Tools in Your Shop

‘Tis a poor craftsman who blames his tools … which is why we like to celebrate them! Popular Woodworking has been at the forefront of woodworking tools and tool usage for many years. Our focus is not just reviewing new tools, but considering the best overall approach to tooling – especially how hand and power tools can go together in your shop. It’s all about completing great projects and doing it efficiently, without breaking the bank. Have fun learning from these community posts and applying the knowledge to your next project!

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Exploit the Weakness of the Tree

In hand-tool woodworking, brains almost always trump brawn. For example, when I need to remove a lot of material from a localized area, I need to think like a tree assassin and exploit its weaknesses. Think about it for a minute: Trees are much stronger in the vertical axis than they are in the...

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Single Purpose Tools – What’s Your Favorite?

One of my favorite finishes is Watco Danish Oil. I love the product, but hate the container. In addition to being a pretty good wood finish, Watco Oil is also a very effective metal-to-metal adhesive. After you use it, the little bit of finish that drips around the threads of the opening gets spread...

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Cutting Tenons on a Table Saw

I’ve long been a fan of cutting tenons on the table saw. I’ve found it can be done quickly, with repeatable accuracy and safely. Recently, I discovered a new saw blade with a thick, 1/4″-wide tooth that’s ground flat on the top, and it’s perfect for this operation. This Infinity Tools thick-kerf, flat-top blade...

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Another Solid $10 (and Change) Saw

It sounds like a difficult question, but it’s really not. “I really want a Wenzloff & Sons handsaw, but I am a (graduate student, hobo, philosophy major) and cannot afford it. Can you recommend a saw that works almost as well but costs only $10?” Yes, I can. For many years I have been...

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Ripping Thin Stuff Safely

One of the issues of using a table saw safely is that many of the things intended to keep us safe don’t work well when you really need them. Ripping thin pieces on the table saw is a good example. In our shop, we have an overhead guard with built in dust collection. It’s...

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Planes are Stupid; Saws are Smart

I am married to a very smart woman. This has its advantages – life is never boring. It also has its disadvantages – she does not suffer fools (such as myself) lightly. What the heck does this have to do with woodworking? Plenty. In the world of woodworking tools there are two overarching varieties:...

How Many Saws Does it Take…

How many saws does it take to cut giant dovetails? In my case, three. Sure, those of you with mad saw skills might simply whip out the panel saw and go at it. But I’m not that brave. Instead, I started with my wee Gramercy dovetail saw, which has a usable cutting depth of...

You Can Really Do That

One of the greatest moments in marketing history was the mass adoption of power tools following World War II. Before then, the standard thinking was that just about anyone could pick up a saw and cut a piece of wood. Within 20 years that notion became an eccentricity. If you want to sell anything...

10 Tool Features that Frustrate Me

Some days I forget that not all woodworking tools are designed by woodworkers (see: many of the honing guides on the market). And I forget that some tools are just designed to trick your family members into buying them for you at Christmas (see also: the battery-operated tape measure and C-clamp). This weekend as...