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