Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Wish List As A Woodworker

I've been woodworking for just over two years now. In that time, I've built up a collection of better tools and better skills, but the further I get along with both, the more I realize that I'd like to go even further.


Most of my projects that I choose to do are what I call "skill builders", i.e., there's at least one thing about it that will challenge me to try something new, whether it's a new tool or a new technique. For example, last spring/early summer I purposely built a couple of tables to teach myself joinery, such as mortise and tenons and dovetails. I got the mortise and tenon aspect of woodworking down, but dovetails? Yeah, I am still relying on a jig for that. Not for lack of trying, I've made several attempts and let's just say that they fell short of expectations.


I was sitting at my computer today, thinking (okay, dreaming!) of what I could do or what I could purchase to get me to the next level and I came up with this list. I'm sure if you compare notes with many woodworkers, their list will be very similar.


1) A bigger, better table saw. If you've watched my videos or read my table saw review, you'd know that while I'm not unhappy with my saw, I'm fully aware there are things about it that are lacking. Mainly the size of the table top, but there are a couple of little things about it that I wish were better, such as what the top is made of and how big/tall the fence is (it limits me as to what I can use for attachments). I've been looking around for something to upgrade to, but haven't found anything in my budget that has a reputation I can trust.


2) Let's face it....I've tried I don't know how many times to cut dovetails, and I more than likely will continue trying, but it's a skill that is probably either beyond my grasp or, at best, years away from being able to do it and not have people say "Well, at least you tried..." I've tried a couple of jigs, and although the one I have now is ok, I really don't like the "this is the size you are stuck with" part of it. I'd much rather have something I can use and make the size of my dovetails look like, well, actual handcut dovetails.


3) Better handsaws. I have a rip cut saw, a crosscut saw, a panel saw, and a couple of small backsaws that I purchased at the local home center. They get the job done, so I can't complain, but they do leave the cut edges rough and I have to clean them up. Oh, and maybe a dovetail saw, just in case I ever do master dovetails (see #2).


4) Upgrade to 1/2" shank router bits instead of the mix of 1/4" and 1/2" I currently use. I think the 1/2" are safer and more reliable, but finding them in my area is next to impossible.


5) A good set of forstner bits. The ones I have are good, but they don't sell a complete set in my area, so I've purchased them on an "as-needed" basis. I have what I need so far, but I dread the day I have to make a special trip to go purchase a $40 bit just because I have to cut a certain size hole.


6) A couple of nice spokeshaves. I bought one for about $5 a few months ago, because I needed one to shape the legs on the highboy I'm building. It did the job ok, but keeping it locked in on the setting I want is a problem, so I'd like to eventually buy a quality set (one with a flat sole, another with a curved sole).


7) Card scrapers. I modified a broken putty knife to use as one, and it works ok, but leaves a lot to be desired. I'd like to upgrade to a nice set at some point in time to finesse my surfaces.


8) Mortise and tenon equipment. I tried the General Tools mortise and tenon jig and didn't much care for it, so I've been cutting tenons mainly on my bandsaw (see #1 as to why I don't usually cut them on the table saw), and I cut the mortises on the router table. It's a pain in the rear to set up for the cuts and, unless I'm cutting several all at once, it's time consuming. I'd much rather have either a mortiser with a tenoning jig. If I could justify the insane expense, I'd love to have a Festool Domino (they're crazy-expensive, so I don't see me ever getting one) or something similar to it.


So those are the things that are currently on my "wish list" and, like I said, I'm sure that most woodworkers have a similar list (feel free to share it in the comments below). Now don't get me wrong, I can make do (and have been) with what I currently have, these are more along the lines of "things that will make my woodworking life a lot easier" than anything else.


P.S.: Not a "tool" wish at all, but I certainly wish I had a bigger and better shop setup. Short of building on to my house, it's not gonna happen anytime soon.

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