Ken's Woodworking Page

This web page is about woodworking as it was performed in the days before home shops with electricity were commonplace. It includes information about tools, projects, experiences, and a good deal of opinion on the subject of old tools woodworking. This is the introductory or root page, and contains links to a good number of other pages on this server - and elsewhere. If you prefer your woodworking to be free of screaming machines and the constant fear of losing valuable fingers, you've found the right place.

What's new?

In the interest of letting return visitors know what has changed recently, I will maintain pointers here to the most recent modifications. Please also note that the page that formerly contained all the box projects has been changed to a linked list of pages, one per box. This was mostly done to avoid scrolling through a very large page.

b1 An updated (and still under construction) handsaw page, now incorporating sharpening

b2 The fireplace bookcase project

b3 A jewelry chest in cherry

b4 A jewelry chest in Philippine mahogany and walnut

b5 A set of shaker boxes from a Ralph Brendler class

b6 Class notes on saw sharpening, PDF file

b7 Class notes on making moldings, PDF file


Ken&043.jpg (61218 bytes)My name is Ken, and I'm an old woodworking tools addict. Oh, I started out innocently enough, trying my hand at woodworking as a way to find something to do with my son Dan as he was growing up. Like many, I was seduced by the dark side of woodworking - large, expensive, noisy, dangerous power tools, like those used by Norm Abram on TV. Couldn't afford them, couldn't even use them in half a garage, but so what? I even hung out on the rec.woodworking news group for years, participating in endless discussions about which table saw was the best. Luckily, I saw the light. As a former professional writer, I noted that the most literate of woodworkers had seemingly gone elsewhere. But where? What had caused them to leave the protective environment of rec.woodworking, with its entertaining discussions of food-safe finishes? Finally I found them - they had all migrated to the oldtools list. You can learn more about the list here.

The oldtools list is a safe haven for those who love and respect the craftsmanship and woodworking traditions of days before power tools took over. Oh, we don't all hate power tools. Many of us still use them in the same role performed by 12-year-old apprentices in the cabinet shops of the 19th century. They are fine for rough dimensioning of stock, and they certainly save time. But they have many drawbacks, most of which are inconsistent with why most of us participate in this hobby. In a production shop, power tools are a necessity of life, since time is money. As a hobbyist, I do this to relax - and there is little relaxing about working with a machine that fills the air with dust and noise, threatening to remove body parts at the slightest relaxation of vigilance. No, this is not my idea of relaxation at all. Instead, I can turn on the shop stereo and do my woodworking free of dust, noise, and danger. At the same time, I can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into building the furniture of years gone by - furniture that was far more interesting to the eye than the modern product cranked out in large factories where craftsmanship is only an advertising term.

If you want to learn more about this style of woodworking, I suggest you head over to the web site called the Electronic Neanderthal. (Originally, old tools fans were called elitist Neanderthal b*st*rds by the evil power tool forces, a name we proudly adopted. Mostly, though, we just call ourselves Galoots.) It will give you a better idea of the scope and popularity of this approach to woodworking. Be sure to come back and look around my virtual shop, though. There are many projects here, some built before my personal age of enlightenment, but still of some interest. You can look at some of the tools I use - planes, chisels, saws, and so on. I'll even show you some family heirlooms. These are tools that have been in my extended family for about 115 years, which I proudly use and will some day hand on to Dan.

Oh, and one more thing. My shop is located in Santa Rosa, California - about 45 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge. A number of residents of the San Francisco Bay Area have formed an informal group called the BAGs, which stands for Bay Area Galoots. If you want to know anything about woodworking with old tools in the Bay Area, these are the guys who know. Since lots of folks ask, we have put together a BAGs FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), which you are welcome to share. If you are planning a visit to the area, drop me a note via email. I'm usually here for those interested in talking about tools and unfinished projects, and there's always a glass of wine (usually beer, too) available. We are strategically located between the Sonoma Valley, Russian River, and a bunch of other appellations if you care to do wine tasting while you're in the area.

This page was last updated on 02/16/15.