At Uptown Funky Junk we use a combination of power tools and hand tools to make our furniture.
Both types of tools have their advantages, but it might be surprising to learn that power tools are not always quicker or better at performing a task than the equivalent hand tool. In fact there are many tasks that are more efficient to do using hand tools. Not only are hand tools significantly quieter than their powered cousins, but they typically produce less dust (healthier for our lungs!) and give more control over precision tasks.
Another big advantage of hand tools is the connectivity they give the woodworker to the timber. When planing a piece of wood you become very aware of the grain direction, the knots and veins, the splits, the sapwood or heartwood and the variations in hardness as the plane moves along the surface. This is in complete contrast to feeding timber through a power thicknesser and collecting it out the other side. The hand planed timber is often so smooth it requires little or no sanding, whereas timber passed through a thicknesser will always require further sanding before a finish is applied.
Hand tools are also significantly cheaper and take up less space than the powered alternatives. We tend to have an natural bias that the newest, fancy machinery will be superior to tools that have been used for sometimes hundreds of years. I now seriously question this logic and will try hard to resist another big expensive power tool.
Here are some of my favourite tools;-
Router Plane (so much quieter and less dusty than a powered router!);-
Cabinet Scraper (a fantastic way to smooth gnarly or reversing grain timber);-
Stanley #8 Plane (big heavy plane that can joint an edge to be dead flat);-
Rebate Plane (for trickier to get to areas and edges);-