Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I used to be a finish carpenter and sometime cabinet maker. For those of you who have done this kind of work you know there are lots of tools needed for finish stuff. When I was doing that for a living I probably spent and hour and a half each day just unloading, setting up and then putting all the tools away again into the old work van. Got kinda old after a while. After I quite carpentry for money and went back to consulting in geology (very few hand tools!) and finished building our house on Whidbey Island, I pretty much put my tools away and did not touch them for about 7 years.

When I got back into surfing and wanted to build a wood board, I got out my old hand (non-power) tools and used them. I used my chop saw for my first board, but then the saw got stolen out of the garage and I did not replace it. I also used my table saw, thickness planer, router and belt sander. All great tools and all very noisy and messy. I work in my garage and the laundry machines are in there too....so my wife was not really happy with the fine wood dust everywhere! So, I gradually stopped using the power tools and now, about the only power tool is use is the table saw for all the rough milling, the drill press and a little with a jig saw. I learned that I did not need to thickness plane the wood for the skins...milling on the table saw and a bit of planing by hand with a #5 works really well. Pre-glass sanding can be done by hand, although it is still messy. It takes a little more time, but you don't have to worry about power sanding through the thin skins. Once the glass goes on, the sanding can be done wet, so there is absolutely no dust. Nice!

So my collection of had tools for surboards include a #5 hand plane, a short sureform plane, a Stanley mini-plane, a Stanley spoke shave, a Japanese-style pull saw, short western-style saw and assorted chisels. Its a lot more enjoyable sweeping up wood shavings rather than wood dust, and probably a lot better for the lungs. The quiet tools allow my to work in the early morning or late at night and not disturb the family or neighbors. Nothing like the whine of a router at 6 am on a Sunday!

Fins are fun to build. After ripping the wood pieces on the table say and glueing them up, all the shaping is done with the spokeshave and a coupel of chisels for the tightly curved areas. Then its just a matter of sanding to get the foil smooth.

I'd really like a bandsaw...that would make resawing wood much easier than my table saw. I like to use old recyceled wood for my projects, so resawing is a necessary evil. Maybe some day I'll get one. But until then, I'll just use what I have and be content with it.

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