Little Nut is finally finished and in operational order!
I purchased this little gem of an Acorn no. 4 hand plane several months ago at a swap meet. He didn’t look great at the time – severely rusty and completely unusable, but I was determined to see what lay under the grime and dirt, and perform a complete hand plane restoration on the little guy. I’m definitely happy with what I found!
You can read more about the research I did and Little Nut’s history here.
Taking it apart:
Several of the components of Little Nut were severely rusted in place, and as such, I needed to figure out a way to remove them without damaging the soft metal of the screw heads.
I began by spraying them down with WD-40 in the hopes that it would soften some of the grime and rust and make for easier removal. It took several coats and lots of waiting, but eventually, they did loosen enough to remove without too much damage.
The next step was to remove the rust.
For this hand plane, I decided to try good ol’ fashioned white vinegar. I knew that a rust removing agent like Evaporust would be easier and potentially quicker in the long run, but I had never tried vinegar on a tool this rusted and was curious to see how it would work in comparison.
To remove the rust, I took the components of the hand plane and gave them a good scrub with a wire brush to remove some of the dirt, grime, and the easily removed large flakes of rust. I then soaked them in a plastic container filled with white vinegar. I left them overnight and came back the next morning armed with steel wool, sandpaper, and some wire brushes.
I was pleasantly surprised with the results! While it definitely took more effort (ie. manpower) to remove the rust, it did slough off fairly easily after the vinegar soak.
With the components of the hand plane now more visible, I was able to assess the actual condition of the parts. Again, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the frog, chip breaker, cap iron, and plane iron were in a condition that would be easily salvageable. I had been concerned about pitting given the severity of the rust across the plane parts, but I was happy to see that there hadn’t been much corrosion to the metal itself and the pitting was minimal.
You can read more on rust removal and pitting here.
The Japanning, which is a type of paint often seen on older hand planes, was in poor condition, with it chipping in sections and being entirely gone in other sections. I knew I would have to remove the remaining japanning and repaint it.
I wanted to remove most of the original jappaning in order to get a good surface for the new paint to adhere to.
I used a chemical paint stripper to help with the process. This stuff was harsh! I ended up having to double up with a pair of surgical gloves as well as rubber kitchen gloves while removing the paint. It did its job though, and I was left with a mostly raw metal surface to add paint to.
While there are ways to re-japan the body of the plane, they often require several weeks of allowing the paint to chemically bond with the metal. If this was a hand plane that I wanted to restore as closely as possible to the original, I would be keen on those methods, but I wanted to get this thing working as soon as possible! The reason that jappaning was used on plane bodies in the past was because it was a hard wearing type of covering that protected well from rust. These days we have enamel paint that does much the same thing.
I ended up choosing a black Rust-oleum enamel spray paint for the body.
After taping up everything that I didn’t want to paint, I sprayed several coats onto the body of the handplane. From my research, traditionally the front sole of the handplane is painted, but the back was not. I kept this detail in Little Nut, as I did want it to look as close as possible to what it would have orginally been. I also chose to paint the base of the frog at this point as well.
For the sole of the plane, I took a known flat surface and used adhesive spray to attach a heavy grit sandpaper to it. I then ran the sole of the plane over the sandpaper several times in order to flatten it.
To check for flatness, I drew a crosshatch pattern on the sole of the hand plane before putting it to the sandpaper. After a few passes on the sandpaper, I could then check to see which areas were registering off the sandpaper and which weren’t. When I drew my last pattern on the base, sanded and checked, no marker should remain. At that point, I could start sanding at higher grits until I got a nice, polished sole for the plane.
Since I wasn’t planning to do any shooting with this hand plane I wasn’t too concerned with the sides of the hand plane body being perfectly square or flat. I simply gave them a light sanding on the flat surface until they were sufficiently polished.
The lever iron on the Little nut was either chromed or nickelled and the remains of that coating were in poor repair. It took me a long time to try to remove what was left of the cracked chrome, but once finished I took 240 grit sandpaper and worked at the metal until I was satisfied that it was sufficiently smooth. I then proceeded to move up in grits until I settled on the last sanding with 600 grit.
The chip breaker was thankfully in pretty good condition! After the rust had been removed, I worked it through the sandpaper grits to bring it to a shine, and then put a new edge on it.
I was also super thankful that the iron itself seemed to have a lot of life left in it. It did have some pitting at the top, but largely inconsequential. After removing the rust and working at it with sandpaper to bring the shine back, I was able to see the original stamp. “Made in Sheffield Vanadium Steel” – Awesome!
All that was left then was to grind it down to remove the single chip at the blade, and then give it a nice, sharp, new edge.
Now he really ZINGS!
Another use for my little Ozito rotary tool! I used the soft cotton wheel with a polishing compound to really buff up the brass rear tote nut and the depth adjuster. They were so shiny you could barely look at them in the Australian sun after I was finished!
There were luckily no severe cracks or repairs in the front and rear totes. All that was needed was a good sand and several coats of boiled linseed oil to bring the life back into them.
As I mentioned at the start, I am super stoked with how this project turned out! It’s hard to believe that Little Nut started out so filled with rust that I could barely remove the fixtures or see any markings, and now he really shines.
And he works too! Little Nut is light in the hand and really works in every way a little number 4 hand plane should.
Not a bad $25 spent at the swap meet I would say!
If you want to read more about the advantages of old tools and where I personally find my vintage tools, you can read about it here.
Thanks for following along on Little Nut’s adventures! If you have any questions or just want to complement Little Nut on his glow up, leave a note in the comments 🙂
The days of having to spend exorbitant amounts of money to hire a professional to install your new flooring are over. These days you can give yourself a beautiful brand-new floor in a day with the proper tools and knowledge at your disposal. I’m going to give you the knowledge today by walking you through the steps of how to install wood laminate flooring, what tools you need, and some tips and tricks along the way. Settle in, because, after this, you are going to have the confidence to get out there and do it, and then YOU are going to give yourself a huge pat on the back while sitting on your gorgeous new flooring with a well-deserved cold bevy in hand. Because you are a DIY star!
But, first, story time!
Before I begin, I’ve got a little story for you about the guy I first learned how to lay floors from, and a bit of the wisdom he passed on to me regarding DIY. So, if you want to skip ahead to the how-to, by all means, we’re all busy people, but I would be remiss if I shared the steps to install wood laminate flooring without also telling you all about Stole.
Several years ago, while I was living in Vancouver in a tiny basement walk-out on 13th and Cambie, I heard several loud noises coming from the upstairs apartment and outside. Naturally, being the nosey early 20 something year old I was, I went outside to investigate and found my landlord, along with an elderly, Eastern European man, unloading a truck full of wood laminate packs.
The Eastern European man was named Stole, and he was going to be completely gutting and renovating the upstairs apartment. Now, Stole was 76 years old, and I am not intending to be rude when I say that he also looked 78 years old. The upstairs apartment was accessed by a set of narrow stairs, essentially three floors up. I wondered how he was going to get along with doing everything himself, but figured if my landlord had hired him, he would be fine.
At this time, I was already dipping my foot into the DIY bug and had recently built a cabinet unit, along with several other pieces of furniture, specifically fitted to my tiny, basement apartment. Avu, my landlord, had seen these pieces and was aware that I loved crafting things. Several hours after hearing the noise outside, I got a knock on the door.
Avu, my landlord was there to ask if I might lend Stole a hand if he needed it during the renovations. Avu had known Stole for several years and had hired him for all of the repairs and renovations on Avu’s properties, but, he knew that Stole was slowing down, and this project might be a bit too big for him to manage himself. I was, of course, game to get my hand on any tools and learn a thing or two.
And that is the story of how I first got to work with Stole.
At first, I was a bit nervous, I had been on several worksites before and, being a young, 5 foot 2 female, often suffered the brunt of jokes (at the best), a complete distrust for my capability to do the job at hand, or downright abuse (at the worst.) I didn’t know how an elderly gentleman would react to being helped by a young woman, in what has historically been a man’s field. But, I was wrong to worry, in fact, after my first day working with Stole, he told Avu that he needed to pay me more.
While working with Stole, ripping up floors, painting, grouting, cutting trim, and laying new floors, I got to hear his stories of how he ended up working as a handy man. He told me, in his slow, heavily accented English how he had immigrated to Canada in his mid-twenties sometime during the 1960s with his wife. He related how he didn’t know anything about the trades, and spoke very little English, but started off accepting small jobs from people here and there – fixing a doorknob, painting railings, etc. If he was asked to do anything he didn’t know how to do, he told me he would always accept the job, and then go to the library and research until he knew how to complete it. What a guy!
After the third day working with Stole, he brought me three books on carpentry, electric wiring, and plastering. He told me that these were books he purchased early on and read several times. Turns out, Stole taught himself everything he knows and recognised the same drive to learn in me. I still fondly remember at the end of the day, when Avu would drop by to see the progress on the apartment, and Stole would excitedly walk around the apartment, proudly showing off the things “Raiff (this is how he pronounced my name) did today.”
It is amazing what having someone who believes in your potential can do for you.
Stole ended up being one of the seminal influences in my life in regard to DIY, renovations, and general outlook on life, and I still regard the several weeks that I got to work with him as one of the most enjoyable work experiences of my life. And my favourite piece of his advice?
Please read this in the best Slavic accent you can:
“Ifv you don know how to do sumpsink – go to tha library ahnd find a boook to learn how to do it.”
Of course, I mostly use the internet now. 😉
So without further ado, here is everything Stole taught me on how to install wood laminate flooring!
Why wood laminate flooring?
Laminate has come a long way in the last several years. No longer the tacky, peeling, cheap-looking stuff that was plastered on kitchen floors, you can now find quality “snap and lock” laminate flooring that looks incredibly realistic and beautiful.
Here are some great reasons to choose laminate flooring:
It’s relatively cheap – in comparison to other flooring options, high-end laminate regularly comes in cheaper than higher-end carpet, and well below natural wood flooring. Furthermore, having the option to install it yourself, can save quite a lot as well!
It looks good! Laminate has come a long way in the last several years. It is no longer the tacky, peeling, cheap-looking stuff that was formerly plastered on kitchen floors, you can now find quality “snap and lock” laminate flooring that looks incredibly realistic and beautiful.
It’s hypoallergenic, easier to clean and isn’t prone to stains or mold
Quick and easy to install – no need for professionals, and the job won’t take you too long either!
It can last a long time – a high-quality laminate flooring can last between 15-25 years. Furthermore, if you manage to damage one piece, it is possible to replace the single piece without having to replace the entire floor.
Some quick tips before you begin
Once you have purchased your laminate flooring packs, place them in the room where they will be installed and allow at least 48 hours for them to acclimate before installing. This helps to avoid a surplus of movement after you have installed them. All laminate will expand or contract but allowing this time before installation decreases drastic movement.
As you lay the flooring, take panels from various boxes to vary the colour and allow for a more randomised, natural look.
Instead of trying to awkwardly cut your laminate panels to fit around the jamb of a door, cut the door jam to fit overtop of your panels. To do this, place a piece of your underlay down on the floor with a piece of your laminate over top. Take a flush-cut saw or jam saw and simply cut through the jam and remove the piece. Your laminate will now slide beneath the jam and create a more finished, professional look than had you tried to cut the panel itself to fit.
Drop and Lock vs Angle Angle
There are two main types of floating laminate floors: the drop and lock and the angle angle. The difference between the two is the way the joints connect – and depending on which type you have, the installation will be different. I will touch on the different ways to install the two types when I get to how to attach the rows together further on in this article. The important things is that you know which type you have, which should be listed in the product documentation or on the box.
What tools do you need?
Circular, table, or jigsaw (or handsaw if you truly want to work)
If you don’t have these, there is a good package on amazon with a pullbar, tapping block, rubber mallet and a whole slew of spacers here :
Prepare the room
In terms of setup, you’re in luck if you have anything other than carpet as your current flooring. That’s because laminate can be placed over any substrate except for carpet.
If you have carpet, you’re gonna need to rip the ol’ sucker out – but do it with glee, because if you are replacing the carpet it’s probably high time it got chucked, amiright? And imagine how much easier it’s going to be to keep your new floors clean!
Clean and prepare the subfloor
Your floors need to be free of all the dirt and debris before you place the floor – laminate doesn’t do well with irregular surfaces so give it a good clean, and if you have any serious dips or irregularities, fill them with a leveling agent before continuing.
If you have trim, remove it before laying the wood laminate down. Use duct tape or some type of soft covering over your pull bar to avoid damaging your wall as you remove the trim.
If you are adamant that you don’t want to go through the hassle of removing it, you can also simply lay the laminate down and attach a quarter round trim to the existing trim after – it’s the arguably easier, but more expensive option.
Plan your layout and measure your room
There is a bit to think about when deciding the orientation of your panels. Generally speaking, the panels, if possible, should run parallel with the long wall in the room, or the direction of the light source/focal point when entering the room. This creates a long, uninterrupted look which makes the overall end result more pleasant to the eye.
If possible, it’s also best to have the panels running in the direction of the main doorway in the room. If all of these factors aren’t possible; however, just go with the panels running parallel to the long side of the room.
Once you’ve decided on the orientation of the panels, measure the width of the room from wall to wall, accounting for a 10mm gap on both sides (we’ll touch on this gap later, but it’s best to check the installation instructions for your specific laminate to determine what size gap is necessary for expansion. 10mm is generally enough, but some products suggest more.)
When you have the width of the room + the gap, divide this number by the width of your laminate panels. This will give you what the width of your last row of panels will be.
Ex – 600cm room width / 17.5cm width of panel = 34.29 rows
Therefore: our last row will be .29 of a panel or 5.08 cm.
If you find the last row of your floor will be less than around 6cm, I would add the width of the last row that you got in the above calculations to the width of your panel and then divide it by 2.
(17.5 + 5.08) / 2 = 11.3cm
This will give you the width you should cut both your first and last rows to, which will create a more uniform look and allow you to avoid trying to lay a tiny sliver of flooring as your last row.
Put down the underlay
Underlay is essential for laminate flooring that doesn’t come with attached padding. It provides an even surface for your “floating” floor to sit on, gives support for the tongue and groove lock system, and helps with moisture control and reducing noise.
For concrete subfloor
If you are installing over concrete you will need to lay down a vapor layer as well as an underlay, some underlays come with a vapor barrier, and if so you only need the one product.
For padded laminate
If the laminate you are installing comes with padding – the underlay is unnecessary and will actually hinder the proper laying of your floor. However, extra care needs to go into preparing the surface that the laminate will lay on if you aren’t using underlay, as any irregularities can potentially cause the floor to not float properly and buckle at the seams.
Laminate floors with padding that are being installed over concrete will still need a vapor barrier – but make sure that you are installing just the thin vapor barrier and not an underlay with a vapor barrier included.
To put down the underlay, unroll it and run it in the same direction that the panels will run. Allow a bit of excess to run up the wall and use one of your laminate panels to press the underlay into the corners. Use a utility knife to cut off the excess against the wall. When your first row of underlay is down, immediately secure it by starting to lay your panels. As you lay your panels and begin to reach the end of your first row of underlay, unroll your second row. Make sure not to overlap the two layers as any unevenness can cause the laminate panels to buckle. You can join the two pieces with duct tape or another thin layer of tape.
Installing the first row
If your calculations during the planning of your layout require you to rip your first row to a certain width, you should do so now. When ripping the panels to length, cut so that the tongue side of the panel is the waste on each piece. Make sure you are cutting the same side on each piece! The tongue side, unlike in regular woodworking, is actually the side with the shorter extrusion.
For your very first panel, you should also cut the tongue off the short side of the panel that will jut against the wall.
Place your first panel with the cut side towards the wall and begin to assemble your first row. To attach the second panel at the ends, hold the panel at an upwards angle and insert the tongue into the groove of the first panel. Once the joint is snug, press the panel down to secure it in place. Continue building this row until you reach the last panel, ensuring there are no gaps in your joints.
You have your first row of panels put together, minus the end piece. Now you need to place your spacers. Because all laminate expands, you need to leave a gap along all the edges to account for movement – if you don’t do this, your floor will buckle and the joints won’t sit properly!
Some packs of laminate flooring come with spacers, but if they don’t, check to see the manufacturer’s recommended expansion gap and use this size of spacer. Most laminate flooring that I have installed calls for at least a 10mm gap. The spacers can be strips of wood, plastic, store bought spacers or anything that fits the measurement.
At this point, take your spacers and place them at the starting end (the short side) and along the length of the wall, press your first row into place and measure the distance from the end of the row to the wall including the spacer. Cut your last piece to this dimension – but again make sure you are cutting the right end off! (can you tell that I made this mistake a few times? I am clumsy Raff, after all)
Your first row is now finished!
Offset your joints
If your offcut from the end of the first piece is longer than 25 cm, you can use this piece to start your next row. If not, cut a piece longer than 25cm to use as the beginning of your second row – ensuring that you cut off at least more than 25cm!
The length of this piece is important as you don’t want the joints in your rows to line up, and you want a large enough overlap. Part of the stability in floating floors is provided by the offset of the joints. Without it, your floors won’t have the same amount of strength to withstand buckling.
It also just creates a more natural look once the floor is completed – so don’t allow your joints to line up!
Start your second row
Slide the tongue of the second-row panel into the groove of the first row’s plank at an upwards angle, mimic how you attached the pieces end to end on the first row. Ensure there is no gap in the seam and press down to lock.
The second piece can be a bit more finnicky, and this where the installation differs between drop and lock vs angle to angle laminates.
For angle to angle, first attach the short side of the second panel to short side of the first panel using the same angle method as you used in the first row. Get the corner of the second piece as close as possible to the first row, and before placing the panel down, line up the long side seems. After placing the panel down, you’ll have to lift the panel slightly to close the gaps along the seam in the long side panels, tapping with your palm as you go if necessary.
For drop and lock, instead of attaching the short side first, you slide the long side of the second panel into the groove of the first row – then position the short side over top of the groove in the first panel of the second row and simply lock it into place. I think drop and lock is an easier installation, but it isn’t as common as angle angle.
Use a tapping block
If the seam still has a gap, some laminate panels require a tapping block.
Sometimes manufacturers will include a tapping block with the laminate panels – if they do, take advantage of it, as they will often be profiled to fit the grooves of the panels to minimize damage! In fact, if you don’t want to make a tapping block yourself, I would recommend purchasing one from a laminate floor supplier or Amazon – they aren’t expensive.
If you really have the DIY bug though, you can make a tapping block yourself by taking a scrap block of wood and creating a rabbet along the side that is slightly larger than the groove on the laminate panels. Align it along the long side of the panel over top of the groove so that you aren’t tapping on the groove itself.
To use the tapping block, place it next to the panel and gently tap it with a mallet until the seams close. You can also use this method on the short ends of the panels. Take care not to damage the grooves of the panels as you tap, gentle tapping is all that you need!
After tapping, go back to check that your spacers haven’t shifted and your gap is still sufficient
Continue this process, row by row, until you reach your last row, making sure to check seams as you go to make sure nothing has shifted out of place. It’s difficult to fix a seam three rows in if you progress without fixing it as you go!
Install the last row
If you did your calculations right, you should be able to cut your panels to the same width as your first row. Measure the width including the spacers to make sure, and then cut the groove side off of these panels.
Place your spacers and use the same methods as before to attach your last row panels to the previous rows, using a pull bar in the gap instead of the tapping block to pull the seams together.
The process of laying the floor is finished! You can now reattach your trim using finishing nails or, if you didn’t remove the trim, install round molding to the trim to cover the gap.
Make sure you are attaching the trim to the wall as opposed to the floor itself – otherwise all your hard work to account for expansion will have been for nothing!
Lastly, attach a piece of floor transition trim in the doorway, and you are good to go!
You’ve done it! Have a lie down on your brand new floor, crack a beer, and pride yourself in a job well done with your own two hands!
It is incredible how a bit of paint can transform something old and ugly into something looking brand new. Today’s article is on something that you might not immediately think of when you are looking for things to spruce up with the old paint bottle – a sink!
Read on for how to paint a sink in 4 easy steps!
My mother-in-law is currently in the process of trying to sell her house, and as every day goes by, she seems to come up with new, incredible, sometimes absolutely hairbrained ideas for sprucing the place up.
From using double-sided tape to fix her cinderblock wall (“I promise it will work, Raff”) to wanting to spray paint her floor – she is constantly looking for quick fixes, often ones that I have to desperately try to persuade her to avoid.
Recently though, she was adamant that she wanted her stainless-steel laundry sink spray painted. I was hesitant at first, based purely on the wearability of spray paint and how well it would hold up in the future, (and also because I didn’t think the sink was that bad in the first place) but I was persuaded, because, look, you don’t mess with your mother-in-law.
So, today, I’m going to walk you through the 4 easy steps to paint a sink, and the results we achieved, so that you can decide if it’s the right option for you!
Step 1: Clean it!
It’s surprising how much dirt, grime and grease can build up on a sink, so it’s important to remove all of these things before going any further in the painting process.
But look, a simple soap and scrub isn’t going to cut it here, buddy.
Many stores sell cleaners with the specific purpose of degreasing, but methylated spirits (denatured alcohol for those of your in the US), which is also used in the automobile industry for degreasing metal parts and cleaning tools, will arguably provide just as adequate results for this purpose. I gave the sink a good scrub down with spirits and a scouring pad then wiped with a rag soaked in mineral spirits as well.
To be honest, after the clean, I thought it looked spruced up enough to leave it at that aha!
Step 2: Scuff it up
Stainless steel is notorious for not being an easy surface to paint. This is because the shiny, smooth surface of stainless steel makes it difficult for the paint to fully adhere to it and causes chipping over time.
In order to help that stubborn stainless steel really bond with the paint, we need to scuff up the surface.
I used a 240 grit sandpaper and went to town on the metal of the sink. Using a circular motion with the sandpaper, I ensured that I gave the entire surface a thorough scuffing. When finished it was much less shiny – which is exactly what we want.
Step 3: Prep Time
I always tell people that your prep time when painting (depending on the size of the job) is often greater than the time you spend actually painting – it’s good to expect this and be prepared for it. As it happens, my mother-in-law is impatient and didn’t see why it was so necessary, so it was a fight to even get the edges of the sink taped up, much less cover the walls and cabinets.
However, I stood my ground and insisted on the tape job – albeit a rushed one.
Spray paint isn’t ideal indoors, both from the overspray angle as well as the ventilation issue. I made sure to cover the surrounding areas in plastic, newspaper, and cardboard – opened the door, and aimed a fan for some ventilation.
Once everything was taped up, I gave the sink a quick vacuum and wiped the it down once more with mineral spirits to remove any dust or debris that had settled there. A tack cloth would also work for this stage, but I didn’t have one on hand.
Step 4: Spray it!
Spray paint can look amazing. The outcome, when done properly, settles into a smooth, uniform surface that looks like something factory-made. However, it can be a bit finicky! Which is why, if this is your first-time spray painting, I recommend grabbing a piece of cardboard, a scrap piece of metal, or anything you don’t mind getting ruined, and practicing on it first.
My recommendation for a project such as this is Rustoleum 2x Ultracover. This paint is advertised as a primer and topcoat in one and can bond to metal, wood, and plastic. I have always found good bonding from this product without having to use a separate primer – which significantly decreases the time spent on a project! For this project, my mother-in-law went with a glossy winter grey colour.
When spray painting, you want to ensure that you keep the bottle at an even distance from the surface being painted throughout the entire process. I find about 20 cm to be a good distance if no wind is present, but again, you should test first!
Remember: It’s in the body, not the wrist!
Move with your body instead of your wrist as moving from the wrist will change the angle and the distance that you are spraying at. Instead of holding the nozzle down throughout, practice stopping the spray at the end of each stroke – this helps to avoid over spraying in the same spot.
As always with spray paint, you want to do several thin coats as opposed to one thick coat. Because spray paint is so thin if you do a heavy coat you are bound to get runs – something that should be avoided at all costs!
Check the directions on the back of your bottle – but generally around 20 minutes, or after it is touch dry, you can add another coat.
I ended up doing three thin coats all within an hour and half of beginning the project.
Step 5: Clean Up
After the paint is dry to the touch, remove any tape and coverings. If you have any overspray, now is the time to try to clean it up with mineral turps. Ideally, you won’t have any if you have done your prep properly!
I have done a fair amount of spray painting in the past, and so I’m aware of how great it can look, but I’ll admit that I was surprised by just how great the sink looked when finished. It came out beautifully, looks spiffy, brand new, and definitely helped to spruce up the room.
It remains to be seen how well the spray holds up to the sink being used and abused – but I think it will do nicely at least until a new sink can be procured.
Have you ever spray-painted a sink? If yes, or if you have any questions, let me know in the comments!
If you have tools, you’ve encountered rust! Here’s the low down on what’s causing your beloved tools to rust, the best way to remove rust from tools, and the best way to prevent them from prematurely rusting in the first place.
You pop out to the shed, pick up your favourite chisel and see shocking red stains across the previously shiny metal.
You reach for your beautifully repaired hand plane and see perfect replicas of your fingerprints in a rusty shade of orange – marring the once polished sides of the sole.
Your trusty adjustable wrench no longer moves with ease because the shifter is gummed up with those dastardly, dusty, and grainy flakes of red.
Any of this sound familiar?
Rust is something every owner of tools will struggle with at some point, but there are ways to lessen the struggle and save ourselves from some of the frustration!
How does rust form?
When we say “rust” what we are actually referring to is an “iron oxide.” Iron oxide occurs when iron is exposed to both oxygen and moisture. This exposure starts an electrochemical process which changes the material at a molecular level – essentially the metal fuses with oxygen molecules and creates the new material – Fe2O3.
Iron oxide weakens the bonds of the metal – which is why when rust is bad enough, you can literally break a once solid iron bar with your bare hands.
An interesting side note: When iron oxide is created it takes up more volume than the original iron, which causes it to expand or “puff out” on the original piece. If you’ve ever seen cracked concrete that has metal rebar exposed, it likely occurred because of the expansion of the metal as it rusted. This is called “oxide jacking.”
How long does rust take to occur?
The first thing that comes to mind for many of us when we observe a heavily rusted item is “wow, that must be old.” This is why it is surprising the first time you return to your workshop and see a brand new tool already working its way towards looking like you picked it out of a box of your great-uncle’s old tools.
But, the reality is rust doesn’t take a long time to form. If you leave your cast iron table saw top unprotected with a piece of green wood on it overnight, you can expect to come back the next morning and see a thin layer of rust already formed! (oops… again)
A great video from the Canadian Conservation Institute shows how quickly flash rusting can occur when exposing a simple iron putty scraper to moisture over a period of 4 hours.
Two types of rust that I watch for
In the case of my tools, and antique restoration, there are two types of rust corrosion that I usually look for to distinguish how much I can expect to be able to restore the tool to usable order.
The first is surface rust. This is the orange, dusty rust that can easily be brushed or scoured off with minimal effort. While some discolouration of the metal beneath the rust often occurs after surface rust is cleaned away, it rarely affects the strength of the underlying metal to a high degree.
Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure if it is surface rust is to brush it down to the bare metal.
The second type of corrosion is the more nefarious type – pitting. Pitting is a concentrated type of corrosion that forms holes or ‘pits’ in the metal.
To really understand the process that causes pitting, let’s go back to what causes rust in the first place and dig a little deeper.
In order for rust to develop it requires an anode (for us, a piece of iron that gives up its electrons), an electrolyte that can move the electrons (water, humid air, etc), and a cathode (another piece of iron that accepts the electrons.)
In the case of pitting, the corrosion is caused by a lack of oxygen in a particular area of the metal, which causes this area to give up its electrons more readily (an aspect referred to as anodic), and the surrounding areas, which have a bit more oxygen, are readily accepting of these electrons (cathodic). Since rust already requires the above exchange of electrons, this localised form accelerates the progression of the rust in a very concentrated area.
Because pitting occurs in a localised area instead of over the entire surface of the metal and extends deeper into the metal, it is often harder to detect and much more damaging to the integrity of the piece.
Unfortunately, once pitting has occurred the only thing that can be done to “fix it” is to remove the rust from the holes and then fill them with epoxy or weld.
This isn’t the greatest option for our hand tools – but depending on how special/expensive your tool is you might be apt to try it.
Rust removal strategies
There are many ways to remove rust from your tools – from harsh chemical removers to regular household cleaning products, to more in-depth procedures like electrolysis.
For many of my tool restorations, I have used plain old white vinegar. That’s right, the same stuff you have in your cupboard for salad dressings, or beneath your sink for cleaning is also phenomenal for rust removal.
To use vinegar as a rust remover, I believe the best method is soaking the tools in a tub with pure white vinegar. Some people add salt to the mix, but I have never found this to be any more effective than just vinegar – which means it’s just an added, unnecessary step for me.
I’ve left rusted tools in the vinegar anywhere from a few hours to a couple of months (I got distracted, okay?).
A couple of months was TOO LONG (oopsy). While the acid in the vinegar softens the rust and makes it easy to remove, it also eats at the metal – so it’s important to check your soaking tools regularly and remove them when the rust is easily scrubbed off with fine steel wool or an abrasive pad.
After removing the tools from the vinegar and giving them a scrub, it’s important to thoroughly wash them to remove the acid from the vinegar. I’ve given them a good rinse in water as well as a dip and scrub in baking soda/water solution. The water itself works fine, but the added baking soda helps to neutralize any excess acid and the bubbling also works at getting beneath any areas of flaking that were left over.
I’ve soaked my tools in vinegar several times and always have good results (except for the above mentioned time when I got distracted and left them for too long) – granted it might take a bit more scrubbing after the fact than the following methods, but it’s cheap and readily available.
Better: Chemical rust remover – Evaporust
There are many chemical rust removers on the market, such as CLR and naval jelly, but the one I have personally used and observed others using with good results is Evaporust.
There are a load of great things about Evaporust, but my personal favourite is that, unlike the vinegar and many other products, it doesn’t use acid to remove the rust. Therefore, I’m not going to run into the same problem of it attacking the metal itself if I leave it a bit too long. It’s also reusable, which means I can use it for several tool restoration products without worrying about too huge of a cost. And, it’s not as toxic or harsh as many of the other products on the market – I still wear gloves when I use it (because I’m paranoid), but Evaporust itself states that gloves and eye protection are not necessary. If you’ve ever used other harsh chemical removers before, you know how caustic they can be – so this is a great bonus.
To use it, I simply give my tools a cursory scrub to remove loose flakes of rust and dirt – I mostly do this so that I don’t have to spend time afterward trying to really filter out the liquid before storing it for my next use. I then place the tools in a bucket of the Evaporust, put a lid on, and wait. I’ve never had to wait longer than 24 hours for fantastic results. It does leave a dark residue on the tools, but some quick polishing removes it.
Does the added cost make it worth it over the plain old vinegar? If you’re only doing a few rust removal projects here and there, don’t mind waiting longer for results, and putting a bit more work into scrubing after the soak, then I think the vinegar is more than adequate for your purposes. For me, the Evaporust has saved a lot of time and hand power in my restoration projects.
I’m convinced that electrolysis is the ultimate rust removal method. While I’ve only gotten to see the results of this procedure twice in person, I am excitedly awaiting the day when I can pick up a battery or charger and am able to use it for all of my rust removal purposes.
The process of electrolysis for rust removal requires passing a small electrical charge through your rusty metal. This charge stimulates an exchange of ions while the tool is submerged in an electrolyte liquid, effectively stimulating the exact opposite chemical reaction seen in rusting.
I was initially turned on to this process when I was lamenting some very rusted auto parts that I was dealing with, and my mechanic pal, who had all the necessary materials, told me to come over to see some magic. Jeeze Louise, it was magic. The rust just sloughed right off my headers and oil pan. I was immediately hooked.
You’ll need a car battery charger, a plastic or glass bin or bucket, washing soda, and a strip of metal to attach to the positive electrode.
It’s very important to have a well-ventilated area for your electrolysis procedure, as the process creates hydrogen and oxygen gas, which are highly explosive if ignited. Ensure that no sparks or open flame are anywhere near the setup, and that no spills of water can come into contact with the battery.
So, we’ve cleaned all the previous rust off and our tool is shiny and clean and ready to go right? You set it down on the table and turn around for two minutes only to find a thin layer of rust already developing!
After rust removal, the bare surface of the metal is especially vulnerable to flash rust. That’s why it is important to immediately protect it from further rust.
We know that the combination of moisture and oxygen with the metal is what causes rust to occur. So, in order to prevent that, adding a protective layer to the metal that stops moisture and oxygen from contacting it is necessary.
My go-to when finishing the rust removal process is to wipe my tools with Camellia oil. I apply the oil on a rag which I store in an old, metal Altoid box – this makes it easy to grab and use whenever I am finished with using my tools. Camellia oil, unlike other machine oils, doesn’t have the tendency to stain the wood that you’re working with, which is a huge plus! After using any of my planes or chisels, I always clean them off and then wipe them down with the oil-soaked rag before storing them.
For my table saw surface, I avoid the use of oil as it easily attracts dust, instead, I thoroughly clean the surface with mineral spirits and then apply a dry, silicone-free spray such as Bostik’s Top- Coat or Boeshield T-9, I’ve used both with good results that tend to last longer than a paste wax. After spraying, I give it a good wipe down with a paper towel and I’m good to go!
Proper storage of your tools is another good rust-preventive strategy. Ideally, your tools would be stored in an area with very little moisture exposure. However, since I live in an area with heavy humidity and no environmental control in my shed, I’ve found the silica-gel packs (those little packs that come in the packages of many products and have “do not eat” written on them) to be a good way to prevent moisture from getting at your tools if you are storing them in boxes– toss a few in with them and the packs will suck up the moisture in the air.
The silica gel packs lose their effectiveness over time, but I find they work well if being changed out on a semi-regular basis, or after “reviving” the packs by heating them in the oven to dry them out once they have lost their effectiveness. Give it a try!
If storing your tools in the open air, I find the best way to keep them from rusting is to hang them – while trying to keep them from touching any raw wood – raw wood just loves to seep moisture out onto your vulnerable metal tools!
You can kick rust to the curb
Rust is something as a tool user that you will always be trying to keep ahead of. But, now that you know the strategies to prevent it, and the ways in which it can be removed, you have the power to keep your tools shiny and clean for years to come!
If you’ve found this information helpful, or have any questions or comments on rust removal and prevention, please leave us a comment below!
I love a good bevy after work, and with a recent hand surgery coming up, I knew that twisting the tops off wasn’t going to be easy for a period of time. With that foresight in mind, I set about planning my perfect DIY magnetic bottle opener.
There were a few things I wanted from my bottle opener:
1. Magnets: Partly because I love magnets and partly because I dont like to go looking for the bottle cap after I was a bit too enthusiastic during the opening
2. Good, in-hand feel: I wanted smooth edges, soft corners and a perfect fit in my little hand.
3. Beautiful wood grain and contrasting metal: metal and wood are right next to cheese and pretzels in my favourite combos list.
As most projects go, with me being the clumsy crafter, I encountered a few hiccups along the way to my perfect bevy popper, but, in the end, it definitely deserves its place of honor in my bar.
Choosing the stock and drawing the template
The first step was choosing an appropriate piece of stock for the body of the bottle opener.
I didn’t want just any wood for this special project, I wanted beautiful, relatively hardwearing – and most important scrap (so I didn’t have to go buy more) wood.
I had some leftover meranti from my magnetic shelf build and decided it would hold up well to the abuse it might have to endure. I cut the piece to rough size (200mm by 60mm) and then got about sketching up a template that I would use for eventually shaping the piece.
You can really choose whatever shape you want for this project – from a simple, spindle-shaped handle to a more complex shaped handle with several different rounded edges.
Having sketched out a design I thought I would like, I cut it out and traced the outline to the piece of stock.
Drilling the holes
The most difficult part of this build – especially if you don’t have a drill press – is drilling out the recesses that will act as the leverage for removing the cap from the bottle. You don’t want them too far apart or there won’t be enough leverage, and too much overlap will mean that you won’t be able to catch the edge of the cap and the back of the bottle opener at the same time.
If you look at a generic bottle opener you can get a relatively good idea of the spacing that you’ll need.
I used a 35mm Forstner bit for the first recess. Measuring 19mm from the edge of my template, I marked a centre point for my bit and clamped the board down before drilling. I used the depth stop on my drill to ensure that I didn’t go too far through and eventually ended up with a recess about 11mm deep.
The next hole to drill was for the coin that would act as the lip of the bottle opener. I wanted the coin to sit flush with the body of the bottle opener and overhang the previous recess I had drilled by a few mm in order to create the lip. I had a lot of coins to choose from, but not very many drill bits to match.
I eventually settled on a 1000 Rupiah coin which came the closest in size to my 25mm Forstner bit.
I was slow and methodical in this step – a bit of drilling, check the coin, drill a bit more – to make sure that I didn’t over-do it and set my coin in too deep. I did allow for a bit more depth than the coin to take into account the sanding I would be doing towards the end of the project.
The last hole that I needed to drill in the body would be for the embedded magnet I intended to use to catch the bottle cap after opening.
I had 10mm wide magnets that I had also used for my magnetic key shelves. Ordering these in bulk always means that when I have a project that might benefit from a cheeky magnet or two, I have some spares on hand.
I grabbed a 10mm drill bit and put a hole deep enough to hold the magnet and the wood filler that I intended to cover it with.
Cutting and shaping
With the initial drilling done, I was ready to move on to the fun stuff!
I roughly cut out the body of the opener along the template line with a jigsaw, giving myself a bit of leeway since none of the recesses were quite centred (A product of the very dull forstner bits and my shaky hands). This extra leeway meant that I could centre up the recesses during shaping.
I then set about shaping with my carving knives. I sketched a few lines on the handle to show where I wanted to take material from and set about rounding and shaping. This step is purely aesthetics and you can obviously shape it however you want!
I found the sanding barrels of my Ozito rotary tool were a great option for final shaping!
Drilling the mounting hole for the coin
To drill the hole for the coin, I took my 25mm forstner bit and drilled a recess in scrap piece of wood. I then drilled a small hole through the centre of the recess. This setup meant that, in theory, I could place the coin into the recess, tape it, flip the board over and drill directly through the centre of the coin. Because my coin didn’t fit the 25mm recess perfectly, I had to eyeball it before I taped it in. It didn’t work exactly as I had hoped, but I think better than had I tried to do it by hand.
I placed the coin into a clamp and used a countersink bit to take off enough metal so that the screw head would sit relatively flush with the coin.
Mounting the cap catcher
At this point, nearly everything was done, except for attaching the magnet. To do this, I placed a small drop of superglue into the hole and then pressed the magnet in, tapping it a bit with the head of a screwdriver and my mallet to ensure that it sat flat. Then I filled the hole with a wood filler that matched the grain of the wood. Had I not had this filler lying around, I would have just used glue and sawdust, or really any coloured wood filler – I think a contrasting colour might look nice as well.
Because the hole for the coin was slightly larger than I needed, I attached the coin and placed wood filler around the edges to make it look like it really wanted to be there.
I set it out in the nice, hot Australian sun to dry and…..
Came back out an hour later to see that some terrible creature had ripped my poor bottle opener limb from limb.
It only took a quick look around to find the culprit….
Since Taco had apparently assumed that I had made her a wonderful new chew toy, it was back to the drawing board.
I followed the same steps, more or less for my second version until I got a bit rushed/somehow got distracted/had a complete space-cadet moment in which I moved the drill back for some reason before drilling the coin recess, probably because I wanted more work.
As a result, I drilled a very nice, unusable recess which didn’t overlap with the previous hole at all (+1 for clumsy Raff).
Luckily, my stock was thick enough that I could stand to lose a bit. So, I grabbed my orbital sander, sanded off that recess, and re-drilled to the depth of my coin, ensuring that I was definitely in the right spot this time.
I did the majority of the shaping for this one with my Ozito Rotary tool. The longer I have it the more uses I find for it, and I just love it!
Once all the drilling, cutting, and filling were done with this version, I made sure I placed it in a spot that wouldn’t be so tempting for Taco.
Once the filler was dry, I sanded the excess off with a low grit, working my way up to a final grit of 360. As I said, I wanted a smooth hand feel.
After cleaning away the dust, I used a can of thinned walnut stain and varnish that I wiped on and left to dry.
Once dry, I gave it a bit of a buff with the 360 again and then put a second coat of varnish on.
At that point, I eagerly awaited the moment when it was fully cured and I could truly test it out.
It’s time for a serious talk about ear protection! For a long time as a hobbyist, I was fairly lackadaisical with my hearing protection for woodworking purposes. If I needed to make a quick cut with the circular saw or do some pruning with a recip, it was often the last thing on my mind to grab the earmuffs from the shed. In addition, over the course of my time perusing the web for different ideas or tutorials I have seen countless videos and pictures of people operating heavy power tools without any ear protection.
There are a lot of things around this mid-life era where I’m at now that, looking back, I would do differently. I don’t want not wearing ear protection to be one of them. Which got me to thinking about a lot of the questions that I’ve heard – what level of protection do I actually need when using my tools? Am I even doing enough work to risk damaging my ears? Are noise-canceling earphones enough? This led to an OCD level deep dive into the research behind ear protection and dangerous noise levels.
So, if you want to know about hearing protection and don’t want to spend the hours and hours of time that I spent to understand it, here’s my summation of everything you need to know about hearing protection for the woodworking crowd.
How is sound measured?
When I began digging around to find what was an adequate amount of protection, I first had to find out how noise is measured and what a dangerous level of noise was – I mean, my dog , Taco, has a pretty loud bark, do I need protection for that too?
In the simplest terms, sound is measured in regard to its intensity or volume, which is measured as decibels. The decibel scale measures from 0, or the lowest sound our ears can pick up, to 180dB – which is the sound measured from the launch pad of rockets.
An important thing to know when considering hearing protection is that decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale. Unlike linear scales, where the value between any two points is always consistent, logarithmic scales rely on exponents.
For decibels, every 10-decibel increase equates to 10 times the corresponding lower number. 30 decibels is, therefore, ten times louder than 20 decibels and one hundred times louder than 10 decibels.
The A-weighted scale
In terms of hearing protection, we regularly use an “A-weighted” decibel scale (dBA).
Think of all the times you wanted your test scores bell-curved, and you’ll get a bit of an idea of what dBA is. Essentially, it takes into account the various factors related to how the human ear processes sound and frequencies. Because our ears have trouble picking up very low and very high-pitched sounds, A-weighted decibels and the machines that are calibrated to them, specifically measure for the range of sounds that our ears are actually sensitive to. That’s why dBA is used as the primary measurement for environmental noise and hearing protection. It’s meant to be as accurate an interpretation of what our ears are truly hearing that the current research can get. When you see the safety warnings for certain levels of noise under The Occupational Safety and Health Regulations (OSHA) they have always been measured as dBA.
What is a dangerous decibel level?
The risk of hearing damage in relation to noise levels has several variables. How loud the noise is, how long you are exposed to it, how much time your ears are given to rest between exposures, and your individual vulnerability to noise all play a factor in what a dangerous noise level is for you.
However, the Centre for Disease Control has listed a recommendation that anything over 85dBA should be considered levels of noise that are potentially harmful for hearing loss, and efforts should be taken to reduce the noise, wear protection, or limit exposure to it.
To determine what level of hearing protection you need, you need to know what dbA your specific environment is putting out, and the amount of time you will be exposed to it.
(For the purpose of this article from now on when I refer to ‘decibels,’ they are always A-weighted or dBA)
The recommendation is that any time you are exposed to noise over 85 dBA, you should wear ear protection. In addition, you should never be exposed to any noise level over 140dB (as heard in gun shots and explosions – such as fireworks) as this amount of noise can cause nearly instant permanent damage. (I can see now why my poor dog, Taco, is so averse to fireworks!)
To put dangerous levels of noise into a more day to day perspective, if you listen to your headphones at full volume it can often exceed 100 decibels, which is enough to permanently damage your hearing within only fifteen minutes of exposure!
And look, I know we don’t all have the equipment to measure the sound level of our environment but if you are having to raise your voice to be heard from one meter away, or if a specific noise hurts/makes your ears ring then the noise may be capable of damaging your hearing. So, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
What dBA are my tools putting out?
Now that we know what a decibel is and how sensitive our weak, little human ears are to them, we can take a look at what some of our more common woodworking tools are putting out.
In a study titled “Noise Levels of Common Construction Power Tools,” written by Gregory Callahan of the University of Florida, a Porter Cable circular saw came in at a decibel of 92.7 when measuring its noise level from the ear level of the operator in the centre of a room.
So, we can clearly see that our power tools have the capacity to be well above the safe decibel level!
An interesting note in this study also showed that using power tools in enclosed spaces, or in the corner of rooms dramatically increased the recorded decibels (in the case of the Porter Cable saw it was up to and over 114 decibels when measured in the corner of the room!) This was chalked up to the amplification of the room and the soundwaves bouncing off of close surfaces. This means that, when you have the option to use your tools in an outdoor space, it’s measurably better for noise reduction.
Most sound information I have found on power saws and planers puts them in the 100+ decibel range.
The answer then to “do I need hearing protection for my power tools?” is yes. Every time. Exposure to noise and the damage that it causes builds up over time, and there really should be no reason to risk your future hearing for your laziness today. (Giving my former self a hefty slap on the wrist for that!)
What is adequate hearing protection?
We know that our tools can put out enough noise to be harmful, so what are our hearing protection options? In order to get to that, we have to know about the regulated rating system that is used to determine the effectiveness of each piece of hearing protection.
Noise Reduction Rating (NRR)
If you’ve done any shopping for ear protection you’ve probably come across the acronym NRR, which stands for Noise Reduction Rating. NRR is a standard of measurement, developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, which determines the adequacy of hearing protection to perform its desired purpose – sound reduction in a working environment.
The higher the NRR the better the noise reduction; and therefore, hearing protection that the specific product will provide. The highest current NRR measured in a product is 33dB
How is NRR determined?
The NRR that you see on the labels of all regulation hearing protection is calculated in a laboratory under very controlled settings. The test is the same regardless of where it is done. The NRR rating is calculated based on the average amount of reduction in noise that is provided by the hearing protection device when test fitted to at least ten different people, who are each tested at least three times. These ten different people don’t put the hearing protection on themselves – instead they are fitted by the laboratory team.
The above fact is important to note and is the reason that you can’t take NRR at its face value, because research has indicated that the laboratory results severely overestimate the actual real-world effectiveness of the device.
And that, my friends, is why we unfortunately have to do some math.
Because the number seen on the NRR rating is the maximum
level of decibel reduction that was seen in the laboratory setting with ideal conditions, under the circumstances where the product is perfectly fitted and worn correctly, and with no outside environmental effects, we can’t just use the NRR number to calculate the total protection we are getting from a specific product in the real world.
For instance, if your hearing protection has a rating of NRR 25dB and the noise level of your environment is 95dB – wearing your ear protection doesn’t result in a decibel level of 70. To account for real-world conditions there is an equation we can use to determine an adjusted number that is a more accurate representation of the decibel reduction you may expect from your hearing protection.
To get the actual decibel reduction for the hearing protection you subtract 7 from the NRR rating and then divide the result by 2. This number can then be subtracted from the environmental decibel rating.
Ex. NRR of 25dB and environmental rating of 115
(25-7 )/2 = 9
115-9 = 106 is the adjusted decibel level when wearing the protection.
NRR Subject Fit (SF)
Because of the variance that can be seen in the laboratory testing to real-world environments, new testing parameters have been introduced in some areas. In these tests the subjects themselves, as opposed to the testing staff, fit the protection. In this way, some of the variance of user error is omitted from the test.
NRR (SF) is now used in Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil and is OSHA compliant as a new rating system that doesn’t require the above calculation corrections (No math, yay!). So, if you see an NRR (SF) label, you can subtract the number directly from the decibel rating of the sound you are trying to protect yourself from.
What protection should I wear?
Good question! If we know that many power tools can reach the 100dB range, we should be finding ear protection that is at least NRR29 which, given the above adjustments, would bring a 100dB sound down to approximately 89, and then doubling up with both in-ear and over-ear to bring that down further.
Unfortunately, doubling up protection doesn’t actually double the amount of protection. While there is conflicting information on the exact amount of added protection you gain from doubling up, most research simply adds 4-7dB of added protection to the NRR rating.
Which certainly does help, but not as much as you may have thought! Even so, leading health organisations suggest doubling up anytime the expose is over 105db.
This means, when you are using tools such as a table saw that can regularly go over 105dB, you should be doubling up for safety. Especially if you are using it for long periods of time.
And as for my earlier question of whether audio earphones were enough? I’m sure, at this point, you know the answer is no! Not only do they typically not provide enough protection, oftentimes people will up the volume in order to hear their music above the sounds being generated around them – which is dangerous in itself!
How to wear protection?
As always, a piece of equipment is only effective if it is used in the way it was intended. Research has indicated that up to one-half of people who use hearing protection are receiving half or less of the potential NRR rating listed on their device. This is due to improperly fitted equipment as well as the protection not being worn continuously throughout the noise exposure.
Improperly fitted equipment won’t create a full seal and therefore will not protect against dangerous noise levels. This is why it’s important to always follow the appropriate instructions provided when fitting your chosen hearing protection! If you are wearing earplugs a handy way to check if your fit is proper is to place your hands over your ears – if the plugs are fitted correctly the noise level should not significantly change when you do so.
Over-ear protection should form a full seal around the ear. Glasses or long hair can easily get in the way of this and ruin the level of protection provided.
Lastly, it’s important to keep the protection on for the duration of the activity that you are protecting yourself from. Removing it even for a short while can drastically reduce the protection level for the entire time you are using it. Crazy, eh?
What does this mean for woodworkers?
It means that every time you reach to turn on the saw or spend some time with the power sander, you should also reach for the ear protection, and the ear protection you reach for should have adequate NRR and be properly fitted. We know from research that every exposure to dangerous decibel levels, no matter how long, can eventually add up to a permanent hearing loss.
It also means that I have something to say to a lot of the very popular crafters about their videos and pictures which lack hearing protection:
You have a platform that is widespread, and a reach that requires you to hold yourself to a certain standard. By portraying yourself as an expert in your field, and by not practicing safe measures you are insinuating to your followers that it isn’t necessary for the hobby woodworker to make the effort to pull on a pair of ear protection before cranking up the saw. I really don’t want to have to start yelling at the next generation of hobbyists because they followed your example and now, instead of choosing not to listen to me, simply can’t hear me.
So, wear your PPE friends!
This has been a friendly neighborhood PSA from your truely.
With only a little over a month left until Christmas, now is the perfect time to get your hands a little dirty and start crafting up some gifts for your loved ones! I’ve compiled a list of 10 of my absolute favourite homemade wooden Christmas gift ideas so that you can stop racking your brain for ideas and get right to the building. This list includes simple, but beautiful projects that require minimal tools to complete – so that even a beginner without a slew of equipment can test out the crafting bug this holiday season.
Why homemade gifts?
Here’s the thing, buying gifts is fairly easy (If you have the money, that is. First-World problems, amiright?) You make a trip to the store, wave your plastic card and head on home with a sense of accomplishment for having finished your Christmas shopping on time.
In contrast, handmade wooden gifts involve you giving something more valuable than your money – your time. They have the potential to be used for years to come and are, in my opinion, so much more valuable than any that you could spend hard cash on. As they say, time is money – and the time you pour into the projects you choose to gift is time truly well spent.
Sentimental value aside, homemade wooden gifts also have the potential to be more eco-friendly and less wasteful.
We live in a world of excessive consumerism. Every year billions of dollars are spent around the holidays, and if we are honest with ourselves, more often than not, those gifts end up being re-gifted, not used, or worse, thrown away within a short period of time.
(As a side note: I’m convinced that’s why candles are such popular gifts – they live out their lives in the perpetual cycle of regifting. Sorry to the friends and fam that may be reading this and are just now finding out where their gifted candles actually ended up. I’m sure it was to a loving home.)
So, in the interest of saving our planet from more plastic garbage and delighting your friends and family with a truly unique gift this year, I’ve compiled a list for you of simple, handmade wooden gift ideas that even a beginner can put their hand to.
Puzzle Piece Coasters:
I love this twist on the traditional coaster. Not only is it beautiful, it is also versatile. You can use a single coaster or put them together to act as protection for larger pots and bowls.
In order to build, you’re going to need a jigsaw or scrollsaw (you could get away with a coping saw if you are game to do it by hand) to cut the blocks – finish with some sandpaper and a good water-resistant varnish and your friends and family will be awed at this thoughtful gift!
While I find the hardwood look absolutely gorgeous, some people even use plywood – which can make the cost go down and still looks fantastic!
Wooden Cheese/Charcuterie Board:
Everyone loves a good wooden cheese board or serving tray. And, the great thing is, you can make this as simple or intricate as you like.
You can choose to go about milling a piece of raw wood into a beautifully shaped piece, you can include routed corners, inlays, and epoxy rivers
Or go the simple route and finish a piece of wood from the hardware store.
Either way, this homemade piece is sure to bring you to whoever’s mind is stacking it with all the cheese and cured meats at the next gathering.
The one thing to keep in mind, as with most things you’ll be using in the kitchen to potentially cut on, is to use a food-safe sealant such as mineral oil or a beeswax and oil mix when you finish this piece up.
Bedside Accessory Stand
We all know that friend or loved one whose items and accessories are strewn about the house haphazardly. This is the perfect gift of organisation for that person!
Again, the design can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. Cell phone charging port, watch hanger, coin and ring tray – the great thing about homemade gifts is that you can think of the person you have in mind and make it perfect for them!
Wooden Kid’s Toys
Have some nieces and nephews that already have way too many toys? Wooden toys are long lasting and have the special touch of having been made by someone they love. They may even turn into family heirlooms! I still have some of the wooden toys my grandpa made, which I’ll regift to my children one day.
Wooden blocks, puzzles, trains, cars, balls, rattles -the list is endless and kids love them.
I once carved this box with rolling balls out of wood for my two-year-old niece. She was quite enthralled and carried it everywhere with her, constantly flipping the box around to get the balls to roll from one side to the other.
Important to remember with this gift is to make sure both the wood and any finish you may put on it are safe for kids to potentially put in their mouths!
These were the first handmade wooden gifts I ever gave away – and I remember the feeling of seeing my mom’s eyes light up when she exclaimed: “you made this!?”
If you know someone who loves to cook, having a custom-made wooden spoon or spatula is an extra special gift that is sure to bring you to their mind every time they pick it up.
I used only a hatchet and carving knives to make my first spoons out of raw wood – but a jigsaw, bandsaw or scrollsaw and any blank piece of wood would make this project even simpler. Just make sure to research the type of wood to make sure it’s food-safe, and only finish with an equally food-safe oil 😉 My favourite food-safe finish is mineral oil.
This is the perfect gift for the special someone who needs a better way to store their jewelry than in one giant heap which needs constant detangling. (Not me, I swear)
There are many designs online from super simple like this stand
To my favourite – this tree stand that is both beautiful and useful.
Since making these for myself, I’ve made several more to give as gifts and they are always a huge success. Just think of never having to hear “Babe, have you seen my keys?” ever again and you’ll dive into this project with some serious gusto.
If you have some friends or family whose walls need some serious love, wooden wall art is the perfect unique gift. Customize it to whatever their particular interests are or go with something abstract/geometric. It’s sure to take a place of honour on their walls and be a point of conversation every time someone sees it!
This is another one that I often find myself gifting. Once built, find a special picture for it and give the person a truly sentimental gift that will always bring a smile to their face when viewing.
Got some friends or family that love popping bottles? This one is a unique, easy to make gift that they’ve probably never received before and will actually love. Especially because it’s handmade by you! Just make sure you choose a hardwood that can stand up to the abuse 😉
Hope you’ve found a few ideas here that suit your needs! If you have any go-to homemade gifts that aren’t mentioned in this article, let us know in the comments!
A while ago I was given a book called TheArt and Craft of Wood by Silas J. Kyler and David Hildreth. It’s a gorgeous book with stunning visuals of step by step project builds, it makes for a great coffee table book, but, for me, I immediately wanted to recreate everything in the book – talk about some great ideas for fun DIY woodworking projects!
One of the projects in the book was a beautiful, simplistic design for key storage – a wooden magnetic key shelf.
I was immediately hooked, as it was something useful, easy, and needed in my home!
The shelf features 4 countersunk magnets along the bottom that, being flush with the wood, are practically invisible to the eye unless peering from the bottom. What really appealed to me though was the use of magnets to cover the mounting hardware. I’ve always loved the look of metal and wood, and this is sleek!
Sourcing the Materials:
While the book focuses on harvesting, milling and preparing raw wood for various projects (There is some awesome info in there!) – I used lumber store hardwood, as I just didn’t have access to raw wood at the time I wanted to do the project. Getting the square dressed hardwood from the lumberyard meant that this project was even easier.
I chose a length of Meranti hardwood that measured 19mm thick and 140mm wide. A 3 metre piece put me out about $30 AUD.
For the first shelves I built, I sourced rare earth magnets from a local shop. After building those first two shelves for myself though, I realized they were perfect for gifts for family and friends as well – which meant that I didn’t want to be purchasing individual magnets when I could be paying cheaper prices to purchase them in bulk.
I was able to find loads of magnets on Amazon with similar quality to the ones that I purchased locally!
For the 20mm X 1mm magnets that would cover the mounting hardware, I found a 20 pack online (available from Amazon here – this was enough for me to build ten shelves – pretty good value if you ask me.
And for the 10mm x 2mm magnets that would hold the bottom of the shelf I found a pack that had 120 magnets which, admittedly, was a bit much – but since then I’ve found a plethora of uses outside of the shelves themselves for the little guys and I’ve actually ended up ordering a few more! (You can find them on Amazon here if you are interested!)
These magnets are very strong in terms of fastening and holding power, but they lack strength within themselves (especially the 1mm mounting hardware magnets). This means if you drop them, or are rough with them, they are liable to crack or break. (This is another good reason to order them in bulk.) Always slide the magnets apart if they are in a stack, as opposed to trying to pull them apart – it’s way harder to pull them and you only need one time where the magnet slips and pinches a soft piece of skin to learn your lesson. 😉
Making the Cuts
In order to avoid doing several rip cuts, the first step was to rip cut the length of lumber to the size of the shelves. I wanted the horizontal piece to be wider than the vertical so I made a rip cut that left me with a roughly 60mm top piece and a 75mm bottom piece (taking into account the waste from the kerf of the blade). I then took them over to my miter saw, set up a stop block, and cut each piece down to 415mm in length. This meant I could get 7 shelves from a 3 metre piece!
Drilling the Magnets
After the cuts were finished, I set about measuring the spacing for the locations of the magnets on the underside of the shelf. Let me tell you something about math. I went to a tiny little private Bible school from the age of 7 to the age of 16. Let me tell you how much math I learned there…. Umm…. Well… I think it’s generous to say I ended up graduating at a grade 8 level in the maths. Whenever someone asks me what I would change about my childhood this always comes up. I wish I had been taught math and science (among other things). It’s been a slog to try to learn it since.
I digress. My childhood isn’t the point of the article – the shelf build is. What I was trying to get at was the fact that it took me a while (and a tutorial from my partner) on how to calculate for the spacing of points along a given line. I know it all sounds a bit sad that I couldn’t even do this simple stuff, but look I CAN calculate it now. Never too late to learn, as they say!
Once the math was out of the way, I did a few test drills on scrap and then placed masking tape on my drill bit to mark the depth I needed to drill for the magnets. Four, evenly spaced holes resulted and I was pretty happy. Word of advice here – be careful when dry test fitting your magnets as they are hell to get out of your perfectly drilled holes if you push them all the way in. I will confess to having one magnet that isn’t glued for this very reason. It’s still hanging in there, so I suppose it will stay that way.
Once the holes were drilled, I gave both pieces a good sanding. This is mentioned in the book – but it’s also just good practice to pre-sand your pieces before tacking them together. It’s going to save you a ton of time later in the process, and it makes it a lot easier to get into all the corners that are harder to access once the piece is finished. For the pre-fastening sanding, I went over everything with a 120grit sandpaper.
After sanding, I used a drop of super glue at the bottom of each hole and pressed the magnets in. Make sure you clean up any seepage right away, as it’s not nice to try to do so later.
Next up was the larger, shallow countersinks for the magnets that would cover the mounting hardware. I don’t have a drill press, which would have made every step of the process easier, but it is definitely doable with a hand-held drill if you are slow and methodical. First, I laid out where I wanted the screws to be positioned on the top piece and pre-drilled a hole for them. The top magnets were only 2mm thick and I used a Forstner bit, centered on the pre-drilled hole, to slowly mill out the material until I was satisfied that they would sit flush to the surface.
Putting it all Together
With the sanding done and the magnets in place, I was ready to join the two halves of the shelf! The only thing I changed from the original plans was removing the use of dowels for the joining. I chose screws and glue because they were on hand and nothing is as good as what you have on hand. However, you really could skip the screws altogether and simply glue and clamp the pieces, it would be plenty strong enough.
Final Sand, Finish, and Mounting
Once the glue was dry, I was ready for the final sand and finishing – which happens to be my favourite part of any build.
I love the way a good finish brings a project to life!
While I liked the colour of the wood as it was, I felt it could look even
better with a bit of a darker tinge to make the grain pop. I chose a walnut stain I had on hand that I mixed with clear varnish. The result was a nice red-ish brown with a satin finish. I ended up doing two coats but likely could have gotten away with one if I hadn’t thinned out the varnish as much.
Mounting was easy. I simply marked through my predrilled holes onto the wall, drilled and put in a wall anchor, popped one screw in, leveled, then popped the second in. I think the magnets covering the mounting screws are my favourite part of this build! It’s such a clever way to make the shelf look uniquely finished while serving a functional purpose.
What I love most about this piece is the simplicity. There is something about the clean lines that draw the eye to the grain of the wood, which of course then draws your eye to the stark, yet appealing interruption of the shiny, metal magnets that hide the mounting hardware.
I’m excited to do more projects from TheArt and Craft of Wood!
Today I’m busting out a review on the 12v Ryobi Multi Tool!
I have a long history with Ryobi, and I don’t mean that in a professional, monetary sense.
The first power tool I ever ‘owned’ was a hand-me-down Ryobi blue drill/driver that my dad gave me along with their chop saw from the same era (well before the one+). Both these tools saw way more use than they ever should have – and, since I really didn’t know any better at the time, shaped my impression of how accurate or powerful power tools should be. I know better now. Looking back, I can see where those two tools caused me way more grief than they should have, made projects that much more difficult to complete, and shaped the way I approach projects now.
So look, I have a healthy dose of nostalgia when I think of those two tools. For lack of a better word, they sucked. They were poor quality, the drill died every five minutes, the battery needed to be permanently left on charge so it didn’t drain (okay, so this is a problem with all old NiCad batteries, but still), and the chop saw couldn’t cut straight if it really, really tried. But, I managed to knock out a couple of really fun projects with them that got me hooked on the woodworking bug.
My point with all of this is that Ryobi has come a long way from the days of the dark blue tools that more often than not croaked after just a few months. Today, their lime green line of tools is solidly placing themselves at the top of the options for mid-range products – and great value for the hobbyist or DIY enthusiast.
And, that’s why you’re here for a 12v Ryobi Multi Tool review – which is exactly what you are going to get!
I bought this tool about a year and half ago, and it has gotten a good amount of intermittent use in that time. Some weeks, I’ll use it heavily, and some weeks it goes without being touched, so this review will be particularly aimed at those who, like me, aren’t using this tool for professional use, but more on a hobbyist basis.
Here are the raw deets:
Let’s get the boring specs out of the way right out of the gate:
No Load Speed: 0-20000 RPM
Battery: 12V 1.3Ah Lithium
Product Code: 4892219121431
The Kit and Kaboodle:
I can’t emphasise enough how much I love when tools come in a kit with a carrying case. Yes, I know, it’s largely cosmetics and it doesn’t change the outcome of the tool itself, but still – how easy to store! How easy to organise! I love things that make my life easy.
This is why I was so happy that the 12V Ryobi Multi-Tool came in a convenient kit that includes a carrying case for the tool, charger, battery, and accessories that also are included.
Three attachments are thrown into the deal: a flush-cut blade, a wood/metal blade, and a detail sanding pad. Included with the sanding pad are a couple of varying grits of sandpaper.
How’s she go?
The 12v “multi-tool” really lives up to its name in terms of the varying applications that it is keen to tackle. The blades can cut through plaster, metal, composite, and wood, but don’t expect it to be tackling large, thick cuts, because this tool is not raising its hand for those jobs! The flush cut blade was particularly useful for me while working on my vintage caravan. It cut through some seriously stuck screw heads with ease!
The sanding application is where this tool has seen most of its use with me. The varying speeds mean it can take off a significant amount of material in a short period of time with the right grit of paper, and also be delicate enough for thin, or delicate material. And, the size of the multi-tool, as well as the convenient shape of the applicator, make it ideal for awkward or confined spaces that larger detail sanders might not be able to reach.
Plunge cutting is easy on this, and I’ve been able to take a few outlet cut-outs in drywall with not much trouble. However, the tool will quickly let you know if you are doing something outside of its capacity. I have had it stop running on me a few times when I’ve gotten too lazy to take out a larger tool and tried to butt the Ryobi Multi-Tool up against some thicker material.
At only 1.7kg this multitool is light. The handle is well designed to fit comfortably in hand and has a good rubberized grip that does seem to reduce vibration. The switch is easy to access and has the satisfying “snap” into position as opposed to the dull push of a button that I’ve really come to hate on some tools.
Battery life is just okay. If you’re cutting plaster or detail sanding, I would expect about 30-45 good minutes of continual use in the battery. I’ve found this enough for me, but I expect it would be much too short for professional use. There is a convenient LED panel on the side of the tool that indicates how much battery life is left during use – so at least you won’t be surprised when it dies fairly quickly into your job!
The battery does charge at a relatively good pace though so if you have some other projects to work on in the meantime, you’ll be able to get back to using the multi-tool in about an hour’s time.
Oooooh, baby, I love me some features, and the Ryobi 12v Multi-Tool comes with several convenient, built-in features. The variable speed has six settings that allow for a greater range of control for various applications. An LED light allows for illumination and increased visibility – which is fantastic when working in those cramped corners where natural light doesn’t easily flow (my caravan approves!).
The quick-change attachments are a nice feature that get you back in the game in a flash whenever you need to change up your job.
But, by far my favourite feature is the universal accessory adaptor. It’s nice to see a company that understands the frustration of being locked to a particular brand’s accessories. As a Founding Father once said (I’ll paraphrase here to bring it up to date with modern lingo), “Give me universal accessories, or give me death!” That might be a bit dramatic for our purposes, but you get the gist.
Being able to use any brand of accessory really throws the door wide open on what you can use on this tool.
The Final Say
I haven’t had many issues with the 12v Ryobi Multi-Tool, it does what it is meant to do, and it seems to do it well for the price.
For the DIY enthusiast, this multi-tool does the job. The fact that it has a universal adapter makes it all the more appealing – simply switch out the low-quality blades with Diablo and you are going to be able to avoid some of the overheating and power issues that result from the blades just not “cutting” it.
However, if you are a tradesperson and need to use it every day, this isn’t the multitool for you. It simply doesn’t have enough power and the battery life isn’t going to last for what you need to do.
Here’s the truth: Youtube is one of the greatest resources of the current generation (don’t quote me on that).
But really, how amazing is it that a video tutorial for whatever you are currently struggling to learn at a seemingly arduously slow pace can be at your enthusiastic little fingertips at the click of a button.
You can learn nearly anything on YouTube – from the mundane to the absolutely bizarre.
– Need to know how to sneak food into class, because three-hour lectures are simply way too long for you to go without eating? There’s a video (several actually) on that very topic.
– Do you want to make a dog bed out of a sweater? YouTube has you covered.
– Want to know how to turn your mountain of old high heels into a flower vase? Just click on your suggested videos.
– Desperately need to get into the new trend of Duct tape hammocks? No worries, as long as you have the duct tape, someone on YouTube has the know-how.
(please don’t ask me how I am sure these videos exist)
But, if you’re like me and you want to get some quality beginner woodworking tips? YouTube definitely has you covered.
When I was in my last year of university so many years ago, I had a bit of a young-adult crisis, stopped going to class, and converted the basement of my shared townhouse into my very own little workshop. If you ask my roommates, they would tell you they weren’t happy but didn’t want to get too close to someone in the throes of crashing and burning in order to tell me to stop– crashing and burning is contagious as you know.
The point is, I spent hours on YouTube and the internet hunting down project plans, beginner woodworking tips, and tricks, etc.
And while I wasn’t brand new to the topic, having grown up watching my dad in the shop, branching off on your own (with only the old NiCad, keep the battery charging 24/7, blue Ryobi hand drill and a chop saw as my tool chest) can be scary.
That’s why I found so much comfort in being able to watch people break things down in a way that was understandable. They made these projects feel really doable. I’m confident that I’m not exaggerating when I say that I learned more from those YouTube channels than I did from my five-year degree in Criminal Justice (but the degree did cost me a lot more!).
Since then, many more instructional channels have popped up, and the depth of information and knowledge that the budding woodworker can access is astronomical.
Here are five of the best, in my humble opinion, youtube channels for beginner woodworking tips.
1. WoodWorking for Mere Mortals
It’s hard to pick any one video from Steve Ramsey’s library of amazing tutorials, tips and tricks, projects, and safety advice as a favourite. It is equally as hard to find another YouTube vlogger who is as adept at teaching in a way that is entertaining and enlightening. His videos never feel like lectures, but you will always come away having learned something. I also appreciate that many of his videos feature relatively cheap tools and real accessibility to those new to the hobby. Steve has recently launched a “Weekend Woodworker” course that is aimed to help beginner woodworkers get started on projects.
2. April Wilkerson
April Wilkerson does mostly video projects these days, but years ago she was doing a lot more informative, theoretical stuff on how to use certain tools and how to set up certain areas of the shop, and all of that amazingly helpful information for beginners is still there on her channel.
Her new stuff is just as good as the old (if not better). Videos show her building the project from start to finish with a voice-over explaining exactly what she is doing at each step of the build – including her thought process for certain areas of the project. April shows her mistakes as well as her successes, which is an immensely important thing for beginner woodworkers to see. She also has a website with a slew of project plans!
3. Wood Whisperer
Marc Spagnuolo, of the Wood Whisperer, has a wide variety of videos directed not just at the beginner woodworker, but also at the advanced – which means that this is an excellent channel to grow with.
He frequently answers questions sent to him by subscribers, and if the question was asked, more often than not as a beginner woodworker, you would have asked it as well! From what types of glue to use for certain projects, tips and tricks for common problems, and some awesome project builds – a beginner woodworker could get lost for hours and come out with enough knowledge to make them confidently stride out to the shed to start that new project.
I can’t begin to count the number of great tips and tricks that I have picked up from Colin Knecht’s channel, WoodWorkWeb. His woodworking hacks, often involving reusing regular household objects for convenient shop purposes, have me finishing up a video thinking “Why didn’t I think of that really, really simple trick that is going to make my life a whole lot easier?” His years of experience come through in the way he is able to effortlessly pass on knowledge and some pretty fantastic woodworking jigs and project ideas.
5. Woodworker’s Journal
These guys are old school, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean it in the type of way where you feel like you are sitting in your Grandpa’s old shed and he is slowly, lovingly showing you how to use a certain tool. So slow sometimes that you want to shake him (lovingly), but you wouldn’t for a second take back all those golden nuggets (or the time you got to spend with him) you learned. This channel comes from America’s leading woodworking magazine and it is chock full of information and projects. It won’t be potentially as entertaining or as easy to sit through as some of the other channels, but you’re going to learn some very useful stuff.
What are you waiting for?
That’s right! Hop online and start learning, getting inspiration, and being blown away by how accessible woodworking really is for everyone.
If you have a favourite channel of your own or a favourite video from one of the above channels, leave us a comment! We love to discover new content from all the talented crafters in the world.