There are some really great resources available today for learning hand tool woodworking today. Maybe 10 years ago I did some woodworking – primarily using power tools – and this certainly wan’t the case then. The Krenov books were great (and still are), and there were other resources. But there has been an ongoing resurgence in hand tool woodworking, and we’re all richer for it.
I recently bought a package of two DVDs and a book called “Exercises in Woodworking“. The foundation of this is a book written in 1889 by Ivin Sickels. A scan of the book is also available on Google Books. I bought the reprinted copy with the two DVDs on a sale from Popular Woodworking, but you could get a lot out of just the (free) online book.
The origins of the book was a manuscript that Sickels prepared for his students at the College of the City of New York. When I went to college there wasn’t a woodworking course option and I feel cheated. I’ve read most of the book and watched both DVDs. I plan to read the rest of the book of course, but it’s mixed in a stack of rwo dozen other woodworking books, videos and fantasy novels.
The book has two main elements. The first is a “Short Treatise on Wood” that explains the properties of wood. The second part is a series of 39 exercises in hand tool woodworking beginning with the use of a chisel to smooth a board through joinery and finishing with veneering and finishing. Not all of the book exercises are covered on the DVDs. I like this package a lot, and even bought the same DVD+book package for my brother-in-law for Christmas.
The first DVD has Christopher Schwarz demonstrating the first 8 lessons. Chris begins by flattening one face of a 2″ x 2″ x 8″ block using just a chisel. Interestingly, the initial work is done with the bevel down. I’m eager to give that a try. In fact I plan to start with that exercise and work through all of them, so expect to hear more about this book.