Last week I wandered into a local store for woodworkers. Without naming names, I’m sure you can guess which one (green logo and rhymes with Could Raft.) I was looking at dust collection equipment and a few new power tools (because a handy girl can’t have too many saws, can she?) While eyeing up a new table saw, I watched a woman walk in the door with a lost look on her face. She made her way to the cashier and asked the elder gentleman behind the counter for gift ideas for her 16 year old son. Apparently he found a love for tinkering with wood and power tools. The guy behind the counter was NO HELP AT ALL! As I shook my head, thinking to myself, the cashier probably just summed her up as someone not worthy of help because she wouldn’t know the difference between a dovetail or a tenon. (No worries if you don’t know either, I didn’t know until a few years ago.)
As the woman left the counter defeated and looked hopelessly around the store, I sidled up to her (at a socially acceptable distance of 6 feet).
“Excuse me ma’am, I couldn’t help overhearing your conversation with the cashier. Are you looking for a gift idea for someone?” I said.
She looked at me and her face beamed upon seeing another woman in the store. The emotion in her eyes was sheer hopeful.
“Yes, I wanted to get my son something to indulge his passion, but I thought a gift card was too impersonal,” she replied.
I told her a little about myself and then started scanning the store for my favorite things! We walked around and I pointed out several items I knew anyone who works with wood would love.
After leaving the store, it occurred to me, I really should share my favorite things with you too. This is a list of those items I’d show you if you wandered into my workshop (and they aren’t all just for woodworkers and contractors.)
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My 11 Favorite Gift Ideas for Anyone Who Works with Wood and Beyond
This past year, I’ve found myself using several items and thinking, “I love this! I wish everyone knew about it.” Well, today the time has come to share with you my top
ten eleven favorite things in my arsenal of gear, tools, and then some. In no particular order here they are:
1. GRR-Ripper – Table Saw amputations are one of the top reasons people are afraid of a table saw (or other power tools for that matter). For anyone that uses a table saw (also great for router tables), I’m sharing with you my favorite 3-D Push block, the GRR-Ripper. I rarely use the push stick that came with my saw because the GRR-Ripper gives much more safe control over a workpiece. Although just one is nice, I highly recommend purchasing the set of two so you can use them to leapfrog when running longer lumber.
2. Track Saw – Speaking of safety, this year my table saw hasn’t been getting as much use because I’ve been bringing out my track saw more and more. It does a lot of the same tasks I used to use my table saw for, but more safely and a lot more accurately. I have the DeWalt Cordless Tracksaw, which means I can take the saw and the track with me to the lumberyard and cut my sheet goods down to size in the parking lot if I like! I lay a big sheet of plywood on top of a rigid piece of insulation for support and cut it to a size more manageable for me. If a dedicated track saw is out of your budget, you can turn your circular saw into a track saw using the Kreg AccuCut.
3. ISOtune Free Ear Buds – Hearing protection is important, but finding a pair of earbuds that protect my hearing and are comfortable enough to wear all day is a huge win for me. But, what if I told you the ISOtune Frees are also Bluetooth enabled so you can listen to your tunes and work (or walk the dog!) By far my favorite purchase of 2020! (Use the Code: Handy10 to get $10 off!)
4. Dovetail Workwear Overalls – If I was being honest, I’d have to tell you the Dovetail Workwear Freshley overalls are my “it’s time to get dirty” and accomplish a project pants. Not only are they super comfy, but they are made of durable canvas that can hold up to the abuse in my workshop (or job site). And if I’m being really honest, staying at home has meant packing on a few COVID pounds. These overalls have the perfect amount of stretch allowing you to bend and squat down without feeling your organs being squeezed by a tight waistline. As I’m writing this, I just ordered another pair! Maybe this next pair will be my “clean, just lounge around” favorite outfit.
5. Stanley Ergonomic FatMax 25′ Tape Measure – A tape measure? You might be thinking, “Seriously Brittany? How amazing can a tape measure be?” Put this tape measure in the palm of your hand and you’ll immediately feel a difference. As a woman, I have smaller hands, and most beefy tape measures feel a bit clunky in my hand (and seem to slip out of my hands always while working on a ladder). The Stanley #FMHT36325S FatMax 25′ tape measure is slightly curved on the side so it fits comfortably in your hand. It has an impressive standout of up to 13′ and it is perfectly weighted so I can use it like a plumb bob by dropping it while holding on to the end of the tape like a yo-yo. A few months ago I misplaced this tape measure and found myself cursing all my other tape measures that were too big, wouldn’t stand out as far, or wouldn’t stay locked. Buy this tape measure, you won’t regret it! But, also put your name on it, because you will be so upset if it walks away.
6. Lightweight Step Ladder – Hauling a step ladder up the stairs or across your house can be a bit awkward, especially if you have an old-style wooden or heavy ladder. Last year I purchased this Little Giant Lightweight ladder and now it’s the only ladder I grab for working at ceiling height or lower. This ladder feels light as a feather when carrying it around the house or hoisting it into my truck bed. If you are in need of a new ladder, this one is a dream to use. Especially because it has a tray at the top to hold smalls screws and tools. And did I mention when folded, it has a super slim profile to tuck behind almost anything.
7. Women’s Work Boots – Remember moon boots? If not, they were comfy boots popular in the late 70’s that made you feel like you were walking on clouds. (Oh wait, I just looked it up and Moon Boots are still available!) After slipping on my first pair of Keen Cincinnati Women’s work boots, I was instantly reminded of those moon boots I had as a child. I can wear these boots all day and know my feet won’t be sore at all! Seriously, these are the most cushy and soft work boots I’ve ever owned!
8. Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig – I know, I know, you already have a Kreg Jig. But, I recently upgraded from the K4 to the Kreg K5 Pocket Hole Jig and I wish I had bought this sooner! On the K5, you don’t have to constantly adjust the clamp for different thicknesses of wood. Plus, the extendable wings on this pocket hole jig allow me to work faster and more accurately! The only thing missing is the nice hard case. But, I might use my K4 case for the K5. Is that wrong?
9. Clamping-Sawhorse-Stand – Do you work solo? Or want an assistant who is silent? This clamp, sawhorse, outfeed support, extra pair of hands, and so much more will be your new BFF! I love the Rockwell JawStand because it’s a super sturdy and strong extra pair of hands on the job site or in my shop. I use these stands as outfeed supports for my table saw, as sawhorses, and with a 2×4 in the clamp you can turn the top into an extra-wide sawhorse (reason enough to own more than one). The best thing about these JawStands is they fold relatively flat and don’t take up much more space than a 4×4 post in the corner of your shop. You can see how I used it to take down upper cabinets by myself here.
10. Lightweight Strong Leaf Blower – While this item is normally sold as a landscaping tool, the STIHL BGA56 battery-powered blower has found its home in my garage (instead of the shed with the other landscaping tools.) This lightweight, but seriously strong, blower is perfect for blowing sawdust out of the shop or cleaning out the bed of my truck. I’ve also used it to quickly blow dust off a large complicated workpiece like my garden obelisk I built recently.) I’ve even been known to grab it and blow dirt out the open door of our mudroom moments before my extended family arrives. Friends will tell you I’ve offered to let them try this powerful but lightweight blower to prove how amazing it is!
11. 48 Hour Dry Skin Repair Cream – Say What? 48 hours to soft skin again? Winter is here and I spent the weekend cleaning out our garage. I wore gloves as much as possible, but by Sunday afternoon my fingertips felt like sandpaper. 😢 There’s not much I hate more than the feeling of dry hands. When I was young I cringed at the texture of the dry cardboard lunch trays (seriously, that’s why I brought lunch so much). Sorry, I digress, after feeling how dry my hands were, I used O’Keefe’s Skin Repair cream after each hand-washing and today, I realize my fingertips are smooth and soft like a baby’s butt! Unbelievable. O(ne quick note: I’ve used O’Keefe’s Working Hands, but am not crazy about the tacky feeling after using it. I think it’s necessary because it acts like a barrier cream and moisturizer in one.) But, the Dry Skin Repair lotion absorbs neatly into the skin leaving them feeling super smooth and tack-free.
Okay, that’s my list of 11 things I use and love. Gotta run and get back to my garage renovation. You can keep up with the progress if you follow me on Instagram!
Have a Happy Holiday!