I’ve written so much about my using hand tools in my daily woodworking through the years, as a full-time maker my reasoning is sound. Combining writing with teaching many thousands in my woodworking classes one-on-one (over 6,500 to date) enabled me to better understand the need. I have now taught woodworking in the USA, England, Wales and Israel, it equipped me me to see and show how very few people in our present-day understood the Evolution, Efficacy, Efficiency and Economy using hand tools brought to those who master the art of hand-tool woodworking. You might not quite believe it, but my belief is that everyone and anyone can master hand tools and become highly proficient.
I chose the four ‘E’ words above carefully. It is all too easy for anyone to believe that in the evolution of working, we might also believe that we have evolved into better woodworkers than the previous generations. That is far from true. I doubt that anyone can really argue that many woodworkers today produce what artisans 200 years ago made. In my view, the only way to truly do that is to adopt the methods and techniques they had centuries ago. Does that mean we must be old-fashioned and outdated? Not at all. It is doubtful that anything has improved on the quality of design, skilled artisanry, or whatever, simply because industrializing processes mostly resulted in an industrial and utilitarian output. There is nothing wrong with that . . . industry demands meet the needs of consumerism. But it does not need to influence the work of those of us striving for craftsmanship in the truest sense. Most of the woodworkers I have met and come to know have wanted something very much more from the world of woodworking than simply mass making. What I and they wanted and worked towards was to develop true skill, and then too, knowledge about the methods and techniques, the tools and so on. Through my interest in training up a new generation of woodworkers, I discovered a generation that wanted some if not all of what I had enjoyed throughout my own life. They wanted hand tool skills, true hand tool skills, skills that would result in the fine craftsmanship of ancient makers through the centuries but without being outdated and old-fashioned. For my part, I simply wanted the emerging generations to take the baton from me to ensure that my craft didn’t die. I had only a little hope 30 years ago when I started taking on apprentices and developing the idea for a woodworking school. Today, that is not the case at all. I believe that my dream is now a reality in the lives of thousands of individuals around the world.
My book, Essential Woodworking Hand Tools has undergirded many elements of my dream and not the least of which is research and development, training apprentices, and then, beyond that, working with autism using the curriculum I have developed to this end. Writing, creating masses of curriculum for training and self-development, took many years for both myself and Joseph. We wanted the core of what I had learned through many decades of hands-on hand tool woodworking to come together symbiotically across many platforms and then, additionally, in a single publication. It runs parallel to all that we do through our Woodworking Masterclasses video output of over 500 hours of online training. We brought together our commonwoodworking.com foundational work for new beginners turning to hand tools and our social media including YouTube and Facebook, etc.
We are down to around 1,500 remaining copies of Essential `Woodworking Hand Tools in this print run. It’s a 485 full colour tome just about the hand tools I rely on in my daily woodworking and the tools I most strongly recommend to any and all woodworkers. From restoration to refinement, setting up and using the individual tools along with sharpening and tool techniques, I poured everything I knew about these tools into this one volume knowing that it would be in the hands of thousands of woodworkers through the coming years. Woodworking with hand tools has a way of changing people’s lives in ways that they never expected. Please order your copy if you haven’t already. The sales support everything we do in conserving the art of woodworking. If you already have the book please let me and others know what you think of it in the comments below. You can buy the book from our family business using the button below.