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Do You Make Your Own Tools?

a couple of years ago
shop made tools

My first self made tools: spokeshave, handle for socket paring chisel, and mallet

I usually answer this question with, “naw, I’d rather build furniture and support the tool makers”. Something about making tools doesn’t appeal to me. It’s probably derived from fear that my skills aren’t up to par. As my friend Marc says, “hand tool guy straight won’t cut it”. I justify this with the fact that when I do need a tool I can help support any number of individual makers who are trying to make a living just like me. I help them and I get a dead sexy tool I can use for the rest of my woodworking days.


shop made layout tools

Layout Tools: 2 Panel Gauges, Scratch Awl, Dovetail Marker, Miter Paring Block, Center Finder, End Mill

So as I was cleaning up my shop in preparation for my upcoming remodel, I was a bit shocked at just how many tools I have that I have made myself. Moreover, I began to realize just how much I use these shop made tools in my every day woodworking.


shop made scratch stocks

Scratch Stocks

Whaddaya know maybe I like making tools after all. Like most of us I started small by making a handle here and there, stepped up to a marking gauge or square, then started making precision tools from a kit like my bow saw.


shop made saws

My pride and joy: turning saw and 2 resaw frame saws

Finally, I completed my 2 resaw frame saws by partnering with a blacksmith and saw maker. I have yet to make a plane, but I have a few books on it and even an extra Hock blade ready when the time comes. I honestly think the reason this hasn’t happened yet is that I don’t need another plane. I needed a bow saw, scratch stock, panel gauge, frame saw, scratch awl, paring chisel handle, etc. while I was working on a project. So I guess my original statement is true: I would rather build furniture. But when the need arises, a tool building detour is fun.


bench hooks and shooting boards

Maybe woodworking appliances more than tools but bench hooks and shooting boards count

Of course let’s not forget some of the most important tools in my shop: workbenches, bench hooks, shooting boards, birds mouth fixture, saw vise, etc. Dang as I stand in the shop and look around, I can’t look anywhere without seeing a tool that I have made myself. Now how did that happen?

How About You?

Do you make your own tools? What tool do you want to make most? Please share your thoughts in the comment below.

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