NOJAC - Northern Ontario Joint Apprenticeship Council


Woodworking Page

Hand tools

The one skill I always was confident in was woodworking. My father was a good woodworker, he was taught by my grandfather. My dad had most of grandfathers old hand tools, except the wood planes which my father sold off when I was still very young.

I remember helping my dad when I was a boy. Woodworking was HARD work. Although my dad used to get the handsaws sharpened, he never knew how or had the equipment to properly sharpen the edge tools, which dulled quickly anyway. I remember helping my dad, ripping and planing old boards to get lumber to build stuff.

Power tools

It was my dad's dream which became mine, to be able to afford a workshop full of stationary power tools to be able to dimension and finish wood both accurately and effortlessly.

In the last few years I have been able to acquire every power tool I have ever wanted. I wish my dad was around to be able to use them. However the precision and ease of using power tools I found was diminished by the noise and dust produced by them.

Today, I need both

What really changed my outlook was learning how to sharpen saws and edge tools. Sharp tools work, quickly and silently. The turning point for me was when I built a traditional wood working bench. I had run flooring strips through my jointer and planer and glued them up into two 15" wide x 2 1/2" pieces which is the maximum width of my planer. I glued these two sections together and hoped they would come out flat. Of course they did not. I now either had to figure out a way to level the top, find a shop with a 30" planer or rip the top down that last glue line and try again. I used my best straightedge and marked the high spots and went at it with a belt sander, which I found very slow. Without much hope I tried an old jack plane which I had previously sharpened using sandpaper on glass. Well I was amazed, in 30 minutes the top was flat. Another 30 minutes with a smooth plane and a sander and I was done. Since then I have been acquiring old hand tools and expensive new ones. I now have many planes, scrapers, chisels and handsaws. I won't give up the power tools anytime soon but I sure appreciate the handtools.