Woodworking in the great white north.

Workshop projects

Having worked my way through my withdrawal symptoms after an incredible weekend of woodworking panacea at WIA, I find myself now taking an objective look at the work I have laid out for myself as a result of this weekend.

This is likely a good time to open the door into my psyche and give you a peek into how my brain works.  As stereotypically as it might seem, being of Scottish decent I seem to have inherited the genetic frugality that often defines my ancestry.  There’s a subtle difference between frugal and cheap, but I’ll try to define it as best I can.  Cheap is essentially a desire to pay as little as possible for something.  Frugal (as I define it) has more to do with perceived value.  I’m happy to spend money as long as I’m getting value for my dollar.

One such case and point that illustrates this fairly well is the debate between buying a book or watching a movie made from the same book.  I lean toward the book.  Let’s say for argument sake that they cost about the same, so which has more value?  When I look at pure entertainment value, I say that the book wins.  I get more hours of entertainment for my dollar out of the book than I get from the movie, and to further support it, I have an imagination that is able to visualize the content of the book with much better clarity than most directors.

So, what’s my point and what does this have to do with woodworking?  Today I unpacked my collection of indulgences from WIA (yes, my wallet is sore from the marketplace).  After unpacking my boxes from Lee Valley and the various bits and pieces I brought home with me, I realized that my subconscious Scotsman was hard at work in the marketplace assessing the value of everything I looked at.  I laid out all the goodies on my workbench and it sank in that I will be getting much more value out of my purchases than I had first realized.

Specifically, here are a few things that I bought and why I’ll be getting additional value out of them for many days to come.

I got two Ron Hock wooden plane kits, a Veritas Scraping plane and Chris Schwarz’s Handplane basics and essentials DVD/book: 

  • Yes, I get three planes (a smoother, scraper and a shoulder plane).
  • Bonus:  Woodworking projects x2 to build these planes from the kits provided
  • Bonus:  This will be my learning process for getting into handplane making
  • Bonus:  I am three steps closer to completing my set of the ‘9 handplanes you need’
  • Bonus:  I have everything I need to make my temperamental power sanders the loneliest tools in my shop

I got three Czeck Edge kits:

  • Yes, I got marking tools.
  • Bonus:  I get turning projects
  • Bonus:  Understanding the way these are made, I may consider grinding my own custom knives/marking tools

I got two new vises, some bench dogs and Chris Schwarz’s new book on workbenches:

  • Yes, I got tools to hold material in place
  • Bonus:  I get to turn handles for the vises
  • Bonus:  I get to rework my existing bench to support these vises and bench dogs
  • Bonus:  I get to experiment with what my dream bench will need
  • Bonus:  I get a long term project to replace my existing workbench with one that is both handtool and power tool friendly

I got layout tools (marking gauges), Veritas dovetail saw and Tom Fidgen’s book:

  • Yes, I got more tools and a book (sometimes I forget that this itself is not the goal)
  • Bonus:  I have an instructional guide and projects to build using these hand tools
  • Bonus:  I now know what I need to evolve my woodworking to a new level

Even though I got these tools and books at a discount from what I would normally pay for them, I now have a revitalized attitude towards not only my tools and my workshop, but towards pushing myself to create a workshop and further develop my skills in a direction I had grossly underestimated.  The challenge has been laid out before me and I find myself energized to drive forward and debunk my previous misconceptions that power tools are faster and better than hand tools.

Power tools will always have their place in my workshop (I’m never getting a treadle lathe no matter how neat they are) but one final Bonus that I get from this crazy indulgence is that I now have more than one way of doing things and have a choice in how I approach my work.

The question is “where do I start?”  This is a problem I will accept at any time.

I think my shop has made the choice for me as the blanks I would use for the marking tools are already nudging their way toward the lathe.

It’s strange to me in some ways that going “backwards” to hand tools is the way forward in my development as a woodworker, but I can’t deny that accepting this as my next step forward has opened floodgates that have previously been patiently, quietly, waiting to be opened.

I wonder if Charles Rennie Macintosh found his own frugality to be such a willing accomplice in developing as a woodworker?

I cannot close this without also recognizing that beyond the information, techniques and immersion in woodworking, I would be remiss if I did not mention the incalculable value of the bonding and friendships made with like-minded woodworkers during this past weekend.  There are few events in one’s life where it is immediately recognizable as something that fundamentally changes you….this was clearly one of them.


One response

  1. Ian,
    I’m so glad to see that your bounty has arrived and is inspiring you. I’ll also 2nd your statement that meeting all of our online woodworking friends made the weekend. Good luck with your turnings.

    October 9, 2010 at 7:17 am

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