Enjoying the struggle


Although I’ve not been woodworking for all that long, I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far. It has not been plain sailing mind you – I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way – but it would be boring if there was no challenge.

I’m not a hand tool purist by any means. I still occasionally reach for my cordless drill, or fire up my chop saw. But, I have found that I am at my happiest, and my best, when I’m using hand tools. Power tools and machine tools are fine, but if I had to choose I’d choose the hand tools.

I watch a lot of woodworking YouTube videos, and I’ve noticed that there are quite a lot of YouTubers who pay lip service to hand tools. For instance, I was watching one the other day who was doing a tutorial on making a shooting board, a bench-top accessory for truing up end grain for squareness, or for mitres. This is a hand tool accessory, to be used in conjunction with a hand plane, and I’m in the middle of making one myself. The first thing this chap did was to run over to his table saw and band saw to cut the components. I was left wondering if he was ever really going to use the shooting board.  I found myself coming over all sanctimonious, and I remember thinking, “well, I’m not going to do it like that.”

It’s silly really, and I soon snapped out of it. Each to their own. I have to remind myself that I went down the hand tool route, in part, because of space and money concerns. It’s only now that I’m realising that I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I hope that I’m not coming across as boastful. After all, I am all too aware that my work is very far from perfect. The thing is, I’m not striving for perfection. Not yet anyway. I’m just striving for competence – perfection comes later, if at all, and there’s no harm in enjoying the struggle along the way.


2 thoughts on “Enjoying the struggle

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  1. I was with you there for a while until I read that you “snapped out of it” at some point.

    I’m not writing to fan the flames of the “power-vs-hand tool” debate, but rather to say that I find it both hilarious and aggravating when these guys build something hand tool-oriented and use power tools to do it.

    I have no issue with someone using power tools, but many hand tool only guys have no machines (I’m one of them, and it’s by choice). As a result it’s frustrating to see, for instance, a bench build — clearly of the type meant for hand tool work — where the builder planes and joints his stock by machine, then uses a drill press for the dog holes and later does work with a tailed router.


    1. Couldn’t agree more. When I said I snapped out of it, I meant I snapped out of the sanctimony. It still seems strange to me that a machine tool user would want to bother with a shooting board.


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