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Questions about novice tool purchases (loong thread warning)

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OhDear

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Hi folks, sorry to be a pain. I was Inspired to join after reading through the secret santa thread and thought this seemed like a good place.

I posted this question on another forum (lumberjocks) but haven't had any responses just yet although they all seem to be very friendly folks!

A bit of background: I’m a 23yr old trainee cabinet maker at college in the UK and I’m getting on quite well. Up until now I’ve been using only the tools in the workshop, so spending a lot of time regrinding and sharpening before being able to use a tool. I’ve wanted to get a few better tools for a while but haven’t had the money to do so. I’ve recently come-in to a small sum and am going to use a large portion of it to get me a few quality necessary hand tools.

One of the items on my list is a good plane. I know the maker I am interested in (QuangSheng, Lie Nileson copy from Workshop Heaven) but am unsure as to what size to get. I was dead-set on getting a No. 5 as it seems like a very useful size and able to do a lot of different tasks but a friend of mine at college (whose work I rate quite highly) suggested that the No. 6 would be considerably more useful (QuangSheng don’t produce a 5-1/2, which was his other choice, and I would like to stick with them).

What would you say? Should I go with a No. 5 or is a No. 6 really that much more useful? I should add that this will likely be my only personally owned plane for about the next 6 -12 months so, while I will buy atleast one more in the future, it won’t be next month or anything so soon so it will have to be fairly useable in a lot of situations.

The work I am mostly interested is very fine, high quality fine dovetails and fine tolerances, I won’t be working on anything too large for a while as I will mostly just be completing the college projects and one or two small projects of my own along with practicing at home.

I would also like to buy a nice dovetail saw but was unsure of what to buy. I am happy using the Japanese style saws but understand that this is generally not considered best practice for fine furniture makers who often prefer to learn proper technique with a European style saw instead. I would like to learn with a European saw if possible. I am familiar with a lot of the brands such as Lie Nielsen and Veritas but haven’t been able to actually try anything. While I would rather spend Veritas money, if something like a Nielsen would be that much better for me to learn with I could stretch to it. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I’m also a bit perplexed about the tpi as I would have thought for dovetails that the finer the blade the better (20tpi) but am seeing a lot more aggressive saws (14-16tpi) than fine ones, indeed Lie Nielsen sells their progressive saw with a blade graduating to 9tpi at the handle. Just wondering what advantages and disadvantages come with each choice.

Finally (for now…) I am going to get some nice chisels. I am unsure of wether to get a set of 6 or just the ones I think I’ll use the most. My college instuctor and the friend I mentioned earlier have swayed me slightly to the side of buying a full set but my initail reaction was to pick maybe 3 sizes and see how I got on. What do you think?

The only other things I’m buying at the moment will be a good 300/1000 Diamond stone (I will get a finer stone very shortly too hopefully), a marking gauge and two dividers for marking tails and pins. I already have a steel rule, a mallet and a tack hammer.

Hopefully, that’s everything covered.

I’d really apreciate your oppinions, Obviously (by the length of the post) I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible, sorry if you had to read it all!

Thanks for having me!

OD
 

adidat

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hello and welcome

my thoughts on the matter,

the two planes that you should invest in is a low angle block plane quangsheng or veritas and a no.7 (i will pm you a link to a nice Stanley going cheap) those where the 2 planes i always grabbed.

go for the veritas dovetail saw there great, narex chisels are good.

adidat
 

Derek Cohen (Perth Oz)

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Hi OD .. and welcome!

Dovetail saw - I support the recommendation of the Veritas (14 ppi). I did not get along with the LN progressive tooth saw - these are more finicky to use (e.g. you cannot start a cut in the middle of the saw as the teeth are too coarse at that point). Also, I think that LN saws are not for the inexperienced as the teeth are too aggressive. I have and love my LN 15 tpi, but I am quite experienced in this area. I do remember t=how difficult it was at the start: very grabby. The Veritas has much more relaxed teeth, and is much easier to use. It just does not cut as fast as the LN.

Planes - A #5 size is a one-size-fits-all. A good place to start. Get a couple of spare blades (large camber for removing wste fast, a fine camber for smoothing, and straight across for the shooting board ... must have a shooting board). I have always felt the #6 to be an oddball, but here in Oz I gather it is the recommmended size for trainee cabinetmakers. I am but an amateur, with several choices, so the advantages of using one plane only (Heaven forbid!) is lost on me :) A block plane is a Most Useful Thing (end grain, chamfering edges). Again an extra blade is handy. Low angles are good for end grain, but a common angle is better for edges.

Regards from Perth

Derek
 

Vann

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Hi OhDear and welcome.
OhDear":3a9omhse said:
One of the items on my list is a good plane....Should I go with a No. 5 or is a No. 6 really that much more useful? ...

The work I am mostly interested is very fine, high quality fine dovetails and fine tolerances, I won’t be working on anything too large for a while as I will mostly just be completing the college projects and one or two small projects of my own along with practicing at home.
If your short list is either a No.5 or a No.6 and you're intending mainly fine work, then get the No.5. However, I wonder if you shouldn't be looking at a block plane and/or a No.3?

OhDear":3a9omhse said:
I would also like to buy a nice dovetail saw but was unsure of what to buy.
I know diddly-squat about dovetail saws so I'll leave you in the hands of Derek and Adidat on this one.

OhDear":3a9omhse said:
Finally (for now…) I am going to get some nice chisels. I am unsure of wether to get a set of 6 or just the ones I think I’ll use the most.
Ashley Ilse chisels (better profile for dovetail work), and just get the three you think you'll use the most.

My tuppence worth...

Cheers, Vann.
 

Richard T

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Welcome OD,

I've found that the standard Record/Stanley #5 is a perfectly good fore plane. They turn up all the time second hand and are pretty cheap.
I'd also recommend the low angle 'smoother'. I have the Veritas and it is an invaluable smoother, mitre, shooter and general getter - out - of - trouble with difficult grain.
Where abouts in Brum are you? You would be very welcome to pop round and try out a few things to give you an idea of them.
Also it's well worth making the trek to Long Marston air field (the other side of Stratford) on a Sunday morning to the market there and getting to know some of the tool guys. Decent chisels, #5s, 5 - 1/2s, #7s are regularly to be found.
 

JohnCee

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Plane-wise, I would strongly recommend a Lie Nielsen 5 1/2 for your situation.
In my experience the genuine article is well worth the extra money over the Quangsheng copy (even if they did do a 5 1/2).
 

Alf

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Welcome aboard, OD.

As regards the plane, if you feel most comfortable with a #5, go with that; it's not held the All Rounder title for so long for no reason. Also, the Quangsheng #6 is a bit of an oddball anyway, having its rear handle stepped back a little, and some have found they can't get on with that at all - so if you do go 6-wards, bear that in mind.

As far as the dovetail saw goes, the Veritas is excellent bang for your buck. The only reason not to go with it is either a) You have the good fortune to happen across an old saw in good condition and know how/someone to sharpen it, or b) You really can't stand the Veritas' looks. As far as tpi goes, it's the same old story - the number of teeth registering in the cut at any given moment. 15 is a good all round number for most work, but if you're doing lots of very thin drawer sides, you might well prefer 20.

Regarding chisels, I love sets, but in my head I know that buying just the chisels you need makes more sense. It's deciding what sizes those are that always flummoxes me. Which variety you get is very much a matter of personal taste, in my opinion. Amongst the new makes available, I have a soft spot for the LNs, but I have small (and infamously freaky) hands. Ashley Iles are loved by many; Narex Cabinetmakers seem to be regarded as good value; at current speed of appearance, the Veritas ones will possibly not appear until after you've retired*... Throw yourself upon the mercy of Matthew at Workshop Heaven and he'll be ridiculously accommodating, will probably give you a chance to try a few different ones, and then part you from your lettuce in a painless and pleasant way. :D

*Not really true. Sorry, Rob. :wink:
 

Mike Wingate

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I started off with a 4 1/2 and a 6. I really enjoyed discovering a 5 when I started teaching. I use the 6 quite often now, I recommend the QS blades and chipbreakers in whatever planes you choose. A QS low angle block plane is a good idea.
 

Cheshirechappie

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Hi OD!

Well, there's plenty to get our teeth into here!

Firstly, I think you're dead right to take some hand skills seriously. A good pro cabby should be fully familiar with both hand and machine tool use, and know instictively when either is more appropriate. On sharpening - don't worry about the time spent. It's one of the fundamental skills, and the more you do it the better (and quicker) you'll get at it.

Planes - the 'traditional' cabinetmaker's kit would contain three main bench planes; jack, try and smoother. The jack is the workhorse, and with a couple of spare blades, can be pushed to do the work of the other two, but for a pro it would be better to have one plane set up for each task. The smoother I would regard as essential, as it's small and nimble, and if kept razor sharp and fine-set, will do all the close final fitting and many finishing jobs that even the best machines can't quite manage. The try plane is probably less used in these machine-orintated days, but a pro should be familiar with one. It can produce the very slight hollow on board edges for a good, tight edge-joint, for example; I'm not sure you can do that with a machine.

The best planes on the market at the moment are Clifton (best carbon steel irons), Lie-Nielsen and probably Veritas. Bearing in mind that you'll be looking for 40 years of professional use, forget the cost and buy the best. As either Mr Rolls or Mr Royce remarked about cars, the quality remains long after the price is forgotten. (Whenever I've hummed and hawed, then gone for second best because I can't really justify the price of the best, I've lived to regret it; conversely, whenever I've bought the best and hang the cost, I've never regretted it later.)

On dovetail saws, I'd concur with Derek Cohen. Eventually, you may want two or more - one very fine-toothed for thin drawer stuff and fine boxes, one a bit more aggressive for carcase dovetails. I've heard good things about the new Flinn-Garlick Pax saws; they might be worth a look. Buy new or inspect thoroughly before you buy secondhand - don't touch Ebay saws unless you're good at straightening blades and sharpening (experience!).

Chisels - if what you're doing at the moment is small stuff, buy a couple of small ones and test drive them. If you like that maker's offerings, add other sizes as you need them. (If you ever see old pro's sets, there are always a couple of well-worn sizes, and a couple barely touched. No point paying for sizes you end up never using.) I find that a couple of heavier-duty chisels honed at about 35 degrees are useful for chopping-out jobs - it saves your 'best' ones for finer work. Ebay, junk shops and boot fairs are good sources.

Might be worth doing a bit of research on Ebay for some stuff. Don't buy for a while, just see what things sell for, what comes up. Older chisels (the 'cast steel' ones) can be good buys, but be prepared to do a bit of fettling. Don't be too bothered about making the odd tool-buying mistake - we've all got a few of those hidden away!
 

GazPal

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In truth, your mentor is your best guide regarding two particular aspects during and after training.

1. Technique. Learn his school of craftsmanship before moving on to experiment with those of others. This cuts down in potential confusion involving the use of a mish-mash of techniques and avoids conflict. By all means study other forms and methods, as these can eventually become intermingled within your technique.

2. The tools within your kit. It's not quantity or label, but it is quality and how you use them as your skill sets become more polished/refined. Buy what you can justify through repeated use and you'll seldom go far wrong.

Add whatever you need whenever you can afford it/them, but try to do so over an extended period of time. This allows you to add the right tools for the work you're involved in, whilst basing decisions upon personal experience. Try not to be influenced by trends toward tools/equipment by certain makers, as trends tend to empty your wallet far faster than you're able to replenish your funds via work.
 

OhDear

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Thanks to you all for the replies and advice. I posted this question on the LumberJocks forum too and both groups have been very kind to me in sharing information and opinions, brill!

I've been doing some serious shopping today and as you were all very kind in lending me your advice I thought I'd better share some info on my purchases with you all, so here goes!

I decided to go with the QuangSheng No.5 plane. I'll let you all know how I get on with it if you'd like when it arrives. There were a few reasons for me going with this plane: the reviews were very good, I haven't seen anyone say a bad thing about it yet and the resounding opinion seemed to be that a 5 was the way to go. I was seriously thinking about going vintage and getting an old Stanley but I am a compulsive buyer and I'm highly capable of convincing myself to purchase multiple items if I can find an excuse. The QuangSheng will likely require next-to-nothing to set-up out of the box except for a bit of sharpening and I can't blame anything but my technique if things aren't going well, haha. I really did appreciate all of the advice though and am certain that my next plane (either a smoother or a jack) will be an older Stanley.

A lot of people spoke about different saws and the benefits of different tpi's as well as personal preferences to brands. One saw that kept getting mentioned though as being an excellent saw to learn with was the Veritas, specifically the 14tpi, so that's the one I went for.

As for the chisels, the Iles set was what I was interested in but the difference in price between a set and just buying the same set of chisels individually turned out to be less that £1 so I decided to buy the three that I know I'll be using the most soon. A 1-1/2 for 38mm hinge cutting, a 1/4" for removing waste from dovetails and a 1" because if I don't have a 1" bevel edge chisel then goodness knows what I'd do, haha. Again, thanks everyone for the input, I think I went with the majority on this one!

I've also bought myself a Veritas wheel marking gauge (with fine adjustment), the cheaper twin pack of Veritas dovetail markers and a high quality 1000/340 diamond stone to flatten the backs of my chisels and to get a useable edge before I get a finer (likely wet, natural) stone at a later date for a really nice edge.

As you can imagine I'm going to have a fantastic time waiting for the post-man!

I said on the LumberJocks forum that if anyone want me to do a write-up of anything then just to let me know, I feel pretty fortunate to have been in the position to have the money to buy these tools and would be happy to help other folks with questions about anything if I can so if anyone is interested in anything just give me a shout!

Thanks again folks, great stuff,

OD

OD
 

adidat

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OhDear":t0k0fgyu said:
I've also bought myself a Veritas wheel marking gauge (with fine adjustment), the cheaper twin pack of Veritas dovetail markers
ohdear

a word of warning, when your vice is stuck at 2 inches from closing with no apparent reason. please do not put all of your weight on the bar hoping it will close, instead removing the dovetail marker, unlike what i did #-o

adidat
 

OhDear

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adidat":153s7e2h said:
OhDear":153s7e2h said:
I've also bought myself a Veritas wheel marking gauge (with fine adjustment), the cheaper twin pack of Veritas dovetail markers
ohdear

a word of warning, when your vice is stuck at 2 inches from closing with no apparent reason. please do not put all of your weight on the bar hoping it will close, instead removing the dovetail marker, unlike what i did #-o

adidat
Ahhhh... I can imagine a few choice words were used to describe what you were feeling.
 

bridger

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if you are limited in funds buy quality vintage tools and learn to fettle. your money will buy 4 or 5 fold what buying new tools will yield, and the process will connect you firmly with woodworking tradition.

I have a shop full of beautiful old tools, sharp and working for me. I do buy new when the need arises, such as when technology requires a tool that didn't exist 100 years ago, or when the tool collectors have priced something out of my reach. but my preference is for fine quality antique tools purchased for cheap. :)
 

Vann

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OhDear":joxhbo18 said:
I said on the LumberJocks forum that if anyone want me to do a write-up of anything then just to let me know...
There's a review on here of the Quangsheng No.3, and there was a thread on their No.6 a while back, but I for one would be interested to read an appraisal of your No.5 when it arrives.

And I'd be interested in opinions on the Ilse chisels. Did you get bevel-edge or dovetail (round back), or a mixture of both?

I feel the Veritas dovetail saw has already been well covered.

Cheers, Vann
 

OhDear

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I'll give the QuangSheng time enough for me to get used to it then and I'll do a reveiw. The chisels I bought were all b/e. I hadn't really seen anything like the dovetail chisel before so was a little unsure of what to make of it, if I find that there's something that I could really use one for though then I'd like to give on a try.
 

Alf

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Always good to see additional opinions on all new tools, in my opinion. Ze Master List is always open - I don't always remember to update it though, so this is as good a moment as any to remind anyone with a hand tool review on the forum that hasn't made it to the Ze List yet, to let me know. Thank'ee.
 

matthewwh

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JohnCee":vikq72aq said:
I have been very disappointed with them. The steel is too hard and chippy.
Hi John,

If you bought them from us they have a lifetime guarantee - pop em in the post (ordinary 1st class, just hang onto the receipt) and I will refund or replace to your satisfaction and cover your postage costs for sending them back.

Cheers,


Matthew
 

OhDear

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matthewwh":3v63xn0z said:
JohnCee":3v63xn0z said:
I have been very disappointed with them. The steel is too hard and chippy.
Hi John,

If you bought them from us they have a lifetime guarantee - pop em in the post (ordinary 1st class, just hang onto the receipt) and I will refund or replace to your satisfaction and cover your postage costs for sending them back.

Cheers,


Matthew
Yet another reason I bought from WH!
 

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