What separates a "nice" project from a "great" one can be simply several details better executed.

Chisels, planes, card scrapers, and handsaws have lofty reputations as tools reserved only for expert craftsman who understand their mysterious vagaries. Nonsense. If you don't have them already, outfit your shop with a set of bench chisels, a block plane, a No. 5 jack plane, a card scraper, and a Japanese pull saw. Learn to tune the planes, and sharpen all but the saw. (Replace its disposable blade rather than sharpen it.) All provide superfine control of a workpiece's dimensions and, when well-tuned, prove a pleasure to use.

See the basics of tuning a hand plane for peak performance.

Then watch Design Editor John Olson show how to use a plane properly.

Get tips for using a chisel.

Watch how to tune and use a cabinet scraper.