Review: The Naked Woodworker

When you’re first getting into woodworking, things are…interesting. There’s a whole lot of information out there, but almost all of it revolved around power tools back in the day. Today, there’s a bit more about beginners using hand tools, but there’s really not an easy to digest way to know what to buy, what to look for, where to look for it, and how to use it.

That led me to ponder just how well Mike Siemsen’s The Naked Woodworker actually is.

In it, Siemsen starts off with an empty bucket at a tool show and goes from there to having a basic set of tools, a couple of saw benches, and a workbench.

However, I was curious how good a resource it really was. After all, a lot of information I come across really is about helping people transition from powered woodworking into hand tool use, which doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot to help the neophyte woodworker.

Would Siemsen’s effort be any different?

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Why I’m Salty About Woodworking

I had a realization this morning. For someone who wants to woodwork, I’m rather salty about woodworking.

Now, if you’ve read this blog for a little while–and it hasn’t been around for very long, so it won’t take much–you might have figured out some of it.

But some of it is my own fault, too, just to be fair.

Let’s get into some of the why’s, then I’ll talk about what I, personally, am doing to get past it.

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If I Were To Get Started Again, How Would I Do It?

The other day, I kvetched a little about when I was getting started, about how I felt like I couldn’t really because of the supposedly required tooling.

In truth, I don’t know that my complaints were legitimate. Not completely.

However, on the same token, I do feel like there’s a certain barrier to entry that exists in the craft, a certain elitism, for want of a better word.

You see, no matter where you look, there’s pressure to buy “the best” tools, and there’s a logic to it. Buy once, cry once and all that, plus let’s be honest. A lot of the premium tools really are better and not just expensive.

Vintage tools are awesome too, but they’re kind of intimidating to some people. They’re worried about trying to rehab a whole pile of tools before building anything. I get that. I enjoy it, but not everyone does. In truth, though, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have to.

So, if I were to decide for the very first time that I wanted to build furniture, here’s what I would probably do.

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Is This why the craft of woodworking doesn’t grow more?

This isn’t my first time trying to embrace woodworking. It’s really not.

Years ago, I explored the world of woodworking. I was a neophyte thirsting for knowledge. I only barely remember what triggered it. I think it was this weird desire to build a steampunk wood-encased computer keyboard. I was fascinated by the aesthetic of steampunk and wanted to bring a bit of it into my home.

Living in the era of the internet, I started looking for information. That led me to look at woodworking in general and all the awesome stuff people built but there was a bit of a problem.

The problem wasn’t unique in my experiences, either. Joel Moskowitz over at Tools For Working Wood hinted at it recently in a blog post he wrote. Continue reading

Making a tool chest that works (The Tool Chest Part 2)

Yesterday, I made up my plan on just how to proceed with my tool chest project. While the Dutch tool chest is still enticing, even today, I just don’t think I’d have much room to grow with that chest. I’d eventually have to build another, and I’m just not sure that’s a great idea.

So I plan on building something that looks like Christopher Schwarz’s Anarchist tool chest, a classic tool chest that would look at home in the 1800s.

But that’s where the intentional similarities will end.

This chest has to work for me and fit not just my needs, but my sense of aesthetics inside and out. So let’s see what that needs to be, shall we?

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To reinvent the wheel, Or to feel like you’re following the crowd? (The Tool Chest Part 1)

Now that I’m sorta settled on my bench–kinda, anyway–it’s time to start thinking about my tool chest.

For me, this is a major priority because I’m dealing with a less than advantageous situation here. I’m using an old crate as a tool chest, and it’s little more than a hinged box. It doesn’t organize my tools and it really doesn’t protect them either.

I mean, the monstrosity is just a hinged crate. It was never meant to do any of that.

So a tool chest of some description is a priority. This leads to my conundrum: Do I try and reinvent the wheel, or feel like I’m following the crowd when it comes to designs?

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Why do I buy old tools instead of saving up for new ones?

I like Christopher Schwarz as a writer. I think I’ve made that abundantly clear. Hell, as much as I talk about him, one might be forgiven for thinking I’m some kind of a fanboy.

However, reading his Handplane Essentials has given me the impression that he’s not really a fan of vintage tools. More specifically, of new people buying vintage tools in need of restoration in order to be usable.

And that’s precisely what I did all those years ago and why I bought a Sargent 5306 low angle block plane last night.

Here’s my thinking on why that’s a good idea for new woodworkers.

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There went that plan…

I thought I’d settled on pretty much everything on my workbench yesterday except for the vise. I just knew I had everything worked out. I was just waiting for “Workbenches: From Design & Theory to Construction & Use” so I could have the plans and the directions. That’s it.

But, like an idiot, I never bothered to realize that this is a revised edition.

That means it’s got more stuff in it. Including some interesting tidbits that I needed to see.

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