A few years back, I became a little obsessed with woodworking. This is a perennial obsession, thwarted for years after my first visit to a Woodcraft store full of massive machines costing many hundreds of dollars.
Then I discovered the PBS program, The Woodwright’s Shop, specifically the episode where one Christopher Schwarz climbs out of his Anarchist’s Tool Chest and speaks the words I needed to hear. The tool chest (I’m paraphrasing) is just big enough to hold the right tools for the woodworker, and nothing more.
A table saw doesn’t fit.
The Internet led me to Schwarz’s printing company and blog, Lost Art Press, and this led me to his book The Anarchist’s Chest, and the whole world of hand tool woodworking. This world can be a bit overwhelming, too, and hand tools can also be very expensive. But you can start with some basics and build your tool collection as projects dictate. I started with two Craftsman panel saws, a Stanley miter box and backsaw, a block plane, and some clamps. My most expensive tool is a Veritas dovetail saw I’ve yet to use.
After a first failed project (a TV cabinet that was too ambitious), I’m starting again. Starting small.