Wonder if this applies to the hand tool vs. power tool question.

Good question at the end. I started out all power tool because it was what I knew and was familiar with. I thought hand tools were for decorating my shop walls.

I’m sure familiarity plays a big roll in all our choices. I know I felt all nervous the first time I picked up a plane bigger than my block plane…don’t know why?

Blah, blah, blah – cut the non-woodworking blather and chit-chat and tighten up the show – I have trouble getting past the first 10 minutes. There’s enough places I can go to hear talk about nonsense. Actually I have trouble making it through the entire episode and haven’t made it yet. Probably won’t become a fan.

Hey Matt,

If you’re gonna donate old equipment, I’ll send you my address. I might just have to jump on the Podcast wagon, too. Dozer’s Non-Basement Podcast…how’s that name ring?

But anyhow, with how undeveloped my website is now, it’ll take me a while before I make the jump to podcasting…I will pick your brain sometime though 🙂

(I won’t ask Marc, he’ll use too big of words) 😛

Wow, I almost forgot about this comment!

I don’t know if you’d want this equipment anymore…it’s so covered in dust that I’m afraid to disturb it.

Uh oh there goes that man-o-pause again. I think he is talking about me guys. I’ll take the blame and only blather on with bigger words next time. Thanks for your concern and we will make the next show even better.

Dear Matt, Marc, and Shannon,
Please continue to blather on. In fact, please blather on more. If your podcast were shorter, I might actually get work done on the shuttle to the office!

Keep up the drivel,

Great show guys (disregard the Dude above with the short attention span…). Now for a question (sorry if this is putting you to sleep Steve) I noticed you are only mentioning the top 3 mags from the USA. Perhaps you might take a look a one from the UK — Furniture & Cabinetmaking — from the Guild of Master Craftsmen http://www.woodworkersinstitute.com. They have fabulous articles, reviews and present a nice hybrid blend between power and hand tools. Not to mention some old world techniques you never see in the North American mags. Best of all, this one is a great yardstick to measure the others against, FW in particular.

Keep up the great work (you do consider it work don’t you?) and, when the mood strikes you, please do blather on about hand tools or power tools or whatever you bloody well feel like–hey, it’s your show.



Great show again guys!

I’ve always thought that woodworking would score me chicks, however, after trying to impress the ladies with my new table saw I’ve just been called a “dork”. Therefore, a woodworking podcast on the frogpants network is only fitting.

Matt, I got all excited when you mentioned Grain Surfboards. I’ve been making a wooden surfboard for awhile now, I’ll post the pictures on my woodtalkonline blog.

Blather on boyz.
I ain’t goin no place!
But then I’m just an idiot I guess.

You guys are number 1 on my shop’s preset podcast list.

Good show once again…liked the discussion of hand tools vs power tools. I find myself working more hand tools in (started with power tools) but still use whatever makes the most sense to me in a given situation….for fitting joints etc i use hand tools, for ripping boards and milling lumber, hand tools. I started doing dovetails with a router jig and then realized setting it up was a pain in the butt so I now do those by hand too, Last week I even made my own hand plane which i think everyone should try…rambling again….anyways great show as usual and i look forward to the next

A power/hand hybrid here.
The balance shifts depending upon the project, the mood, atmospheric pressure and neighbor complaints about noise. Seems the plan to go all hand tools is quite incompatible with the hand tool skool student’s objective to fill his house with furniture. Especially since he is just beginning. Power tool skills can be develop pretty far with a few books/mags, complemented with some online videos. However, hand tools really benefit from some in-person feedback. The much-mentioned practice is important, but it can be a problem if you are practicing flawed technique. Big props to Shannon for going the extra mile (through Skype travel) to help.

re: Hand-held power planer. That seems like the last tool one should get. It is either for rough work, or the extreme artists like Mr. Marx and those with a sculptural bent and lots of experience. That topic made for a restless night. Instead of dreams of elegant shavings, last night’s dreams were full of angle grinders, hand-held power planers, air hammers. Today I shall attempt to cleanse those images from my system. ; )

re: Seasons
I have an open garage/driveway workshop, so as long as it is not raining, it is always woodworking season. For me, one attraction to this craft is that I get to play outside. I like actively playing outside, not sitting in an Adirondack chair. If I had a basement workshop, summer would definitely be a down season for me, unless i made a nice little hand tool bench under the spreading chestnut tree. Hmmm, that sounds pretty good. Sort of the same/opposite of my little hand tool bench in my home office for rainy day (and night) entertainment.

re: the pendulum
I don’t see power tools going away (assuming the grid stays up). Such a huge market as evidenced by DIY sources, honey-do lists, big box stores, and ease of entry. Interest in hand tools shall continue to grow as well, at least through the tsunami-sized baby boomer wave of retirees just beginning to enter the “more time on their hands with some disposable income” phase of life. Most of our projects are not on deadline and it is strongly about the process and satisfying hungers that may have been neglected by 40 hours plus at a desk/work station. We mostly don’t need more furniture, so working slow is a feature.

I went to engineering school because I liked making things…and even more, taking things apart. Before even finishing my degree (took a long time), I saw that engineers who tried to stay working with tools and things got pushed off to the basement labs and were mostly ignored (unless a suit needed a valve repaired on a personal project). Engineers with ambition (and ego) soon spent more time in meetings, budgets and supervision.

The whole new media environment gives people a much broader vision of possibilities than one would get if new input came just from mass media and personal environment. For a manufacturer/creator of hand tools, this same environment allows them to make a business serving a scattered market without the cost of marketing in the big publications. Good times in this regard.

Thanks Marc, Matt and Shannon for creating this community.
Some excellent topics this episode.

Personally the unscripted format of 3 guys just sitting back shooting the breeze is actually one of the appealing things for me that keeps me excited wanting on the next episode to be released.
Shannon your hand tool addition to the show is a great addition even tho I kinda called it a “spin off” I didn’t intend in anyway to detract from the good aspects to hand tools I know you didnt take it that way just wanted to say that your a great addition to the show and glad I could make you guys laugh as matt read it lol so “blather” on all you want brother I for one will gladly listen and enjoy listening to your hand tool knowledge even if I dont use them very often!

Marc your wit is hilarious and knowledge is a wonderful asset thank you for creating the show!

Matt chortle! the key which makes the 3 woodworking musketeers complete your awesome man even tho you make fun of yourself a lot it is good it helps people not feel so pressured to be perfect first time they do a procedure in woodworking your knowledge is also a valuable addition to the show!

So personally I think he show is great so dont let a bad review influence the show its perfect the way it is!

Thank you for the great show! Don’t mind the sourpuss who can?t pay attention to the podcast.

My thoughts about the causes of the hand tool “craze” are two fold:
1. The end of the NYW TV series (where power tools were the craze) may have taken power tools out of the limelight. Other woodworking shows tend to blend more hand tool use into their episodes, like Rough Cut.
2. The economy may be driving woodworkers away from larger and more expensive power tools toward hand tools. Although some hand tools are just as expensive, most do not come close to the larger power tool price tags.

I know both of these factors have affected my thinking on woodworking.

I just finished this one. I like all of the podcasts. They actually make the Chicago commute seem fast. Keep it up.

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