I started a new woodworking club in Austin, TX called the Austin Hand Tool Club.
When I started woodworking twenty years ago, I really wanted to use hand tools. I didn’t have enough money for both classes and tools, so I searched high and low for anybody who could help get me started. All the woodworkers I knew only used machines. Eventually I bought a Record plane and tried to sharpen it using instructions I found on the internet. It didn’t go well, so I gave up on hand tools and filled my workshop with machines.
Several years later my son came along. I realized I wanted him to be in the shop with me, but everything was too loud and dangerous to have a toddler nearby, so I started trying hand tools again. This time around, there were many more resources to learn hand tools, especially from Popular Woodworking. Once I finally learned how to sharpen, the entire hand tool world opened up to me. I dove completely into hand tools and unplugged all my machines and pushed them aside. That experience was so delightful that I wrote a children’s book about it.
Now I have moderated and use both hand tools and machines, but I still really enjoy talking with other woodworkers about hand tools.
I started this club as an experiment to serve both the me of 2000 and me of today. For the me of 2000, I hope this can be a place where we can teach and encourage new woodworkers. Nearly every experienced hand tool woodworker I have ever met has the desire to help people learn. For the me of today, I want to help newbies get started, but more importantly, I want to build friendships around woodworking and hand tools are a great vehicle for that.
This club is an experiment that I hope will assemble other woodworkers with similar interests. To minimize driving and organization, the group is primarily an email list where once a month we answer the question, “What are you working on or thinking about?” The only membership requirement is that you be interested in woodworking with hand tools and give a monthly update. The message archive is only visible to members of the club, so you can feel more comfortable sharing your mistakes and asking “stupid questions.”
Who’s on the e-mail list?
Today we have 14 members. (check the current count) They include
- Women and men
- Beginners and award-winning woodworkers
- Professionals and hobbyists
- Retired and still working
- Tool buyers and tool sellers
What if I use machines?
Hand tools provide a point of connection for us, but nearly all of us use machines to remove some of the grunt work. The only requirement is that you are interested in using woodworking hand tools.
How much does it cost?
Free! But we really want to hear monthly updates from you.
Do you meet in person?
When COVID settles down and we feel comfortable, we plan to meet in someone’s shop about once a quarter.
How can I find out more?
Visit our website, https://www.austinhandtool.club.
You can also email me using my first name followed by @mwells.org.