Working with wood is one of my life’s passions. It engages my senses: the slick feel of the surface after smoothing it with a vintage plane; the smell of different species-from clean pine to musty Indian Rosewood; the artistic look of the grain when it “pops” under a freshly-applied finish. Combined, the way I experience woodworking puts me into a state of flow, where many hours pass in the blink of an eye.
My shop is small. So to optimize my space, I made the decision to use primarily hand tools. For the most part, that means that I smell shavings rather than breath dust. And I’m safer–freed from fast-turning blades that can sever flesh and body parts in an instant. Best of all, working with hand tools is quiet. The neighbors never complain about the whisper of a plane.
That’s not to say that there aren’t challenges to using hand tools. I’ve had to learn to sharpen them meticulously. And I have to have a very good understanding of wood grain and species densities. My muscles simply can’t compete with power machines sporting horsepower-level force. That doesn’t bother me though. It’s forced me to become more intimate with my artistic medium. And that’s made me a better craftsman.
God bless the tree. One of this world’s most wondrous creations.