Let’s Talk About Tools, Baby!

So… for three days I’ve been trying to write a post about my January themes, but as it turns out I can’t write about finances without wanting to poke my eyeball out with a rusty screwdriver, so can we just talk about something more fun for a minute? Like that rusty screwdriver? A table saw? Fricking mini-lathe? Or how ohmigod I need a drillpress?

Tools make me happy, people. Power tools, especially. Do you know why? Power tools are efficient. Power tools make tons of sawdust. Power tools are the antithesis of spending two hours trying to cut through crown molding (and your palpable frustration) with a dull handsaw and a miter box. Power tools– bless their corded, batteried little hearts– are possibilities.

Oh, this is so much better than writing about budgets. Unless we’re talking about a budget that involves me going out right this minute and buying myself this thing of beauty:


A few years ago I had a page on this site that was dedicated to all the tools that live in my heart, but not in my workshop (yet), but then people actually started buying me tools off that list and I started to get weirded out that everyone would think I was asking for them to buy me these things… which is not the case. I actually like saving up and buying my own tools, it makes them feel more substantial and important to me (the one glaring exception being the big tools I sometimes “borrow” from my dad– and by “borrow” I mean “steal”–and don’t judge, this is a part of what makes our father-daughter relationship work.) I don’t ever ask my dad help with physical labor, because this usually results in one of us swearing at the other (uh, affectionately, of course), instead I ask him to give me his table saw:


That’s a lie, actually. My dad bestows his tools on me freely when they haven’t been used for a while. Which is how I ended up with this 500 pound beast in my car. It was not coming out, by the way, until Meryl and Chris from Picardy Project were here for the weekend and it took all three of us to muscle it onto a table in the middle of the shop.


Yeah. It needs a little love, but this thing is a piece of machinery. I love it, and I may name it Brutus.

So right now my shop contains any number of hand tools along with a table saw, double-bevel sliding-arm miter saw, and router table– I mean, yes, I long for a panel saw– but the truth is that once I’ve got a drill press I feel like I’ll have all the “big” tools I need as far as woodworking goes.

My attention is turning more from “what tools do I need?” to “how can I best set up my workspace?” As a refresher… this is what my shop looks like right now:


It needs… work.

Since I plan to have this place in working order sometime next summer, I’ve been scoping out a few workshops for inspiration.

“I’m so shocked that you have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to woodshops“… said no one ever.



So, this is what’s on my mind when it comes to building things, but I have to know… any new tools on your lists?

27 Responses

  1. I received a Makita drill and driver set for Christmas and I L-O-V-E them dearly. Best drill I’ve ever had. A table saw would be a dream to have. Maybe one day!

  2. Take it from me (another tool-obsessed DIYer) – you’ll never have all the big tools that you want. Once you get a nice table saw, router table, and drill press you’ll start looking at planers and jointers and track saws and bandsaws and lathes. And after that, you’ll circle back around and realize that you should have gotten a 1940s American built cast iron 16″ table saw that weighs 1500 pounds, or a chain mortiser or some other beefy maker of sawdust.
    If I had your land and outbuildings it would be very dangerous because I’d be actively looking to fill them. Lucky for my bank account, though, I’m limited by the size of my shop.

  3. This post just reminds me how much I want to liberate my own tools (and awesome industrial drill press) from the various corners of my mom’s garage.

    Condo’s suck like that. Living by the beach in SoCal, not so much. Thanks for letting me live vicariously..

  4. Ahhh tools tools tools. Heres the short list. Belt Sander. Festool sander and vacuum. Snapon Pick set. Rotary would be nice too lol. It’s a never ending addiction. Whos the maker of the table saw you posted ?

  5. There are TONS of very good useable and CHEAP tools on Craig’s List you know!! They even have a TOOL category! Check it out!

  6. This is a post that makes my heart sing.. While most of my girlfriends long for shoes and purses and shopping malls I drool over power tools, workbenches and the steady humm of a sander and the feel of a drill in my hand..

    speaking of… Just ordered my new Dewalt 20V Lithium Drill yesterday.. Hurry up UPS.. Don’t they know I have projects to do??

  7. My dad just gave me a little three wheeled bandsaw because he said he couldn’t get the blade to stay on. Now that that’s fixed, I am debating on giving it back or not. Of course after reading your post, I am beginning to think it was his way of “bestowing” it on me 🙂

    Here is a great story about a man who puts tools in the hands of people who need them. I guess he’s in New England somewhere.

  8. I used to work in a shop were I made things mostly from metal. The tools I miss having on hand the most- drill press, band saw and Bidgette, my old trusty CNC( well not mine after losing my job of course). I,however, do not really miss the lathe, for metal parts with optical tight spec tolerances, that sucker caused me much grief.

  9. Router. Paint sprayer, maybe another (belt) sander. Bigger miter saw :o) Oh, and a nail gun. I really need a nail gun.

  10. I am moving in with my boyfriend this month and one thing we are doing at his house is revamping the woodshop! I so wish I had a blog to show the before and afters but he is not comfortable with showing his life on the internet (he is just coming around to the idea that maybe Facebook is not the devil).

    I will have to browse your pinterest boards for inspiration!

  11. I know about budgets; I have one too. I’m a cabinetmaker and pretty much have as many tools as I’m going to get. At first I thought I’d get a band saw, but I’ve been so many years without one that I no longer feel the need of it. If I were making furniture—especially chairs and rockers—I would get one, but since my stuff tends to be casework, the table saw does fine for me.

    Relative to a drill press, I have gotten along just fine with a Sears Craftsman tabletop model. I think I paid all of $89 for it in 1992. It is all the drill press I have ever needed with the single exception of when I wanted to drill through 2” MDF with a 2” spade bit for a form for bending wood. I was taking woodworking classes at a junior college at the time and ended up going to school and using their drill press. My little putt-putt didn’t have enough power for something like that.

    As for the rest… I use it to drill holes in wood that will eventually take bolts. Once in a while I use Forstner bits that are as much as an inch in diameter. It does all of it and does it wonderfully. I have long since sworn off Craftsman tools, but I’ve always kept that drill press. At one point some part broke, but I was able to order a $4 replacement on the internet, pop that baby in, and keep on trucking.

    Every now and again I need to drill a hole in the center of a board that is much too wide for that small drill press (but this would happen on any drill press you care to use). I simply use a drill guide.

  12. I haven’t gotten any new tools lately, but my dad just helped me bring one of my old tool friends back to life. I ran over my air compressor a while ago and broke it. This weekend he fixed it, so it’s kind of like getting a new, but not really.

    Nikki Kelly @ the ambitious procrastinator

  13. I just got a new random orbital sander for Christmas, but my eye has been on a router (girl sized) and table. Sigh…someday. I need a shop like yours though – working in the garage sucks! We park in it, so that means putting everything away and then getting it back out after work. Loving the progress you are making and for all the humor you spread.

  14. Because I I’m ignorant about how people live in sub zero winters can you tell me, Is it possible for you to get heating in your workshop? would you put a furnace in there too or some kind of stove? I know you have to be careful of open flames in workshop cos of that lovely sawdust your so keen on.

    1. They make garage heaters. Different than a furnace–only has to heat a small area of course, but operated much the same way (natural gas, propane, electric, etc). My folks just put one in their new shop and it is glorious. It was -15 this morning and my poor car wishes I had one.

  15. I’m wanting a band saw and a router table next. I’ve really done well on Craigslist by lurking and watching for just the right deal. Maybe, I’ll spot a good bandsaw soon.

  16. My first real encounter with tools was when I asked my brother to put up a shelf for me. He stopped by with a power drill, walked into my house and say to me ” Knock on the wall “,which I did. ” That’s hollow you don’t want to drill there. keep knocking.” which I did. “Thats is solid and that is were the stud is. Drill there. I’ll be back in 2 days to get my drill.” Well I was like no way just put them up for me. He told me I own a house I need to know the basics.” So that was the start for me. I have not only mastered the Shelf, I gutted and did my Bathroom, Knocked down a wall and put in a pocket door, redid my kitchen and made my own cabinets. Own my own set of Power tools Just got a compressor. and the Latest addition a truck to haul all my goodies! Oh I have a basement workshop for winter and use the garage in warmer months.

  17. Just got for Christmas a beauty of a bench vise, so no more using clamps (and sacrificial scraps to prevent the clamps from marring the workpiece). Also received my first grown-up (by that I mean higher quality) smoothing plane from Wood River, so the old $60 hand plane now it my very fast paint remover. [So these items just came off my wish list.]
    An aside about your drill press fantasy: I inherited an In-the-Box Delta commercial grade 18″ drill press, and it changed my life in the shop, literally. If I had known before I got it what I know now, I would have skipped buying food for awhile to get one.

    The wish list? Bench dogs. Lots of brass bench dogs, in assorted depths, and a bench pup to match. Also a Tite-Mark marking gauge. Also, a 3/8″ Japanese blue-steel chisel to add to my set of (2).
    Also, although this isn’t technically on the wish-list of tools to own, I am wishing for a neighbor to mill my 8′ Paulownia log, salvaged from the Empress tree we had to take down after Sandy, into usable board stock so I can make something beautiful out of it. It won’t be as beautiful as the tree was, but it’s the least I can do.

    1. This is awesome! I am jealous of so many things in this post (and you’ve really convinced me that drill-press is next on my list.)

  18. Thanks for the METAL shout-out. We’ve often joked about putting hammocks in the rafters and all moving in, so you are certainly not alone in your sentiments. We will have the gas forge up and blasting this Saturday (Feb 9th) from 2-6pm would love to see you here, you might even convince Drew to let you whack the anvil.

    Have a great day! And keep writing (and creating).

    -Team METAL

    1. Hammocks in a workshop are basically the best idea I’ve ever heard of. I’d love to come by Saturday. Was actually going to look you guys up because I’ve got this idea for a light fixture I think you might be able to help me out with…bonus points if I get to whack an anvil in the process. Or anything, really.

  19. I own a lot of tools…but the one thing I could use is a new toolbox. I’ve taken my old one with me on all of my projects, so it’s definitely gotten some use these last 10 years.

  20. My -I mean Dad’s – Dewalt Miter saw has lived with me for the past six years. I told him he should just make it official, but he continues to hold out. 😉 His table saw unfortunately may or may not be under lock and key from me.

Comments are closed.

I'm not interested in a mediocre life. I'm here to kick ass or die.

(formerly DIYdiva.net)