Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lessons from Furniture Making

So I have been really into working with wood for a couple months now. I mean, I've been watching numerous podcasts regarding how to make furniture from scratch and it has helped me immensely in my day job as a maintenance guru and also to understand wood and working with it a whole lot better.

As I've mentioned elsewhere and here I think, I am working towards a hand tool only shop. I say that, but the reality of what works comfortably for me, I think, is a blended shop, which is a mixture of power and unplugged hand tools.

I don't think I could give up the convenience of a Power Miter Saw, for example, or a circle saw. My saws are sacred to me. Cutting 2x4s to length, spindles, trim, or whatever, in easy, accurate, and repeatble fashion on my Hitachi Miter Saw at work is the cat's pajamas. Ripping stock on the table saw opens up doors that previously didn't exist. Throw a router, jig saw, some clamps, a compressor and nail gun in there, and you are set up to conquer foreign lands.

In fact, this is my exact set-up at work. I have a large rolling workbench (which I will soon outfit with massive rubber-tired casters) that supports all my goodies. I call it "rolling thunder" and I put it into action for the first time yesterday. I am going to add custom storage onto it, but it is essentially up and running. It is designed so that I can show up basically anywhere at work and be ready to dominate at a moment's notice. When it is not being transported to a distant location, it is in or outside the garage as a functioning workbench, doing all the same tasks it would do elsewhere.

But the more hand tools you incorporate in your work, the better you become, I think. It makes you become more innovative when you learn how things are/were done without the help of power tools. At least it does for me. For example, with the use of quick clamps and 2x scrap, I quickly created an as-need planing stop on my bench for measuring boards to length with a template instead of tape. This is a faster and more accurate way to go. As I was clamping, I realized I had leveled-up in work. This is not something I would have done instictively a year ago. I'd still be scratching my ahead.

Anyhow, I hope you are well, alive, and kicking.

Over and Out,



Martin Schap said...

Good post. If you've not already done so, check out some works by Eric Sloane. I was re-reading a book I have this weekend and his stuff would be right up your alley. His area is early American craftsmanship, and he has a real talent for showing exactly how our forefathers used simple tools to build amazing products.

Nick-dog said...

Thanks Martin. I will definitely check out Eric Sloane. His work sounds awesome. All I need is a few sharpening stones and I ready to plunge in. Should be awesome.