We attended part of British woodworking teacher Graham Blackburn’s class titled “5 Favorite Hand Tool Appliances.” Graham made a convincing case that hand tools need not be used merely freehand. In fact with some simple preparation he demonstrated using hand tools to cut accurately without even using his eyes.
Some takeaways from the class:
1. Avoid measuring. Instead transfer dimensions directly from the workpieces that are to be fitted together.
2. Avoid cutting freehand. Example: use a one-bevel marking knife to scribe your cut line, then use the vertical wall of the cut line as a “fence” for your saw blade.
3. Take advantage of what your body can do best, e.g. place the workpiece vertically in your vise to make it easier to saw accurately; place 3 fingers on the saw handle so the index finger points in the direction of the cut; in general position yourself and your stance to your ergonomic advantage.
Graham considers the try square to be a woodworking jig, not an actual tool. (To him, a woodworking tool is something that cuts wood.)
His first 3 favorite “hand tool appliances” are the bench hook, shooting board, and winding sticks, all of which he strongly believes a woodworker should build for themselves, since after all, they are made out of wood. When told by someone in the audience that artisan wooden winding sticks were being offered for sale in the show’s marketplace for $95 a pair, he laughed and said “Isn’t America great!”
We moved on to sample another class before he named his final two favorite jigs. He does have a new book out that covers that and much more:
Jigs and Fixtures for the Hand Tool Woodworker