Canadian Woodworking

Top 10 small shop items worth under $10

1. Mechanical Pencil – If you’ve ever marked a line only to realize the line itself was over 1/16″ wide, you’ll understand the benefit of a mechanical pencil. An accurate pencil mark is the first step in creating accurate joinery. And a simple click and it’s ready to make marks. Get a few while you’re at the store.

2. Eraser – And while you’re there, grab a high-quality white eraser to remove any errant pencil marks. An eraser on the end of a pencil only lasts for so long, so be prepared. I keep one in my apron and it sees regular use.

3. Package of Blank Paper – For sketching, making tem­plates, placing between veneer and caul while pressing veneer ,and for making curved templates. Go one step further and save a few newspapers; they’re great for placing under messy glue-ups.

4. 6″ Steel Rule – Accuracy, especially when dealing with small measurements, is important in most woodworking projects. Now that your pencil lines are precise, it’s time to ensure your measur­ing devices are also contributing to accuracy.

5. Plastic Ketchup and Mustard Bottles – While not technically a woodworking product, the small tips and reclos­able caps make for accurate and clean glue application. Although often the tip that your glue bottle came with is perfectly adequate, there are many situations where having a small bottle tip will keep things tidy and strong.

6. Dowel Centers – Although dowel drilling jigs work won­ders, there are times when a few dowel centers are the only way to save the day in my shop. I reach for 1/4″ centers very regularly, and have a collection of 3/8″ and 1/2″ centers just in case. A few of each will get you started.

7. Brad Point Drill Bits – Now that you have dowel centers to mark the location of dowel holes, a brad point bit will bore accurate, clean holes. The pointed tip will keep the bit from skating around while starting the hole. As I mentioned, I use 1/4″ dowels most often, so one 1/4″ bit will get you started.

8. Utility Knife – Although it won’t take the place of a nice marking knife, a simple, cheap utility knife will assist with many shop tasks. Opening boxes and packages, trimming paper templates, cutting veneer to rough size and more. I carry small- and medium-sized utility knives in my apron at all times.

9. Masking Tape – What can’t standard masking tape do? Joining bevelled parts, taping down paper, keeping shims in place, applying solid wood edging to sheet goods, labelling workpieces…the list goes on.

10. Veritas 1-1/2″ Pocket Layout Square – At $11.50 this item shouldn’t be on this list, yet here it is. It fits in my apron pocket nicely and helps with all sorts of general layout tasks.


Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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