Monday, July 26, 2010

A Minimal Tool List

A delimma is a problem offering at least two solutions or possibilities, of which none is practically acceptable.

What tools are necessary to build a Maloof inspired rocker? It poses an interesting question and everyone that has built one has a different set of answers. This question reminds me of National Lampoons "Christmas Vacation." Sparky Grizwold and family hiked through a forrest to find the perfect huge Christmas Tree, only to realize that they didn't have a shovel, axe or anything else with which to remove it from the earth. So they dug it up with their bare hands.

You can't build my rocker with your bare hands but what would be the minimal tool list? The maximum? Why do I pose this delimma?

Some woodworker's want to know the exact tools I use for every step in the process. Some want to see what is involved in every step, then they modify everything in order to use what they have in their shop. In other words they recognize the work-arounds and modifications as they go.

I use a pretty well rounded shop for each of my chairs but then I add a few specialty tools that would not be found in a general woodworking shop. An example would be a small router plane for fitting the Maloof type leg to seat joints. Can anything else be used? Is it a necessity? I started out using a small shoulder plane which is rarely used now since I discovered the best way to clean and true the bottom of the dados was with the router plane. The shoulder plane worked but the router plane gives more consistent results. You could also use a flat rasp or file. So what do you put on the list - the best tool or the least that will work?

Size, so it's been said, matters! Some projects require a six inch jointer while others require an eight. Can you do it with a six? Yes, It's much harder. Of course the 7 inch board can be face jointed by hand.

Let me know what you think about the tool list. Should it be minimalist or the maximum? I want to give you the information you need.

1 comment:

Cliff said...

Hi Chuck!

I can't think of two many projects (woodworking or otherwise) where I didn't get to a point where I had to make the decision to aquire a new tool, or figure out how to use what I had. This is actually part of the "fun" of woodworking.

Your web site might be a good place where "rockingchairmen" can share how they crafted their rockers using alternative means with the tools they had. Learning about these other techniques is almost as valuable as learning about your "best practices!"

That said, I would recommend the investment in a Lie-Nelson router plane. My antique stanley didn't have as large a sole and was not as good a tool for fitting the seat to leg joints.

Also...I dropped much $$$$ on a festool ras 115 w/ dust collection. I could have saved a lot of dough using an inexpensive grinder outdoors, but for me, being able to work on my rocker out of the GA summer sun justified the extravagance.