I have not posted much over the past couple of months because I have been working on re-tooling my shop for more hand-tool-centric work. From now on I want to do as much of my work as I can, within reason, with hand tools. This has created a need to completely rethink my shop and work practices. Many power tools have been sent to the storage building. I kept the table saw and bandsaw in the shop and will still use them often. The hand saw now gets used quite a bit for cross-cutting while the chop saw gathers dust on the shelf. The chop saw may go to storage soon. The main problem that I am running into is that rather than having a tin shop, blacksmith shop, cooper shop, artists workspace or house fixing shop, I have all the above in a one car garage. So space is a big issue. I am a big fan of tools on wheels, and stations that can be moved without a hernia.
The reason I bring all this up is that working with predominately hand tools has many advantages. First off, noise. I am so sick of listening to air cleaners, dust collectors and power saws. Also dust. The very fine dust made my power tools has become a real health issue for me and many other long-term woodworkers. A day of dusty shop work, even with filtration, often results in massive, brain splitting headaches. With hand tools the dust is much coarser particles which are easier to deal with. Plus, you work with a lot of shavings that eliminate much of the dust to start with.
In addition to noise and dust, there is the environmental factor. With my hand tools I use a fraction of the electricity used before. I would guess that I am using power tools maybe 20% of the time now, depending on the project. Couple the reduced energy with the fact that I try to use as much recycled or discarded material that I can, and I feel better about my energy consumption. I have struggled with the fact that even though I was making rustic furniture and folk art with basically free and renewable materials, I was using a ton of electricity to do it.
No system is perfect. I will still be burning charcoal in my forge, heating the shop with a gas furnace (wood stove had to go so that I could hook up the forge), and consuming materials. However, I think the shop is headed in a good direction.
The next project that I will be starting is reproducing this shaving horse.
It is an antique that works great for coopering. I want to make a new one for use in the shop so that I can preserve this bench.