Hand Tools vs. Power Tools by Alan DuBoff


I am sometimes slightly put off at the religious aspect of hand tools, and get an impression that hand planes are good, power planers are bad when I read some of the comments from folks.

I was reading the Educating Power Tool Users tread and saw some interesting comments and ideas.

As a woodworker, I can understand the benefit of a hand plane.  At the same time I can also understand the benefit of a power planer.  I don't want to feel that one is any better or worse than the other.  I want to know when I'll use a power planer or when I'll use a hand plane.

Spending more $$$s to buy wood which is surfaced on 2 sides (i.e., the faces) so that I don't have to surface it with a hand plane is not really an ideal solution either.  Preparing stock from the tree with only hand tools is not ideal either, for me (FWIW;-). In some cases I can and will use lumber in rough state (rustic) even, but for the woodworking I enjoy most, I don't want those projects looking like tree limbs.

The modern shop has both hand and power tools.  The best woodworkers understand how to use both of them to their advantage. I don't personally care to dimension lumber for a project with only a hand plane.  Even so, dimensioning is only getting lumber to a workable state, and most often needs to be worked more to get into a finished piece.  I will still use my hand plane after dimensioning the lumber, but that's when I'll actually spend most of my time working the wood.

I don't know if I'm bad for wanting to get the grunt work out of the way beforehand, and I hate the noise and fine dust as much as the next galoot, but I don't mind wearing hearing protection and/or a dust mask to accomplish that, so that I can have the luxury of working wood with hand tools, which I do enjoy.

Maybe some of you enjoy ripping 100-200 bf of hardwood with your favorite Disston 7/8/12/112/etc... and I'm sure that some of you don't mind using winding sticks to flatten the surface of the wood it takes to build a night stand, dresser, or a bed... with a hand plane, or similar.

However, I have hand tools and enjoy using them, so just want to point out to folks that it's not an "either or" situation for me, I don't mind using each of them where it makes sense, for me.  It's not that I like using power tools, it's just that I don't like dimensioning lumber!;-)

Ah, go ahead and just pass me the spittoon up front, I imagine I've said too much as it is............<spu-doing!>

Alan DuBoff
September 2006



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