This is 15 Important Reasons to Make Your Own Woodworking Tools. As a beginner, making tools is the fastest way to become a better worker. I’ll explain all of the amazing reasons why you should start, and the best way to do it. Enjoy.
Tools are the Best Beginner Project in the World
Tools are without a doubt the absolute best beginning woodworking project. This is true for a lot of reasons, but there are two that are the most important. These two things will help make you a better woodworker, much faster.
First, making projects in general raises your woodworking ability. However, none nearly as much is making tools. Tools need to work a certain way, and they need to perform like any store-bought tool or even better.
When you make a tool, you have to make something that works really well for the purpose, otherwise you won’t end up using it. Knowing this, it forces you to take more time, and make the tool properly right from the beginning.
The other thing that making tools as a beginning woodworking project does for you is it gives you more tools for your shop. You also end up accumulating these tools or very low cost, because you made them yourself. This is a double win.
There are a lot more reasons to make your own tools, and here is a list that can get you started and get the ideas flowing. I’ll go into every one of these in detail farther down in the post and explain why making tools is the greatest beginner woodworking project.
- Learn a Better Understanding of the Tools
- You’ll Care More for Your Tools
- Tool Making Builds Confidence
- You Learn to do More With Less
- Better Appreciation of Hand Tools
- You Will Love Any Tool You Make Yourself
- More Tools for Less Money
- You Can Make Better Tools Than You Can Buy
- Design Tools for Your Exact Needs
- Create Custom Tools that Don’t Exist
- Makes You More Self-Reliant
- Be More of a Maker and Less of an Assembler
- You’ll Always Have a Project to Do
- Eventually Get to Where You Only Use Your Own Handmade Tools
I making tools even more in my book, A Beginner’s Guide to Woodworking.
Learn a Better Understanding of the Tools
Another one of the top reasons for making your own tools is that when you make a tool, you learn a much better understanding of the item itself. It’s a much different experience then when you just buy something at the store.
Normally in the beginning of any tool purchase there’s a little bit of a ramp up. This is where you are learning how that tool works. This is the same for a handmade tool, however the ramp up is a lot more typically when you buy something from the store.
Having made the tool yourself, you know every nook and cranny and every aspect of it inside and out. This makes you and the tool instantly old friends, and you will understand how to use it far more than any other tool that you didn’t make it.
This deep understanding and connection between yourself and the tool will help you learn how to use it much better, and much faster. There is a little bit of magic in a homemade tool, and whether you believe that or not, you will notice a difference.
You’ll Care More for Your Tools
Handmade tools just beg to be taken care of. It probably has to do with the fact that you made it yourself and you have a investment of your time, more than your money. This investment helps you care for the tools better, and in turn they last longer.
A well-made tool that is cared for can last a very long time. It’s even something that could be handed down from woodworker the woodworker, or passed through the family. It should make you proud to know that you’re making something that could very well outlive you.
It’s easy sometimes to stop caring for something that only cost you some money. After all, money is replaceable, and much easier to come by than time. When you make your own tools, that investment of yourself helps you treat them better, and then they treat you better.
Tool Making Builds Confidence
Making tools to help you become a more confident woodworker. One of the hallmarks of making tools is solving little problems, including the main problem of how to make the tool itself. Over time, these little wins will add up.
As you go from success to success, solving problem after problem, you’ll develop a taste for it, and a good ability for solving problems. This will turn into a feeling that you can make nearly anything, and that confidence is what will drive you.
Confidence cannot be overstated. The difference between walking into a situation knowing you can do it, or feeling that you can’t, is a huge difference. Making tools will provide you a series of wins that build your confidence, and that will lead to even more victories.
You Learn to do More With Less
One of the funny things that happens when you make your own tools as you tend to use them all the time. Even in situations where you have multiple tools that can do similar things but with a tiny difference, you’ll still end up using the handmade tool over the others.
In essence what this teaches you to do is to do more with less. After all, you don’t need 10 different ways to create a level surface, you only really need one. Besides, the woodworkers that came before you never had the options that you have today.
These older woodworkers created amazing works of art with less than 10% of the tools that are available in the world today. They learned how to do more with less, not necessarily because they knew that’s what they were doing, but because that’s all they had.
When you start using your own hand made tools more often, you’ll end up using other tools less often, and you end up doing more with less. You’ll be surprised after a while with a small set of handmade tools can actually accomplish.
See Also: Heirloom Sanding Block Tutorial
Better Appreciation of Hand Tools
Most of the tools that you make will be hand tools. There are some exceptions out there, and there’s some talented woodworkers that make power tools themselves. While these are admirable, you will most likely make hand tools as a beginner.
In an age where power tools are all the rage, hand tools don’t get the respect that they deserve. After all, hand tools just don’t have the snap that power tools do.
Reaching back to the past again, don’t let hand tools fool you into thinking that they are inferior to power tools. They are absolutely not. There are also many reasons why they are in fact superior to power tools.
As you make your own tools, fall in love with them, and then start using them, your appreciation of hand tools will increase dramatically. This is a good thing, because it will control any bias you may have, and keep you a well rounded woodworker.
While using powered woodworking tools is a necessary part of the craft, there is something to be said about a woodworker who can pick up a hand tool and get similar results. There is a lot of skill in that practice, and you’ll be able to do the same thing when you make your own tools.
See Also: Woodworking Tips Cards – Use Hand Tools
You Will Love Any Tool You Make Yourself
I’ve alluded to this earlier, but I promise that you will love any tool that you make yourself. You form a connection between the tools you make and your own body and mind, and it may sound funny, but make a few tools and you’ll understand exactly what I’m telling you.
Even in situations where there are store-bought tools in your arsenal that can do the job more quickly, you will instinctively reach for those tools that you made yourself. Those tools quickly become old friends, and faithful companions.
You will end up loving those tools, and the connection between you and them will be so strong that it actually helps you create better projects using them. It’s an amazing phenomenon, and all it takes is making a couple handmade tools to discover it.
More Tools for Less Money
Another exciting part about making tools is that you can get more tools for your shop for way less money than buying them from a store. This is another double win, because not only do you get the tools, you also get to keep the money.
This is where making tools can become severely addicting. After all, once you see how inexpensive it is to make a single cam clamp, you’ll immediately do the math and wonder why you shouldn’t make a hundred of them.
After all, it only cost the same amount of money as buying about ten of them, so you really might as well make a hundred of them. It sounds funny reading it, but it will go through your head when you start making tools.
The sheer savings and value in handmade tools is just incredible. You can stock an entire shop with handmade tools for a tiny fraction of the store bought price. They will also be better tools, because you will understand them better.
We already mentioned clamps, but another good example is a hand plane. A well-made hand plane with a wooden body is a very expensive item. However, once you know how to make them, you can crank out a few in a day.
This may represent several hundred dollars in store bought tools that you just created in a matter of hours. Not only that, you elevate what your shop is capable of producing now that you have those tools on hand and available to use.
See Also: Sharp Tools and My Odd Discovery
You Can Make Better Tools Than You Can Buy
In many cases, you can actually make better tools then you can buy. While the odds of you making a compound miter saw that’s better than store-bought version is pretty low, when it comes to things like hand planes or scraper burnishers, you absolutely can.
There is just something different about a handmade tool. Even higher end manufacturers are still not nearly as close to having one person make your tool. There are still several different machines, and several different people involved in the production.
Those businesses are in the game of serving woodworkers, but they’re also in the game of making money. It just doesn’t make economical sense to have one person make each tool from start to finish, one at a time.
This does make sense however for the solo woodworker, like you. You don’t need to crank out 500 of them by the end of the day, you only need to make one. That means you can make your one tool much better than the store-bought version, because you have the time.
Think about that when you’re making your handmade tools. The very last thing you should do is rush the process. You have no reason to rush, and just by taking your time you could end up with a tool that’s better than anything you could’ve bought.
See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker
Design Tools for Your Exact Needs
Another awesome reason to make your own tools for woodworking is that you don’t need to compromise anymore on the design. More often than not, when you buy a tool, you get a few things you like but you settle on others.
The tool that you buy is more of a representation of what you like, and not exactly 100% what you wanted. This is just life, and even though you may not notice, this is exactly how you make decisions when you buy something from the store.
Think of the store as a multiple-choice test. You don’t get to answer with the answer that you come up with, you only get to pick from the available answers. If what you really want is not on the shelf, then you’re stuck picking from what it is.
Instead of going that route, just make your own. This affords you the opportunity to take the time and design the tool that makes the most sense to you. You can include all the features you want, and delete all of those you don’t.
Now you have a perfect woodworking tool designed, and it’s exactly the tool you want to have, without any compromise, make this tool, and you will be very happy that you finally got exactly what you wanted.
Create Custom Tools that Don’t Exist
After you are making tools for a while, you will develop a certain skill set that allows you to make others. This is great, because it means you can go to the next logical step and make tools that don’t even exist yet.
You may not know it now, but there are some tools that you’re going to end up needing that you don’t really know where to get. These tools might not even exist yet, or they might be very difficult to find.
It’s more common that you’ll make a jig that is unique, or brand new. These are also tools, because they help you accomplish different tasks that you wouldn’t be able to do with just your hands. When this happens, it’s awesome.
Tapping into your already existing tool making skills, it will be easy for you to create these other tools and jags, and then bring them to life. Now you have a tool that didn’t exist before you created it, and the perfect solution to your woodworking problem.
Makes You More Self-Reliant
Making tools for yourself makes you more self-reliant. Now you don’t have to run to a store every time you need something, and you’ll have the confidence to build things yourself, which is a great feeling to have as a woodworker.
There’s something really nice about knowing that you can make things yourself. It does take a little time to cultivate this understanding, and the subsequent knowledge, but when it happens to you you will feel incredible.
It’s not about doing absolutely everything yourself, because that would be impossible. It’s really more about doing more than you thought you could for yourself. Making your own tools is one example, but it will lead to other areas of your life really quickly.
For example, the self-reliance that you get from woodworking could also help you with remodeling a portion of your home, repairing something on your car, or doing any other task that you would normally pay for.
The only difference is the medium. The way that you research, learn, and eventually understand those processes is all the same. No matter what you do, the front end learning process is the same, and then you just apply it to whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
See Also: Woodworking and Self Reliance
Be More of a Maker and Less of an Assembler
There is a big difference between a person who makes something a person who assembles something. In general, assembling is a lot easier than making. Also, assembling tends to take a lot less time than making.
For example, if you were to buy all the parts to make an acoustic guitar, and then assemble those parts to finished form, you just assembled the guitar. While that’s still a fairly intense project, it’s not nearly as involved as if you had made all those parts.
Back that out even further, making the tools to make the parts is the next logical step backwards, and that makes you even more involved in the process. The more you can make yourself, and control, the more you understand your projects.
In the beginning, and even to save money, it’s definitely OK to purchase a part already made for a purpose. There’s nothing wrong with that, and don’t feel bad about doing it. However, over time you definitely need to learn how to make that part yourself.
Once you know, then you can confidently say that you know how to build that particular item and all of its combined parts. You may choose to buy a certain part going forward, due to either economy or expedience, but at least you do know how to make it if you had to.
You’ll Always Have a Project to Do
One of my favorite parts about making your own tools is that you’ll always have a project to do, even in between your main projects. There are so many tools in this world, and you would be surprised how many of them you can build yourself.
If you always want to have a project going, and you don’t ever really want to worry about being in between projects, then create a list of tools. Prioritize the list, and decide which ones you want to make.
Make sure you have all the materials that you need, and any time that you have down time, or you’re in between projects, you’ll always have something to do. As you go through this tool list, you’ll also notice that your tool selection keeps improving.
If you make wooden tools as your primary project for a while, you’ll probably have to add a few more to the list as time goes on. That’s pretty easy though, because there are so many creative people making their own tools, and there’s a lot of inspiration out there.
Eventually Get to Where You Only Use Your Own Handmade Tools
This is one of my favorite parts. Eventually, you might make so many tools that you get to a point where you can make projects using only the tools you made yourself. That’s such a cool place to be, and you would be surprised how few tools you need to do it.
Not only can you say that you made the project, but you can also say that you made every tool required in order to build the project. That’s not a very common thing among woodworkers, and you can put yourself in a small and emite category by doing so.
Using your personal tool arsenal to make projects is an exceptional skill that not every woodworker will have. You can set yourself apart in the beginning by making a lot of tools, and then using them to make your own projects.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you’ve read all 15 reasons to make your own tools, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Your assignment is to make a homemade sanding block following the instructions in my post.
If you rather make a different model, you could always do that, but at least you’ll have a post for instructions if you need them. This is the softball project, and a really good introduction to making tools that you use in your shop.
A sanding block is a super helpful tool to have, and it’s also very easy woodworking project. You can make it out of any wood species that you like, but I recommend using something beautiful so that way you’re proud of your project.
Spend the time it takes to get this right, and you may end up with a sanding block that’s so beautiful that you don’t even want to use it. Definitely use it though, because as a tool maker, you deserve good tools, and you should use them.
If you have any questions about making tools as a beginning woodworker, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
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