Human beings have worked with wood for centuries, cutting it and shaping it for dozens of different purposes. In addition to creating housing for protection from the weather, men and women have cut, drilled and shaped wood by hand for many other purposes. What has changed more than anything in the woodworking world are the tools that people have used to turn wood into useful objects.
While the fundamental goals of drilling and sawing remained the same, the amount of time needed to get these jobs done has been shortened considerably. In addition, the human energy expended has decreased while precision has increased in many cases. Woodworking machinery is the primary reason for these changes.
Basic hand tools have existed for centuries, many still used in exactly the same manner as they were years ago. The hammer and chisel are still ideal for shaping wood, and in the hands of a master may be all the tools needed. Similarly, a basic metal “square” is perfect for creating precision edges and corners.
For those with extensive experience in woodworking and in equipping a workshop, there are three pieces of industrial machinerythat should be employed. While there are specialty items used for particular projects, nearly every worker in wood can make use of the following items.
The circular saw can be handheld or can be table mounted. A table saw can provide versatility not generally available with the handheld saw. A precision table saw allows adjustments to the angles for mitre cuts, and allows use of jigs for precision cutting. A handheld circular saw is more portable of course, and can be ideal for the worker who must move around a work site. Interchangeable blades on either of these saw types allow the individual to cut materials other than wood.
Those who want to try more complex cuts or more eye-appealing designs opt for the router (usually with table). The support and steadiness of a table-based router help with these intricate cuts. Adjustable table routers make detail cutting and designs possible at a comfortable height.
The craftsman who works in wood may also create unique toys for children and collectors, as well as wooden signs and mantelpieces. An ideal tool for these projects is the jigsaw.
These are just three of the basic items of woodworking machinery needed by the experience amateur woodworker or by the professional builder and craftsman. While many homeowners and amateur craftsmen use basic hand tools and the simplest of power tools, professional and semi-professional craftsmen have extensive inventories of equipment and machinery. For example, an amateur can, with some practice, cut fine crown moulding with a basic saw. A mitre box or mitre saw are usually required to make this task successful. For flooring and wall trim, many people use the manual hammer method, while others may move to the power nailer, which is less demanding physically.
Most experienced workers in wood know that a combination of traditional tools and modern machinery allow sturdy construction, beautiful designs and simple elegance to come from today’s workshops. Each individual develops a preference for particular tools and equipment, depending on projects and goals.