I enjoy doing things by hand. Even when it is more work I still like using tools powered by my own muscles. A roofing hatchet instead of a coil-nailer, a Yankee screwdriver instead of a battery powered drill, or a hand saw instead of a circular saw. Power tools have their place, but when a hand tool can do the job, that is what I choose.
There are a lot of different reasons why I like hand tools but one of the biggest is sound. Not just the lower volume but the rhythm of the saw, the slice of the plane, and the sing of the hammer as it strikes the nail.
I just recently purchased a jack plane at an auction. It was an old Craftsman plane that was in good condition and the price was right. Reviewing an article by Chris Schwarz on tuning jack planes, I set to work sharpening and adjusting.
As I started to plane some sawed edges for my planter boxes I was disappointed. It didn’t seem to shave off the wood any faster than my Stanley No. 4 Smoothing Plane. I scratched my head and pushed through wondering if maybe my sharpened angle was off or maybe my expectations were just to high.
After working through a few boards I stopped to clear some shaving from the throat and looked at how the chip-breaker was set on the plane-blade; I thought maybe the 1/32 of an inch seemed awful close. So I reset it to a 1/16 of an inch, reinstalled it in the plane and took a pass. HELLO JACK! That small adjustment and suddenly the plane was hogging off thick shavings of wood and making short work of the saw marks on the edge of the boards. That bargain plane is now a valuable addition to my hand tool arsenal.