Woodworking often require many steps and a good deal of patience in order to turn out usable and attractive projects. Woodworkers are always doing things to their workshops to make the process of building more organized which in turn helps us enjoy the woodworking process more. All woodworking shops are different and so modifications in one shop do not always transfer to another, but what does transfer is the idea .. the idea that things can be made more efficient, which in turn helps the woodworker.
I am always making small modifications to my workshop, many of them I don’t even think about until a visitor comments tha they like what I have done with some mod … I always seem to be working at making things easier … like electricity …
So much of our woodworking depends on electricity now, even if we have battery powered tools, we still seem to have lots of things that need to get plugged in to wall sockets. Most wall sockets are placed near the floor but in a workshop we are continually plugging and unplugging things so bending over to do this can get tedious … as well, much of the plugin tools are used on the workbench so why not affix a power-bar to the workbench. I doubt that there are many projects I work on that do not involve some sort of an electric tool that gets plugged into the power-bar on my workbench. I also have 2 others that are about half way down the workshop and one on each side, that way I can easily access power and not overload any one circuit.
For many years the only blade storage I had was each blade was piled one on another with a piece of cardboard between them. Each time I needed to find a blade, I had to sort through the pile to find it. Not the best way to store blades, but more than that, I often would cut wood knowing I had a better blade, I just did not want to dig through the pile one more time. That’s when I opted to make a rack that I could store all my blades, easy to find, easy to access and a safe place to store them so that they I don’t risk chipping the carbide teeth. Carbide is funny kind of product … it has a super high melting point which is why it’s so useful on tips of blades because once you sharpen it, it stays that way for a long time, unlike steel teeth that dull pretty quickly. The real issue with Carbide is that it acts more like a crystal than a metal, which means it can crack and break quite easily when bumped or hit with either another blade, or some other piece of steel, like the top of your table saw. When this happens, it is common that carbide will chip, crack or a tooth break right off. When this happens the whole integrity of the blade is at risk and it should NOT be used. After all, who wants a piece of carbide flying off at them at …. whatever 300 miles an hour or whatever speed that would be. I have talked with a couple of woodworkers and seen their facial scars of carbide that came off and hit them in the face, so it can and does happen.
Mobile Phone Holder
I know of a few woodworkers who don’t allow cell phones in their workshops, and this is not a bad idea, particularly if it can be a known distraction. I do have mine in the workshop because I sometimes want to photograph things or make notes, or even look something up. The few times it rings when I am in the shop, when I don’t have a machine on and I can actually hear it, I always ignore it … in fact, you might be able to hear it go off sometimes during my videos. I like having it away from all the tools, machinery and dust, but easy to access and read if I need to use it for some reason.
Easy Access Square Storage
Squares are an essential part of woodworking, and if you are like me, you probably have 2 or 3 in different sizes. They are kind of an awkward thing to find a home for without taking up too much room so quite some time ago I started hanging them on the top of my router bit cabinet … which worked fine most of the time except when I was a bit awkward and lifted one of them off and bumped another one or two in the process, then they all came came crashing off. I finally figured out how to fix this, and an easy fix too, I simply too a scrap piece or plywood, ran some wider slots in it to accommodate the width of the squares a laid that on top the cabinet. Now all the squares sit nicely into the grooves so I always know where they are – they are easy to access – easy to put back – I can quickly determine which one I want and they never slide off off the cabinet now. A quick easy fix for storing squares.
Wood Router Tools
My router cabinet sit directly above my router table and for small work I use my router table there, or I can slide it out into the middle of the workshop. Either way, I still need 2 tools ALL THE TIME. One of them is the crank that allows me to raise and lower the router, the other is the wrench for installing router bits and tightening collets. The crank sits in a piece of wood that was glued to the side of the cabinet that simply has a hole it that the crank sits in, the wrench sits on a couple of offset magnets that were epoxy glued into a couple of wooden stand-offs, so the wrench is easy to grab and replace, and I always know where it is … easy – simple.
There are lots of different options and ideas for making your workshop easier and more convenient to work in, and it often makes your workshop safer when you know where things are and that they are stored in a safe, easy access manner.
The workbench is not really considered at woodworking tool, but it is probably the most used article in the workshop. Imagine trying to do woodworking without a workbench or table or other similar assembly station. It’s no wonder that workbenches have so many designs and so many accessories. I’m sure there must be thousands of different workbenches out there and every woodworker does some modifications to their own workbench to make it work better for them.
Right Angle Frame
This workbench accessory was born from the need to assemble picture frames. I needed something that would ensure the picture frames corners were square so that the frames would come together with nice tight corners …
To ensure that the sides would always be flush with the frame sides, I made the 2 sides slightly higher than the base of the frame so that sawdust could not get between the angle frame and the sides of the picture frames I was making. I have used this jig a lot over the years for assembly of many, many smaller projects.
Mini Mitre Box
Cutting smaller pieces of wood seems to be something I am always doing, and when they are smaller pieces it seems that it’s more critical that they are have nice even cuts. Doweling is especially hard to cut by hand because it often wants to roll. This mini mitre box when clamped in vice gives a good solid base to cut smaller pieces of wood safely and accurately.
Mitre boxes are hany, easy to make and if they get damaged or worn out … which they will over time, they are super easy to make with little more than off cuts and scrap wood that most of have lying around our shops.
Extended Bench Rest
How many times to I have long piece of wood that I need to drill holes in … plane, cut mortises in or ??? The most solid place to do this work is clamping the wood in the wood vice, but now how do you support the other end. The poor wood vice can’t do it, I sometimes use a clamp with a piece of wood, but most of the time the little flip-out bench rest works great for supporting longer pieces, and it flips back against the workbench when not in use … you never no it’s there.
Bench rests can even be installed a different distances depending on what you are doing and that way you will always have something that will fit between your bench vice and workbench rest.
Vice in a Vice
Quite some time ago, I inherited a machinist vice, and I don’t even remember where it came from, I attached it to my workbench top then found it always seemed to be in the way, and I seldom used it, so I took it off and put it under the bench. Then, just days later I needed it to for some reason and didn’t want to re-attach it to the workbench just for one small job.
I decided the quickest solution was to attach a chunk of 2 inch Oak cut-off I had in the shop at the time and attach it to the machinist vice, then clamp that in my wood vice. I works fine for the few times I need it but I keep thinking their must be a better solution that will make it a bit steadier in the wood clamp … and I have an idea, but that’s in the next version of 5 More Workbench Hacks ….