With the holidays upon us, Mike Farrington made a list of a few of his favorite tools and shop supplies that will make your woodworking better.
Or to quote one of my very favorite TV shows, Parks and Recreation, “treat yo self”. I love the show Parks and Recreation for a host of reasons. For starters the hilarious character Ron Swanson, is played by actor and accomplished woodworker, Nick Offerman. Also, there are a couple episodes where two of the characters take the day off and splurge. They buy themselves all the things they wouldn’t normally spend money on. They call it “treat yo self”. While this goes against my personal financial philosophy, once in a while its nice to treat yourself to something fun. With the holidays upon us I thought I would make a list of a few of my favorite tools and shop supplies that will make your woodworking better. For most of us woodworkers, our significant others don’t know the difference between a smoothing plane and a block plane. This leaves the purchasing of tools and supplies up to us. Here is a list of 14 items that you can stuff your own stocking with.
Collins Miter Clamps
I have owned a few different types of miter clamps over the years. These are the best because of the very finely ground point. This fine point leaves a dimple so small a little bit of sanding makes it disappear. Miter clamps are certainly not for every project, once in a while they are just what the doctor ordered.
Fulton Sanding Mouse
I really like this sanding block. Its just about the right size, plus it lets me use my normal 5” hook and loop sanding discs. This little guy is perfect for breaking corners, sanding between coats of finish, or anywhere else hand sanding is required.
I have grown to love Titebond 3. Its my go-to wood glue. I have used it for veneering, bent laminations, and of course traditional joinery. I live in a dry climate and the couple extra minutes of open time, when compared to other yellow glues, is welcomed. I also like the fact that it is waterproof. My pro tip for buying glue, don’t buy more than you will use is a few months. Sometimes the small bottle is the better value.
These are not your average squares, they are made of milled stainless steel. They are supper accurate and built for a lifetime. I find that three sizes cover it all. I also have a Veritas Square Fence that I use in combination with the two larger sizes.
Klein Tools phone holder
I find this little guy to be very useful in the shop. I hook this to my belt or my tool belt. This keeps my phone on me, but not in my pocket where it will annoy me. I can also run some noise canceling ear buds down the back of my shirt and quickly connect it to my phone so I can listen to Shop Talk Live any time I want.
Lie Nielsen block planes
I have two block planes. If I was to recommend one, it would be the larger. This is the low angle adjustable mouth version. Certainly the most used plane in my arsenal, it would be the one I would suggest buying first. I like this plane because it fits my hand perfectly. I consider a block plane as a must have tool.
Lie Nielsen Fishtail Chisel
I prefer a fishtail chisel vs a set of skew chisels for cleaning out half blind dovetails. I like the fact that I can do the job with one chisel vs two. The corners are delicate, but this is a chisel that should be used with care.
Veritas Angle Gauge
This is the best tool I have found to help me setup angles.
Spring Nail Set + Automatic Punch
These two tools stay in my tool belt at all times. The nail set is great when needed, but the automatic punch has really upped my game. It has helped improve my drilling accuracy tremendously. If you don’t know what this thing is, it has a hardened tip that is backed up by a spring, when you press it into the work piece it snaps a small dimple. This dimple is then used to perfect locate and drill a hole. Its awesome for jig building.
I recently bought these 3m Earmuffs. They reduce noise significantly, they also have Bluetooth, a 1/8” headphone jack, and an AM/FM radio. I have a fairly large head. I fill out a size large motorcycle helmet to the max. I have found some of the other brands just don’t open up enough to be comfortable. These do.
Micro Jig Dovetail Clamps
These clamps are great for a bunch of stuff. They are most known for the fact that they can slide into a slot cut with a dovetail bit and router. That is invaluable for jig making. Also, slightly less known, they fit into 20mm dog holes commonly found on the Festool MFT.
Minwax Polyurethane and Polycrylic
I have found these two finishes great for a multitude of applications. I lean toward the Polyurethane because it is more durable, but the Polycrylic is beautiful on lighter woods. Many finishes, including Polyurethane tend to yellow woods like maple, but the Polycrylic really keep maple looking a nice whitish color. Perfect for drawer boxes. These two finishes can be sprayed or applied with a bush or finishing pad. They work well on many surfaces from floors, to furniture, to table tops. Lastly, these products are readily available online or locally.
Shinto Saw Rasp
These saw rasps are absolutely great, plus they are very cost effective. They are great when fairing curves. They cut on both sides, one side is more aggressive than the other.
These are one of the better values in woodworking. Three is a good number, one with a spine, one that is double sided and one for flush cutting. I find myself using these saws for all kinds of things around the shop.