Monday, February 2, 2015

hand tools

Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings is a beautiful soft cover book written and illustrated by Aldren A. Watson in 1982. This is now my go-to guide for hand tools. Watson is clearly a lifelong user and fan of hand tools and in this book he has poured out all of what he knows, illustrated clearly and concisely with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations of the tools, their parts, their use, and even care and sharpening. The appendixes even include measured drawings and instructions for building your own jigs, wooden hand tools, a work bench (including a version that folds up in a closet for the apartment dwellers) and patterns for replacement handles.

The book is organized by tool types. Each tool is described in detail, with cut away drawings of the innards, and its workings so the tool owner fully understands the tool and how it functions. Watson explains, and often illustrates the variations found in the tool, what the different options and adjustments are good for and then goes on to describe how the tool is used. These descriptions are full of examples, and advice ton the best ways to work, often with illustrated techniques, tips, and time savers along the way. For example, in the discussion about a spirit level there is a great tip for leveling a wooden table that doesn't include cutting the legs or using a matchbook. Fantastic!

If you are just starting out with woodworking tools, or if you've been using them for years, like I have, this book has something (many things!) for you. If you've been outfitting your shop with the latest power tools you see on The New Yankee Workshop and shows like it, you may want to take look at this book and see what hand tools can do, often times with less effort, less set-up time, less sawdust, and better results.

Aldren Watson was a professional illustrator, woodworker, print maker and book binder. He died just a little while ago, in 2013 at 95.

Read this book. And then set it in your workshop for reference.

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