Save Fuel, Energy, and Money with Hand Tools
Cut the power cord and grab a hand tool to conserve power
It's not just nostalgia that makes traditional hand tools appealing. The only fuel they need is muscle power, and they produce less dust and no noise. Good hand tools don't let you take shortcuts; they force you to work more safely and thoughtfully. And the attention they demand just might make you work more skillfully.
Razor-crisp decorative cuts like this corner cove could only
be the work of a molding plane. This one's body accepts interchangeable soles and blades, including V-groove, beaded rib, and rabbet profiles. If there's another profile you want,
stay tuned: New soles will be coming every six to eight weeks
for the next three years.
Plane body, approx.$249; seven profiles, approx.$139 each; fence system, approx. $129;
Bridge City Tools
By the time you set up a power sprayer, mask against overspray, and get the nozzle adjusted just so, you could have brushed on a coat of varnish or shellac. These handmade, supersoft ox-hair brushes are perfect for any finish where
you want a brushstroke-free, glossy-smooth surface. Quality brushes like these are built to last.
Approximately $20 for 1-inch, $35 for
2-inch, $55 for 3-inch; $100 for a set of three.
Brushes (and shellac flakes) available at Tools for Working Wood
When there's a 3-foot-diameter tree across your driveway, go ahead and fire
up that chain saw. Just remember, there's a reason it plays a part in so many horror movies. The rest of the time, this 221/2-inch arborist's saw slices through branches and brush quickly, quietly, and with much less risk to life or (human) limb. Its teeth cut
on the pull stroke, with deep gullets to clear chips fast.
Tip: When pruning live trees, wipe down saw blades with alcohol between cuts to disinfect the steel and prevent the spread of disease within the plant.
6 tpi; approximately $54; Garrettwade
Don't let a power miter saw's profligate consumption of space, money, and electricity stand between you and your dreams of crown molding. This all-steel German miter box guides a captive, 14-tpi blade through a 90-degree arc to make smooth, narrow cuts in molding up to 4 inches high and 5 inches deep. Cheap miter boxes have slots to guide a handsaw blade, but this box locks at any angle within its range—meaning you actually have a chance of cutting a tight joint.
Palm sanders can't be pushed into a corner or wedged against
a molding profile. Not so with a cabinet scraper, a flat piece of sharp-edged steel that leaves a surface mirror-smooth. This one has a ball-joint handle that lets you fine-tune the scraping angle. Approximately $39; Lee
We also like the handy Sand Devil, a shapely block that reaches into molding contours with sanding belts instead of sandpaper sheets. Not only are belts quick to install, you make efficient use of every bit of abrasive by moving it around the block as it gets clogged. Approximately $20;
With a set of gimlets, you don't run the risk of a bit skittering away or accidentally drilling too deep, as often happens when using a power drill. Just give these slim tools a few easily controlled cranks and they'll quickly bore pilot holes between 5/64 and 3/16 inch in diameter. Approximately $14 for a set of 7; Garrettwade
To drive screws into those holes, pick up a Yankee driver. Its shaft spins as you push the handle, for a driving motion that's as gentle as it is quick. Approximately $64;
Tools for Working Wood
A circular saw can't be beat for ripping a sheet of plywood, but for those short crosscuts in which the only clamp in place is your knee, a good handsaw is safer, easier, and (when used properly) more accurate. Ditto for working on a ladder or a roof. Besides, this Wenzloff and Sons reproduction of a 1797 British handsaw is a pleasure to use, cutting as smoothly and gracefully as any we've seen. Approximately $265;
The Best Things
Compared with a squat, heavy jigsaw, a bow saw is an elegant piece of sculpture that turns on a tighter radius and won't scorch wood sides. This one, based on a 17th-century design, has a slender 12-inch blade resting on brass pins in a tough hickory frame. You tension the blade by turning the toggle,
which twists the braided line at the top taut. Approximately $140;
Tools for Workingwood