This shop tour reflects the way my shop was…I say ’was’ because after nearly 40 years I’m moving my shop out of the basement to a new location. I found these photographs while searching for something else and thought there might be some interest in seeing (yet another) hobbyist woodworker’s basement shop and I’d share them here. The layout and work flow worked very well and while the basement had a rear walkout, some days these old bones just didn’t feel like climbing up/down stairs. So, I’m currently in the process of moving my basement shop to the garage, simply for better access. In the long-run I know it’s a good move, but it’s also a bit sad, because my grandfather and I would tinker around on stuff down there when I was a little kid.
I got started in woodworking long before I was a teenager. I can remember making birdhouses and spice racks with my grandfather using nothing more than just an electric saber saw (as we called them back in the day) and drill, and I couldn’t have been more than about five or six years old. I got my first ’real’ set of power tools when I was about ten or eleven. They were benchtop models—benchtop tablesaw, benchtop drillpresss, and a benchtop bandsaw. But, I quickly outgrew these and became bored with the hobby…for a while. I drifted in and out of woodworking but never lost the interest in tools and their use.
At some point, I remember seeing an ad for the Shopsmith on TV and thinking this would be quite an improvement over the benchtop tools—this was probably around 1975. We found out a family friend had one and my mother took me to go look at it and see one working in person. After seeing it I left disappointed. The TV commercial made it look like you could switch from tablesaw to drill press to lathe, add a jointer, bandsaw, bang, bang, bang! Well, it really doesn’t work that way. Each change took several minutes and something they don’t address was that once you get the tablesaw set you to break it down and lose your setup to drill a hole or cut a curve. So, not having room for individual stationary tools at the time, I was stuck with the benchtop versions.
Junior High was my first structured learning experience with tools and by that time I already knew all the tool names and how to used them. I remember the instructor would hold up a tool and ask if anyone knew what it was and how to use it. He said in all his years of teaching no one ever got this one right—it was a bevel gauge. I had already used one on several occasions. He thought someone from one of the earlier classes in the day was coaching me, but when he came to my house and saw my workbench and tools I think he realized I was serious about woodworking!
They called it “Industrial Arts” back then and in addition to woodworking we covered metalwork, electrical (basic wiring), and plastics. While it was only a half semester class I managed to build a number of things I still have today—desktop bookstand (wood), dustpan & small scoop (metal), and a napkin holder (plastic).
During High School I took woodshop each year—I was only there for 4 years so you can stop wondering! The courses they offered in wood were introduction, intermediate, advanced, and independent study. Introduction was divided into half classroom learning and half working with hand tools. Through the help of my Junior High Industrial Arts teacher, I was able to forego the introductory course and jump into the advanced class, and with some judicious planning I was able to get it during the lunch break period—which meant the class was 90 minutes long. I was able to accomplish this for all four years that I took woodshop.
I took the Independent study class in my senior high school year. In it, because you were already familiar with the tools and their use and operation, you were pretty much left on your own and free to do whatever you wanted. I didn’t build anything major, although I helped a lot of others with their projects. It seems the two most popular projects to build in the advance class were a grandfather clock or a roll top desk and sometimes it felt like I had made dozens of them! When I wasn’t helping others I tended to focus on joinery—making small, multi-sided boxes using a variety of techniques.
My interest wasn’t limited to just wood—I also took metal shop a couple of years. I made a neat meat tenderiser that still occupies a spot in the kitchen drawer. The head is made from cast aluminum and the ’pyramid’ side was done on a shaper, the ’diamond’ side was done with a mill. The handle was turned, tapered, threaded, and knurled on a lathe. I also started working on a drill press vise, that I’m hoping to finish one of these days, really I am!
After high school I pretty much took a 20 year break from woodworking. Maybe it was burnout. Maybe I was just looking for something different to do. I touched very little outside of a hammer-screwdriver-pliers during that timeframe. It wasn’t until I started watching Norm Abram of The New Yankee Workshop that my interest was rekindled. So, sometime around 1993 I decided to take up woodworking again and started by replacing all those bench-top models with floor-standing stationary models. All those Black & Decker and Craftsman hand power tools were replaced with the models and brands you’ll find in a cabinet shop. And if you see some similarity between my complement and the gray colored tools Norm used on TNYW (mainly Delta and Porter-Cable) that’s no accident!
If you visit any of the woodworking forums it often gets said “Well, yeah, if I had all the tools Norm does I could build stuff like that too.” I realize that having a well equipped shop like that doesn’t automatically make someone a craftsman, but it does make woodworking easier and more of a joy. Toward that end, I packed away all the benchtop and old power tools, cleaned out the basement, broke apart the old workbench, and started from scratch. I was on my way to creating my own version of The New Yankee Workshop
Getting all these new tools delivered at one time would have been a little overwhelming. So, for a few months I was on the once a week schedule. This gave me time to assemble, set up, and tune up before the next one arrived. The last of the stationary tools to show up was the 6" jointer. For some reason I don’t have a photo in this set of the jointer (the jointer photo below is taken more recently)…probably because at the time I took these photos it wasn’t delivered yet. Pretty much at that point I had everything Norm had except a radial-arm saw and a wide-belt sander. Radial-arm saws seem to have fallen out of fashion and there’s really nothing that a radial-arm can do that a tablesaw can’t do, so I never considered getting one. On the other hand the wide-belt sander I could see being useful—and I did try to figure out how to fit one, but, the basement just doesn’t have enough headroom for something that tall, and realistically, I have no more room for tools and still have walking/work space.
Why all new tools and no old ’arn, you might be asking yourself. For me it’s quite simple; I want to work with woodworking machines not on them. Old iron is often worn out, rusting, parts may not be available, etc. With used stuff you never know how it was used or abused and what might lie under the surface (in more ways than one!). New is a known quality; I expect a certain level of fit and finish. I’m a hobbyist woodworker—my tools don’t get dragged out to job sites, they don’t get used by ten different people, they don’t get glue or paint smeared on them. I take care of them and clean them to keep them looking new. I take a good deal of pride in my tools and not only care how they perform, but also how they look.
Also, I like my equipment to match—having different brands and colors doesn’t appeal to me at all (although it will become clear that I seem to have developed some flexibility in that regard). I like the tools ’displayed’ a certain way in my shop—and yeah, I know, they’re just tools for making sawdust—but it would bug me to no end if it were another way.
Maybe you would call me more of a tool collector than a woodworker That’s just how I am! I’ve never considered doing woodwork professionally—it has always been just a hobby for me and I like it that way and that will never change. Everything I have ever built has been for the pure enjoyment of it, no time limits, no cost limits, just doing it for the love of wood (and sawdust)! Well, and to have the tools…;
This is the basic layout, a 20’x30’ rectangle, 7’ clear height to the bottom of the floor joists. A few things have moved a bit over the years since this drawing was put together, but for the most part it’s an accurate depiction. In the following narrative if I forget to mention what brand a particular machine is, and it’s gray colored, it’s a safe bet that it is a model from Delta.
Remember the advertizing phrase, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM?” Well, that’s how I felt about Delta and Porter-Cable. They were the standard that everyone else looked up to. I’m not sure I feel that same way about their tools today. If I was starting fresh right now I don’t know if anything from either Delta or Porter-Cable would be on my buy list.
One of the first things I made shortly after its arrival were a couple of new pushstricks. This is a design from the Delta tablesaw manual and a shape and style I’m very used to using.
And no, that’s not the chuck key that came with the drillpress. That one had a spring-loaded pin that pushes the key out of the chuck. I couldn’t get used to both pushing in and turning, so I replaced it with a standard chuck key.
Delta’s 14" bandsaw with 24" fence rails. I think I’m the only woodworker with rails that long on their bandsaw! They were all that was in stock at the time and I didn’t want to wait for the shorter rails, plus I figured I could always cut them down if they got in the way, but I’ve found I actually used the extra capacity a couple of times. I have a riser block I purchased at the same time, but haven’t installed it, and at this point I don’t think I ever will. I think if I did any amount of resawing I’d want a dedicated resaw bandsaw that could take a 3" blade.
Delta P20 20" scrollsaw (I remember these being called ’Jigsaws’ when I was a kid, don’t know how, why, or when, but somehow they are now known as ’scroll saws’). Neither the bandsaw nor scrollsaw came with work lights—the drillpress came with one, however, and I noticed that it would fit on the bandsaw using existing screw holes near the On/Off switch. I don’t know why, but the gray color on the scrollsaw (or is it a jigsaw?) doesn’t match the gray used on the other Delta equipment.
I know some consider scrolling and turning a separate part of the woodworking hobby, but in my mind no woodshop is complete without them! A secondary tool cabinet mounted above the lathe houses turning tools, faceplates, and a couple of 3 and 4 jaw chucks.
Delta 8" slow-speed grinder and 6" belt/9" disc sander. It’s quite possible that the very first power tool I bought was a grinder—well, that’s what I kind of remember, but that information is lost to history. It was a Craftsman brand and didn’t have much oomph, it didn’t take too much pressure and you could stop the wheels from rotating. It came in handy for sharpening driill bits, lawn mower blades, etc., as long as you you knew its limitations. The Delta replacement on the other hand is a real brute, no way you’re going to push too hard to stop those wheels! Too bad Delta discontinued it and no longer makes anything close to this in terms of quality any more.
Delta 6" jointer. I’s a perfect fit for my size shop and types of projects I do. Norm also had a 6" in the NYW for many seasons before upgrading to an 8". This model features a micro-adjustable fence, which sticks out the back and makes the jointer about twice as deep as it otherwise would be In the basement it fits up against a column so it wasn’t nearly as noticeable—out in the open, well, that’s another story. I think it could be removed and the fence just bolted down, and I may look into doing that at some point in the future.
A careful viewer will notice another portable dust collector nearby.
One of two workbenches with the primary tool cabinet above. This bench has a woodworking vise attached to the left hand side. A keen eye will notice that there is a bandsaw table on it. It’s being cleaned of the shipping grease with WD-40. Delta sent me a replacement table for the one that shipped with the bandsaw because the original was warped.
The vise is a genuine “Made in England” 10½" 53ED Record vise. I think I got one of the last ones they made, because when I went to get another one for my second workbench, none were to be found. There are lots of imatations out there but I wanted the original to match the other one. A couple of hose washers under each ball keeps cuts down the noise from the handle banging. Come to find out I don’t seem to use a vise all that much.
One word about tool cabinets and boards—leave space for future tools, even more space than you think is reasonable. This is about the 4th or 5th version of a tool board I’ve made. The first was modeled after what I saw in a set of workbench plans that came from Stanley (see photo at left). It was a peg board about 3’×5’ that you’d think would be easily reconfigurable and expandable, right? Just move the hangers around to make more room seems like a great option, but in reality, not so much, because it seems that the ’hooks’ never quite fit what you’re trying to hang and they can easily fall out when you remove the tool. I hated them.
So, instead of being able to buy handy pre-made hangers, you end up making custom hangers for it—you have to remember this was around 1977, and there were basically three or four different types of hangers; a peg and a hook in two sizes. The situation with peg board hangers is much better today. For one, they have an extra piece on them that goes into an adjacent hole and helps the hook stay in place. Also, you can get a lot more variety and specialty hangers for just about anything. But, back then, I figured that if you’re going through that much trouble to try and make peg board work, why use peg board in the first place? For that and a lot of other reasons every version of a tool board I’ve made since then has been on plain masonite with custom made wood hangers.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a tool junkie. This image is assembled from four separate photographs, which is why it may look a little pieced together. I tried to keep the four panels separated into (from left-to-right); 1) hammering/measuring 2) chisels/planes 3) cutting; saws, drill bits and 4) fastening; screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches. You may have noticed one of the chisels isn’t like the others (2nd panel, upper left corner). Those are made by Stanley and are your garden variety all-purpose utility chisels. Although I have a full set of them from ¼" through 2¼" the ¾" size is the one I almost always reach for, thus it’s been replaced by a more recent version and the original (that matches the others) has been relegated to other duties.
…and routers. PC890 routers, a big PC (for future NYW router table), a laminate trimmer and on the shelf below them is a Dremel and an Omnijig plus templates. Belt, finish, palm, ros sanders, and old PC690 router. This image, probably more than any other, reminds me just how early in the process of setting up shop they were taken—my router collection today is about 5× what’s shown here! Still not as many as old Norm, though.
When I first started woodworking I had two routers, a Craftsman (still have it) and a Stanley (burned out, tossed in trash). Then it wasn’t until I decided to get back into woodworking that I realized how handy they were and how multiple routers just makes the project that much easier that I expanded my collection. Many of them have been dedicated to a specific bit, all set up, ready to go. Not only is this a time saver, but it also adds some precision, especially to bits like roundovers and dovetails.
…and small routers. From one end of the scale to the other. Now, you might read something into it, because I have two DeWalts and two Porter-Cables and only one Bosch Colt. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t like the Colt (I need another router like a hole in the head!), There’s also a DeWalt DWE6000 that is in the small router class that didn’t make it into the picture, that I also like a lot. You’ll notice a photo of ’regular’ sized router is missing. If I were to have gathered all the routers I have for a ’group photo’ it’s not an amount if you looked at it you would say, “well, that makes sense.”
Dual laser miter saw. I don’t know how I lived without laser before, but I’ll never own another miter saw that doesn’t have them! I also have one of those laser crosshairs on the drillpress, but I don’t find that nearly as handy or accurate, Maybe if the laser lines were a little thinner it would be more useful, but sometimes it’s accurate enough for just getting a rough idea for locating holes. The 2×4 extension frame/stand the miter saw is sitting on is based on the one that’s shown in the Porter-Cable owner’s manual and served its purpose well, but has since been replaced with its own bench and Biesemeyer style fence extensions.
The NYW clamp cart, Norm used plywood and pocket screws for his clamp cart, I made mine out of 1×4s and half-lap joints (I hate plywood!). I don’t remember why I didn’t use pocket screws—I had the jig and everything at the time. I finished it with a couple of coats of polyurethane, just to seal it.
As you can see I’m a big fan of the Bessey K-Body clamp. I have them in 12", 24", 40", and 50" sizes with the majority being 24". I added a shelf to the middle and use it to store glue, biscuits, etc. On the left hand of the picture you can see the corner of the table saw outfeed table that doubles as an assembly table and the lathe on the right hand side.
The 18" clamps on the cart are Bessy’s UniKlamp. It’s a light-weight version of its big brother, the K-Body clamp. They’re okay, but I find them a little too light-weight for serious work. I wish there was an 18" K-Body clamp available, and I’ve thought about getting some 24" and cutting them down, but as soon as I did that I’d probably find the 24" size more useful!
Norm Abram said about the clamp rack that it was going to “change life at The New Yankee Workshop as we know it,” (or something like that). That’s a pretty bold statement, but I’ve come to find out it’s also probably pretty accurate. Having a dedicated place to store the clamps and the ability to move it to whatever work surface where they’re needed has indeed changed the way I do things.
Someone suggested that clamp cart must be the most expensive real estate in the shop! On a per square foot basis it probably does host more value than any other spot. I know it took me clearing out the inventory of a few of big-box home centers to get all the 24" K-Body clamps I wanted (each store only keeps about six of them in stock). Although, come to think of it, I bet the router station could easily exceed it, when you figure in all the router bits, dovetail jig(s) and templates, etc.
My first router table. It’s a Craftsman router table that is probably 35-years old (maybe more!). I called this my ’first’ but truthfully, my first attempt at a table mounted router was a Stanley router (yeah, Stanley—they made power tools, too, at one time) mounted upside-down to a piece of plywood held in a bench vise. It worked, but the Craftsman table was quite a step up from that! Even though I have replaced it with a shop-built version of the NYW router table, I still have it packed away in storage.
When I’m not using a nail gun I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping one of these blow guns on the line. It’s very handy to have it ready to grab to blow out sawdust in the corner of a drawer or out of a dado.
You may have noticed one of my portable dust collectors sitting under the tablesaw extension table. I have three of these units, one is connected to the table saw, one on the bandsaw, and the third shared between the planer and jointer. I’m going to be adding a fourth because I want to separate the jointer from the planer.
I like these portable units for many reasons—for one it means no permanent ducting runs, the hose run is short 3’-4’ so you have less internal friction with the full CFM going to just one machine without any branches, tees, or gates to get in the way. And having a bag at each machine means it takes quite a long time to fill. These Delta dust collectors run off a standard 120V, 20amp circuit, as does all of my equipment, although I do have a 240V receptacle available at the tablesaw, but I prefer staying with 120V because it makes rearranging the shop and not worrying about where to plug in a whole lot easier! There is also an ambient air cleaner (Delta 50-875) that sits under the outfeed/assembly table. This, in conjunction with the individual dust collectors, has been the best air quality management solution for me.
As I mentioned before I modeled my shop on what Norm Abram used in The New Yankee Workshop. I figured he was only going to be using good quality stuff and I wanted the same for my shop. Here’s some of the stuff that I only bought because I saw Norm use them.
A couple of the things shown in this picture:
See the toolbelt? I’ll be honest with you, I saw Norm Abram wearing his in The New Yankee Workshop and decided I needed one too. He wears a McGuire-Nicholas. None of the stores around me carry that brand, so I was limited to whatever was available at Lowes or Home Depot. I looked for the closest that I could find, configuration wise, and it tuned out to be this “11 pocket oiled leather apron” made by Custom LeatherCraft (CLC). It’s listed as Model# 19428 (HD’s SKU# 404773).
Well, I wore it a few times when I was tinkering around the shop and ultimately found it more of a nuisance than a convenience. It turns out that the pockets fill (and quickly!) with saw dust when routing or using the table saw and that having everything you need on your waist within easy reach also makes it pretty heavy.
Maybe Norm only wears it during final assembly to keep the build-up of sawdust to a minimum, but frankly I never really noticed that and seem to remember him wearing it while using the table saw. From some photographs I’ve seen it appears that to keep it light (and more comfortable!) and manageable (and easier to clean!) he only keeps a utility knife, tape measure and pencil and maybe a combination square in it at all times.
When I got the toolbelt I also bought enough tools to fully outfit it, because I didn’t want to rob tools from my primary tool board. There are 27 items on the toolbelt can you spot them all? Two are hidden from view and the drill bits count as one. The answer is in the image below.
My thinking was that I wanted the things that seem to get use on all projects in it. Well, like most things I went overboard and that’s probably why it’s ended up being so heavy! Thus it now occupies space in a cabinet and doesn’t get used. Maybe if I took some of the stuff out of it and wore it more I would like it, although probably something about having an empty pocket with nothing in would bug me!
Norm used pocket screws a lot (well, maybe not as much as biscuits and brads!) and when I saw him using the Kreg jig I went out that same day and bought one. Over the years I’ve added to it, but it was Norm’s introduction that got me hooked on this fastening system.
The tool box I have that holds all the Kreg jig stuff is a Husky brand cantilever toolbox that just happens to be an exact clone of the Kreg ToolBox. I have in it 3300+ screws, the K3, a Micro, a Rocket, and HD jigs, (two) right-angle clamps and (two) face clamps along with a Kreg shelf jig I picked up on a whim. The toolbox holds everything nicely, albeit fully loaded it’s heavy! Those boxes of HD screws add quite a bit of weight to that side. I can see why Kreg chose this toolbox design; the screws are easy to get to and there’s also enough room in the top tray for a few extra drill bits and square bit drivers.
Adding a drill to the box makes it a one-stop pocket hole kit. That’s a 3/8" Black & Decker Holgun—probably among one of the first “professional grade” tools I bought back in the late ’70s. And you know what? It has the best trigger speed control of any dill I have and that list includes the Milwaukee Magnum. Someone told me the Holguns have triple-gear reduction and that’s part of the reason why they have so much low-speed torque and can drive screws effortlessly at 600-800 RPMs, but I’ve never been able to verify that.
One of the most useful things I discovered through Norm’s use of it is the Jack Rabbit Driver. I think I have tried just about every version of the drill and drive systems available and this one is far superior to them all! Unlike some of the others, this puts the screwdriver bit close to the drill chuck where you have more control over it. I think once Norm switched to this he abandoned all others too.
Over the many seasons Norm was on the air he made quite a few jigs for various projects. I would often make the same jig without any real immediate need for it, but I figured it was far better to have it and never use it, than to need it and not have it!
I’m going from about 500 ft² workspace (roughly half of the basement, but with a staircase, bathroom, water heater, washing machine, and clothes closet taking up floor space) to a simple rectangle of about 14’×25’ (fully usable 350 ft²) and 10' ceiling height. It’s in the end of a three car garage that’s double-deep. It was built that way to house a boat many years ago. The boat is now gone and keeping a car in it means you always have to pull the one that’s blocking it out first. I’m lazy, therefore, whatever was parked in that second spot never got driven. So, it was basically unused except for some accumulated junk and leftover building materials.
After many, many revisions, and arriving at about three or four layouts that actually work, I think I finally decided on a floor plan that best suits me and the size and types of projects I do. I’m not a big fan of mobile bases and favor bolting things down to the floor, especially the tablesaw. Maybe it’s from my experiences as a kid with a benchtop tablesaw and having it move around while pushing a long, thick board though a blade that might not be as sharp as it could be. I don’t know, but I like things in a ’plugged-in, ready-to-go’ state, without messing around with them. See the ShopSmith discussion earlier in this post. Come to think of it, that’s also why I’m a member of the ’buy a router bit, buy a router’ club! Also, have I mentioned yet that I’m lazy? It’s all about smooth, quick, and efficient use. I would rather spend my time making sawdust, than setting up equipment, connecting power, moving dust collection hoses around, etc.
If the layout looks kind of familiar, you might be interested in the fact that this new shop layout is based roughly on the article that finally convinced me this would be a sucessful move. I remember seeing a Wood Magazine article called “Ideal Shop” (Issue #54, September 1992) and I kept it in the back of my mind ever since. Their Ideal Shop layout was 14’×28’ which is very close to the 14’×25’ size I was planning and seemed to also included all the stationary tools I had to accomodate.
Here’s a CAD rendering of the new space. This was done in AutoCAD and rendered with AccuRender. Since I wanted to play around with some different layouts, I looked around the ’net to see what kind of 3D tools were available in CAD format, but didn’t really find anything that was suitable as-is or could be easily modified to fit what I have. Most of the so-called ’sets’ I found were incomplete and mixed brands and none of them covered the exact models I have So, to get a better idea of what it would look like, I took on the task of making my own 3D blocks.
One of the things that isn’t all that apparent with a simple 2D floor plan layout is how the heights of the work surfaces relate to each other. For example the router table and tablesaw are the same height and the bed of the lathe is just below the tablesaw surface, so they are all very compatible and will not interfere with one another. Also the bandsaw, drillpress, and scrollsaw are a good match to have in close proximity.
You may have noticed there’s no compressor or wood storage included. Well, remember that space is double-deep, nearly 45’, so a wood storage rack will go in the other half of that section. There’s also an attic space that could be utilized if necessary. The compressor I have now—a six-gallon pancake style—works and does everything I ever asked of it, but is eventually going to be replaced with a 60-gallon, two-stage model that will be housed in an outside closet with some garden and lawn tools.
I’m sure there will be some fine tuning once I get fully moved into the new space. I’m already thinking about new ideas for tool storage. I keep a directory on my computer labeled “shop ideas”. In it I put things that I see in the various magazines or posted on the woodworking forums. Moving my shop (slowly!) has allowed me to find the stuff I misplaced, re-discover’ things I’ve forgotten I had, and most importantly, re-evaluate what works and what doesn’t and make appropriate changes.
What will I miss? A shop sink having hot/cold running water in the basement is very convenient for cleaning brushes, washing hands, etc. There’s a hose bibb on the outside of the new shop area, so installing a sink isn’t totally out of the question, but right now I’m not trying to make more work, just trying to get done what needs to be done to complete the move. I’ll worry about a sink later.
Have I convinced myself yet that this is a good move? I know it will be and in the future the benefit of having access to it without steps will be even greater.
The other thing that wasn’t entirely obvious when I started thinking about moving was that my mechanic’s tools will be in the garage with the car instead of the basement. It’s your standard 3-tier Craftsman toolchest. It’s all USA made Craftsman wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers.
The TV above the chest presents a some issues with accessing the top drawers because of the way they lock, if you have a top chest you know what I mean. It’s an old kitchen model that projects about 4" from the wall (I told you it was old!), I think it’s what you would call a “first-generation” HDTV. It might get replaced with one of those really thin models they make today or I might end up moving it to a different wall. I think it’s a 26" or 32" screen.
A keen eye will detect…well maybe not so keen, because that blue color sticks out like a sore thumb against that arrivederci red color! Yeah, that’s a magnetic Grumpy Smurf plush toy. You’ll see that his hand is giving you the thumbs down. Grumpy fits my personality.
It’s been my experience that you’re not going to find anything significantly better than Craftsman until you get to Williams or Snap-On. However, not being a professional, Snap-On won’t stop at my house (I’ve asked!) and chasing down the tooltruck every time I want something is a PITA. So that kind of limits their availability for someone like me. I do have my share of Snap-On stuff, mainly ratchets and flex-sockets, a few Flank-Drive-Plus wrenches-if you don’t know what FD+ is you really should look it up, and once you use them you’ll never want to use a wrench without ever again!
A real gem in the Craftsman Professional lineup is their screwdrivers-they are actually very nice—they are made by S-K Tools for Sears and the handle is as comfortable as just about anything I’ve used. You’ll notice I have Kleins in the tool cabinet over the workbench, but I have an extra set of the Craftsman to replace them, as they have become my go-to screwdriver…and when it comes to screwdrivers I’m a screwdriver snob!
Speaking of having extra sets…I hate having to walk to get tools, for example I try to keep at the tablesaw all the different size wrenches, allen keys, screwdrivers, etc that I need to change a blade, or adjust a stop. The same is true for the lathe, drillpress, miter saw, so each tool has their own set within an arm’s reach. And borrowing tools from one area to another is also high on my list of things I don’t like, so the kitchen has it’s own set of tools, there’s another in the shed, my electric tool bag…well, you get the idea. I usually end up buying multiples of things I like.
It’s kind of funny, but the first tool to make it out of the basement wasn’t the tablesaw or one of the other stationary tools. In fact it was something that doesn’t even have a cord on it! It was the NYW style clamp cart. A real PITA to move since it had to be completely unloaded first. But here it is, an updated photo in the new shop space. Not much has changed on it since it was first built. I think at some point I started grouping all the same size clamps together on one side.
A closeup of the glue-biscuit shelf and a couple of the hangers used for the handscrews and spring clamps.
Regarding the Bessy K-Body clamps—I remember on one of the woodworking forums a number of years ago someone wrote, “we call them ’designer clamps. ’ They’re for yuppies. You’ll find no professional shops with them over-rated and over-priced gadgets.”
I don’t know if that’s even true, but here’s the thing: first, I’m a hobbyist who happens to like nice stuff. I don’t have to justify the cost like someone in business trying to make a profit would. Second, I have no problem spending money on quality products, especially those made in the USA. Third, something my grandfather used to say; “You don’t have to be sixty years old to retire or drive a Cadillac.” Basically what he was saying is you can’t take it with you, so why not spend it while you’re still young and healthy enough to enjoy it. Besides, in what other hobby can you use $10,000’s of equipment to make a $50 cutting board out of $200 worth of wood!
Sometimes going through the shop can be a good thing. While boxing things up and going through drawers/boxes that haven’t been opened in years, I’ve discovered all the ’stuff’ I forgot I had. Like this signed picture of the Old House crew from June 2008. Always meant to find a prominent place to hang it, but like a lot of things, gets put on the back burner, then ’stuff’ get placed in front of it—and you know what they say, out of sight out of mind! It will have a prominent place in the new shop. Many thanks to Russ Morash for getting the guys to sign it for me.
The move isn’t complete—things are in the process of being dismantled and everything is in a pretty torn up state right now—and a lot of stuff I wish I had access to is sitting boxed up ready for the move. But, I’ll send more photos of the new shop when it gets completed along with some of the projects I’ve made over the years.
Thanks for looking and reading the ramblings of this (long-winded) woodworker!
Posted 5 February 2015
© 2015, All Rights Reserved