Make Some Shavings

One of the common sayings in the woodworking community is “get out there and make some shavings” if you use hand tools or “get out there and make some sawdust” if you use machines. In my case it is both ways a lot of days though I enjoy my time more if I am using hand tools and doing a traditional task of whatever sort. Anyways the point is that you don’t even have to make anything to enjoy the benefits of woodworking. What do I mean? I mean go ahead and make some shavings with no end goal even in mind. This can take several different forms and either cost a couple hundred dollars to get started or twenty dollars whatever is preferred or whatever the reality is depending on circumstances.

If you want to take the inexpensive route get a Stanley utility knife or a Stanley utility pocket knife and a block of wood maybe pine because it is soft with no knots in it and start taking the corners off cutting away from yourself of course. Figure out which direction the wood cuts smoothest. When the blade dulls you can change it out for another one or get an inexpensive sharpening stone or sandpaper on a block of wood or something flat and sharpen it. You might accidentally carve a spoon. Get one of your small table spoons and trace it on the block of wood then start carving down to the line.

Go to the big box store or hardware store of your choice (I like the green one) go to the handtoools area where they keep the chisels and get the Stanley block plane. It is red. Get some short blocks of wood to take home with you maybe one to two feet in length. If you don’t have a workbench no problem. Sit on the floor and hold one of the pieces between your feet. This is how a lot of cultures around the world work and make fine things. Take the plane out of the box and make the blade protrude just a little bit. Try to make it straight but don’t worry about it too much. Start taking the sharp corners off the piece of wood. Turn the plane different ways as you plane. See how it cuts best. Turn the block of wood around to figure out which way the wood grain cuts best. The plane will cut the corners off right out of the box. You are making yourself some clean firestarter. Burning newspaper is kinda nasty. Bag it up and save it. Feel the shavings in your hands. Sharpening will be required however if you want to learn to make a straight edge though. It is worth learning because that will make the act of planing even more of a pleasure.

Alternately go to Lee Valley Tools or Lie Nielsen or even Garrett Wade and get some better tools than what is offered at the hardware. Don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer number of tools. Start with the basics and go from there. The point is to have fun and feel the shavings and the texture of the wood that you are working with. A lot of people who do woodworking professionally never take the time to discover the essence of the material they are working with. I am suggesting hand tools here because the barrier to entry is lower not because they are superior. I am saying all of this because it does not take much to get started and you will progress to whatever stage you want to from here. Peace

Here I am edge planing a defect away before I glue up this table top.

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