When I teach classes, I tell my students to buy their winding sticks in the “18th-century Tool Section” of their local home center.
They look puzzled until I pull out my winding sticks: two lengths of aluminum angle, one of which is painted black. Aluminum angle is cheap and makes a nice set of accurate winding sticks.
In fact, aluminum extrusions are so accurate that I also use them as straightedges in the shop. They are lightweight, as long as you need (mine are 36″) and are unaffected by humidity changes.
Today as I was teaching at “The Woodwright’s School,” we were rasping the ripping notch of the sawbenches we’re building. One of the students, Richard Ward, was cleaning his rasp with a curious-looking brush. It looked like it should have barbecue sauce on it.
I went to his bench to investigate. It was a little plastic brush with stiff plastic bristles and was just perfect for cleaning the teeth of rasps. Richard said it was a little thing he picked up at the home center. He thought it was supposed to be a brush for cleaning grout. The brand name is “Quickie.”
That reminded me of all the other things I get at the home center for traditional work. Some of it is what you would expect, such as boiled linseed oil and alcohol for finishing.
But some of the things I get there are like the Quickie brush and I use them for things not intended by the manufacturer.
For example, I use the 6d and 8d masonry nails for building these sawbenches. The nails are indeed cut nails, well-made and inexpensive (less than $6 for a pound). They are as hard as heck, so you probably won’t be able to clinch them. Roy Underhill today wondered aloud if the nails could be annealed to soften them.
I use copper pipe to make ferrules for my tool handles. And I’ve bought Allen keys and made them into cutters for my router planes. Dowels for drawbore pegs.
I’m sure there are other home-center materials there that would be handy to a traditional woodworker. If you know of any, post it in the comments below for all of us.
- Christopher Schwarz