What is a gnat’s nadger?
It’s something very small. Smaller than a 1/64″?
Smaller than I would care to measure.
If you’re getting any smaller then it’s a gnat’s cock hair.
You may see this as being annoyingly vague, or perhaps it makes me sound a bit simple?
I find it’s necessary for this type of measurement not to be prescriptive. Not only because I have no interest or need in figuring out callipers, feeler gauges or the like, but because when working with hand tools only, if things get this small then it’s unlikely that we could be exacting. More often it will need to be judged by feel, sight or sound since the measurement is so dependant on the specific situation.
Woodworking With Hand Tools Only
Woodworking by hand is not engineering. Aim for too tight a tolerance with your thicknessing and you’ll only be dismayed to see it has moved after you’ve polished off your pot of tea.
It interested me when I read a bit of Moxon’s observations on planing. He described the shavings from a fore plane as the thickness of an “old coined shilling”, or an “old groat” if the wood was harder or the grain difficult. We consider this to be in the region of a strong or slack 1/32″. So pretty heavy.
Another point from Moxon was the lack of winding sticks in the prepping process. I rarely use winding sticks and have to admit I’ve always felt inferior for it, since I’m sure it makes me sound rough. Moxon states to use your eye and a ruler. Eye and the plane sole works for me.
Hefty shavings and a lack of winding sticks, is this crude? It’s certainly not precision engineering. Nor is it slow.
This is hand tool woodworking.
And as my mother always said to me, “If you go looking for problems, you will find them”.
We teach a traditional yet modern approach to woodworking.
Traditional because we use hand tools, but I think of it as modern because we’re not about re-creating history.
I seek methods that are the most efficient and productive for the individual maker.
If you’re new to hand tools, then you’ll get a better understanding of this mindset by having a read about the shortcuts you can take when cutting mortice and tenons by hand.
Or you might be asking, do you need a bandsaw?
And if you’re looking to set up your tool kit, here’s my guide for everything you need to start woodworking with hand tools (there’s a lot less than you might be thinking).