I recently decided to dive into the world of hand tools-only woodworking, mostly because the only times I can do any sort of woodworking is early in the morning or late at night, and my wife, my dog and my neighbors do not really appreciate the noise of a table saw or a router at those rather odd times… In addition, my garage is also used for storage, and cleaning up the mess left by power tools quickly gets old! Finally, truly fine woodworking requires hand tools — there are operations that cannot easily be done with machinery — and working with hand tools will make you a better woodworker!
The beginning woodworker will wonder what kind of projects he/she should tackle first. My recommendation is to start with a few simple shop appliances. In the photos below, you can see my first two hand tool-only (*) projects: a wooden try square and a saw bench. A couple of winding sticks, a bench hook or a shooting board are good candidates as well. These projects will teach you a lot about sawing, planing and chiseling, all essential techniques in order to move to the next level in our craft.
(*) Note that I currently do the initial rough stock prep with power tools. I joint my boards on a jointer, thickness using a band saw and a thickness planer, and cut to approximate width and length on a table saw. After that, all the work is done with hand tools, except maybe for the engraving which I do using an Epilog laser (hopefully, I will get one of those nice stamps from InfinityStamps one day…) I do this to save time (prepping stock is not the most challenging or interesting phase in furniture making) and because I have access to these machines at the Sawdust shop in Sunnyvale, CA.