Well it has been 30 day and I have finished the hand saw challenge I made to my self. The idea was to make 10 cuts a day with my hand saw, I left it kind of vague because the real point was just to use my hand saws more often to become more proficient. The fact is that I consider myself a hybrid woodworker am starting to lean more towards hand tools, maybe it is just because it is the trend right now but I don’t think so. Growing up I learned to woodwork, as many of you will know if you follow this blog, from my father and grandfather. My grandfather was a hand tool worker while my father pretty much only used power tools. I too became dependent on my power tools and would set them up even if it was a small task that took more time to set machine up than preform the work. I still have access to both power and hand tools but find that I tend to grab my hand tools until I feel that the task needs a machine to speed things up.
The problem was that I never grabbed my hand saws, and to be honest I was just not really sure what I should be doing with my hand saws, other than cut a few dovetails on occasion. I could hack my way through a few dovetails but the motion of my cuts was anything but great. My tendency was to rush things, the blade jumped around, and the cuts…well they weren’t great. So when I stared this challenge it was to just get better with the saw. If I could make ten cuts a day I was sure by the end of 30 days I would be better. After posting on here and talking with a few friends on Twitter about this, Shannon Rogers of The Renaissance Woodworker and The Hand Tool School, said that it would not take me near 30 days to get to the comfort level I was looking for….and in the end he was right.
It has now been 30 days now and I can say the challenge is complete. Now can I say that I did not miss one day in this time?…no I can’t, life happens and I did miss a day here and there. To be honest I became completely bored with it after about 2 weeks.
But a strange thing happened in the process that I did not expect. Not only did I get better and more comfortable with using my hand saws but with out even thinking about it I now reach for them when working a projects. A few days ago I was working on one of my wooden hand planes and I needed to cut the groove in the bed to allow for the screw holding the iron and the chip breaker together. In the past I would set my table saw up, rip one shoulder, adjust, and then rip the other. But this time without even thinking about it I grabbed my carcass saw quickly made two cuts for the shoulders and with the wood still in the clamp cleaned out the middle with my shoulder plane. Without even realizing it I reached for a saw that in the past I was not sure what to do with it.
I originally intended to post another video of how much I had improved with the saw, but honestly it really doesn’t matter how good or bad I am at using my hand saws….what matters is that I am now starting to rely on this tool just as I do with my hand planes and any other tool in the shop I can’t live without.