Woodworking Tools: Right Selection And Care Will Save You Money, Part 6

Woodworking: Tools Of The Trade, Part 6 - Finishing Equipment

A civilization's maturity and intelligence is judged, in part, by the diversity and sophistication of its tools. When it comes to woodworking, the human race is quite advanced. There are general tools that work well in many situations, and there are specialty tools made for one specific purpose. There are tools that require only manpower and a rudimentary knowledge, and others that utilize computer programs, a wide range of knowledge, and a powerful motor. We have even learned how to harness power for our tools and package it in a small battery component, giving us the freedom to take our tools wherever we need them.

It is truly amazing and wonderful to contemplate the vast number of tools and all that woodworkers are capable of doing and creating with the help of these tools. And for many people, working with tools is one of the thrills, or even obsessions, of woodworking.

Woodworking and related tools have become so popular that there are numerous companies that manufacture these tools and thousands of places to purchase them. Combine that with the vast numbers of different types of tools and it can get overwhelming, especially if you are new to woodworking. Our experts helped us focus on the basics to develop an overview of those tools needed to get a good start in woodworking.

In the most basic terms, a woodworker needs four kinds of tools. They need a place to work, tools for cutting and shaping, tools for assembly, and finishing equipment. This simple statement provides the basis for the following discussion of woodworking tools.

The tools listed and described here represent just the tip of the iceberg. In keeping with the philosophy that it is best to learn the basics first, and to not invest large sums of money until a person is certain that they have an ongoing interest in woodworking, the emphasis is on hand tools, with a few basic power tools thrown in. These tools should prepare you for a variety of beginner projects and give you a solid foundation of equipment and knowledge to build upon.

Finishing Equipment
In order to achieve a smooth finished look, add color to a piece, or protect wood from damage, you will need to apply some finishing techniques. Possibilities include sandpaper and steel wool for smoothing and polishing, as well as stains, paints, polyurethane and other coatings. In addition, you can use power tools to sand, buff, and provide finishing touches.

Sandpapers come in different grades of coarseness, with finer materials used on delicate, final stages of the work. For many beginner projects, you will not need anything more than a few different grades of sandpaper. A variety pack with approximately 10 sheets can be purchased for under $5. A sanding block may make it easier to hold and maneuver the paper.

There are a large variety of stains and sealants as well. Some have no color and simply protect the wood or add a glossy finish, while others enhance or even change the color of the wood. Because of the differences in grain, stain absorbs differently in each type of wood. Some darken across the entire surface, while in others the grain becomes highly visible in contrast to the rest of the surface. It can be fun to experiment with different finishes.

At the beginner level, the equipment for finishing is not complicated. Often the most challenging part is working safely with the stains and sealants. These products are usually flammable and can be harmful if inhaled in excess. You will need a ventilated area and a safe place to store or dispose of leftovers. In addition, rubber gloves are recommended when applying the products. And it is a good idea to cover surrounding surfaces with newspaper. Stain is virtually impossible to remove once it soaks in.

Tool Summary
This completes part 6 of the condensed overview of some of the tools that are commonly used in beginning woodworking projects. As you can see, this topic could and has provided the content for entire volumes of books and in order to fully understand the possibilities in woodworking and create quality projects, it is critical that you develop a more in-depth knowledge of the tools you plan to use.

It is also important to note again that each type of tool has its own care and maintenance needs that are often more specific than what has been touched on here. The details have been left out of this book to avoid overwhelming someone who is brand new to woodworking. However, their omission does not mean they aren't important.

"Failing to care for your tools is ridiculous from a financial standpoint," stated shop teacher, Kevin Warner. "Why spend $20 on a good quality handsaw or clamp and then allow it to go dull or rust? Not only will you loose money, your work will suffer because your tools won't perform as intended. And it will take you more time in the long run. Taking good care of your tools is one of the first steps in becoming a serious woodworker."

Copyright © 2005 by Ferhat Gul. All rights reserved. You may redistribute this article in its unedited entirety, including this resource box, with all hyperlinked URLs kept intact.

Ferhat Gul is the publisher of the brand-new "Woodworking Beginner's Guide - Tips From Experienced Woodworkers to Help You Get Started", made just for people who love woodworking. This comprehensive, yet compact woodworking introduction for beginners is easy to read and helps to save time, money and effort.

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