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Thread: What are the underappreciated shop tool/supplies in your shop?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Carlsbad, CA

    What are the underappreciated shop tool/supplies in your shop?

    Like many hand tool woodworker's I obsess about all my cutting tools – need to have all the appropriate types and ensure their super sharp. However, there are some seemingly "pedestrian" things that are essential in my shop:

    Sandpaper: I confess I have a snobby preference for "hand planed" surfaces – come on for me that's one of the essences of hand tool woodworking a shimmering surface fresh off the sharp plane blade. That said, when it comes to breaking sharp edges, smoothing over imperfections, etc. I couldn't do without 220 grit sandpaper.

    Super Glue: I am a novice Carver and in my feeble attempts I frequently break off pieces of the carving in a futile effort to shape them. Super Glue is magic mistake eraser – a couple drops and some pressure and the broken pieces is fixed like new.

    Putty knife/toothpicks:
    I'd like to think all my joinery is perfect and mating surfaces fit 100% correctly. However my lack of self-confidence that that's correct means I typically use more glue than I need. Putty knife and toothpicks are great for cleaning up the squeeze out of excess glue.

    Masking tape: because I lack confidence in the accuracy my joinery, I hope to compensate with clamp pressure during glue up to make everything look okay. When it comes to irregularly shaped pieces that defy clamping geometry, like gluing a replacement piece to a broken top horn of a handsaw, masking tape is a lifesaver – allows you to create the appropriate clamping pressure/geometry on irregular pieces. Bonus, as I am old and fat, my skin is increasingly thin and vulnerable. As a consequence I regularly get small cuts on hand/fingers that create unhelpful bloodstains on the work piece. Masking tape is a fantastic shop "bandage" - Readily available, super sticky and typically falls off about the same time the cut is healed.

    Spray cans: I hate finishing. In my experience only bad things can happen that jeopardize the hundreds of hours of work you invest in the project. Spray cans are awesome! There is no brushes to clean, it's easy to apply multiple multiple thin coats to irregularly shaped objects and you don't even have to get your hands dirty!

    What are the essential elements of your shop you can't live without?

    Thanks, Mike

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Allen1010 View Post
    What are the essential elements of your shop you can't live without?
    I'd hate to be without heat and air conditioning.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Sioux City, IA
    Blog Entries
    My broom - it's used several times sometimes per project. We don't think about it, but it's a tool that helps us to work in a clean area.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    So Cal
    I agree with everything above.
    I would also like to add my shop fans and small files for shaping.

  5. #5
    Baby wipes. Even though I haven't had a kid in diapers for over 10 years. I still keep these on hand. I don't have running water in my shop, and they are great for cleaning up hands and cleaning films of oil and grease, like when tuning up a plane. And they are about the only thing that will remove soot.

    Area rugs/anti-fatigue mats. Much needed relief from the concrete floor. I really need to move putting in a wood floor higher on the priority list.

    Beater cabinet scraper. I have a cheap scraper I use to clean glue and finish off the formica of the assembly table. Also for scraping dried glue and other things that could mess up my good scrapers. I also have an old plastic handled Handyman 3/4" chisel special for this purpose.

    Old LazyBoy chair. Sometimes you just need to stop, put your feet up in front of the fire, and take a break.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Longview WA
    Blog Entries
    More like the unsung helpers of the shop. They are all appreciated, but seldom mentioned.

    Blocks of candle wax for rubbing the sole of my planes.

    Nitryl gloves for when things are going to get messy

    A cheap paint brush for knocking the dust and shavings off of a plane before it is put on the shelf.

    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Elmodel, Ga.
    Band-Aids. Paper towels and tape in place of band-aids.

  8. #8
    Agree with all of the above. Can't think of any more supplies, but here are some tools: "squares", "rules", marking gauges/knives, bench dogs, holdfasts and clamps.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    NW Indiana
    A good pair of tweezers

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    SE Michigan
    In addition to many already mentioned, those wooden stir sticks from a coffee great for finish stirring, shimming and occasional “gap fill”. My oil pot makes it easy to give every tool a quick wipe after use. I also keep a supply of Q-tips which are great for glue squeeze out in tight places. I keep an old cigar box filled with half used sandpaper pieces which gets used a lot, as well as another cigar box of small veneer pieces for fixing that all too often skinny tenon.

    A few artists palette knives work great for smoothing out wood filler, epoxy and the like. A roll of that pink protective paper for covering the work bench during gluing or finishing. And a deck of playing cards which make for excellent shims.

  11. #11
    For this OF: Lamps and flashlights with reading glasses and magnifiers in all corners of the shop. At least one calculator on every bench and someone turned me on to a great mechanical pencil, I wish I could remember who, which reminds me note pads scattered around as well.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    South West Ontario
    Biscotti for my afternoon tea break. Taken for granted until I run out.
    ​You can do a lot with very little! You can do a little more with a lot!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2015
    NW Indiana
    All of the above (except the Biscotti - sorry William) and:

    Pro splinter removal kit

    Surgical tubing for clamping weirdness.

    Sandvik metal sander bought 30 years ago and have not put on the replacement pad yet.

    My office/retreat on the second floor of the shop.
    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

  14. #14
    Chip collector. Seriously. It almost never gets used on a power tool, but it's great for vacuuming up shavings and sawdust. I mostly use a broom, but getting under the bench, in the tool tray (just push tools to one side, vacuum, then push to the other side and repeat), those dog holes that don't go all the way through like on a vise chop, the tools that sit on the shelf below your bench, etc.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Raleigh, NC
    My quiet[ish] air compressor. I use the air to blow dust and debris off hand tools before putting them back in the cabinet.

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