Many hobby woodworkers shy away from using hand tools and opt for powered tools for ease but I think it’s worth stepping back in time a little to explore whether this genuinely beneficial. A hobby should be pleasurable and walking around with a mask due to the danger of wood dust seems to defeat the object of woodworking for pleasure. Using your mind and hands to craft something is very therapeutic but a little exercise helps with so many other health aspects.
When I started out power tools were very basic and we had to use many old techniques which gave us a deeper understanding and adaptability to solving issues, it also made us fitter and stronger as a result.
Sure it’s easier to cut wood with a power saw and using a handsaw requires more effort and may even cause you to breath a little deeper as a result but this is good for your health. I know from experience that when we get older things seem to be more difficult, we ache that bit more and suffer with stiffness but movement and excursion will really help with all other activities throughout your lifetime.
Right up to my Mid 40’s I was physical strong and supple through my craft but when I pursued a more sedate aspect of my career which involved more sitting I found the fitness and strength ebbing away whilst weight gain and stiffness of the joints became a new way of life. Hence the change in direction and why i’m on my feet 80% of the day actively moving around. The thing is, although i’m usually still suffering with aches and pains my weight has slowly by surely reduced but more importantly my mobility and strength is returning.
When people retire they have an excuse to stop but given what I have gone through the past 7 years i’d advise strongly against this. I’ve had to learn the hard way and had a heart attack at 50 which really slows you down and the road to recovery is much longer.
So if woodworking is your hobby try instead of making things quickly with dusty power tools but consider mastering the old skills, use that hand saw, learn to sharpen it and this will increase your activity at the same time. Master using and maintaining your old tools, master their capabilities and inabilities, rather than focusing on what you can make with them, ultimately this comes later. Try new things like using moulding planes rather than an electric router for mouldings, try using hand planes with winding sticks instead of a planer thicknesser machine. Try not to shy away from using some effort on harder aspects as it eventually makes the easier tasks even easier over time.
Craft hobbies are good for the mind and body, a little frustrating at times whilst developing new skills but once mastered is very rewarding in more ways than is first apparent if you consider effort is good for you rather than a chore.
Obviously there those who would struggle with what i’m suggesting and power tools enables and assists them but if the capability is there then the old adage of ‘a little hard work never did anyone anyone harm’ is worthy of consideration.