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7 Power Tools Every Woodworking Shop Should Have

We recently took a random survey of our woodworking customers and asked them what were the top five woodworking pieces of equipment that they suggested every woodworking shop should never go without. We got a lot of feedback and we wanted to go through and inform you of the top results. In fact, we got such good feedback that we decided to inform you of the top seven woodworking power tools.

1. Table saw – Table saws are a good resource to have available to you. They can be used to make various cuts depending on the project you are working on. Some of the more frequent cuts that the saw is making: cross-cutting, ripping, making miter joints, and miter cuts just to name a few.

2. Router – The versatility of a router usually goes unnoticed. There are a lot of uses for a router that many beginner woodworkers don’t realize is available to them. Not only can routers be used for finishing off the edges nicely, but also for cutting in mortise joints, inlay grooves, and keyholes. There are many other available features available to you when you use a router.

3. Jigsaw A jigsaw is a smaller saw, but a very important one. The jigsaw is a good way to start before access to a band saw is available. The jigsaw is good for cutting a hole in the center of the wood, cutting circles, and different shapes out of material. The jigsaw is very compact and does not take up a lot of space.

4. Circular Saw – This is often the first power tool added to one’s tool armory. This saw can be used to cut large or small pieces of wood. This saw is also smaller and very portable to move to different locations. The saw can be used to make plunge cuts, angle cuts, and rip cuts. There are many other uses available.

5. Sander – Whether you’re using precut wood or cutting it yourself you will be using a sander at one point or another. There is hardly any project involving wood that you will not be sanding. Having a power sander will save your arm from sanding manually. A power sander will give you a nice smooth finish across all surfaces.

6. Power Drill – Once all of the wood is cut and sanded you will need to assemble the pieces to get your final project. This means there are bolts and screws to assemble and possible holes to be made. A power drill has multiple bits that you can swap out depending on your job needs. This tool can be a big-time saver compared to using traditional screwdrivers and hand drills.

7. Planer/Jointer These can be sold as individual machines or as a combo set. These machines are important to make sure that you starting your project off with a straight and true piece of wood. You want to think of your boards as the foundation for your project. If the first few boards are off, the rest of the project will be off. There are many more uses for a planer/jointer as you get more experienced in woodworking. These units can be sold as simple tabletop units or large industrial-sized machines.

Your individual shop needs may vary, but these were voted as the top power tools needed. As always, make sure you do your research and follow all of the safety recommendations from your tool’s manufacturer. Make your American dream your reality.

Tips For Keeping Your Garage or Workshop Organized

Many of us have multiple projects going at one time.  Whether you are running a business or just tinkering around in your home shop, having a clean shop can have some great benefits.  Not only will you be able to work more efficiently and be more productive, but you can also save yourself peace of mind by not spending half your day looking for that tiny, but crucial part.

Here at American Rotary, we have employees that spend their free time tinkering in woodworking, metalworking, and working on their cars.  We all sat down and talked about tips that we recommend to keeping our home shops organized so we can make the most out of the time we have in our shop. Just like you, most of us have many projects going on at once. Here are some great places to start.

1. Tool Organization – Keeping your tools organized will help in your time of searching for that one tool required to move onto the next step. Everyone will have their own method of organization that works for them.  A common one was having your sockets, wrenches, and screwdrivers organized by size.  This will make it quick to find the size you are looking for.  Some other practices are keeping your types of tools together.  For example, you may have specialty mechanic or woodworking tools.  If you keep the specialty tools together this will cut down on the time of remembering where in your shop you last left your torque wrench. Depending on the person, you may find it beneficial to have each tool have their own specific spot.  This way if you see an open spot, you know something missing.

2. Keep the Parts Organized From Your Project – This is important when doing a restoration project. Whether you are refurbishing an old piece of furniture or restoring a car, keeping track of what parts you have is important. During tear down sort the pieces by relativity.  For example, if you are restoring a car, place your brackets and bolts for the rear bumper in the same area.  It is also a good idea to make an inventory list of the parts you take off and make a note of what box they are being stored in.  Not only will this remind you of what parts you have, but will also work as a reminder during assembly and help in the budgeting and planning stage.  When that time comes, you won’t be spending a good chunk of your allotted time searching for the parts you know you had.

3. Cord/Hose Management – I am sure we all have dealt with having a tangled drop cord or air hose at one point or another. Storing either of those properly can help greatly lower the risk of having to spend half of your day untangling a webbed mess of cords.  There are lots of inexpensive options out there for cord management.  Some examples include retractable wheels and cord spools.  Both are a nice option to have around your shop.  The retractable wheels are convenient because they can allow you to pull the cord or hose out quickly and have a quick clean up when you are done.  The cord spools are great for storing your extra drop cords and air hoses on a wall or in a cabinet.

4. Pegboard Use – While tool chests are a nice feature to keep your tools organized, you may find it beneficial to mount a pegboard above your work area. There are many different types of brackets you can use on a pegboard.  On your pegboard, you can store tools that you may need quick access to.  For example; screwdrivers, wrenches, tape measure, and a hammer.  Having these tools right at your fingertips will cut down drastically on the amount of time walking to and from your tool chest.  It will also help you realize if a tool is missing before you forget where you last used it.

5. Use of Open Shelves – While an enclosed cabinet is nice because it can give your shop a nice clean and finished look, they can also have a negative effect. A cabinet can give you the “out of sight, out of mind” effect.  Your cabinet may become a black hole for your tools.  If you are ever quickly cleaning up your shop, it is easy to throw the tools in the cabinet and forget about them.  When you use an open shelf system instead, it forces you to keep it organized.  It is also easier to find your tools that you are searching for since you can see everything on the shelf.  Having an open shelf can also give you more versatility to what is being stored on it, they are typically more adjustable and you can have larger items overhang the shelf.

Following these tips can give you a head start on keeping your shop organized.  We all have different ideas on what will work best in our own shops, so please do what works best for you.  Whichever tips you use to be organized will help your time management greatly.  We all know how frustrating it is looking for a tool or part, being organized will help lower that risk and allow you to spend more time making your American dream become your reality.