I have hopes that others will share their personal tips and lessons
1. Shop Air conditioning. (Home)... I have a odd shop arrangement. The
garage started as a very wide single-car garage, with pass-through doors at
both ends, and then another single car garage was added on back. (Tandem
garage) It is actually a bit larger than most standard double car garages.
It is reasonable well insulated. Two years ago, I installed a small, 8000
BTU, window air conditioner. In the summer months, I turn on the air
conditioner the first thing in the morning, and then turn it off at night.
This allows the unit to condition the air, in the cooler morning hours.
(Remember, all those big cast iron tools hold a lot of heat.) When
afternoon temperatures rise into the 90's that single unit will moderate the
inside temperatures by 12 to 15 degrees. If the afternoon temperatures
exceed 100, the shop will become uncomfortably warm.
Shop dust has not been a problem, other than the foam filter in front, does
have to be cleaned regularly. The air moving, over the cooling fins, keeps
them reasonably clean. Occasionally, blowing out the fins with a air
compressor is recommended.
The air conditioner was purchased from a local gent that repairs them for a
hobby. He charged me 15 dollars for the unit. So far, it has performed
very well. If it dies, I'll take it back to the same guy, and trade it for
2. When designing a new shop area, as far as I'm concerned, THE initial
consideration is to think about wood storage. Woodworkers, almost
invariable end up with pieces of wood, too good to throw away, and even in
hobbyshops, these quickly become a problem. Solve this problem first.
Consider tool position second.
3. Shop cleaning. I have a Powermatic dust collector, and I use it. I've
discovered that dryer vent hose and fittings work just as well as some of
the dedicated (and expensive) dust collector piping.
4. Shop cleaning. I do not like walking around in sawdust. I end up
tracking it in the house, and causing marital disharmony. It's very
difficult to get a really good finish in a dusty work area. Over 20 years
ago, at an auction, I purchased a cheap electric leaf blower. Now, I open a
garage door and simply blow out the entire area. Providing the small tools,
(nails, screws, etc, are contained), it is a very quick process.
Cravat: Be careful. Blowing dropped screws and nails into your driveway is
Cravat: If you live in a sub-division, pay attention to which the wind is
blowing. Covering a neighbors car with blown wood dust is not conducive to
good relations, or in my case, required me to accompy my neighbor to the
local car wash and pay for washing his truck.
5a. Tool care. I have found that there is a great unit for keeping
non-electrical tools in pristine condition, and that's the dishwasher. When
doing home maintenance on lawn mowers, or the truck, I haul all my hand
tools into the kitchen and run them through a cycle in the dishwasher. With
the drying cycle turned on, the grease is removed, AND the tools are blown
dry, so rusting is not a problem. A quick swipe with a slightly oiled rag,
afterwards is recommended.
The dishwasher will not remove existing rust. Some tools, specifically
old/antique planes, are really prone to rusting, even with the drying cycle.
Immediate attention, with some paste wax is recommended.
CAUTION: I've never had any problem with japanning, but I have had old
paint removed, and the process will remove any patina, especially on the
wooden parts, like the handle and the knob.
Using a dishwasher on non-chromed tools probably should be approached with
extreme caution. and NEVER used on a collectable tool.
5b. Occasionally, it is possible, when washing alot of greasy tools, that
there will be a slight aroma of petroleum left in the dishwasher.. Empty
the dishwasher and do another cycle.
5c. I've found that the dishwasher will do a creditable job with buildup on
circular saw blades.
5d. NEVER attempt this process, when SWMBO is home.
6. I've found that good cabinet saw, properly tuned, with very good saw
blade, (60-80 tooth) will usually produce a glue ready edge. Most of the
time, I don't even bother with the jointer. For me, it's a gigantic pain in
the butt to achieve perfect alignment with joint knives, even with some
modern gadgets. I've noted that some of the high end jointers now have
corrugated bases on their knives. When the knives are machined sharpened,
they are all sharpened with the different knives exactly the same distance
from the grinding wheels. Then, when the knives are installed, the
corrugations on the base of the knives, fit precisely in matching grooves in
the cutter head. Perfection can be achieved in a matter of minutes.
I will probably never buy a new jointer, but if I did, it will have this
7. Out of habit, with the large tools, I usually purchased a mobile base
right along with the tool. Experience has shown me, that in my case, the
mobile bases are pretty close to waste of money. After running power
outlets, and dust collection piping, leveling (etc) I'm NOT going to be
moving those tools very often.
8. I highly recommend taking the time to level all the tools and
workbenches. I use the disguarded plastic slats from a two-inch widow blind
for shims. They are rugged, non-compressible and can be easily cut to any
9a. Check your levels. I use a simple method. I place he level on a wall,
and then, center the bubble as close as possilible. I draw a line. Then I
flip the level end for end and repeat the process. If the second line is
not exactly over the first line, then the level is not true.
9b. A square, (framing or otherwise), that isn't perfect, is pretty close
to worthless. The internet provides methods of truing a framing square.
But, I know of no method of truing a worn a tri-square. (Any suggestions)
10. On a good level, the bubble will exactly touch the inner set of lines
when perfectly level. On most levels, you will note that there is usually
two sets of lines, the second set, slightly outside the first set. I am
reliably informed that if the bubble touches either one of the outside
lines, then the level is at exactly the right slope for draining water.
Useful for plumbing and flatwork applications. (I actually made it quite a
few years without knowing what that second set of lines was all about.)
11. ALL my metal tool boxes, and over the years, I've acquired several,
have a piece of outdoor carpeting applied with contact cement, to the bottom
of the tool box. It stops the tool box from rusting, and stop the box from
scraping hardwood floors, when a clumsy oaf (like me) inadvertently kicks
12. For years, I would glue a strip of carpeting to the tops of my saw
horses. It worked well, but eventually, the carpet would be spotted with
glue and paint drips, dirt and this usually meant throwing away the
sawhorse. Now, I take the time to create a disposable top, usually of 1/2"
plywood. I do not finish the wood top. I've found that I do want a bit of
friction between the top and the piece of wood I've sawing or sanding.