Hand Tools vs Power Tools and Other Things

by Dale on February 20, 2014

Hand Tools vs Power Tools and Other Things

Maybe I’m old-fashioned or new-fashioned, I’m not sure, but I really don’t like to use an old (or new for that matter) outhouse to do my ‘business’ in. The comfortable, clean, odorless bathroom is my preference, even one at the gas station. We knew a young couple once, (way out in the country!) that used drywall buckets for toilets and used their waste to fertilize the garden, said it was the best way.

I never ate with them.

On the same vein of thought, I prefer to travel in an airplane, automobile, motorcycle or any other modern transportation device – vehicle. When it comes to local travel I prefer to get into the car and drive the 15 minutes to town than to ride a horse for an hour and a half maybe longer. When I return I just get out of the car and go into the house, without feeding, watering, brushing anyone or thing and all the other needs for the saddle care and mucking out the barn.

Of course, many people LOVE all this and the pleasure of riding in the open air and they find true freedom and pleasure within their lifestyle. My hat’s off to them, and I do understand their viewpoint; I live & have my shop built on my 88 acres within the Hoosier National Forest in hilly Southern Indiana. It’s a great walk to work, no traffic. I never take that walk for granted, my love for the fresh air and 50-year-old forest surrounding me never lessens.

Another pleasure for many and angst for me is sitting outside for hours in very cold weather waiting for the odd deer to wonder into my shooting zone. My mind tends to wander into my shop and to my lists of jobs sold, various chores I’ve put off, changing the oil in Mary’s car and on and on. In my thoughtful state a deer could tap me on the shoulder and I would jump up and run to the shop to work. But dear friends and thousands of others love the challenge and all the elements of hunting.

Some of you might know where I’m going with this blog, but bear with me.

MB_ studentIMG_6638

Paul Anwiler, a master level student using hand tools while in class with Dale

Electricity in my home and shop is another preference I have. Flip a switch, and you get light, power, and a hot shower instantly, it’s great. There might be some who prefer to light their homes with kerosene, lanterns or candles, but I don’t personally know any outside my Amish neighbors.

That life before electricity and back in the pre-civil war days was when the furniture in America was made exclusively with hand tools. Mostly it was also made with loving care and pride of craftsmanship and honor of their name. When they added their name to the finished piece it was with great pride because of the quality of workmanship.

If the craftsmen of old were alive today, they would probably understand why many hobbyists, hand tool makers and advertisers, magazine writers, hand tool class teachers, etc. would promote the new fashion in woodworking of exclusive hand tool construction. It has a feeling of more control and personal touch and is deeply satisfying.

But, also speculating here, these craftsmen from the past would probably enjoy the electric lights, saws, jointers, planers, sanders and on and on. No doubt the porcelain chair in the closet with running water and toilet paper would win their approval after a couple uses too.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here, I still use my hand tools, when it makes sense and there is available time. A couple classes back I was teaching two first time students. It was their first time in any woodworking class and their first project. Guess what? The electricity went off during a storm and there we were … two first time woodworking students and me. It was genuinely perfect for the occasion, we finished with hand tools only and they got more training than they expected. You see, it’s really about time.

We all know in business time is money. Few of us can hand build furniture for just the sweet reward of doing it. Most are in the woodworking business to do what we love and also pay the bills. That’s true now just as much as it was in the 1800 or 1700’s, really since the beginning of time. When you build custom kitchens, furniture, or anything out of wood for a living, at least when it’s your career, the method you support your family, put your kids through college, especially in fluctuating economies it’s best to be able to do an excellent job as fast as you can. But when time is not a factor you can do anything your heart desires, that is, if you have the money!

The craft of woodworking has room for everyone. Some craftsmen only use Japanese methods, some hand tools only, some major in modern with the most fantastic machine available today and then there are those of us in the middle. The first time students in my class were happy that I was experienced enough to finish the class with hand tools only. But also happy that they took a class for a weekend and took home a completed piece of furniture. We could not have done that without electricity. It would have taken much longer than a weekend to finish the project without electricity and cost the student quite a bit more for the time involved.

So don’t be intimidated if your friend or neighbor only works with machines to make his furniture. That’s their preference, you can master true craftsmanship with or without electricity. My personal preference is using electricity, as well as hand tools where needed so that I accomplish more in a short amount of time and bring in more revenue (to buy more wood!).

The main rule for me is high quality either way.

The total fulfillment in woodworking or any craft is that you can do it your way. I’m so thankful I was trained on hand tools and machines. If the electricity fails I can still make projects from wood, but maybe not enough to support myself! Once I retire and have time (I really cannot imagine that) but if I do I’ll probably still use both hand tools and machines.

As new woodworkers, do not be intimidated by either method. Try both and more, try it all and enjoy the most fulfilling craft I have found and take it to any level you want and you can. Just make sure you are enjoying yourself and having fun.

That is truly what this is about, self-fulfillment and sharing the projects you make with others.

What are your thoughts?

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Brown December 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm

I had the opportunity to take Dale’s class building a Bow Arm Morris Chair. It was truly a lifetime experience. Dale’s knowledge and ability to teach what he has learned are amazing. The other student had never used a saw before and left with experience on all the tools/ machines and a beautiful chair. His attention to detail is refreshing. He has a desire to make sure you understand the particular lesson he is teaching/ showing that makes the cost a bargain ( plus you leave with a beautiful chair).
There are only a few craftsmen left with his abilities and knowledge. The days were long hour wise, but really fun and enjoyable. I will be taking more classes in the future, probably the Greene and Greene table that is displayed along with some of his other pieces in the bungalow you can stay in.
Bill Brown

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Dale January 14, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Thanks, Bill for the great comments, I couldn’t agree more! I really enjoy teaching what I have learned over the years and from your comments I am very glad you enjoyed the experience as well. I wish you well and look forward to our next encounter!

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Jos Vermeulen October 4, 2016 at 9:35 am

Dear Dale,

Although I still am a student in woodworking I fully agree, as long as the result looks good and has good quality and (most important for me) you had fun making it, it doesn’t matter what type of tools you use. Sadly, the future is coming and with 3D printers and whatnot the ”common” woodworker rarely uses handtools… I can’t imagine myself working all day behind a stupid machine pressing random buttons, this is why I really like people who still use handtools (and even old fashioned machinery). As you mentioned though, it really is a fact of preferences, but I think the real woodworkers will never die out!

Although reading this blog was an assignment from my english teacher, I really enjoyed reading it!

Jos Vermeulen
HMC (Netherlands) student

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Jos, Tell your teacher I said thanks! and I would not want to sit working a 3D printer and think I was a woodworker. That is why I love custom work. Custom woodworking is building a unique and usually one of a kind piece of furniture or kitchen. Custom work is to satisfy that one person or family. Each job I do is different. So every day is something I can look forward to meeting the challenge to customize the project. When I am teaching classes here at my shop I pass all that I have learned on to my students who are usually not professional cabinetmakers. Although I have had a few professionals come as students to learn the elements of Greene and Greene in furniture making. You are going to love your future career. Best Regards to you, Dale

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steffie October 6, 2016 at 10:14 am

Dear Dale,

My name is Steffie and I’m a student at the HMC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
For an English assingment I have to comment on your blog.

I really like the way you work, and I also agree with that way.
Off course it is amazing if you can only work with hand tools but I also think that machines can help you to make things just a little bit easier and faster.

In my first year of this school we had to make (cloth strips) that is literately translated into English so let me explain. It were two small massive planks with a layer of carpet were you could put a piece of work on without scratching it at the bottom. We had to raze those massive planks with only handtools no machines. Nobody understood why we had to do that since we had machines for that certain task. Our teacher than told us that if we for example made a chair and it was almost finished but you had to raze only a part of the leg of the chair, but you never learned those basics that you could damage all your work by not knowing one thing. That was I think a good lesson and also a good example of what you mean.

Thank you for sharing this post.
Kind regards,
Steffie

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Hi Steffie, thank you for the compliment and comment. Sounds as if your instructor is helping you understand the entire process should you be without machines. That is always good to know when you are on your own once you begin your career. Be well and continue toward your goals! Dale

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Sebastiaan Wijk October 10, 2016 at 7:31 pm

Dear Dale,

It is good to read about your way of seeing things. The different perspectives of craftsmanship and the way of doing thing. The different ways of using machines, (hand and electric) and that is definitely something personal. Some prefer other ways to accomplish the same result or product. Great story, good to read and to see what your thoughts were about this subject.

Sincerely,

Sebastiaan van Wijk

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:03 pm

Hello Sebastiaan, Glad you appreciated my blog. Thank you for commenting! Dale

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Samira Brussé October 12, 2016 at 5:14 pm

Dear Dale,

I am currently studying to become a woodworker in The Netherlands at.
In our first year we use primarily hand tool so we gain the basic knowledge about woodworking. We also practised to make dovetails etc.

I personally am like you but a bit more towards the machinery side.
I enjoy working while using the old-fashioned techniques but I also think the machinery brings indeed a lot of speed. I also think it makes curtain actions, like sawing, easier.

I hope that, when I receive my degree, I’ll be able to work just like you described.

Kind regards,

Samira Brussé

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:08 pm

Hi Samira, thank you for reading my blog and commenting. It is good to read feedback and know what other woodworkers feel and think about tools of all kinds. Once you begin your career in woodworking you will find that proficiency with speed and safety will be your best friends. Best of Luck to you in your studies, Dale

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kai October 17, 2016 at 10:57 am

Hi my name is Kai van Eck,
I a man student at the HMC (wood and furniture college) in Rotterdam. For my English assignement I have to comment on your blog. I think that you are right, it is your own choice if you use power tools or handtools. But it is always a good idea to learn everything hand tools, power tools, computer controled machines, etc. especially when it is your job. But on the other hand if you only do it in your free time. Then I think it is only needed to know about hand tools and power tools. The key to this proffesion is to have fun and work with care. That is my opinion.

Kind regards,
Kai van Eck

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm

Kai, Oh my! I hope my blog was not graded by your English teacher! Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment. I think English is easier to speak than to write and you’re doing well to be understood. Continue in your studies and Best of Luck! Dale

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glenn ederveen October 17, 2016 at 8:09 pm

My name is Glenn Ederveen and I am a furniture making/ designing student from the Netherlands. Our teacher gave us the task to read your blog and reply to it. So be prepared to get alot replies this week. I hope this is not a problem for you.
Many days I am day dreaming about the older days, and no not hunderd or twohunderd years ago but in the time of the kings and knights. And how they where able to make a lot of beautiful furniture without electricity and a CNC machine. But that’s not how it goes so we need to use all the handy and beautiful machines we can use.

Thank you for the inspiring words

Keep on building

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Hello Glenn, all your comments are welcomed! Thinking on days of Castles & Kings and woodworking is something I probably have only done while I was in Europe years ago. Each detail and the entire process must have been very time-consuming and certain metals for tools were not even available to the general public, nor certain tools even developed in those days! Imagine getting charged by the hour when you purchased your bedroom furniture! Sleeping on piles of hay may have been the style for a reason. It is fun to think of different historical times involving the building and design of furniture. Your day dreaming could open your mind to a new design or way to build that introduces an entirely new line of furniture. Keep up the good work! Best Regards to you, Dale

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Mathijs October 18, 2016 at 4:21 pm

Dear Dale,

I am a furniture maker from the Netherlands and im currently following a study at the HMC college. Our english teacher has selected a few blogs wich we have to read and respond to, i can happily say, congratulations your blog has been picked out! (so be prepared for lots of comments on your blog) I’ve read your blog and i can say i can relate towards your feelings about the old and the new. I personally like to work with new and advanced technology because it just saves up alot of time nor the less i can also work with non electrical tools so if the power goes out im not in trouble. Anyways goodluck in the future and keep up the good work

kind regards,
Mathijs

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm

Mathijs, Thanks for your comment and interest in learning new things. Technology is many times baffling to me. Have you heard the adage, “You cannot teach an old dog new tricks?” Well, that’s how I feel at times when I’m learning something new like uploading a photo from my iPhone to my Facebook page. But it finally happens and I learn! My adult son, Wesley has a career in IT and has helped me more than you can imagine. I’m thankful you are enjoy working with advanced technology. Perhaps you will invent some new device to help save time in woodworking someday. Be well and keep heading toward your goals in life
Dale

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Ronald van Wijk October 20, 2016 at 3:20 pm

Dear Dale,

My name is Ronald van Wijk, I am 18 years old and I am living in Werkendam in the Netherlands. I’m following a study for furniture maker at the HMC in Rotterdam.
And I am one of the students who have to look and command at your blog.

I agree 100% with your opinion to mark something with “old” or “new”. I find it disrespectful. But I think the use of electric tools make your life so much easier.
With our education you have to use both hand tools as electric tools because not every electric tool can do the same as you can do with your hands. And you need a bit of skill to.
I am agree completely with your blog and I really liked reading it.

Good luck in the future and keep up the good work.

Kinds regards,

Ronald van Wijk

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:38 pm

Ronald, Thanks for commenting on my blog. I appreciate the thoughts of a fellow woodworker. The thing about skill is that it can be taught when the student wants to learn. The more furniture you build, the more you learn, the better your skill level. There is a certain amount of custom woodworking and furniture making that needs talent coupled with skill. Your innate talent and gifts developed over time with a good teacher will bring much personal satisfaction in your life. I thank God for my dad who had the patience to train me and allow me to grow into my own style of furniture maker. My two woodworking brothers are equally talented and skill but we have very different interests in woodworking. My older brother, a builder loves Early American, my younger brother’s specialty is working with cooper in woodworking. Our dad gave us the same training but in individual ways. From this website, you can view my expertise. Glad we are in agreement on the use of electricity! Nice to turn on the lights each day. Be well and Best Wishes,
Dale

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Koen Bos October 22, 2016 at 11:42 am

Hello Dale,

I really liked reading your blog. I am learning to be a luthier at a woodworking school in the Netherlands. I totally agree with you on this matter. I have a passion for handtools, but some things are far better to do on machines. You can get more precision and at a greater rate on these woodworking machines. One of the scary parts about these machines, especially with musical instruments, is that it’s easier to make mistakes.
I like the things you’re making and I agree on the method you’re doing so. You have got some great photo’s on this site. Keep teaching this wonderful craft and good luck with your business!

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Thanks for commenting on my blog. A few years ago, a man worked for me 14 years who played almost every stringed instrument. He was my assistant by day and part of a Bluegrass band in the evening and on weekends. He built a mandolin while in my employment. I was totally fascinated with the project. My son, Wesley and daughter Maria, both play the violin, guitar, piano and other instruments. The violin is an amazing instrument. Koen, you have my respect! Your choice of careers will bring you much pleasure once you master the art. Mistakes are made using power tools or hand tools because it is the human that makes the mistakes, not the tool. Remember, mistakes are a wonderful way to learn a lesson very well! Best Regards, Dale

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Rick Zagwijn October 23, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Hello Dale,

My name is Rick Zagwijn i’m a student of the Hmc In the netherlands. When i read your blog i thought where is he going with the story. But when i read a bit further i started to see your kind of view to furniture making. its very important to know how to work with hand tools but its also good to know how to work with machines. Thank you for posting this blog

Kind regards,
Rick Zagwijn

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Hi Rick, thanks for the comment. Woodworkers are like everyone else in the world, we love variety. Being able to use hand and power tools is essential to being a master craftsman. I’m glad the article was interesting for you. Thanks again,
Dale

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Beryl Capelle October 24, 2016 at 9:28 am

Hello Dale,

After reading your blog I began thinking how I prefer to work. I agree, woodworking machines do work faster, but I am more into handcraft. I am bound to make mistakes because the machines are so fast. Mistakes that could have been avoided by working with hand tools. That is not the case for everyone, but for me it is. And on the other hand I really like the skill that goes into working by hand. All roads lead to Rome and that only gives the world colour.
Really liked to hear you are a teacher in woodworking!

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Thanks for your comment Beryl. I think you will find as you continue in woodworking and/or furniture making that mistakes happen just as much with either style of tools. Mistakes are our greatest teachers in life. Once you develop your skill with either power tools and/or hand tools your confidence will build and help you with both methods of woodworking. Both are artistic in their own way. But as I have mentioned in earlier comment replies the higher your skill and safety in using both power and hand tools the better your mastery of woodworking as a whole. From framing houses to building a violin and everything between a master craftsman needs skill with hand and power tools just like they need to understand mathematics. I hope you achieve all your life’s goals and reap the rewards! Best Regards,
Dale

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Pauline October 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm

hi,

my name is Pauline Tanis and I live in The Netherlands. I am a student at the HMC. I am following a study furniture making. I think it is way more beautiful to make furniture with just hand tools because you Always have to do your very best. And it is a very beautiful way to make it. And it is Always very handy when the electricity is down 🙂

kind regards,’
Pauline Tanis

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm

Pauline Tanis,
Thank you for your comment on my blog. I hope you will reread it and see that doing my best in building custom furniture is achieved by using power or hand tools. It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. In your study of furniture making, you will see many beautiful pieces of furniture and many are functional art. You may not be able to tell how some of the most beautiful furniture was made. Hand or power tools in a master craftsman hands creates beautiful furniture in the privacy of their own studio/shop, how it was crafted cannot be determined by the eye of another when the piece is finished. It all depends on the level of skill and talent of the artist. Best wishes with your studies! Dale

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Dylan October 26, 2016 at 1:43 pm

Hey Dale,

My name is Dylan and I’m a furniture making student from the Netherlands. My English teacher gave us the assignment to comment on your blog, at first I didn’t really like the assignment since we already have a lot of home work. But it was actually really fun to read your blog, also, I agree with you when u say working with hand tools is deeply satisfying. But I think it’s a good time to be a furniture maker, I like that we can have best of both worlds now. The satisfaction of using hand tools and the speed of power tools.

Anyways, it was nice reading your blog so thanks and good bye.

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 6:34 pm

I agree with you 100% Dylan, it is very satisfying to use both my hand tools and power tools. Glad you enjoying reading my blog and thank you for your comment. Best Regards, Dale

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jochem October 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Hello Dale,

My name is Jochem and I live in the Netherlands. I am studying to become a wood furniture maker at the HMC in Rotterdam. I think your right that hand tools and machines together the perfect mats is fore a good furniture maker. We learn at school the first half year working with hand tools and then a lot white machines. I like both, but hand tools you need feeling for it.

Kind regards,

Jochem

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Hello, Jochem,
Agree, hand tools are an intimate, personal way to work with the wood. It is the slow, methodical detail of working with your hands in any craft that takes you into the “Zone”, so to speak. I also have that when I’m working with power tools. For me, personally, it’s the entire experience of working from start to finish on a project regardless of the tools I use. Although I do not use the computerized industrial power tools at this time, I may if I never retire! Thanks for commenting & best of luck on your future in furniture making. Dale

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Anna van Noppen October 27, 2016 at 11:29 am

Dear Dale,

My name is Anna and I am nineteen years old. I am a student at HMC in Rotterdam, I study Furniture maker. First of all, I couldn’t agree with you more about machines and hand tools. I also like to work with both and as a beginner furniture maker I really like the challenge to work sometimes with only hand tools and sometimes with only machines. Thanks for your funny blog, I really liked it!

Kind regards,

Anna

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Dale October 27, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Anna, Thanks for the comment. Hope you are enjoying your studies. Best of wishes to you in your future woodworking/furniture making. Dale

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Martijn Hoogendoorn October 31, 2016 at 8:30 am

Hello Dale,

I really liked reading this blog, and I agree with you wholeheartedly.
power tools are all fun and games until there is no power. I like to use power tools when I can, just because it’s quicker and easier. But sometimes i just don’t feel like using them and I use Handtools only. It’s better to have average knowledge on both sides than allot of knowledge of one side only.(that’s my opinion atleast) And when power is down you can continue your work, wich is always a plus.

Have a nice day,

Martijn Hoogendoorn

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:55 pm

Martijn Doogendoorn,
Thanks for commenting on my blog and glad you agree with my philosophies on power and hand tools. Hope you continue in your woodworking!
Dale

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Joël van der Burgh November 2, 2016 at 7:57 pm

Dear Dale,

My name is Joël van der Burgh, student at the HMC in Rotterdam.

I like the way you think about modern techniques and the old ones. Their are both important for a crafstman. If the power goes out you can go on with your work and you can give a personal touch to your projects. On the other hand you have to earn a living and with power tools is that a lot easier.

Greetings,

Joël

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Hi Joel, Thanks for commenting on my blog. It’s good to know you read and appreciated my thoughts and beliefs. Best wishes to you on your studies at HMC!
Dale

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luutgard November 2, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Dear Dale,

I’m student at the HMC (wood and furniture college) in Rotterdam and I’m 20 years old. I liked to read your blog and pictures from your work viewed. You make beautiful kitchens, I also allowed to make kitchens for internship. But that were mostly modern kitchens, I personally think less beautiful. The kitchens are mostly machine made, which is nice as long as you do not stand behind all day. Still, many handicraft remains sit in what I like. Even now I make a lamp made of wood with curved legs. where a lot of craft in it.

I hope you like it that all of your blog posts.

I wish you good luck with your career.

Kind regards,
Luutgard

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:50 pm

Luutgard,
Hello to you! Sorry for the length of time it has taken me to reply to your comment. It sounds as if you are doing advanced work on your own with the lamp. In the craft of woodworking, even working at your own studio the kitchens you build will depend on the taste of your clients. I don’t always get to build my favorite style of projects. For me, I try to put all my attention on detail and pleasing the client. Developing your listening skills will help please the clients and make the relationship with them easier. Enter the meetings with a completely open mind and do not think of your own desires. Once the client shares the project they want to commission try to see it in your mind’s eye as they do. If they have pictures or you can draw it and you both understand what it is they need you to build it really helps make everything better. So focus on the details and I believe it develops you as a more experienced businessperson and craftsman. Someday I hope you can only build the furniture you love and provide the income you need to make your life happy.
Best wishes on your education at HMC!
Dale

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Jouri November 3, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Dear Dale,

My name is Jouri and I live in the Netherlands. I am studying to become a wood and furniture maker at the HMC in Rotterdam.

I see more and more usage of computer controlled machines. We have a CNC in our school and it saves a lot of time. Also the machines get a lot more complicated. Machines work very precisely.
Although even in the future I think we will still need hand tools to do certain things such as repairing old furniture. There are some tasks that machines cannot yet do such as creating round forms which a lathe could do but power tools make the work a lot easier.

Yours sincerely,
Jouri

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:35 pm

Jouri, Thank you for commenting and sharing about the machines at your school. I have never used computer controlled machines. My adult son now works in the IT networking field after he first studied computer drafting and design. Some of the machines you mentioned were at his school too. It completely amazes me and I feel quite sure I will never be able to use them. But like you, I believe they are necessary for the advancement of woodworking, just as hand tools will always be necessary.
Best Wishes to you in your future with woodworking and life,
Dale

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Mik Witloc November 3, 2016 at 2:47 pm

Hello Dale,

My name is Mik Witlox and I live in Roosendaal in The Netherlands. We have to do a project for our English lessons on the HMC in Rotterdam. We are preparing for the exams next year so that’s the reason why I write this.
I like the thinks you are making. I’ts a good thing to learn everything about hand tools. Thanks for your funny blog, I really enjoyed it.

Regards,
Mik Witlox

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Hi Mik Witloc,
Glad you liked the blog. I hope you do well on your exams and graduate with high marks at HMC.
Happy New Year to you and your family,
Dale

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Danielle November 3, 2016 at 6:17 pm

Dear Dale,

My name is Danielle de Ruijter I am 18 years old and is live in The Netherlands. I am also a student at the HMC in Rotterdam. I think you are right that hand tools and machines a perfect match is. But I also think that you can make beautiful furniture with hand tools. And it is a lot more fun.

Kind regards,
Danielle de Ruijter

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:27 pm

Hello Danielle de Ruijter,
Thanks for the comment on my blog. Best of luck to you in our education at HMC. I’m glad to know you agree with the blog on hand and power tool use. I’m also thankful my dad taught me how to use both and I have been able to purchase 36″ wide belt sander among many other tools!
Happy 2017!
Dale

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Berend v/d Linde November 3, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Dear Dale
My name is Berend and I’m following an education to become a furniture maker in the Netherlands.
Personally I prefer to use hand tools instead of power tools, in this way I am more in touch with the material and I have more eye for all the small details. But I rarely use hand tools because it takes a lot of time and money, which a lot of customers aren’t paying for.
It makes a lot of sense actually, why spend more money on the same product if it can be done for much less using machinery. Sadly, the “real” craftsman are slowly dying out. But there makes place for a new kind of craftsman who can program, use machinery, etc. which is also a nice way of furniture making. But I truly hope the “real” craftsman keeps existing.
Kind regards,
Berend van der Linde

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm

Berend van der Linde, Thanks for your comment. I find it interesting you think “real” craftsman only use hand tools. I guess I consider a real craftsman to be a person that gives themselves to the project with the best of their ability with all the tools their personal finances and ability can provide. Sometimes I hand carve a custom decorative design on a newel post turned on a lathe (a machine) after I have made all the risers, treads, other newel posts, railings, skirt boards and solid wood horizontal paneling on machines for a unique one of a kind staircase. I don’t believe I am less a craftsman for using machinery to build the completely original stairway I have designed or fashioned for a client. But I understand what I think you are saying about someone who stands in a production line using a machine to make one part of a piece of furniture all day. Somehow this sense of craftsmanship is within the person doing the job. If someone does the best of their ability and gives all they have within themselves to craft the piece, they are craftsmen. When you have your own shop or studio I hope that you are able to use the tools you love and have the income you need. Best of luck to you,
Dale

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Waylon November 3, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Dear Dale,

What a recognizable feeling!
I am very grateful as well that I was taught how to use hand-tools to create various designs, although I tend to lean more towards power-tools for the big jobs, sawing, shaping, drilling and so forth.
There has never been a project I’ve done where I haven’t at least once pulled out a hand tool though, it being either a block plane or a hammer at the very least! and of course all of the fine-tuning when it comes to sanding down and finishing a project.

anyway, great stuff! I really like your outlook on things, and I’d love to some day take a look in your workshop.

Kind regards,

Waylon
—Aspiring furniture builder from the Netherlands—

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Dale December 28, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Waylon, Thanks for your comment. I agree. In many ways, it’s like using both your hands to work. I won’t tie my right hand behind my back because I’m left handed. So I won’t put away hand tools because I favor power tools, I need them both. Building custom furniture requires all the tools at our disposal in this modern world. Then we have more time for creativity. I wish you the best in your future and hope you become world famous!
Dale

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