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Intro To Woodworking Hand Tools with Rob Rojas

Updated: Feb 21

Intro to Hand Tool Woodworking with Rob Rojas 

By the end of this course, students will have a basic understanding of different types of common hand tools, their uses in the woodshop, and their importance to you as a woodworker. You will also find where to get second hand tools on the cheap, how to get them working like new, and how to take care of them. 

In today's fast-paced world dominated by power tools and automated machinery, there's something inherently special about the timeless craft of hand tool woodworking. From the gentle strokes of a hand plane to the precision cuts of a chisel, hand tool woodworking embodies a connection to tradition, craftsmanship, and the raw beauty of working with wood. In this article, we'll delve into the enriching world of hand tool woodworking, exploring the restoration of old hand tools, and the delicate art of sharpening essential implements such as chisels, hand planes, draw knives, and spokeshaves.

Hand Tool Restoration

One of the joys of hand tool woodworking lies in the discovery and restoration of vintage hand tools. Many seasoned woodworkers take great delight in scouring flea markets, antique shops, and online marketplaces in search of neglected treasures waiting to be revived. Rob suggests keeping your eyes open for estate sales that may be selling old tools for a great price. Restoring old hand tools not only honors their rich history but also ensures that these time-tested implements continue to serve future generations of craftspeople.

The restoration process typically involves disassembling the tool, removing rust and corrosion, repairing or replacing damaged components, and meticulously sharpening the cutting edge to its former glory. With patience, care, and a bit of elbow grease, even the most weathered hand tools can be transformed into functional works of art, ready to once again grace the woodworking bench.


In hand tool woodworking, sharpness is paramount. A dull blade not only compromises the quality of cuts but also poses safety risks and undermines the overall woodworking experience. Sharpening hand tools, such as chisels, hand planes, draw knives, and spokeshaves, is both an art and a science. As you’re learning the process of sharpening, Rob says that whatever you do, “for the love of God, don’t back-bevel a chisel.” 

Achieving razor-sharp edges requires the right tools, techniques, and a keen eye for detail. Whetstones, honing guides, and strops are essential companions in the sharpening process, allowing woodworkers to hone their blades to hair-splitting perfection. Watch the video to see Rob’s comparison of using sand paper versus water stones or diamond stones.  He demonstrates the Charlesworth ruler trick in his process and discusses establishing primary bevels and refining secondary bevels.

Preserving the Legacy of Hand Tool Woodworking

In an age defined by rapid technological advancement, hand tool woodworking serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring appeal of craftsmanship, tradition, and human ingenuity. From the meticulous restoration of vintage hand tools to the art of sharpening, every aspect of hand tool woodworking embodies a reverence for the past and a commitment to excellence.

If you are new to hand tool woodworking and looking for a good place to start, Rob recommends a 5 or 5 ½ handplane as a good entry-level tool that can be very useful.  Don’t forget to let your friends and family members know that you are on the hunt to restore old tools, it helps to have more people looking! 

Follow along with Rob at @rojascarpentry across all social media platforms.

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