WK Fine Tools Library
February 15, 2015 6:55 PM   Subscribe

WK Fine Tools is an internet magazine devoted to traditional and fine woodworking. The site also maintains curated collections of downloadable woodworking books and tool catalogs and manuals.

A notable work to get you started: the Disston Saw, Tool and File Manual [pdf], famous for its illustrations describing how different types of hand saws work.

Bonus book: the Nicholson File Company's 1920 File Filosophy [pdf].

Bonus articles: Norman Franz's pioneering An Analysis of Chip Formation in Wood Machining [pdf] and William McKenzie's follow-up Fundamental Analysis of the Wood-cutting Process, which used high-speed photography to determine how planes and related cutting tools work (and fail).
posted by jedicus (14 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome find!
posted by 2N2222 at 7:23 PM on February 15, 2015

Great to see this site here! I hope this shoves some Mefite who's been on the fence, into woodworking with hand tools. It's very easy to be intimidated or worry that it requires some amazing degree of hand eye coordination when in actuality the principals are pretty simple and there are lots of simple jigs you can make to get accurate results. Once you learn how to sharpen planes and chisels, nothing can hold you back.

You don't need to aspire to 18th century levels of craftsmanship; it's pretty liberating to be able to take a piece of wood and make it whatever size and shape you need it to be and then assemble it into something that fits where you need it to go.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:31 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

This should be labeled NSFW: not safe for wallet.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:39 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

bonobo, can you suggest some good projects to start? And also maybe a source of inexpensive wood?
posted by Deathalicious at 8:36 PM on February 15, 2015

Keep an eye on the curbsides just before trash day - I've salvaged some mighty fine wood that way. Old dining tables are prime sources for re-usable wood; vintage dressers and bedside tables can have nice secondary woods in the drawers and under the veneer . A 1980s waterbed frame gave me a wealth of pine for shelving in the shop.

(The grandest prize ever was an antique blanket box that somebody put out for trash; the boards in the lid and sides were - I kid you not - 12 to 16 inches wide, you can hardly buy that nowadays. That one didn't get salvaged, it got restored.)
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:20 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Paul Seller's YouTube channel has a great selection of videos on the basic processes , picking and restoring tools. A fantastic method of sharpening as well. My favourite book is a the Essential Woodworker, available from Lost Art Press. Also from that publisher is The Anarchist's Tool Chest, with more good advice on building a basic set of tools. Both are available as DRM free epubs.

I think pine is the best wood to learn with. You can get clear pine 3/4" boards at Home Depot but it's cheaper at your local lumber yard. Keep an eye out for boards with the rings tightest along the width. These are quarter sawn pices and good for drawer sides. The one thing I always do at HD is look through he 2x12 joists. They come from big trees and you can often find boards that are nearly free of knots. You can rip these into any size you need. Buying 2x4s is for chumps - always full of knots and they don't often hold their shape.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:09 PM on February 15, 2015

For those who fear large outlays, the above-mentioned Paul Sellers has recommendations for either purchasing new tools that are cheap, but work (like these chisels from Aldi, a supermarket chain, that he claims will last a lifetime) or finding cheap antique items on eBay (like pre-70s Stanley planes) and restoring them.

In addition to being a pleasant and thrifty chap, Sellers has designed and made cabinets for the White House Permanent Collection, so he's able to get good results using hand tools...
posted by Harald74 at 10:57 PM on February 15, 2015

BTW, if you want to sink your money into well-made new hand tools, or just browse tool porn, have a look at either Veritas Tools or Lie-Nielsen Toolworks.
posted by Harald74 at 11:00 PM on February 15, 2015

And people say SNL sketches are too long and drawn-out.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:38 PM on February 15, 2015

It's rare to find anything good, but yard and garage sales occasionally turn up treasures. My experience with CL is that I am one of approximately 324876276 people in the greater Seattle area hoping for tool bargains.

That said, if you live somewhere remote, often times you can be the first on the scene.
posted by maxwelton at 3:07 AM on February 16, 2015

(My local lumberyard occasionally gets some cedar from salvaged old-growth trees, mixed in with their regular lumber. The 4x4 legs on my deck planters...two of them came from an 8' board which had over 270 growth rings in 3.5 inches. So poke around when you're in the lumberyard, you never know what you'll find.

Note, cedar itself isn't a wood you'd really want to make anything "fine" out of, it's soft and doesn't "machine" very well, even if you're machining by hand. It's the aluminum of woods.)
posted by maxwelton at 3:10 AM on February 16, 2015

I think pine is the best wood to learn with. You can get clear pine 3/4" boards at Home Depot...

shopping for lumber at home depot is a special level of hell. probably the one I'm going to... at this point even the plywood there is warped.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:39 AM on February 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just this weekend I've laid down a 7m by 5m floor of solid oak floorboards that I found in a skip (I asked if I could have them) being removed from a nearby restaurant. I still have lots spare, and a whole skipload went to the tip because I was too ill to drag them back home that day.

So... yeah, skips. I love skips.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 7:29 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

shopping for lumber at home depot is a special level of hell. probably the one I'm going to... at this point even the plywood there is warped.

Good tip from either Chris Schwarz or Roy Underhill (can't remember who said it first)...hunt through the 2x12s and look for one that's got the pith right down the middle. It'll probably be cupped along that line, but if you trim out the middle two inches or so you're left with two flat perfectly quarter sawn boards. You won't get wider than around five inches, but to comes out to less than $1 per board foot for Douglas Fir or Southern Yellow Pine.
posted by echo target at 1:10 PM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

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