So, rather than just showing a single project, I will demonstrate a system of fairly simple woodworking joints that you can use to create your own wood projects. Best of all, all the projects featured here can be entirely made with hand tools (although power tools will make it go faster and easier).
Woodworking without metal or glue is of course nothing new. Colonial Americans, Japanese woodworkers and even the ancient Egyptians and Chinese developed all kinds of ways to fasten wood together using only the wood itself. Sometimes, we can discover our future in the past.
Advantages to all-wood woodworking
1-Using these age old techniques, you can save on the cost of fasteners and expensive power tools.
2-Most projects can be easily taken apart for shipping or transport.
3-All-wood joints and fasteners allow for the wood to move with seasonal shrinkage and expansion. Nails and screws hold the wood fast, allowing little movement which eventually cracks the wood around the metal fastener. The movement of the wood, moisture, and the deterioration of glue will eventually
loosen any glued wood joint.
4-When done properly, projects made entirely of wood, can last as long as the wood, which can be more than a thousand years. If you want to build quickly for yourself, use nails, screws, and glue. If you want to build for your children and grandchildren and beyond--you might try using wood-only joinery.
Below are a few example of things I have made without glue or metal. Read the next few steps to see more project examples and details on how they can be made.
pic 1 shows a cantilevered chair made out of Phillipine mahogany.
Pic 2 is a cabinet of pine and cedar.
Pic 3 is a wood book made of cedar with a walnut hinge.
Pic 4 is a spice rack of cedar and aspen.
Pic 5 is a stool made of walnut and alder.
Step 1: Hand Tools and Power Tools
Pic 6- Hand tools necessary to do these projects:
A-Ryobi Japanese hand saw-Useful for rips and crosscuts. An American saw will also work fine.
B-Pencil and marking knife-While a pencil is useful for marking most cuts, a knife (such as an x-acto) is more precise for precision cuts and joinery.
C-Layout square-Almost any square can be used for this, but the Japanese square pictured is thin, light, and elegantly precise.
D-Sandpaper-If you cannot plane it or chisel it, then sandpaper is the only option for a smooth wood surface.
E-Brace and bit and drill bits. Works fine and fast for most holes but a power drill is somewhat faster.
F-For striking a chisel a wooden mallet is best, but almost any hammer will also work.
G-Block Plane- used for planing the edges of boards. If really sharp, it can also be used to plane end grain.
I-I prefer a Japanese water stone, but the newer diamond stones work just fine.
J-Clamp for holding down wood while you cut it or chisel it.
K-Set of chisels to cut mortises or smooth edges of wood.
Pic 7- Optional tools that I used to create a better finish:
A-Adze-Useful for rough carving of chair seats.
B-Slightly curved gouge used to clean up flat surfaces, large paring chisel used to bevel edges, and gouge used to clean up around knots where a chisel or plane cannot go.
C-Japanese double curved plane-used to smooth out chair seats and other
concave surfaces after the adze has been used.
D-Coping saw- used for tight curved cuts. A power Jigsaw can replace it.
E-Bow saw or frame saw. This is one I made using an inexpensive saw blade (about $10). Used for cutting chair legs and other curved cuts.
F-Dozuki Japanese saw, used for dovetail and other delicate, precise cuts.
Pic 8- Power tools that are very useful:
A-Random Orbit sander-used for final sanding finish.
B-Battery powered jigsaw-Can be used for cutting mortises and curved chair legs. With the 4-3/8" blade shown, I have successfully cut curves on 4" thick beams.
C-Belt sander for rough smoothing.
D-Circular saw for straight cuts. The 18 volt and up saws are quite powerful.
E-Battery powered drill for holes of all sizes.
F-Router-(not pictured)good for sliding dovetails and mortises.
Good Sources for woodworking hand tools: