Robert's Personal Blog

Hand tools for building furniture – Are they efficient?

Before the indutrial era and invention of complicated modern tools, almost all furniture was made by hand, using hand tools. It was only few decades ago that Skil first came out with circular saw and transformed whole industry. These days, with rise of pinterest, DIY is getting more and more fashionable every day, so the number of people who want to build their own furniture is rising too. I’ve been into woodworking for 30 years now, so i have unique perspective. These days, people are getting more and more interested in using hand tools. I don’t know why, though – power tools are certainly more capable and effective. It might have nostalgic value.  Maybe they think that using exclusively hand tools on their projects makes their level of sophistication and knowledge even more distinct. Or it may be because they feel closer to handmade furniture. After all, despite being slow and hard work, using hand tools will allow you to greatly personalize any piece of furniture you’re working on. Power tools, in comparison, are more end to end. So it might be due to craving of sense of accomplishment and having some tangible thing that they made truly all by themselves. Perhaps our world has become too comfortable, so we are seeking out the difficulties that our ancestors had to face in order to get stuff done.

Take chopping wood, for example. Year or two ago, i didn’t need as much wood chopped as i do now, so i used my splitting maul, which i found in this tutorial. But now i upgraded to electric log splitter, because it’s much more efficient. It’s kind of similar with saws. If you want efficiency, hand tools are a bad idea.

 That’s probably what it is, because before 2000s, i didn’t even know anyone even considered getting hand tools. It didn’t make sense to me that someone would choose something so inefficient over readily available tools that could do the same job ten times faster. Now that i had dug deep into it, i understand that there might be romantic value in using hand tools. Everyone is different in their own way, so there’s no point in arguing which tools are better than the others.

 Plus, i had spent a lot of time around professional woodworkers. For them, using anything but power tools didn’t make sense, because they were making a living using these tools, and efficiency was the key. Now, with democratization of DIY and woodworking, more and more people are picking up woodworking as a hobby, and they all use different things.

 At the end of the day, it is what it is – hand tools are nowhere as efficient as power tools, and are only used for romantic and nostalgic values.