Essential Woodworking Tools for the Garage

I love working with wood. It’s relaxing and gets the creative juices flowing. Woodworking as either income or hobby entails the use of certain tools. Once you decide to convert your garage into a shop, you will need to know the best choices for a limited space. Some tools are indispensable while others can be passed by depending on what you expect to achieve from your shop.

We can start by listing the most needed power tools followed by hand tools and incidentals. If you know exactly what you’ll be doing, tools may be added and removed, but we can make a good beginners list here.

Table Saw

table-sawThe biggest tool you should have will be your tablesaw. For accuracy, for ability to make repetitive cuts and for the ability to handle large sizes of board, this tool can’t be beat. The drawback is the amount of space it takes up. Being a cabinetmaker, I like my tablesaw bench to be large enough to handle at least a 4X8 sheet of plywood. That means my bench would be nine to ten feet from front to back and nine feet wide with the saw blade being center of that span.

An alternative to such a large piece of real estate in your garage is a portable tablesaw that can be stored under a workbench, but they have never been known for accuracy. For accuracy, you should turn to your circular saw, a good straightedge and clamps. It takes a bit to set up but it will give you a far better cut than the portable.

Power Tools

cordless-drillNext up is a drill. Some think that this is where it stops. Of course, you can put a screwdriver bit in and run screws but woodworking often requires a more delicate hand. In my opinion, drills are for drilling but screwguns are for screwing. They can be adjusted to stop before blowing through the wood.

A jigsaw is the next tool, preferably one that can scroll. This is followed by a router. Obtain an extra base for your router so that you have the ability to use it by hand and attach the other base to a router table. In a perfect world, your shop would have at least two routers, one with a ¼-inch shank and another with a ½-inch shank. Keep in mind, router bits can get very expensive.

Sanders are up next. You can certainly do ninety-nine percent of your sanding with a random orbital sander. However, a belt sander for large jobs certainly makes the job easier. For the small spaces, a triangular sander gets it done.

An air compressor is probably the most versatile piece of equipment in your shop or garage. Whether you’re using it with an air sander or just blowing off sawdust for cleaning, it’ll be used quite often. Since you’ll probably be in a small enclosed air, a quiet air compressor is the best option. Feel free to check out various other air compressor reviews online if you need something larger.

Finally, the indispensable compound miter saw or “chop saw” as it’s called in shops. This saw will cut straight, clean miters for corners, compound miters for angled corners such as crown molding and repetitive crosscuts. This tool can be built into the workbench or used away from it with collapsible supports.

Hand Tools

hand-toolsHand tools are the remaining link between past and present. No matter how many innovations are made to power tools, there will always be a time when you’ll reach for a hand tool. The list can go on forever but here are the necessities:

  • Chisels for cutting and cleaning up your projects. Chisels range in size from ¼-inch to 2 inches.

  • Squares come in several styles and you should have one of each. Framing squares, adjustable squares and T-squares are the most used in a wood shop.

  • Clamps, hand planes, screwdrivers, wrenches, tape measures and folding rulers round out the list.


The most important tool is your common sense. Be sure the garage is well ventilated, always wear safety equipment and work smart.

Cell Phone Tips When Traveling Internationally

You cannot assume that your popular cellphone will work internationally, or that your current plan will cover the costs of using it. If you insist on using your own phone overseas, have your carrier set up an international plan. Even then, you need to wary of costly surcharges and exceptions that affect phones when they leave the country.

Avoid Fees

Even if your cellphone will work outside of the country, your service provider may charge you outrageous fees or surcharges to use it. Even companies that advertise global access may have hidden costs that only become apparent when you receive a bill for usage. Contact your provider and go over the details of what you need to have available when traveling abroad, and get the facts in writing.

Beware of Data Rates

You may have unlimited data usage within the United States, but those rates seldom follow you other countries. Be sure to look at the current rates in your destination, and schedule or restrict your usage accordingly. Be sure to turn of automatic updates before you leave on your trip.

Data rates apply to many categories, including:

  • Downloads
  • Email
  • Phone and App Updates
  • Streaming Media
  • Texting
  • Web Usage

Plan for Power Needs

AC power in the United States is different from the default power available in other countries. Make sure you know what is coming out of the outlets in your destination, and buy the necessary power adapters to fit your cellphone. American standard connectors will probably be useless when you visit foreign lands.


cell-phone-international-travelLike in the US, cell phone reception around the world varies greatly. If staying in a hotel that’s far enough outside a city where reception is weak, a good cell phone booster for travel that’s rated for international frequencies can mean the difference between good reception and no reception. As always, do your research to make sure the unit will work outside the country by visiting various reviews sites such as this one.

Understand Your Plan

Even if you have the broadest domestic plan, it may not work for you abroad. Roaming charges are one example where a domestic plan can turn into a financial nightmare overseas, and you could find yourself paying upward of $1.00 per minute on a plan that is usually free to use.

Verify Your Cellphone

Just as the power and data options are different in overseas locations, the phone you use may not work either. Very few countries still use the cellphone networks that Americans think of as state-of-the-art. Even the SIM card in your phone may be incompatible with services in other countries. To overcome this and most other problems, consider buying or renting a phone once you arrive at your destination. If you do this, be sure to make a written copy of the numbers you may need to dial so you can enter them in the new phone.

Use WiFi When Possible

Instead of relying on your cellphone, it might be more affordable to leverage the power of WiFi. Take along a laptop or netbook, and use Internet cafes or free Wifi. By logging in to free WiFi along the way, you can avoid data charges, network compatibility problems and data plan surcharges.

WiFi can be used for most cellular communication, such as:

  • Internet Surfing
  • Magic Jack to Mimic Landlines
  • Skype or other VOIP Communication
  • Social Networking
  • Video Conferencing

Building a Kids Bunk Bed

Let’s face it… any kid would love to have a bunk bed in their room. I still remember when my dad built my brother and I our first bunk bed. It was nothing fancy but to us kids, it was the coolest thing. Bunk beds are actually quite easy to build although a bit time consuming. If you decide to do the job yourself, then you can save quite a bit of money. For a very inexpensive way to please your kids all you need is a few basic tools and pinewood. Using pinewood would make the bunk very durable, solid and safe.

bunk-bed-safetyIt’s important to remember that the top portions of bunk beds should not be used by very young kids. It should be reserved for those at least 4 years old. Younger kids can be on the bottom. My grandkids are 5 and 3 so obviously, the younger one will be on the bottom. He still loves sleeping in his favorite toddler sleep sack so it’s much safer if he’s on the bottom. BTW, if you’re looking for one, I’ve been told that Woolino makes the best toddler sleep bag.

Materials and Tools Needed

  • 6/4″ pine
  • scrap wood
  • 4×4 pine
  • 1×2 pine
  • 1×4 pine
  • plywood
  • screws
  • table saw
  • miter saw
  • circular saw
  • router
  • pencil
  • chisel
  • jigsaw
  • flush cut router bit
  • drill
  • drill bit
  • screwdriver
  • measuring tape
  • safety glasses

Instructions For Building A Kid’s Bunk Bed

  1. All boards must be sanded smooth with power sander.
  2. Four 2x6s must be cut down to 39 inches.
  3. You can use the same blade to cut 8 2x6s down to 78 inches.
  4. The 2x6s should be glued and screwed together.
  5. The box should be placed on the plywood so you can trace outline with pencil.
  6. The plywood should be cut to the size of traced box.
  7. The plywood piece should be glued and screwed to the bottom of the box. Now the mattress should fit in the box.
  8. The lower bunk is ready to be set up. Spaced four feet apart, place the 4×4 pieces of wood on the floor. Make a line and this will give you the lower mounting point for the box.
  9. The mattress box should be placed so that it is even with the line. It should be 18 inches from the ends.
  10. Now the points for attaching the lower bunk must be set up. Using the line as a guide, drill 2 3/8 inch holes in the 2x6s and in the 4x4s making sure not to come through the other side.
  11. The drill hole must be counter synced to 3/4 of an inch. Use the 3/4 inch spade bit.
  12. Glue and screw lag bolts into holes using socket and ratchet. Do this on both sides of the box.
  13. Place other 2×6 mattress box 12 inches from top of 4x4s. Attach the box same way as the lower box.
  14. Place legs in place. 4x4s should be placed on the ground 4 feet apart. Flip edges of box over on 4x4s. Glue and screw legs to bed.
  15. Stand the bunk upright. Lift the bed onto its 4×4 legs.
  16. Stabilize the bed, attach 6 foot 2x4s to front and back. Glue and screw them to boxes.
  17. Build a ladder by cutting 2x4s 24 inches long and set at 12 inches apart starting from the ground. Glue and screw the 2x4s to the ends.
  18. Safety railings should be built and should measure 3 inches up on the side of the 4x4s on the top bunk. Glue and screw the rest of the 2x6s to the sides.

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