It may seem like a contradiction, but I think working with hand tools is much easier than working with power tools. As mentioned earlier, it's not muscle power that makes things difficult. It's control. I feel I have better control with hand tools.
A table top can be smoothed to near perfection with one plane: a jack plane. The one I use is a 11'corragated bottom Record jack plane. It costs about $Go. When the plane iron is sharp and it's set just right, there's no better feeling in the world (of woodworking).
You can plane a table top in less time than it takes with a belt sander. And. you won't have clouds of sawdust all over the shop (and house).
After planing the top with the jack plane, I sometimes go over it with a smooth plane (9" or 10" long), but I usually find this unnecessary if the jack plane (and the jack plane operator) is working properly.
The final step is smoothing the surface with a hand scraper blade (see Woodsmith No. 14). This little piece of steel will work wonders on the table top. leaving the grain clean and clear . . . ready for the finish.
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Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.