Three of my favorite shop accessories: A work apron, dust mop, and miter saw laser guide.I’m often surprised by how great an impact a small and simple shop accessory can have on my everyday woodworking life. I take these useful items for granted, but if they were “removed from the mix,” I would be lost. I’m referring to things used everyday, but rarely thought about twice. Let me tell you about three of my favorites. They’re shop accessories I use daily, and would not want to be without.
1. The Shopmaster Apron, #12551, $40
I started my woodworking career wearing a run-of-the-mill around-the-neck style shop apron. The more stuff I put in its pockets, the more it dug into my neck. Ouch! A friend suggested I try the Shopmaster apron with its crossback strap system that alleviates neck strain. I did, and I’ve never looked back. I’ve owned three of these great aprons over the past 20 years. I really beat the heck out of them, and they keep on going. The one I’m wearing here is rather new, but soon it will be coated with dried glue.
The makers of this apron have refined it over the years. The latest alteration has four lower pockets with flaps. The flaps work great for keeping dust and shavings out of the pockets. You can also fold the flaps into the pockets if you want unrestricted access. Up top are two more pockets. Between those pockets, are two pencil sleeves. I customized my apron with two additions: I sewed midway across one of the pencil sleeves so it now holds short pencils and I added an elastic band near my top left to hold my dust collector remote control. (The Morgan Company www.Aprons.net)
2. Tuway 24-in. “Astrolan” Dust Mop, #AS-24-5, $9, “Jaws”24” Snap On Frame, #SN24-5, $4, “Jaws” Snap On Handle, #SN-H-54, $7
I’m a clean freak.You’d be surprised by how often my visitors say they’ve never seen a cleaner shop. The problem with that is they also think I do no work! Long ago I switched from a push broom to a dust mop for cleaning my shop floor. Using a dust mop is much faster, more effective, and less dust is stirred up and made airborne. The dust mop is a three piece setup: a frame, handle, and mop head.
I’ve tested many mop heads made from different materials. This 100% nylon “Austrolan” is the one I like best for cleaning up dust and wood shavings. Dust mops work best on smooth floors, but they are forgiving, so don’t dismiss them if your floor is a bit rough. The mop heads can be laundered, and they last a long time. I own two mop heads which I alternate and wash about every 6 months. The mop setup I own, and shown here, is 36″ wide. That size makes for faster cleanups, but it’s more difficult to get into tight spaces. If I were buying a new mop, I’d buy the 24″ wide setup listed above. 36″ mops are available too, if you want that. You can order what you need from Summit Distribution, 888-292-9998. (Tuway American Group – www.tuwaymops.com)
3. Infiniter Laser Cutting Guide, Rockler #21574, $25
Adding an aftermarket laser guide to your miter saw can really save time and reduce material waste. No more mystery of where the blade will cut! The Infiniter is a small disk with an internal battery operated laser light that you mount to your miter saw’s blade arbor. It replaces the outer washer of the arbor and lays flat against the saw blade. Centrifugal force, created when the saw blade spins, activates the laser light beam. That beam of red light lands on your workpiece marking the left side of the cut. The Infiniter produces a fine delicate line. I find its line more accurate than older laser guides I’ve owned which produced wider and brighter lines. The trade off is: thin and accurate verses wide and brighter but not as accurate. You’ll get the hang of how it all works after a few tests cuts. Note that the laser is only on when the blade is spinning.The Infiniter does not work on every saw. To find out if it will work on your saw, go to the Rockler web page, and check both the “Overview” and “More Info” tabs. If you’re still in doubt, then give the folks at Rockler a call and they will help you. (Infiniter Laser Guide)
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