We’ve Upgraded the Tools in the Workshop
The goal this year is working smarter, not harder. We’ve added tools not only because they make my builds easier, I also needed them to take some of the stress off my body. Check out the tools that serve as an extra hand I need for the heavier builds. I also found woodworking tools that step up the milling work. I’ve also included other shop tools that have multiple uses.
Table Saw Upgrade
You don’t have to start with the best, in some cases I have waited years to upgrade. A good example is my Ridgid Contractor Table Saw I purchased on Black Friday 2006. I am still using it today, November 2020. But it’s finally time to upgrade. I have order the Grizzly G1023RL Table Saw that will be delivered as soon as their inventories allow. I purchased this for its size and its solid cast-iron table.
A Longer Bed Jointer
I had a nice little bench top jointer, but it was just that, little. I deal with a lot of 8’ oak and poplar rough cut boards and the length of the Porter Cable Jointer was too short. So, I turned to Grizzly tools and purchased their G490X Jointer with Spiral head. The longer bed allows me to support the wood on both ends of the cutter. While the Jointer is still the hardest tool on my surgically repaired shoulder, it does a great job on the lumber I purchase and the builds I do, like this huge workbench.
Kregtool’s Adaptive Track Saw
Another option I brought in late last year was the Kregtool Adaptative Track Saw with the extra long track. I break down a lot of plywood for cabinet builds and this allows me to cut things straight, fast and because of the saw dust port, less mess in my shop. This works really well to cut the ends of the tables I build, prior to putting the bread boards on the ends. It gives me a nice straight edge to work with. The chess board was a perfect project to use it on.
Festool Domino Tool
Another expensive item I purchased, and use is the Festool Domino 700. Yep $$$$$$$$ but worth every penny for joining long boards for tables, cabinets and shelving. Using this tool has eliminated hours of sanding. This combined with the Grizzley jointer, make all the joints even, strong, secure and tight – just like we needed to make these floating shelves!
Power Lift Router Table
I had shoulder surgery this year and knew I had cabinet door projects coming in after recovery. I have an old homemade router table that has served me for a number of years. The cabinet was made of plywood and a particle board top. I inserted a Rockler router plate that held my Bosch 1617 router. This worked great and got me thru a lot of projects.
However, one of the issues I have coming out of shoulder surgery is having to reach inside the cabinet, under the top and pull out the heavy router motor. Not an issue if its only occasionally, but that never happens in a busy shop. I needed a router table with a lift. I did my research and found that JessEm was the best option for what I needed. Worth every penny!
Tapering Jig Tool
Recently I upgraded my taper leg jig from an older Rockler jig to Microjig Microdial tapering jig. The Rockler jig served me well for a lot of years, but it just wore out. This option is made of a quality thick plastic and has more adjustment options. I recently used it to create 8 poplar legs in about 30 minutes.
Tools for Moving Plywood Easily
I also purchased the Bora Portamate Portable Foldable Panel Carrier to help me move sheets of plywood. For a guy with a bad shoulder this thing is indispensable. Not only does this allow me to move sheets, it also raises and lowers them allowing me to slide the sheets from one bench to another. It also works as an extension to my table saw.
How Many Clamps Does a Woodworker Need?
Clamps are not new to my shop, but they are indispensable in my shop. They act as my third and fourth hands at time. Most of the clamps I have are Bessey clamps and they serve me well. I have a few other brands, but these are the mainstay. Pipe clamps are and always will be my favorite tools in the shop. The ½” pipe clamps are light enough for me yet sturdy enough to do any jobs that I work on. I keep parallel clamps, gear clamps, one handed clamps, band clamps and even C clamps all handy for various projects. And I even have a portable bench clamp. The adage that “you can never have to many clamps” is correct. I use them all, all the time and would not be without them.
See what I mean?
Our Favorite Glues and Screws in the Shop
Two other tools I use on a regular basis would be glue and screws.
I only use Titebond glue for my projects. They have multiple types for interior, exterior and clear dry. These glues never let me down.
Power Pro screws are the go-to screw in my shop. I use them to join pocket holes, secure cabinets to walls and build outdoor furniture. They are strong, rust proof and do not crack wood.
We all have tools, we all have needs. Yours are different than mine and mine are different than the other builder. The one thing we do have in common is the desire to create with our hands. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to create quality items, but it can help. It takes time to acquire things tools so build within your means but keep building.
Check out our resource page for additional tools we use.
What is the favorite addition you’ve made to your shop lately?