“The Shakers did not advocate drudgery. Nor did they believe in labor for labor’s sake, unassisted by tools and machines which would reduce manual processing. Hence they were constantly seeking new and better tools, devices, machines, and methods to facilitate their work.” (From The American Shakers and Their Furniture by John Shea)
Like the Shakers, I find myself seeking better tools, machines and methods to facilitate my work. I have found that good quality hand tools are almost a necessity for fine work, but I also prefer to use power tools for stock preparation. The power tools “buy time” for the hand tool work that follows.
My primary power tool resource is a Felder CF 731-Pro Combination machine that incorporates a 6′ sliding table saw, 12″ jointer/planer, a tilting shaper, and oscillating mortiser. The Felder is an incredibly well designed machine that saves considerable time and performs many common operations without requiring a host of other jigs.
Most of my hand tools are kept close at hand in a traditional tool chest which I have described in “Will the Workshop Come to Order.” While I have used different ways to store hand tools, this chest has been very useful and I like having nearly every hand tool in one place close to my workbench.
The largest and most important “tool” in my workshop is my large workbench. This bench is a scaled down reproduction of a Shaker bench at the Hancock Shaker village. Even though scaled down, it is still 9′ long and 34″ wide and handles just about anything from small parts to full-sized doors with equal ease. The drawers provide readily accessible additional storage space.
The workshop is timber-framed and provides a very nice working environment with plenty of light. More information on the Shaker-style workbench can be found here.