Hand Tools Archive

Subject:
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?

Brian Holcombe
Thank you! I think hand toolers just design things with an entirely different mindset. One of my fellow Japanese tool nuts is also primarily a hand tool user and when I look at his work its apparent to me some of the things he's done.

It's mainly subtle things that I don't believe would be very obvious at all to someone unfamiliar with using hand tools. I've noticed that hand toolers are very particular about wood grain, especially those that work with them for a living. When you have time constraints on your work, either imposed upon you or self imposed because you want to earn more you tend to be extremely careful at the point where choice has a great impact on your work. Choosing wood that is very straight grained is a priority. Figure is generally acceptable but knots are avoided.

The design begins to be effected by planing around planed surfaces, I've moved away from things that are aggravating to plane, such as book matched panels. Someone who sands to a finish is not even going to blink at a book matched panel but I avoid them because of the center being exact opposite grain on both sides of a line. I can plane it, I have, but it adds significant time so I tend to work around sequence matched panels.

The same goes for glue ups, I keep them to a bare minimum and typically I'm working them to make entirely certain that the grain direction is the same on all parts. I've not seen many machine toolers who would consider this, they're sanding to a finish and typically do not bother. There are notable exceptions and those are always the case when a person who uses machines will plane to a finish (with either super surfacer or hand planes) and must consider grain direction.

I plan chamfers into my design, this is something that is very common in traditional Japanese work, shoji for instance, where even the tenon shoulders are made to accommodate a heavy chamfer. Japanese carpenters plan chamfers into their joinery and it is very common to see joints intersecting in a way where they can completely avoid stopped chamfers. Stopped chamfers cannot be cut by a plane and they take longer, they also do not look as nice.

This carries forward into frame and panel design, typically I make the stiles thicker than I do the rails so that the joint can feature a small continuous chamfer.

I've not seen that consideration in machine tool work since the edge is typically just broken with a ROS after construction and in fact it would be significantly harder to finish a frame an panel door that has a stepped feature in it if one were finishing by way of sanding. By contrast if you are planing your parts to finish as you make them, than it is much easier to have a stepped frame and panel because you can take a few plane swipes over a finished stile without running over the rail cross grain.

Someone who works stock by hand does not often plan around hard numbers, so when I thickness a panel I'm often working with the numbers a bit differently than someone who is planning around a given dimension. I couldn't care what the dimension is, unless it begins to look incorrect. For instance, a slab top, if you measure mine they're all weird numbers, I don't look at a ruler when planning them, I joint one side, then set my gauge to the lowest point and plane it. At that point is done, I'm not taking off another 1/16" on a surface like that to meet a number. I do this on almost everything, I plan on proportion more than real numbers.

This, and more considerations all begin to add up to work which looks slightly different than work where someone is making with primarily machines. You can see it in my work if you go back earlier enough, especially my cabinet work, as I began to use a majority of hand tools my work changed a lot, but to the passer-by there is little difference.

This cabinet was done partially by hand and with machine tool thinking:

All of the shelves fit into stopped dados, the sides are all flush and the joints create stopped chamfers. Further more the design is made so that it can be done mainly with a router. The hand tool effort is limited to the visible aspects, like the corner joinery. The panels are also flush and feature grain and layout which requires sanding to finish.

No consideration for grain direction and planing, and the corners are left with hard edges.

This cabinet is entirely made by hand and planned accordingly.

Messages In This Thread

What makes the "handtool" look?
David Pye's thoughts
ICBM gyros
Confusion
Re: Confusion
Pye
Re: David Pye's thoughts - Just not true though
Visual vs. measurement
Re: David Pye's thoughts
Further thoughts
Re: Further thoughts
What doesn't result in a hand tool look *PIC*
Re: What doesn't result in a hand tool look
Re: What doesn't result in a hand tool look
Sorry, didn't read your post very well
You said it well *NM*
Affectation Vs. Artifact
Re: Affectation Vs. Artifact
Virtue?
Re: Virtue?
Re: Virtue?
Re: Virtue?
Re: Virtue?
Re: Virtue?
Re: What doesn't result in a hand tool look
Thanks gentleman
Where was "why bother"?
Caring WRT Handwork
Re: Caring WRT Handwork
Re: Caring WRT Handwork
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Re: What makes the "handtool" look? Mistakes?
Easy... the eye of the beholder
You guys are way too negative
Perhaps...
Re: Perhaps...
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Amish
Saw handles
Re: Saw handles
Easy question
A Riff on Derek's ideas
Thanks Todd. *NM*
Re: we do it for ourselves
Re: we do it for ourselves - Nietzsche nailed it
Wrong question
Re: Wrong question
Re: Wrong question
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Re: Tempted
Re: Tempted
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
Re: What makes the "handtool" look?
comment
Re: comment
Re: comment *PIC*
Re: comment (touchy feely alert)
ditto for turning
Re: comment
Re: comment
Re: comment
Re: comment on comment *PIC*
Re: comment on comment *PIC*
Not what I see *PIC*
Re: comment
I'm back to what is the objective
Re: I'm back to what is the objective
Re: I'm back to what is the objective
Re: I'm wondering ...
Re: I'm back to what is the objective
Re: I'm back to what is the objective
Re: comment
Re: comment
Re: comment
printing..
Re: comment
Disagree
This is a line of thought often
Where is Adam Cherubini ?
Re: Where is Adam Cherubini ?
Re: Where is Adam Cherubini ?
Adam's goal, as expressed to me
Chamfers on rails and styles
Edit: incomplete thought.
What is the objective
Re: I don't really know
If you can't design then copy
Re: If you can't design then copy
Re: That is a line...
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