I bought my first woodworking tools with an eye towards starting my hobby/journey a couple of years ago. I bought some Poplar and was going to build what I thought would be and easy project – a box. I even had a plan for said box – to house an old torque wrench. But there was one problem – I had no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t even saw or plane the wood straight – and Poplar is oh such a difficult wood. Maybe a box wasn’t such a great idea.
So I began reading, watching Youtube, and buying DVD’s. I asked my share of stupid questions on forums (now I’m working on more than my share). I had started out working with a Japanese ryoba saw, chisel, and small kanna block plane. After doing some reading I decided that the Japanese “pull philosophy’ of tools would work better with my failing body. That changed with the introduction of one tool to my arsenal. I read an article about Mark Harrell and Bad Axe saws; reading that he was retired Army just like me made me decide to give one of his saws a go. I got a 12” hybrid filed dovetail/carcass saw and it cut just oh so sweetly. Any lingering doubts over the ability of Western tools was erased shortly thereafter when I was gifted an Old Street Tools wooden coffin smoothing plane.
I gathered up tools for about a year and tried to gather up knowledge. However, I still didn’t have a completed project to my name. In fact, thanks to a gift from a relative, I had a collection of tools that should have allowed me to build anything my heart would have desired but the reality was nada, zilch, bubkus.
I got a DVD on how to build a Shaker table from one of the Authors/Teachers I’d relied on most in my earliest woodworking readings (Christopher Schwarz). I ordered some primo Walnut and set to sawing. I made some pretty good progress.
So finally I get to my first finished project – a shaker table! well, not exactly. Sawing out the leg stock from 8/4 walnut with only a rip saw (even if it was a fine thumb-hole Disston D8 rip saw) with my noodle arms was beyond me. But that process did leave me with the ‘middles’ of those primo walnut 8/4 boards left to do something with. One of the biggest problems I’d encountered though out this entire journey was work-holding. I used the boards and ordered hardware from Benchcrafted to make a twin-screw (a.k.a. Moxon) vise.
It’s just two boards cut to length and planed straight (and not well at that) with a ledger board glued on the back (on the wrong side the first time around) and threads, nuts, and cool cast wheels holding them together. It’s just all that but I call it done – and I call it my first completed project!