For a budget of about $1000, you can get a very nice, full featured suite of hand tools that you can build pretty nice projects with. And this price is for getting premium quality tools brand new. If you've got more time than money, you can get second hand vintage tools from online auctions and real estate sales and refurbish them to work as good as new ones (I wouldn't recommend going this path if you have no prior experience).
By contrast, you'll blow your entire $1000 budget on a table saw and a planer, and you can't even get very good ones for that price.
Word of warning: do not buy new hand tools from the big box hardware store. Either buy vintage ones or premium tools from woodworking speciality stores. Modern, mass produced hand tools (e.g. saws with hardened teeth) aren't very good, they're harder to tune and are not designed to last a lifetime.
Working with hand tools isn't all that much slower than using power tools, unless you'd do something very repetitive where you do the same cuts on a ton of pieces.
I do woodworking using hand tools almost exclusively (I visit a shop once a week, where I have power tools). I find it really enjoyable and relaxing compared to working with power tools with all the noise, the dust and the danger (the power tools at the shop aren't great quality).
I'd recommend the following tools to get started:
* A rip saw and a cross cut saw (or a Japanese Ryoba which has both)
* 4 chisels: 1/4", 1/2", 3/4", 1"
* A #4 smoothing plane (if you have a good workbench or intend to build one)
* OR a low angle block plane (if you don't have a bench)
* Sharpening equipment because tools don't come sharp out of the box
* A saw file if you got a re-sharpenable saw
* Optional: a coping saw or a fret saw, depending on what kind of joinery you're into
I'm lucky enough to have a full three car garage full of top-of-the-line power tools, but there's no substitute for a set of well sharpened chisels and a few handplanes (and the skill to use them).
I absolutely endorse the idea of starting with hand tools.
Christopher Schwartz has gone so far as to create a list of the 48 hand tools you should buy (in order). It's in the above referenced book, and you can also google it.
If you look at the side of the board that you are planing the grain (unless it is super straight) will tilt up to the face you are planing. If you are planing in the direction such that you sheer off the fibers, that's with the grain. If you are planing such that the blade digs in and tries to lift the fibers up, that's against the grain and causes tearout.
A jointer is just a plane with 3 blades running really fast. It can produce tearout just like a plane. So you need to know how to look at the board and turn it so that you are with the grain. Hand tools teach you that in a hurry.
His woodworkers bench project is a great place to start when planning an entry level tool set.
Besides, the tablesaw is almost always piled with crap, mostly from bike maintenance. ;-)
I remember reading about Japanese saws in the Whole Earth Catalog years ago - and it mentioned how they were different in design and features from traditional Western saws, with some advantages. (Used to do amateur carpentry as a hobby when a teenager.) Do you know about the Japanese saws and their benefits? I remember some had very different appearances from Western ones. I looked in Wikipedia, but interested to know your opinion anyway, if you know about them.
I much prefer the Japanese style saws (and I have some very nice old as well as modern, aka expensive, western saws).
I like them better because they cut on the pull stroke (I find it easier to cut accurately that way) and they have a very thin kerf (easier to cut less wood, also possible to do more delicate cuts).
Japan Woodworker (now gone) used to have Korean copies of a dozuki for about $30. The closest I've been able to find is the Lee Valley version:
Unfortunately, that saw is now $42. Here's a good getting started article that references the same saw back in 2007, it was $19 then. If someone finds a source for saws like that that is cheaper than Lee Valley, please post it.
I'd start there, those are fine saws. Don't get sucked into spending a boatload of money on hand crafted yadda yadda saws, these saws are delicate in comparison to western saws, you don't resharpen, you buy another one when it is time.
Everyone likes shop pictures, here are some from mine:
Good shop pictures.
Yes, I use both, Japanese pull saws and Western "push" saws and both have their good and bad sides.
First: Japanese saws work on the pull stroke, Western saws with a push stroke. This requires very different handling of the saw (body position, etc). It's difficult (if not impossible) to rip straight with a Japanese saw in a typical stand-up position with the work piece in a workbench vice. Japanese woodworkers work sitting down on the floor, and rip saw by standing up, foot on the work piece.
Second: most modern Japanese saws have hardened teeth and can't be sharpened, the blade is disposable and you put in a new one. Western woodworking saws (not your big box store construction saw) can and need to be sharpened (they're not sharp out of the box), and it's pretty easy to sharpen. A good Western saw should last several lifetimes if kept in condition. My Japanese saw needs a replacement blade after two years of work.
Third: because of the pull stroke, the saw plate is much thinner and the cut is narrower. I might be able to use the piece straight off the cut with a Japanese saw if I saw straight enough. With a Western saw, I typically plane the end grain a little (optionally on a shooting board) but I often have to do this with a Japanese saw too (because my sawing skills aren't good enough to hit the knife mark on both sides).
If you're getting into woodworking and have no good saws, I'd recommend getting a Japanese Ryoba, which has a fine cross cut side and a coarse rip cut side (cheapest alternative for a fine woodworking saw IMO). The rip cut is too coarse for fine joinery, so you could get a Western Gent's saw or Dovetail saw to complement.
In Internet discussions, Japanese saws are often said to be "better" than Western saws but it's not true (unless you compare it to a big box store hardened teeth cross cut saw). Both Western and Japanese saws are capable tools in the hands of a craftsman and it boils down to getting practice with the tools you have.
Dozuki is a back saw, with usually fine teeth and narrow kerf (my favorite Japanese saw is a fine cross cut Dozuki). A Kataba is a backless, single sided saw.
There's a handful of other types too but they aren't nearly as common.
That means though that the smaller hand tools won't fly. My table saw is what I use 90% of the time.
Orbital sander, drill, the occasional router...
At the same time, I had no need for a planer, joiner, lathe — those bits of large equipment.
I've gotten by without a bandsaw as well (but that would sure be nice form time to time).
But Mathias is right, start small, see what calls you. (Hand drill and circular saw is where I began. I made what I now call "dorm furniture".)
Summary: make a guide, clamp the guide to the work, rip with a circular saw.
Buy a 4x8 sheet of masonite and a decent circular saw if you don't have one (note that even if you like a a worm drive like the Skillsaw SPT77WML, the traditional circular saw with the blade on the right side works better, more of the base will be on the guide).
Measure the distance from the blade to the saw blade (and standardize on a particular width of blade, a thicker blade will mess this up). It's typically about 5 inches, give or take.
Chalk line an 8 foot by 10 inch chunk, cut that. Go to the opposite side of the sheet and chalk line an 8 foot by 4.5 inch chunk (if your saw has a different distance to the blade adjust accordingly).
Take the smaller chunk and glue it to the bigger chunk, lining up the two edges you just cut. Make sure that the bigger board sticks out more than the distance between your blade and the edge of your base (in our example that's 5 inches, we are putting 4.5 inches on 10 inches, leaving a 5.5 inch base).
This leaves the factory cut edge of the smaller chunk as the guide. Clamp that contraption someplace where the edge overhangs by an inch or so and put your saw on it, push up against the lip made by the smaller chunk, and cut off the extra 1/2 inch.
Presto, you now have a guide. Want to rip a sheet of plywood? Measure, clamp the guide to the marks, run your saw along the guide, away you go. Clamp the guide over the chunk you want and you don't have to worry about saw kerf, it's coming out of the waste.
Once you have one of these you'll make another one only about 5 feet long so you can do cross cuts.
If this isn't clear, email me and I'll try and draw a picture. It's really a lot more simple than I've made it appear, the details are there because it's easy to not think of one of them (like changing saw blades). For that reason, and others, I have a dewalt saw that I use only for these guides. Circular saws are cheap enough that I have several, the guided one, one with a diamond blade for cutting up my driveway, a worm drive for framing, a battery one for when I have no power, etc.
I discovered it when I watched the video about the making of the Wintergatan marble machine.
Of course I advise you to buy it if you use it for more than RE exercise.
The most satisfying and long lasting thing I have from high school is probably my cabinet set I built. They actually look really nice (probably because you can't see my amateur attempts at dovetails), and they're built to last.
I guess it's because cabinetmaking is so permanent. You build a flatpack cabinet in an afternoon and you don't feel bad throwing it out 6 months later, because there's a million like it. But when you make your own cabinet from scratch, there's just so much care and effort that goes into it. My cabinets were built to last. They didn't have any veneer on them, and all the joints were dovetail joints, they do contain some plywood for the side paneling though, but I don't really see that as cheating myself.
It's something that software lacks, I've nuked entire directories of a project that I may have spent a week or two working on. If I spend 2 weeks working on a woodworking project, I'm not going to throw it out and start again.
It's unfortunate that I haven't been able to do much woodworking since I left home, since I no longer have any tools, and I've been moving too often to build up a supply.
Luckily there's a "Menz Shed" nearby where I'm living now, which has woodworking facilities (and also acts as a social and support group for men).
When you've spent 10 hours doing joinery on a work piece, you tend to be really careful before sticking your knife, saw or chisel into it. And when you realize that you've done a knife mark on the show side, you know you've fucked up (just did this last week on a piece with 30 hours in it).
It's a very good balance to software engineering. It's (arguably) an engineering discipline but a very different kind.
Using a lathe teaches discipline. If something goes wrong, it's your fault, you should have stepped away and come back more rested. As an ADD person, learning that I have the power to stop what I'm doing and try again later was enlightening.
Others interested in physibles with an emphasis on bringing prototypes to manufacturing ready status through an enhanced understanding of materials and transformation processes available to industry and their limitations, one book I can thoroughly recommend is Fundamentals of Modern Manufacturing - Materials, Processes, and Systems (4th Edition). While not uniformly detailed, it has a rigid, logical structure that most programmers will probably find appealing.
What IS that?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYJKd0rkKss Alone In The Wilderness, Part I
Jointing and planing is something I have an issue with being a primarily hand tool woodworker. I don't have a proper shop space so I can't be buying stationary equipment. I do visit some shops occasionally, and for my next project I intend to go to a shop with good machines and do all my jointing, planing and dimensioning. It's not very convenient (far away) or cheap (hourly billing), but it'll work.
For my previous project, I hand planed some of the work pieces all the way from rough lumber and it wasnt't that bad. But it did take a bit of time and my end result wasn't perfectly flat, square and parallel. But it worked out and the pieces were too small to go through a jointer and a planer anyway.
Buying pre-dimensioned lumber is also an option but a very expensive one. And wood doesn't like to stay flat when humidity and conditions change, so a minor touch up might be required.
There isn't really a good way to accurately flatten a surface that larger other than a plane. Here's some notes on my bench: http://www.mcvoy.com/lm/bitmover/lm/wood/bench/
For table saws, the old craftsmen that look like this:
are actually pretty nice. I had one of those and it was really good about not spraying dust at you.
It starts with Mike haggling with some used tool collectors for good deals, and then he teaches how to clean + prepare the tools for work. He then teaches how to build some solid sawhorses, and then a very sturdy workbench. This is all with hand tools. The whole thing was really cheap! Under $400 for me to get all the necessary tools and materials.
My build (before boring dog holes):
Also make sure to check out the Woodworking subreddit. Lots of great projects and comments.
Woodworking: all things made from trees.
If anyone is interested, I ended up just getting this apartment friendly bench for hand tool use. You do have to hold your foot on the leg when planing but it works great for the size/money.
Would make one but it looks like it would be easy to screw up. Father in law is very handy so maybe I should ask him to help me out
I'm glad i did it.
Note the leg design, I swiped that from someone else, very simple, easy to tighten up, doesn't rock back and forth like a lot of other designs.
Even with my limited skills I could manage to find a way to attach the legs to the seat. What I have no idea how to do is figure out, given a particular choice of materials, how much to use. If I know my weight, and know that I'd use the stool for sitting and occasional for standing on when trying to reach something, how thick do I need to make the plywood seat if it is a given length and width, and what cross section do the legs need to bear that load?
I did the obvious thing, and looked for "Structural Engineering for Dummies" or something similar, but did not find anything. From the people I've talked to who build their own things from wood, they either build from published plans, or they use their intuition developed from seeing a lot of successful designs and make theirs similar.
He doesn't cover specifically a stool of the type you're describing, but he does discuss exactly the problem of joining legs to a seat, and gives several projects using the technique that could be adapted to what you want to build.
If you're looking to build something bar stool height, you'd probably need to add stretchers to make the chair strong enough. If you're going for chair height, you could trivially adapt the staked back stool in chapter 6 to your purposes.
In the interests of full disclosure, I own both "The Anarchist's Tool Chest" and "The Anarchist's Design Book" by Christopher Schwarz, as well as "With the Grain" and "Chairmaker's Notebook", which are also published by his company. My standing gift request is anything from Lost Art Press (said company) that I don't already own. I have no business interest in the company, but I do wish them well, because they publish excellent material.
I'm more of a bodger than a structural engineer, but I will tell you two things: joints are the weak points, and triangle rigidity is your friend. If you go looking for pictures of stools, you'll see that only the very lowest "milking stools" consist of three legs and a slab. Almost all stools will have a subframe at the top which reinforces the seat and stops the legs from wobbling, and most will have pieces lower down making the legs into trapezoids (and providing footrests).
Furniture rarely fails with a clean snap in a structural member - more like a joint goes, rigidity is lost, and the thing folds over sideways.
But yes, you're right, building things from wood is such a time-honored technique that it is rare for this to be required. Millions of stools, cabinets, and timber-framed houses have already been successfully built, so there's no need to reinvent the wheel when you can just copy what has been done previously.
I like the pocket screws for beginners because it allows beginners to have some success and build confidence to do more. It also helps to finish a project if you don't have lots of time.
I wouldn't use plywood but something like poplar. It's still cheapish, it's easy to work with and it's reasonably easy to finish or paint.
Something nobody has mentioned is finishing. You can construct something beautifully with dovetails but if you don't finish it correctly you will ruin it. Conversely simple construction that's well finished looks great. Finishing in my opinion is the hardest part of any woodworking project.
The problem with poplar (much like pine) is finishing. It tends to be blotchy like I think you can see in the pictures.
If you don't care about how it looks (I didn't for a shop toolchest) then it is a joy to work with. Planes really really well. Hard enough and strong enough (that chest is 20 years old and the drawer slides, poplar on maple, work great. Silky smooth feel to them).
A decent hardwood (maple, cherry, walnut, etc) would be a better choice and you'd want 4/4 or even 5/4 stock.
3/4" (~19mm) plywood is thick enough for most furniture projects. You could use 1" dowel for the legs and attach them by making a hole through the plywood, sawing a small split to the leg, drive it through and tighten it with a small wedge in the split.
Or just look at actual "shipping" furniture and borrow their dimensions.
I'm surprised most of these sites don't mention this.
You get the idea, tools need to be treated with respect.
I don't like the idea that one of them, that is dangerous, is now not dangerous. That tends to make me let my guard down and I don't want that to bleed over (pun intended, sorry :) to the other tools.
If I could make them all safe, that's a different story.
Not trying to piss on the technology though — great if it saves someones fingers. SawStop the company though is douche-ish (you can Google it to see how obnoxious they have been).
Bosch too now have a similar safety mechanism on some of their saws.
Dave: "Larry, who do you want to have your tools when you die?"
Me (instantly): "Someone like me, someone who will use them and take care of them."
Dave: "And that's why you don't need to feel creepy, he'd be happy you got them."
I need to take some more pics and show the equipment in there better but you get the idea. Full on woodworking setup and some metal working (Logan quick change lathe, MIG welder, grinders, bandsaw, etc).
I doubt I'll have enough time to actually work on a project but who knows. Perhaps there's an opportunity to cut a few dovetails and have a chat and a drink :)