Essential Woodworking Hand Tools

June 22, 2017

There are certain essential woodworking hand tools that belong in any garage or shop.

This list contains my “must haves” of non-power tools. It’s in no particular order. To use any tool well, you need good instructions. The Woodworkers Guild of America offers excellent videos, projects and plans that will allow you to put any of these tools to good work.

10. Square


A square excels at one thing: it lets you mark a straight line on a piece of lumber. Slap the square on a 2X4 or 2X6 and you have the perfect edge to mark a line with your pencil. In the hands of a skilled carpenter, a square can do all sorts of complicated framing measurements. But for most of us, the square is simply indispensable for cutting in a straight line – and instructional woodworking DVDs and videos will help you perfect your hand tool skills.

9. Tape Measure

Tape Measure

Always necessary, most tape measures are inexpensive enough to get two or three. As one of the most practical tools invented, they get borrowed frequently, so be sure to have one in reserve. Fun fact: some tape measures are lefty friendly. Woodcraft sells a “Lefty/Righty 16’ tape measure that can be read from either side of the tape.

8. Level


A level is so basic to woodworking and carpentry that it hardly needs describing. There’s no quicker way to tell if your work is true than with a level. Treat your woodworking levels well and don’t drop them or otherwise do anything to knock them out of kilter. Lengths vary according to your job and they come in wood or aluminum.

7. Handsaw


Even with a roomful of power tools, every woodworker has at least one general purpose handsaw. Good handsaws are expensive but basic saws less so. Keep the blade lightly oiled to prevent rust. Make sure the mounting bolts securing the blade to the handle can be retightened as needed. Better blades can be replaced when necessary, however, sharpening them is a skill well worth learning and the mark of a good woodworker.

6. Miter box and saw

Miter box and saw

What the handsaw is to big cuts, the miter box and saw is to small cuts. These kits let you precisely cut small lumber and molding at a variety of angles. Although power miter saws are indeed wonderful, you’ll find yourself going back to a miter box and saw for many of your small woodworking projects.

5. Planes


A block plane is another indispensable hand tool. It takes off material from boards and lumber that don’t fit precisely. Aligning a door is a perfect example. You may have framed up your door opening as well as possible, but when you go to install the door you find it’s catching a little. Shaving down just a small amount of wood with a plane will let you precisely fit that door to its opening. Cabinet and window frame work invariably call for a plane. Good ones are heavy and worth the cost.

4. Clamps


“You can never have enough clamps.” That old adage can be ascribed to woodworkers everywhere. Besides holding your work, clamps are essential for gluing boards together. A simple box or a picture frame demands clamping. You can’t use nails and screws for everything, especially if you want to do fine work. Clamps come in a bewildering variety, from basic “C” clamps, to clamps that work with pipe to span long distances. Ask your woodworking supplier for their recommendations for your project.

3. Carpenter Pencil

Carpenter Pencil

A common Number 2 pencil is no good for woodworking. The point will break immediately on any kind of rough wood. A carpenter pencil is flat or mostly so, so that it doesn’t roll off a table. Sharpened with most any kind of pocket knife, the broad lead tip will give you a nice, easy to read line on your work. Buy several so you’ll always have one nearby.

2. Hammer


What would a shop be without a hammer? A framing hammer and a claw hammer are the most common. Framing hammers are heavier, often 20 oz., and are meant for rough work. Their face is often textured. You wouldn’t want to use a framing hammer on finish work because they may mar your project. Normal claw hammers are 16 oz. in weight and can be swung all day, although they don’t deal well with bigger nails and lumber. My suggestion? Get both!

1. A Vise

A Vise

While not necessarily a hand tool, a vise is indispensable for any shop. Kinds vary and you’ll need to do some research on what’s best for you. But an all-around, all-purpose vise will serve you well on your workbench until you decide later that you need something particular.

by Info Guru Thomas Farley

Ways to Have Fun with Your Kids This Summer

June 21, 2017

The ways to have fun with your kids this summer are unlimited.

Doing any of these activities together will be a bonding experience and create lifetime memories.

10. Start a collection

start a collection

What are your child’s favorite hobbies? Can you make it into a collection? Coins, stamps, sports cards, rocks, and books are all great collecting activities. Perhaps attend a monthly meeting of local hobbyists. These clubs will often have raffles at the end of their meetings which are always fun. Look for stores that cater to collectors for information and supplies.

9. Go to a car show

Go to a car show

Summer is the time for car shows to shine. From meets down the street at a park, to well organized events at convention centers, car shows introduce children to machines they’ve never seen. If they’ve seen Cars, the movies, they’ll probably want to see a car show.

8. Reading


Along with exercise, kids can never have too much reading, especially in summer. You may have grown up with Highlights magazines. Remember Goofus and Gallant? Well, Highlights is still around and better than ever — they encourage fun with a purpose. But any reading is good. Try reading with your child as much as possible. And have you visited your local library lately? That’s a great place to pass the summer.

7. Metal detecting and treasure hunting

Metal detecting and treasure hunting

This can be done at a nearby park or recreation area if local authorities allow it. Look for an electronics store that sells metal detecting equipment, including beginner gear. “Coin shooting” is what most metal detectorists do. Children can help by digging up the target that the adult homes in on with a metal detector. A partner helps tremendously in this hobby, even if they’re young. Salt a specific area in a park with a few handful of coins the night before you go visit with a youngster. You don’t want the child to experience getting skunked the first time out.

6. Miniature golf

Miniature golf

Quick! Introduce your kids to miniature golf before these courses disappear. You probably remember the old days when you would go with all your friends. It’s still fun, there’s just fewer and fewer courses these days, so plan a trip to your nearest one and make an afternoon out of it.

5. County fairs

County fairs

County fairs are fun, let kids run around, and provide a look at a local region. With luck, they’ll have old-time tractors on display, corn dogs to eat, and animal barns. Along with rides of all levels of excitement. Remember the camera.

4. Swimming


Does your child know how to swim? If not, be sure to get them in the swim now. YMCAs often have pools and give lessons. Swimming is a must-have skill, just like riding a bicycle. It’s something they’ll use their whole life. And if you don’t know how to swim, well, perhaps you two can learn together. There’s a lot of pool parties and water parks waiting for you. Look for toys and floats that make pool fun an all-day affair.

3. Camping


What’s summer without one car camping trip? If you’re new to camping, make it a short event, like one or two nights at someplace close. You’ll need less outdoor gear if you do this. Instead of using a camp stove, just bring sandwiches and simple staples to last the duration. Perhaps hot dogs if you’re allowed to have a fire. A one or two-day trip should require only one freezer chest of ice. This first outing will be good practice for longer trips to more distant locales.

2. Nature walks

Nature walks

Does your town have an outdoor area good for hiking and exploring? Many towns have nature walks conducted by rangers or volunteers who are eager to share their knowledge. The Sierra Club and the Audubon Society can clue you in to local happenings. Local colleges and universities are also great resources.

1. Bowling


Bowling is another great way to have fun with your kids this summer. A lot has changed in the last few years. Scoring is automatic and there are gutter guards are available for young kids. These guards keep a ball in the middle of the lane, leaving a better chance of striking something. Loud music, laser lights, and sometimes even fog dress up bowling lanes at certain hours. This period is called by many names, including Midnight Bowling and Cosmic Bowling. Ask your bowling center when they put on these fun events.

by Info Guru Thomas Farley