Maplewoodshop: Learning to Use Hand Tools in Woodworking

On Friday, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to learn how to use hand tools in woodworking through my school district as we look to integrate innovation labs and maker areas across disciplines. When woodworking came up as an option, I jumped at the chance knowing that these skills would be great to learn in my pursuit of lifelong learning and great to share with students in my library.

The day started with a presentation on safety and what tools we would be working with. The session was held by Mike Schloff of the Maplewoodshop.

Next, we dove right into learning how to use the hand tools to make straight cuts in the wood.

From there, we were given a simple lesson plan and design to build a five-sided box we could take home with us. It took some time to get used to the Japanese hand saw that we were using. Chris was quite jealous that I got to learn how to use a Japanese hand saw, though at the time I had no idea what the tool was that I was using.

You have to make sure you stand with your hips sideways, much like playing tennis, where your hips and toes face change where the saw goes as with a tennis ball.

Once all sides of the box were cut to size, then it was time to line up where the nails were going to put it together. We nailed all of the nails into the pieces of wood just slightly through the other side before completely joining the pieces. That helped create some friction when hammering the sides together; one side at a time.

And there you have it. I made a simple box from a plank of wood with a Japanese hand saw, some nails, and a simple hammer. I learned to use my hand safely as a clamp, to let the saw do the hard work, and how to nail ahead of time to help when finishing the product.

Overall, the short workshop was a great learning experience. I was glad there were several colleagues there to learn alongside me as well. It’s something we’ll take back and see how we can implement and where it would be a good fit for future learning. I was happy to learn something Chris doesn’t know (or doesn’t do often) and now I can share that learning with him and the kids, too. This is definitely a project I can teach Monkey how to do safely.

Now, I want to sand and finish my box so I can proudly display it on my desk at work. I collected scraps from everyone’s first training project to sand down and use for Jenga pieces in my library as well. I know my students will love that!

What have you learned lately?