The Galoot Index

Galoot Index (GI)

A consistent set of indicators that reflect degree of handtool use in a project.

I’ve done a number of project postings on LJs and included a fictional, totally subjective numeric index meant to reflect my use of handtools vs. stationary routers, tablesaw jigs, etc. With the posting of my Six Board Chest (27 Nov 2011) came a few requests for an actual Official Galoot Index Manifesto.

None of the concepts that follow pretend to be totally unique in nature. It is worth noting, however, that a Google Search of “Galoot Index” found no specific use of the phrase as of 27 Nov 2011 except for Smitty_Cabinetshop’s application of phrase within Lumberjocks. That said, the Index is hereby delivered for free and open use by all Galoots with the hope that it openly encourages widespread hand tool use on wood projects.

Projects typically include the following core activities that can completed with either tailed apprentices or hand tools :

1. Rough dimensioning of material, to include sawing (rip and cross cuts), thicknessing, jointing and edging
2. Panels / Subassemblies
3. Joinery
4. Final Surfacing (smoothing)
5. Mouldings and Accents

A simple Galoot Index, then, would assign a two point value to each of these core activities (CAs). Points would be credited if the CA was completed using hand tools. Subjectivity remains, of course. For example, if rough dimensioning included the cross-cutting of a half dozen boards BUT those two of the four boards were ripped via table saw, the value could logically be greater than one but less than two.

Further exploring this basic approach, if CA1 was done entirely by machine and each of the remaining CAs were done entirely by hand, an 8 on the 10 point scale would be possible. If the identical project was worked entirely with hand tools EXCEPT for the addition of store-bought mouldings, an 8 of 10 GI is reasonable.

Assigning weights to each of the individual CAs above might be tempting. After all, prepping large panels by hand, from rough to finish, is exhausting and can’t really be equal in value to 4’ of handmade mouldings, for example. Well, a simple index overall carries the day for this author, warts and all. With that being said, however, let’s discuss critical requirements for GI applicability; the Galootness Litmus Test, if you will:

a) For purposes of the GI, hand tools are made of cast iron, wood (rosewood, hornbeam, apple, ash, cherry, etc.), brass, bronze and steel. Not plastic, aluminum or poly-anything. If you’re using a cast aluminum ‘tool’ and think it’s galoot, think again. Yes, that rules out the new SW Stanley planes because of their level caps, and Narex chisels because of their composite handles. And probably some other decent tools. Oh well. Galoots are stubborn by nature.

b) For a project to include a GI, hand planes must be used somewhere. Anywhere. No hand planes, no index. That’s the way it goes. Remember that hand planes can be used in each of the five CAs, so this shouldn’t be a huge hurdle. C’mon, get a plane and use it!

c) Use of a table saw, jointer or other non-hand tools can be offset on the index if the project uses tools of particular note. Like using a carpenter’s hatchet, drawknives or scrub plane. Galoots like to see obscure hand tools in use, with old and obscure being bonus point material. But quality new is good too, especially with tools that deliver unique capability.

d) Extensive use of a router on a GI project is suspect, especially if it involves a dovetail jig. It’s not an outright disqualifier, but the GI project better deliver some other kind of make-up galootness. It’s a Galoot Index, after all…

e) For joinery, varied methods are not only tolerated but encouraged. Backsaws, mortising chisels, shoulder planes, etc. are all welcome.

f) Moulding planes are cool. This includes Hollows and Rounds of wood and iron type (Record and Stanley bottoms come to mind), chamfer planes and beading tools. Use them and you get bonus points that cover the use of power tools in other areas. That is, as long as there are process pics. Oh, and extensive (documented) use of a #55 puts the project in rarified air…

There is no review board, so complete projects and talk about them on-line and with your friends with consideration of it’s Galoot Index. It will likely attract curiosity, and ultimately (hopefully) encourage interest in hand tools. Don’t like the index? Ignore it or create an index of your own. But above all, keep working wood and enjoy!

— Don’t anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. —
OldTools Archive


2 thoughts on “The Galoot Index

  1. countercosta1952

    Where would a post drill or treadle lathe fit in to the scheme? I’m about to use mine on a long awaited project and would hate to diminish my GI standing!

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