Powerless

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I’m a power woodworker, in the sense I rely on powered equipment and tools. Could I do without them? I decided to find out.

We’re about to “cut the cord” around the Hamler house. First, we plan to dump our landline, as we no longer really need it. Oh, sure, I’ll miss the endless robo-calls, but everything has a downside. After that, we’re dumping cable. I discovered I can pick up every local station just fine – with a better picture than cable, in fact – with an HDTV antenna that sells for peanuts compared with our cable bill. The thing is so simple, it doesn’t even need power.

That got me to thinking, could I forgo power in the shop? Even though I’m an almost entirely power-equipment user I have, and use, numerous no-power tools. My shop has a no-power equivalent for every machine I own. Since I’m in the middle of a personal project, I figured there’s no time like the present to try. So I did.

Boy-howdy, what a disaster. Everything was harder, took longer and the results were less than what I was used to. All the things I regularly use no-power tools for (chisels, screwdriver, block plane, etc.) went fine, but the first time I tried to rip a 48" board with a hand saw – softwood, no less! – it was a total mess. I had similar results with other tasks, all of which were made even harder due to the fact that my shop is now in summer mode with the temperature well into the 80s.

But it was an experiment, and now I know that I’m just not a hand-tool-only woodworker. There is no shame in this.

Therefore, I’m implementing an entirely new definition of no-power woodworking: If it doesn’t have a cord, it’s a no-power tool. And since I regularly use battery-powered tools every time I’m in the shop, I can now assuage whatever misplaced sense of guilt I have just by grabbing a cordless drill and thinking hey, look at me, I’m using a hand tool.

A.J.

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