55 Northfield Drive E. Suite 166
Waterloo, ON, N2K 3T6
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For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to build things. Unfortunately, I haven’t made much over the years. I always admired craftsman from afar and their ability to manipulate wood into beautiful furniture, musical instruments, etc. etc. Being the nerd that I am, I have difficulty starting things without first spending months or years researching and studying a topic without actually ever doing anything.
Just shy of my 44th birthday, I’ve decided to dive into hand tool woodworking with prejudice. You are never to old to start right. I certainly hope so. I blame Christopher Schwarz at Lost Art Press. Or more specifically, the publication of The Naked Woodworker with Mike Siemsen. I have always viewed woodwoorking as a ridiculously complicated and expensive hobby but thanks to Mike and Chris, I now know that it doesn’t have to be. And best of all, the hand tool ethic fits perfectly with my midlife desire to “get back to basics”. And so this blog exists to document my progress of slowly transforming my garage into a small hand tool woodworking shop as well as my experiences at becoming a hand tool woodworker later in life.
So where did this desire to suddenly become a woodworker come from? For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to build guitars. I amassed a good number of guitar building books and researched the many paths to becoming a luthier. But I’ve never actually bought a tool, built a jig, taken a course, or taken any of the small steps necessary to moving toward achieving a goal. During my endless research, I happened upon a few woodworkers on Youtube, namely Mathias Wandel and Steve Ramsey. Now these guys aren’t primarily hand tool woodworkers, but in watching their videos and reading the comments, I found an online community of woodworkers sharing whatever knowledge they possessed openly, with humour and obvious wisdom. I’ve now spent hours watching online videos, but consider it all an inspirational investment.
In delving into researching lutherie, I found Wilson Burnham at Brokeoff Mountain Lutherie. Wilson wrote a post entitle Basic Hand Tool Kit for Guitar Making. This article is my proverbial rabbit hole. Burnham writes, “WORKBENCH! the most important tool you can have! I made mine after a folding workbench that is in Roy Underhill’s, The Woodwright’s Apprentice. It has served me well for fifteen years.” I immediately purchased The Woodright’s Apprentice and read that first chapter on building a workbench over and over. For whatever reason, I felt like I was missing some knowledge somewhere. Reading Underhill made it sound so easy, but I was afraid. What if I made a mistake, what if I couldn’t do it? That’s when I found The Naked Woodworker and the hand holding I need.
Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll continue to follow along as I fall deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. I only hope my complete ignorance of woodworking doesn’t scare you away.