Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hand Tool Basics

Hand Tool Basics is exactly what the title claims, a solid handbook on the care, use, and feeding of hand powered woodworking tools. Self taught woodworker, author and blogger Steve Branam has teamed up with F+W Media and Popular Woodworking; the book is available in hardcover and ebook formats, and was released 12th January, 2018.

The book opens with an introduction which explains why someone would choose hand tools when electrical tools are available, materials, the value of practicing new skills to become comfortable with them, setting up a work space, using jigs and guides, etc.  The intro covers about 5% of the page content.
Chapter 1 (roughly 5% of the book) covers tools: workbenches, safety, saws and planes and other basic info.

Chapter 2 (18% of the content) - Sharpening and care of tools is important from a safety standpoint as well as to get the best results from the tools. Dull and badly maintained tools suck the joy out of any project as well as being a dangerous safety risk.  This chapter provides clear concise instructions with full color photos in a step-by-step format.  I came away with a clear understanding of  single and double bevel edges and sharpening everything from chisels to saws.  Maintenance is so important and the author uses easily followed and complete language (and pictures).  It really felt like having a one-on-one instructor available.

Chapter 3 (21%) covers  the tools used in preparing stock materials: gauges, squares and marking tools, planes, and how to prepare and face stock.  I really like that the author gives considered opinions about potential strengths and drawbacks of different methods throughout the book.  He often refers to these as 'fistfights' or places where woodworkers tend to have very fixed opinions about the relative merits of one approach over another.

Chapter 4 (20%) - is a really complete treatise of joinery in all its forms and functions.  I can't emphasize enough how helpful it was for me to have the reference photographs to see hand and tool positions.  He covers simple joinery with glues and this chapter has the best illustrations of any book in my library on using a chisel and how to use the bevel (forward or backward facing) to cut exactly to the desired depth and removal area.

Chapter 5 (11%) Mortise & Tenon joinery - well photographed and complete step by step instructions.  I really like that he explains potential problem areas and pitfalls before they can arise and ruin progress.

Chapter 6 (12%) - Dovetail joinery.  This is a solid chapter.  The instructions and photography are -so- good that even beginning woodworkers will feel like they can succeed with the step-by-step instructions.  There's a tutorial for practicing dovetail sawing.  This chapter alone is worth the price of admission.

Chapter 7 (4%) - Boring holes and curved work. This chapter has a lot of info about boring holes and roughing and refining curves. 

The rest of the content covers conversions, extra available instructions and patterns, links and inspiration.

I previously spent a lot of time frustrated with the results of my woodworking projects because I felt that they were lacking something.  I came to woodworking mostly as a result of needing improved skills for repairing and refinishing and replacing pieces on the furniture I was refinishing and refurbishing.  I'm constantly learning but I really wish I'd had this book years ago.

The author has a real knack for teaching in a calm and clear manner.

Five stars.  This is a good solid book.  I'm going to buy a hardback version for my shop bookshelf; that's high praise from me.

Disclosure: I received an  electronic-ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

No comments:

Post a Comment