Hand Tools

Re: Planecraft and the Cap Iron

david weaver
I wonder what the later texts have that earlier texts don't. Bill H advised me to buy one of the earlier versions, so I did (I'm assuming it probably predates woodcraft, and was paid for partly by record originally - or completely by record. Maybe there's a obvious back story that I missed).

I'm almost done with it, and I think it's quite good. As far as fiberboard and plywood advice, the stuff is around and was around, and I've never used any of the purpose made planes, but I just built the shell of my last kitchen cabinet with hand tools only and found it to be not that bad (it's a grade of ply that's a lot more wood than glue, though). That includes dadoes and rabbets.

At any rate, I like it quite a bit, but there are some absurd things in it. They recommend cutting an ovolo at the edge of a table with a shoulder plane, which one will not do twice. If you have an entire day and nothing to do but stick your finger through the opening in a shoulder plane to push shavings out, maybe, but in a world of cheap vintage rabbet planes and surplus broken saws to make scrapers (let alone purpose built moulding planes).

Otherwise, as a first text, though, quite good. I recognize that the cap iron thing doesn't get that much press because it's well into the era of doing mostly finish and fitting with planes, but it'd have been nice if it was expanded on. It's kind of my gimmick, I guess, but I have yet to find someone who works entirely by hand who hasn't found it to be a gigantic labor reducer and at the same time, risk eliminator.

For those of us who can visualize and who are not list followers, a set of general rules for cutting joints would also be good. You learn them by experience if you do them wrong, though (like not sawing the sides at the back of a dado and experiencing subsequent breakout). Some of the routines in the texts for certain joints are fairly intuitive just based on general rules, and might give some readers the idea that they should buy the entire product line from record to make sure that they can do them.

Far and away, I'd recommend this text to a beginner over most stuff that's come along later, though. Like the practical advice in it of things like "yes, you can work plywood with regular tools, if you're only doing a little, then there's no need to buy anything special".

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