Learning to woodwork with hand tools brings you a whole new awareness of your own senses.
I feel like I’m a fairly co-ordinated person, used to doing tasks which require good control over your hands.
But whenever I learn something new in woodworking I feel more like Mr Tickle. My arms and hands are just grabbing and whacking. A clumsiness which Richard never fails to observe.
I think I’ve realised the cause.
Often I approach a task with the assumption that I don’t have the strength needed to do it properly.
I will tell Richard that the saw is too coarse or the iron set too deep, and he’ll tell me I’m wrong.
Because I feel underpowered, I tense up, brace myself and go about things in an altogether clumsy and forceful manner.
The results make me feel like I was right; I don’t have the strength needed. The tool is just hitting the wood, as I go flying over the handle bars.
I’ve done this enough times now to understand that I’m not right; Richard is.
The cut isn’t too coarse or deep, I’ve just been attacking with everything I’ve got, instead of relying upon the right technique.
Hand Tools For Beginners
To work with hand tools, you need to be become aware of the specific muscles needed for each task. Only then can you prepare for when they are needed, and learn to relax when they are not.
Being relaxed and confident is far more effective than being strong. It helps you to create the right momentum, and allow the tool to do the work.
It amazes me how true that phrase is. ‘Let the tool do the work’.
I know I’d be struggling a lot more, if I didn’t have well set up, sharp tools.
So a key point to grasp about hand tools for beginners, is when to use your strength, and when to allow the tool to take over.
When hand planing, for example, you need to resist the impact of the plane iron hitting the wood. This prevents a horrible chattery start, but then you let the iron do the cutting as you push it through.
When you’re good at something you don’t even need to think about how you’re doing it. As a beginner who’s learning all the time, I find it essential to keep questioning, and keep becoming more aware of every sense.
And after that, I suppose it’s all about the practise.