Our favorite tools that make every project easier (and safer too!) With Black Friday soon to be upon us I wanted to put together a list of 11 items under $70.00 (it was supposed to be 10, but I couldn’t decide which to leave off!) that I use on a regular basis in my wood shop. Each of these items will make great stocking stuffers, secret Santa gifts or just something you can purchase for yourself to make your shop more efficient and safer. I have personally used all these items except the tape measure. I bought that for my son-in-law who uses it on a regular basis. I find each of these items serve multiple purposes for me in the shop to keep me safe, provide my accurate measurements and give me that extra pairs of hands that I need. You can find Amazon links below that will take you directly to the item. *DISCLOSURE: The links below are affiliate links. If you chose to click through and make a purchase I will earn a commission but there is no additional cost to you. It helps compensates the business for the time spent creating these posts. THANK YOU! SAFETY FIRST GRR-RIPPER 3D Pushblock for Table Saws, Router Tables, Band Saws, and Jointers by MICROJIG – $59.00 Safety is essential in the shop and these GRR-RIPPERS keep tablesaw blades, router bits and Jointer blades away from my fingers. No shop should be without them. I Have 2 and use them daily. 3M Peltor Optime 105 Over the Head Earmuff, Ear Protectors, Hearing Protection, NRR 30 dB $19.95 Don’t let the noise of your machinery ruin your hearing. I use these while running all the tools in my shop to protect my hearing. They fit well with safety glasses and are comfortable to wear for hours. MEASURING TOOLS Kreg KMA2900 Multi-Mark Multi-Purpose Marking and Measuring Tool Model – $42.11 Great things come in small sizes. I carry this little wonder in my apron for every project. It helps me make sure that my wood is all the same thickness when coming out of the planer. I use it to set the depth of my dado cuts. FastCap PSSR25 25 foot Lefty/Righty Measuring Tape – $9.99 This tape measure is great for someone that has issues with the smaller measurements such as 1/8, 3/8, 5/8, etc.. Left or Right handed, this item really measures up. 12 in Centerpoint Rule – $13.95 I picked this up on a whim while walking through a wood store one day and I have never regretted it. I find it hard to determine the center point of wood at times and this finds center every time without failure and with great ease. Find the full measurement on the top of the ruler and find the same number on the bottom and that is center. NO ONE EVER HAS ENOUGH CLAMPS Large Rockler Bandy Clamps, Pair – $24.99 I could never figure out what the fuss was for these until
You would think that a sharp tool you swing in the direction of your ankles wouldn't last long. But the adze can be traced back at least to ancient Egypt. You use the adze to shape tree trunks and square them up into beams; looks like an ax with the blade oriented on the horizontal. But with modern-day milling capabilities so much faster and easier, for the most part the adze has gone the way of the dodo.
Even with the most careful glue-up job, there will be at least a little board-to-board misalignment when your tabletop comes out of the clamps. This is where cross-grain sanding helps. With an 80-grit abrasive in your belt sander, level your tabletop by working across the grain instead of parallel to it. This removes wood more quickly, making it easier to create flat results. Move to parallel-grain sanding with the 80-grit belt when all joints are flat, then switch to 120- and 180-grit belts, also run parallel to the grain.
Let’s start with perhaps the most basic tool in every household – the claw hammer. The claw on one side of the head should be well counterbalanced by the finished head, which should be somewhat rounded. The other kind of head is the waffle-head. Most commonly used in construction, it leaves a distinctive waffle mark on the wood when you drive the nail. This, of course, is not the proper nail for woodworking.
Everybody has a home remedy for sealing partially used tubes of caulk. But what if you had a single product that could seal caulk cartridges, squeeze tubes, glue bottles, felt-tip pens and anything else that has a nozzle? Well, these Little Red Nozzle Caps are just the ticket. Roll the cap down the nozzle to seal out dirt and preserve the remainder of the bottle, tube or cartridge.
Some moisture meters have pins that penetrate the surface of the wood. This can leave tiny holes that mar the surface and require filling. Others are pin-less. They have sensing plates that scan the wood beneath. However, not all pinless moisture meters are the same – look for one that uses technology that is not affected by the surface moisture in the wood, such as Wagner Meters IntelliSense™ Technology Moisture Meters.
While every beginning woodworker focuses his/her budget on the woodworking tools necessary to outfit the shop, there are a number of shop accessories that are not only useful but in some cases, absolutely necessary. In this article, learn about the top shop accessories for every wood shop. As you'll see, some of these are items you can build yourself, while others are tools that aren't always associated with woodworking, but useful in the wood shop nonetheless.
Here’s an old woodworking adage I enjoy ignoring: “measure twice, cut once.” Honestly, I measure nonce and cut thrice. I often eyeball it. I use pieces I’ve already cut to measure what I need to cut. It’s not a great habit, but I prefer it to measuring everything. And the results usually aren’t that different. At least that’s what I tell myself. I ended up having to sand down the ends of the 2×12’s running the length of the table (where they meet the aprons) because they weren’t exactly the same length.
Working on one side at a time, glue and nail the side to the back. Apply glue and drive three 1-5/8-in. nails into each shelf, attach the other side and nail those shelves into place to secure them. Clamps are helpful to hold the unit together while you’re driving nails. Center the top piece, leaving a 2-in. overhang on both sides, and glue and nail it into place. Paint or stain the unit and then drill pilot holes into the top face of each side of the unit and screw in the hooks to hold your ironing board. Mount the shelf on drywall using screw-in wall anchors.
When it comes to choosing a finish there are two main choices. The typical approach of stain and urethane creates a smooth, wipeable surface, but when that finish eventually wears through, there’s no way of repairing it attractively. Sanding back to bare wood and refinishing is the only way to make it respectable again. Oil and wax finishes, on the other hand, take more time to apply initially, but they’re easily repaired and rejuvenated with the tabletop in place. Regular reapplication works just fine.
Probably the handiest shop accessory in this list would be the woodworker's bench, complete with a vise. The bench is a stable-based table with a thick, hardwood top. In the top are a series of holes that are designed to accommodate bench dogs, which are little more than pegs that can be moved from hole to hole as necessary. The end of the bench has the aforementioned vise that works in concert with the bench dogs to hold pieces steady for the woodworker.
Consider building your tabletop out of boards about 6" wide (1x6 or 2x6), or close in size (I use x4 and x8 boards on occasion). If you go smaller, you'll be adding more joints, which means more pocket holes and more sanding. If you go with a wider board, the board itself may cup over time, creating high and low points on your tabletop. I personally find x6 boards to be that happy medium.
An assortment of chisels should be part of every workbench. Chisels are not just for wood carvers. Any woodworker will need chisels to clean out joints and saw cuts. Look for chisels made of high-alloy carbon steel or chromium-vanadium alloyed steel. Hardwood grips are best, especially if they have metal caps on them. This will keep the end of the handle from becoming malformed when you hammer on it.
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If your skill level is not yet high enough to tackle a difficult design, you need to get more practice by doing more basic designs, which teach you the techniques you will need for the harder jobs. It is rightfully said practice makes man perfect and you should do lot of practice to master this skill.
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To save money, we keep the temp in our shop down low when we’re not in it and crank up the heat when we return. But even when the air temperature hits 70 degrees F, the concrete floor is still Minnesota-cold. We tried a space heater under the bench, but it broiled the shins and still left us with cold feet. So we recently bought a foot-warming mat, and now our feet stay toasty warm. Plus, it uses a fraction of the electricity and is a lot safer than a space heater. The mat is produced by Cozy Products. The good folks over at Cozy suggest putting a chunk of cardboard underneath it if you use it on flooring that could fade from the heat, like carpet or wood.
Aside from the privacy it offers, a latticework porch trellis is a perfect way to add major curb appeal to your home for $100 or less. The trellis shown here is made of cedar, but any decay-resistant wood like redwood, cypress or treated pine would also be a good option. Constructed with lap joints for a flat surface and an oval cutout for elegance, it’s a far upgrade from traditional premade garden lattice. As long as you have experience working a router, this project’s complexity lies mostly in the time it takes to cut and assemble. Get the instructions complete with detailed illustrations here.
Luckily, we have also managed to find a detailed video tutorial of the Barn door project that illustrates the process of building a Barn door of your own. The steps and instructions in the video tutorial are different from the source links listed above. Actually, you can make different types of designs for your Barn door depending on which one you can afford easily and DIY on your own.
Google is probably the first place where most people would start searching for woodworking plans, but often the top results can be a mix of articles and how-to pieces that just aren’t detailed enough. Sometimes they’ll link to the plans (like we try to here at Lifehacker), but other times, they’re just showing off a cool project. There are better, more precise ways of finding what you’re looking for.
If you have some basic carpentry and tool usage skills, take advantage of Ryan's custom woodworking plans and the opportunity to build a custom entertainment center yourself with entertainment center plans, media center plans and woodworking plans designed and published by Ryan. If you don't, now is a great time to start. Its not as difficult as your may think.
A lot of woodworkers share their projects through their own blogs or YouTube channels. In fact, we’ve shared many of them here before, including, Woodworking for Mere Mortals, The Wood Whisperer, Matthias Wandel, April Wilkerson, Sawdust Girl, House of Wood, FixThisBuildThat, Pneumatic Addict, Build-Basic, Rogue Engineer, Her Tool Belt, and Ana White. The best YouTube woodworkers create great videos, but also provide a complete blog post with a cut list, tools, materials, and instructions. Find your favorites and save them for when you’re doing your searches.