Chapter 5.5 - Starter and Expansion Sets

 The goal of the personal production example is supplying a range of basic products for a community of owner-operators. They do this as individuals or through joint effort for larger tasks. Example products include furniture, home improvements, food, and utilities. The community starts with smaller and simpler projects and works up to larger and more complex ones. We assume they start with limited funds, time, equipment, and skills. So part of the effort is improving themselves as people to overcome these limits.

 Community projects may start with as little as one person's part-time effort and no equipment or skills. So we describe some basic tool sets for general household and home improvement/do-it-yourself projects (Section 3.0), with suggestions on use and gaining skills. Community members can then start projects based on the people and resources at hand, and work towards adding equipment and gaining skills. We then discuss workshops, and present a variety of expansion sets for more specialized and advanced projects (Sections 4-8). Items from these sets can be added to the basic ones according to interests and need.

 A small collection of tools, and the skills to use them, have a limited capacity to self-improve. But they can be used to make basic items or provide services. Sales or labor can then be used to add to the collection. As the collection grows, the ability to self-improve grows even faster. This is from working with more materials and being able to do more combinations of steps. A large enough collection can be used to improve itself, and make most of the basic products people need and want. But reaching that point requires a community. No one person has all the skills needed, some tasks need multiple people, and few individuals have all the other resources required.

1.0 - Necessary Inputs edit

 Accumulating a set of tools and learning how to use them is itself a project. Expanding it so it can make improvements for itself, and a range of desired products, is a series of additional projects and tasks. A working system pf people and equipment to do this requires various inputs and emits outputs in the course of a given project. These include:

  • Time - from one or more people to make plans, look for and acquire needed items, operate equipment, train others, or learn skills as needed.
  • Supply sources - for parts, materials, tools, machines, training materials, plans, and instructions.
  • Money - for items which can't be made internally, or for outside labor that project members can't supply.
  • Sheltered Space - to store and use the equipment. Even outdoor equipment should be protected when not in use.
  • Energy - such as electric power or human muscles, to make, set up, and operate the equipment.
  • Maintenance Items - like water, cleaning supplies, and waste disposal during and after operations.

 We suggest starting by assessing which of these you have and which are lacking. The next step is to make a plan for getting enough of the inputs to get started, and how you will continue from there. For example, if you don't have all the basic tools from List 1 (below), you can make a shopping list of the missing items, then either buy them, start saving to buy them, or find a Makerspace/Hackerspace (community workspace), community group, or neighbor that allows you to use them. If you have no idea what is needed for a particular project or how to do the various tasks, entering "how to" followed by the subject into Google Search or some other search engine will generally get you useful results.

 In modern society, money can commonly be traded for most other things people need and want. If lack of money is an obstacle, there are ways to overcome that. One is to cut expenses, such as eating out less or sharing living space. Another is to increase income, such as doing basic jobs for other people in addition to current work, or upgrading your knowledge and skills so you can find better work. Finally you can split the cost of needed items across a group.

 Reaching a goal may seem like a big challenge. Breaking it down into smaller steps, putting them in order, then taking them one at a time is more manageable. But you have to take the first step to get anywhere.

2.0 - Starter Set Lists edit

Some species besides ours use tools. We are unique in the variety and complexity of our tools, and that we use tools to make other tools. So which of the many options should be included in a starter set? The answer for particular project types, and improvement paths beyond the starting point, will vary widely.

 The lists below are a general guide for consideration and selection. You don't need every item from any of the lists to start making things. But the more of them you have, the more kinds of projects you can do. The lists also don't cover every possible project. They are intended as starter sets to build on, not complete lists of every possible tool. Additional items may be needed for particular projects. For large and complex projects you may need multiples of each item, either different sizes and types, or for multiple people to use. For example, a saying in woodworking is "you can never have too many clamps", and generally several are needed at a time. Item names are highlighted in bold, and many are linked to Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia is a sister project to Wikibooks, where this book is maintained. We also link to other sources for more detail.

Sources - The lists below are compiled from a number existing tool and equipment lists, and other reference sources. The intent was to gather and sort by project type the the items most needed to get started. The source lists are from several makerspaces, a tool bank (which lends out tools to nonprofit groups), a book on rural workshops, the phased equipment list for the Seed Factory Project, a pamphlet from manufacturer Porter Tools, a course on "manual arts" (later called "shop class" in schools), a compiled list of equipment for industrial training classes, a website for beginning machinists, the author's personal tool list, a contributed list to these books, recommended tool brands from an online forum, a woodworking list from a YouTube channel, and a study of small industry in India. In addition, many targeted web searches were done for specific categories.

Figure 5.5-1 - Suggested tool set paths for different types of projects. Click to enlarge -->

List Types - There are basic tools that have proved useful in many circumstances, from general home use to industrial production. Others are more specialized for specific tasks. For example, an axe is useful in dealing with trees, but useless for cutting steel reinforcement for concrete. So lists 1 and 2 below are basic sets for common home tasks and simple home improvement/do it yourself projects. This is followed by expansion sets for more advanced and specialized projects.

 The lists are additive, meaning you should start with items from the basic sets, then add to them from the later lists as needed. Figure 5.5-1 shows a suggested path from the two basic sets to the more specialized ones. The later lists are grouped into small indoor, large indoor, outdoor, and construction based on the location and space needed. Construction produces more indoor space, enabling a cycle of growth and improvement. Depending on the needs and interests of the community, they can choose items from any or all of these lists, and go beyond them.

List Sections - Tools and machines can be classified according to size, power level, and cost. The general groups are (1) manual hand tools, (2) portable power tools, (3) stationary equipment, either powered or not, and (4) mobile equipment that is towed or can move itself. Cost and space needed tend to increase with each group. The lists are generally in order from the smaller, less expensive, and most needed first, but some items are needed together to complete a task. For example drill bits go with an electric drill. We try to note when that is the case.

 To go beyond these lists, you will need to know what projects and products you want to make, and the methods and equipment needed for them. Many instructional books and articles have explicit lists of the equipment needed. Others implicitly identify useful tools by discussing their use. Tool and supply catalogs, and the tool sections of online marketplaces can also be reviewed to identify candidate items.

Choosing Equipment - A given tool type, like a claw hammer, can be found in many versions with different quality, weight, intended usage, and cost. So the first thing is to understand what you will be using it for. Is it occasionally hanging pictures, or working full time as a carpenter? Larger and heavier tools can work with heavier materials, but can require more body strength and endurance to use. Smaller and lighter tools can be more precise, and used in tight spaces. So it can be useful to have several versions of a given type.

 Cost is often a factor. You can get started with less expensive but adequate ones, and upgrade later. However very cheap tools may break or wear out quickly, and not be able to handle whatever you are working on. For personal production on a regular basis they should be hobbyist or professional grade rather than lowest grade. Used tools are typically less expensive, and often are perfectly fine for personal and small-scale production use. Finding used equipment in bulk, such as auctions, moving, and estate sales, may save money. Any duplicate or unneeded items found this way can be sold off or traded for ones you need.

 Recognizing tool quality is a learned skill, as is knowing what grade you need for a given purpose. If you are unfamiliar you get get recommendations from more experienced people, books, articles, instructional videos, online reviews, and discussion forums.

Supplies, Parts, and Materials - To complete a project you need more than just equipment like tools and machines. Equipment is not generally used up in a single project. But some supplies, like sandpaper, wear out with use. Others, like paint, end up as part of the finished item. If you are merely tightening something that has come loose, or are assembling a packaged kit that comes with everything needed, you may not need any added parts and materials. But most projects will need materials like lumber and parts like screws that end up in the finished item.

 There is such a wide variety of these items that we cannot list them all. Instead we try to note categories of common supplies, parts, and materials as part of the lists below. Instructional and reference sources have more specific information on what is needed. Published project plans will often include a detailed materials and parts list. When starting a custom project you can develop a list as you plan it. Then you can look at what you already have, and identify what else is needed to complete it.

 Shopping for every small project takes time, and buying in quantity can be less expensive. So it can be helpful to keep some supplies, parts, and materials on hand. These can be leftovers from previous projects, packaged hardware assortments, or accumulated from second-hand sources. We will try to indicate what is helpful to stock as a starting point, but suggest getting other items as needed for particular projects.

 There are many types and sizes of these items, so some way to keep them organized is useful. This can be Organizer Boxes with compartments and drawers, labeled empty jars and cans, or sometimes the box they came in. This author sorts them by name and size, but whatever method helps you find an item when you need it saves time and avoids buying duplicates.

 In addition to purchased inventory, you can reuse items you already have but don't need, like old furniture, and items from your property like fallen or cut tree branches. Free and cheap outside sources can be found almost anywhere. Particularly good ones include scrap and wrecking yards, leftovers and removals from construction and renovation projects, and business trash. Always ask permission when scavenging from private property. You can also offer to clean up/remove/move items for people. For example, someone may have fallen tree branches which you can get free for the asking, or even get paid for removing them. Discarded or second-hand furniture can be used as work tables or storage, or as a source of lumber.

Making and Improving Your Own Items - A basic idea in these books is self-improvement. So if finances are more limited than time, or simply because you enjoy it, you can make or improve your own equipment. This lets you customize them to better fit your needs. For example, a workbench can be fit to your body size, what you are working on, and the available work space. A basic table saw consists of a motor, and an adjustable blade emerging from a cutting surface. But you can add different blades to suit the material, assorted guides for moving what you are cutting, and extension tables for managing larger pieces. To make or upgrade equipment requires already having some to work with, or access to other people's. However making everything from basic materials will take much longer than buying. So community members should consider what to make vs finding/buying already functional items.

 Simple self-made woodworking projects include saw benches and saw horses, a stationary workbench, bench hook, miter box, and wooden mallets. A blacksmith can make many of their own tools, including a forge, chisels, hammers, punches, drifts, and fullers. A skilled one can make tongs, specialized hammers, hardies, flatters, and swages. Combining wood and iron work can produce cutting tools like axes and chisels, planes, drawknives, spokeshaves, claw hammers, and screwdrivers. David Gingery even wrote a book series on how to build metalworking machines from scrap. At a more advanced level, a well-equipped machine shop can make many of the parts for another machine shop.

Ready-Made Equipment - Places to find new tools include home improvement and hardware stores, online marketplaces, industrial suppliers, and direct from the manufacturers. Used tools can be found online on trading sites like eBbay or craigslist, or locally in the for-sale sections of social media. Pawn shops, flea markets, estate and garage sales are good sources for used tools. If you join a community of hobbyists or a Makerspace, you may find people who are upgrading or changed interests and are selling off/giving away items. You can sometimes borrow or rent tools, or use ones at community centers. A dedicated space for your own or group projects is less constrained by time and access, and has better control over tool selection and care.

Getting Experience - There are plenty of sources of information beyond what is in these books. Other books, both paper and digital, are a primary source. The Internet Archive has a vast collection of digitized books. Local libraries either have paper books, can borrow them from other libraries through inter-library loan, or have digital copies you can borrow. You can of course buy new and used books online and in bookstores. Hobbyist magazines and other publications are useful both for project information and specialty equipment sources.

 A community of people doing personal production can teach each other whatever skills they already had or are learning. Formal classes are taught at community centers and trade schools. Informal ones can be found among hobbyist groups, stores that sell the relevant items, and at makerspaces where you can observe and try things. You can find local community projects, hobbyists, or professionals and offer to help or work for them, and learn while doing. Video tutorials and online forums on specific subjects have also become quite helpful in recent years.

3.0 - Basic Sets edit

 Before working with any kinds of tools and equipment, you should learn how to use them and be protected from injury. To start with get some reference material and basic experience as noted in the previous two paragraphs. Also get some basic safety items like gloves and safety glasses:

Reference Material - At least one reference book on basic tool use to start with. Add additional books, videos, training classes, etc. as needed. There are many basic books available, but Tools and Their Uses, US Navy, 1992 is public domain and downloadable. The Internet Archive also has a number of basic books on home workshops and tools, which can be borrowed or downloaded.

 Both paper and e-books can be used where you are working. To protect them from dirt and damage, a thick cardboard backing with rubber bands or spring clips, and a clear plastic bag or sheet as a cover is enough to start. E-books may need more protection for the display, like a wood tray with a hinged clear plastic lid.

Safety Equipment - Tools, and the materials being worked on, are usually stronger than body parts, and some injuries can't be healed. So a variety of safety equipment should be used to protect yourself. Loose clothes and hair can get caught up in moving parts, and should be changed or secured. We note some specific hazards in the lists below, and list general safety items here. Which of these are needed depends on what you are doing, and make sure you know how to use these through shop safety instruction:

  • Eye Protection - such as Safety Glasses or Goggles.
  • Hearing Protection - such as Ear Plug and Earmuffs
  • Work Gloves - for hand protection. Types include cloth, leather, cut-resistant, fireproof, and rubber in varying thickness.
  • Joint Protection - to protect body joints, such as Knee, Elbow and Shoulder Pads
  • Respirators - to keep from breathing dust or harmful vapors.
  • Welding Mask - to protect eyes from harmful UV light, and the head generally from sparks and heat.
  • Work Clothing - can be both protective and useful. Thick materials like canvas and leather can protect from sharp or flying objects, or from heat. It can be in the form of clothing, or coverings like aprons or belts worn over other clothes. In addition they can have extra pockets, loops, and clips to keep often used items on hand.
  • Fall Protection - These include hard hats (List 17), and reinforced shoes and boots to protect from falling objects, and safety belts to protect from falling off high places.
  • Protective Covers and Shields - used around dangerous tool parts. They can either be built in as a tool feature, or added as an accessory. Examples are the blade cover on most circular saws, or the frame or cage around the operator of heavy construction equipment.
  • Lockout Kit - When working with more than one person, these prevent turning on power or equipment while they are being worked on. It includes warning tags, locks, and plug covers.

 Despite using safety equipment, injuries can still happen. So First-Aid Supplies should be available nearby. Most homes already have some. If a work space is some distance away or you are working away from home, a basic first aid kit should be located in the work space or your vehicle. Appropriate fire extinguishers and/or sprinklers should be available for any project with flammable materials. For outdoor work, water buckets and hoses should also be available to put out fires.

List 1 - General Home Use edit

 These items are useful for common household tasks like hanging pictures, assembling furniture, or installing appliances. They are also needed for more advanced projects and maintaining other equipment. Most of them can fit in a medium-size portable toolbox or equivalent other container.

Figure 5.5-2 - A cantilever toolbox with trays that slide apart.
Tool and Supply Containers

 While household tools can be stored in a drawer or closet shelf, it is handy to keep them in a Toolbox of some kind. This avoids multiple trips when you need to use more than one, and keeps them all together. Almost any kind of container will work, as long as it will hold the majority of them (except the largest like hand saws), and is strong enough for the weight. Thick-wall cardboard boxes and plastic tubs are low-cost examples. Handles or hand openings make carrying them easier.

 Manufactured or self-made toolboxes often have one more more drawers, removable/sliding trays, or smaller containers/dividers for small items (Figure 5.5-2). That makes it easier to organize and find what you need than a random pile. Additional types of tool carriers include large buckets, with optional tool organizers, non-rigid carrying bags and backpacks, and tool belts and aprons for when you want to keep some tools at hand.

Figure 5.5-3 - A 1912 Mechanic's tool roll.

 Most tools are mostly or all metal, and power tools have motors, batteries, or cords. Many tools have accessories, like drill bits or various size sockets. So at some point a hand toolbox becomes too full or heavy. You can either have multiple smaller toolboxes, or use a larger one with wheels and a handle to make moving it easier. There are manufactured stackable sets with the bottom unit having the wheels and handle, or you can get a separate Hand Truck and strap multiple toolboxes to it.

 Tools can damage each other, especially ones like files designed to cut metal. Smaller containers, especially ones with individual tool holders, within the tool box can protect them. Sharp blades can be covered with a cap or sheath, or wrapped in cloth. A tool roll of heavy cloth or soft leather can keep tools organized and separated from each other (Figure 5.5-3).

 Besides tools, supplies, parts, and materials for projects also need storage. Small amounts can be kept in the same container as the tools, either loose in a compartment or in a smaller container to keep them from getting mixed with the tools. Larger amounts can be stored in a separate container or shelf, and whatever is needed for a given project pulled out as needed.

Figure 5.5-4 - A battery-powered headlamp.
Lighting and Inspection

 You need to be able to see what you are working on. If permanent home lighting or daylight is not enough, there are portable options like plug-in lamps and work lights. Work lights can be mounted on stands or clamp onto an available surface. Battery options include flashlights, and headlamps which leave the hands free (Figure 5.5-4). Inspection mirrors are small adjustable ones on a handle to see in hard-to-reach places. Some have telescoping handles and built-in lights.

Measuring and Marking Tools

 These are used for marking where to make cuts or shapes, dimensions, or labeling parts for later assembly. Typically a cut line is marked, and then an X, squiggle, or shading is used to show the part being cut away. Cuts should be on the removal side of the line rather than directly on it. It is easier to remove material to get the final dimension than put it back once removed. So tool positioning should account for blade width.

  • Pencils & Pens - Start with ordinary pencils. sharpener and eraser, and yellow and red marking crayons for dark and light raw wood respectively. Ink pen and colored marker lines are easier to see but harder to erase. The edge of Masking Tape can be used to mark locations and be written on, then more easily removed where appearance matters. Office sticky notes and other low-stick items can also be used for this.
  • Scratch Awl - These make indented lines and points. They make a sharper line than writing tools and the indents help position a chisel or drill in the right place.
  • Rulers - Flat steel rulers, preferably stainless to resist rust and heat. One to start with, 15-60cm (6-24 in) with fine-scale markings. Tape measures for longer distances. One roll-up steel type, 4-10 m (12-30 ft) for straight distances, and a cloth/plastic sewing type to measure around objects.
  • Combination Square - For measuring and marking perpendicular or at an angle to an edge, and finding the center of an end. One 30cm (12 in) to start with.
Figure 5.5-5 - A torpedo level.
  • Levels and Plumbs - For finding horizontal and vertical lines. Spirit levels have liquid with an air bubble in a curved tube. Start with a torpedo Level (Figure 5.5-5), a small magnetized one suitable for general home use, like leveling appliances. A Plumb Bob is a light string with a substantial weight, usually pointed at the bottom. Gravity pulls it vertical. It can be used to transfer positions or align objects vertically. If attached to a marked frame or scale it can help align vertical, horizontal or sloped directions.

Assembly Tools

 For fastening parts together or take them apart again. Also for striking items to drive them together or apart or change their shape. These are mainly hand (unpowered) tools.

  • Screwdrivers - Screws come in a variety of sizes with different heads, for which a matching driver should be used. Sets with common sizes are available. A basic set should have at least a large flat head, large Phillips, small flat head, small Phillips, and "stubby" (short shaft) flat head for small spaces. Since a lot of torque (twisting force) is often needed, they should be better than the cheapest grade.
 If an item doesn't already have screw holes, an Awl with a very narrow or pointed tip can make a small one. A sharpened small nail can also be driven then removed. Larger wood screws require drilling a hole the diameter of the solid shaft inside the threads to not split the wood.
 A small Cordless Screwdriver that accepts Hex Shank Bits can replace multiple screwdrivers and drill small holes. A set of screwdriver and small drill bits with matching shanks should be added if not included.
  • Pliers - with flat jaws for firmly holding items using leverage. A Basic Set would include either a tongue-and-groove or slip joint type where the space between the jaws can be changed, a lineman’s with heavy-duty jaws, a needle-nose for reaching into small spaces, and a locking type which continues to hold without hand pressure.
  • Socket Wrench Set - For larger screws and bolts that need more torque. A basic set includes a reversible ratcheting handle and different sizes of matching sockets to fit hexagonal-head fasteners. Small driver bits that fit one of the socket sizes can turn larger screws. Hex Keys (Allen wrenches) are used for hexagonal holes in a screw or bolt. A set of different sizes up to 1/4 inch (6 mm) to start with.
  • Hammers - For striking with high force by combined arm and wrist motion. A basic set includes a Claw Hammer for driving and removing nails, a Ball-Peen for striking other metal tools or shaping metal, and a Rubber or Rawhide Mallet for when you don't want to damage what you are hitting. These can be anywhere from the 250-1500g (8-38oz) weight range depending on your strength and what you are hitting but a 500g/16oz claw type to start.
  • Staple Gun - The manual version uses a hand-compressed spring to drive heavy staples. It can be used for fastening plastic sheet, fabric, and other thin material into soft wood and similar backings. Harder backings may require hammering the staples flush, or using sturdier fasteners like upholstery tacks.

Cutting and Abrasive Tools

Figure 5.5-6 - Carpet Shears.
  • Scissors/Shears - These have two sharpened blades on a pivot connected to handles. A toolbox version should have stronger blades and higher handle-to-blade length ratio to cut thicker material than household/craft scissors. A suitable heavy duty one is a Carpet Shears (Figure 5.5-6). The offset handles make it easier to cut on a flat surface.
  • Utility Knives - Start with the kind called a "box cutter" with a retractable razor blade for cutting materials like cardboard. A straight edge can guide the blade along a desired line. If you use the knife often enough, it should come with or you can get replacement blades when they wear out. Blades are very low cost and not worth sharpening to a razor edge. An inexpensive Scraper/Spreader Set with different width and shape blades is useful for general cleaning, prying, and spreading. Thicker blades are better for scraping, while thinner flexible blades are better for spreading. A Razor Scraper holds a single-edged razor blade crosswise, and is used at a low angle on hard surfaces like glass.
 The Folding Pocket Knife has one or more blades which pivot into the handle. A Multi-tool includes other items besides edged blades. In all cases the movable blades make it safer and easier to carry when not being used. Traditional fixed-blade utility knives have their uses, especially outdoors or working with wood, but need a sheath when not being used for safety and to avoid damage to the edge. They should be single-edged so you can push on the back of the blade for extra force.
  • Diagonal Pliers - have sharp rather than flat jaws. They are made of hardened steel and used to cut wires and similar long, narrow materials. They are usually built into lineman's pliers along with the gripping jaws. but adding a smaller one for tighter spaces or cut more closely to a surface is useful.
  • Metal Snips function like scissors, but have much thicker blades and more leverage, often with compound action. This allows cutting sheet metal and similar hard materials. You only need the straight-cutting type to start, but left and right curve cutting versions can cut more complex shapes without multiple straight cuts.
  • Hacksaws hold a narrow, fine tooth blade under tension in a frame. One standard 30 cm(12 inch) saw with a few blades of different tooth fineness to start. They are used to cut metal, plastic, and wood where a narrow cut or thin walls requires a thin blade with small teeth. Junior and mini saws use shorter blades and can be used in smaller spaces.
  • Wood Hand Saws - These are for general cutting of wood to size. You can start with one short enough to fit in a toolbox with medium size teeth. Longer carpenter's saws can use the full stroke length of arm and body. They need a longer toolbox or are stored separately with something to protect the cutting teeth. The basic types are Crosscut with teeth to cut across the wood fibers (grain), and the Ripsaw with teeth to cut lengthwise along the fibers. There are many other types of Saws, but a smaller toolbox one and the two carpenter types for larger pieces of wood are enough for simple wood projects.
  • Files and Rasps are used to remove small amounts of material by abrasion. Files have teeth the width of the tool, while rasps have smaller individual teeth. They are usually made of hardened high-carbon steel so they can cut other metals. They are fairly inexpensive, so start with a packaged set of six or more different sizes, shapes, and tooth fineness. This should include at least the bastard, double cut, round, and triangular types. Needle Files are very small ones with small teeth for confined spaces or fine work.
 File sets should have some handles, and a holder or wrap to keep them from damaging each other and other tools. A stiff toothbrush, detail brush or "file card" (a brush with fine metal wires) can be used to remove accumulated particles from the teeth.
  • Sandpaper - is used to smooth surfaces, round sharp corners and similar finishing tasks. An assortment pack with different grain sizes is enough to get started. Grain is measured as particles per inch where fine grains have higher numbers, or direct size in microns. Sandpaper wears out and becomes clogged with particles, but is inexpensive to replace. A stiff brush can clean out excess particles. There are various types intended to be used wet or dry, with different types of grain and backing materials.
 The paper or other backing is flexible and can be cut from the back or folded and torn to whatever size is needed. Cutting from the grain side will damage blades. Sandpaper can be wrapped or taped to scrap wood or any other object to conform to the surface being sanded. Sanding Blocks are also made for this purpose. Fingernail files and hobby sanding sticks are useful for small spaces.

Tool Care and Maintenance

 Tools and work areas need some care, maintenance, repair, and cleaning. Care can be divided into avoidable problems and unavoidable wear. Water and high humidity causes steel and other metals to rust or corrode and wood to decay. Dry storage and work areas, and quickly removing water after use helps avoid these problems. A wiped on coating of oil, or storing in oiled paper or cloth, can help keep water away from metal. Wood finishes or chemically treated lumber can prevent rot. Paints and other durable coatings, and waterproof containers can protect both wood and metal items.

Sharpening - Using tools will eventually wear down sharp edges and moving parts. Casual use of a wood or metal saw may take years to wear down the cutting teeth, but if used regularly they require Sharpening or replacement. Hacksaw and razor blades are inexpensive and replaceable. More expensive cutting tools can be sharpened with files, sandpaper fastened to a flat surface like glass, Sharpening Stones, and Stropping with abrasive compounds. These are used in series with progressively finer teeth and grains until the necessary sharpness is reached. This varies by tool and its use. Start with a fine tooth file from those listed above and a two-sided sharpening stone with coarse/fine grain.

Repair - Other tool parts may need replacement if they become too worn or break. The assembly tools listed above are used to take tools apart, replace the part, and put them back together. Any kind of flat tray or small container can be used to hold loose parts while disassembled, so they don't get lost or forgotten. If there are many parts, a multi-compartment item like an egg carton, ice tray, or muffin pan can organize them in the order they were disassembled so it can be reversed during re-assembly. Magnetic Trays will both stick to any convenient metal surface and hold metal parts securely.

General Maintenance and Cleaning - These items don't need to be carried in a tool box, but brought out as needed. Many people already have some of these items, so add the rest as needed, or extra amounts for project work:

  • Lubricants and Tapes - A saying is "WD-40 for anything that moves but doesn't and Duct Tape for anything that moves but shouldn't". Lubricants and tape have many uses, so some of each should be available. One can of penetrating spray lubricant, and a roll each of strong cloth (duct) and regular masking tapes to start. Other kinds of Lubricants and Tapes can be added as needed.
 Tools and machines with moving parts often need oiling at specific points and not others. Some oil containers come with a small nozzle, but a small brush or cotton swab can be used for hard to reach spots. Dedicated Oil Cans (oilers) that work by gravity or pressure are available for frequent or large-scale use.
  • Brushes and Vacuums - Old toothbrushes and wire brushes can be used to clean up blade teeth, fastener threads and other small spaces. Soft hand brushes. a broom, dust pan, and trash cans are for collecting sawdust, metal shavings, etc. Hand and Shop Vacuums can clean up inaccessible or large areas. Some models are reversible and can blow air rather than suction when needed. Cotton swabs and small craft brushes can be used to clean or apply finishes to small areas.
  • Cleaning Supplies - Old clothes or towels can be cut up, or cleaning rags purchased, for removing dirt, oil, grease, etc. Paper towels can be used but they wear out quickly. General household brushes, sponges, buckets and mops, water and household cleaners are used as needed to clean work areas. Cut-open plastic shopping or trash bags, and newspaper/advertising fliers can be used to protect surfaces, and table and floor coverings are available for larger areas.

List 2 - Home Improvement/Do-It-Yourself Use edit

 Adding the general-purpose items from this list to those from List 1 enables a range of more substantial home improvement and do-it-yourself projects. The combined items from both lists also serves as a foundation for more advanced and specialized projects. Additional items for such projects are in lists 3 to 22 below. As we said in Section 2.0, you don't need everything from any of these lists to start on projects. But the more items you have, the wider the range of projects you can do. The items in this list are grouped under headings, but you can start adding them in whatever order is needed for specific projects.

 A wide range of materials, parts, and supplies are also needed for more advanced projects. There are too many kinds to include them all in these lists. We suggest starting with some packaged nail, screw, and bolt/nut/washer assortment sets with different size fasteners. This helps avoid making shopping trips for minor home projects. Other items can be accumulated as needed for current and future projects. All these items plus tools and equipment will need storage space when not being used, and a place to work when they are. This is covered in Section 4.0 below.

 There are very many reference sources on Home Improvement and Do-It-Yourself projects. As a starting point, the Internet Archive's collection has over a thousand that can be borrowed for two weeks or downloaded, at no cost.

Office & Media Equipment

 If you are working from existing printed plans and instructions, you may not need much of these. But they can be used before and during a project to plan, design, research, and shop. They should be located away from active work areas or protected to avoid damage from tools, dirt, and dust.

Figure 5.5-7 - Drawing board with T-square and other tools.

 Hand drawing has been substantially replaced by computers and software, especially for professionals, but drawing is much lower cost to get started. Even with computers, it is still useful for sketching ideas, or making notes and alterations to existing plans. Printed plans, however created, are still useful in the workshop, as they can be larger than screens, and if full size can be used directly as templates.

  • Drawing Board - This is a surface to make drawings and plans of custom projects, customizing existing ones, or scaling templates to full size. An existing table or counter with a smooth top can be used to start, but any piece of smooth-surfaced rigid material can be used instead to avoid pen and tape marks. Portable boards (Figure 5.5-7) can be moved where needed and put away between uses. Narrow Drafting Tape or dots are used to hold drawing sheets in place, but can be removed without tearing or residue. Translucent Drafting Film (vellum) can be laid over other drawings and illustrations as guides. Graph Paper has a pre-printed grid, making scaled sketches easier.
  • Drawing Tools are used to draw accurate lines and curves. A basic set includes a T-square, 45 and 60 degree triangles; engineer's scale, protractor, bow compass, one mechanical pencil 0.9-2mm lead diameter and spare leads, and an eraser. Added tools include mechanical pencils with other lead diameters, metric and architects scales, lettering, circle, and irregular curve templates, eraser shield, dusting brush; and dividers. A Drafting Machine allows lines at any accurate angle.
  • Personal Computer and Peripherals - A computer system includes core hardware, a variable set of added peripherals, software, and optional data files. They can be used for multiple tasks like project research, communication, inventory, purchasing, project management, and design.
 A Computer Printer with scanning ability can be used to print out online or e-book plans for use in the workshop, and scan and enlarge printed drawings. Large plans and templates can be sent to a commercial print shop to make copies. A Webcam can provide live video conversations. A Smartphone can also do this and photography. Dedicated Digital Cameras have better lenses and controls for photography and video. A Video Projector can be used to transfer designs to physical items or templates.
 Computers and smartphones (which include a small computer inside) need software to function. Most come with an Operating System which controls the physical hardware and connected peripherals. Typically an operating system comes with basic Application Software or "Apps" for specific tasks beyond running the hardware. Examples are making simple text documents and drawings, or viewing websites on the Internet. There is a vast array of Additional Software which can be installed, depending on what tasks and projects you want to do.

Work Surfaces and Clamps

  • Portable - While some work can be done on the floor, supports bring the work to a comfortable height, and for longer items keep them from sagging or tilting while being worked on. Two Sawhorses, with optional boards and/or sheet goods laid on top are simple and flexible, and are a starting point if you have nothing else. They can be bought, but basic ones are easy to make and cheaper. Folding Portable Workbenches can have built-in vises, stops, and tool-holders. If they are very light they can move while working. Some have steps to use body weight to stabilize them. They can also be weighted with anything heavy to keep them steady.
Figure 5.5-8 - Assorted clamps: pipe, bar, trigger, handscrew, spring, C-clamp, and cam types.
  • Clamps - Clamps in general are used to hold one or more items together or to the work surface to keep them from moving. They can be much stronger than muscles and leave the hands free for working. A single clamp can allow items to rotate, so at least two medium-size ones are needed to start with. Additional clamps of various types and sizes are desirable (Figure 5.5-8). There are specialized clamps that use Straps or for Holding Corners that can be added later as needed, and temporary ones can be made from rope and sticks, with wedges driven under the rope to apply pressure.
  • Workbenches - These are either stationary, or if wheeled generally stay within a workshop area. Their weight and rigidity keeps items from moving or vibrating from tool forces. They typically have built-in Vises and clamps, or are designed so temporary ones can fix the work to the bench. Vises generally have larger faces to apply pressure and are stationary, while clamps are typically movable. The intermediate clamp vise can be temporarily clamped where needed. The Bench (Figure 5.5-18) and Woodworking Vices are the most common types. The latter have wood vise faces to avoid damage to items.
 There are a number of specialized tools and accessories to hold items to workbenches. Some have Bench Dogs or Pegs or Holdfasts that can be inserted into holes to position or secure items. Shaped inserts can better hold round or other items that don't match the jaw shape. For some projects, custom holding jigs need to be self-made. For any kind of vise or clamp, softer materials like wood, leather, or rubber can be inserted between the jaws to prevent damage to the work.
 Many workbenches have storage shelves, hooks, or drawers below the bench top. Wall-mounted benches often have additional shelves or cabinets above the bench for storage. Free-standing benches (not against a wall) allow access from all sides and working on overhanging items. If large items will be worked on, temporary supports or other shop tables can be used to support the excess. Depending on use, bench top height can be for working standing up or sitting, or a taller chair or stool used to sit at a standing bench. Some benches have built-in electrical outlets for power tools. Otherwise corded tools or battery chargers can be plugged in elsewhere.

Reach and Positioning

 Some projects involve reaching/working beyond arm reach, either above standing height, below a floor, or long horizontal distances. Using arms overhead for extended times is also tiring. Two basic approaches to this are tool extensions to increase reach, or ones to position the body closer to the work.

  • Extension Handles and Poles - Some tools are designed to accept screw, pin, or bolted extensions to their handles, and some handles can change length by Telescoping. Other tools have a grabbing claw or hook built into the end. Improvised extensions can be made by inserting a tool handle into light hollow pipe or tubing and securing by screws. Another method is side-to-side securing of handle to any pole using devices like tape, Hose Clamps, U-Bolts, wrapped wire, or Cable Tie. This is generally less secure.
  • Stepladders have steps or rungs to climb and stand on. They come in a wide variety of sizes, and are either free-standing or leaned against something. A two-step version may be enough to reach ceiling lights and high shelves indoors, but a 2 meter (6 foot) one with four legs is more stable and provides places to set or hang tools and materials while working. Some versions have a small fold-out shelf for this purpose. This size is sufficient to start with. For outdoor use extension or folding ladders can be adjusted to the task at hand. If you expect to reach a roof or tree limb, the length can be chosen based on that height.
 Modern ladders are rated for weight. Select one rated for at least your body weight plus the heaviest item you expect to lift up it. A falling ladder or falling off one can cause serious injury. Move the ladder rather than leaning or lifting heavy items beyond the legs. If the ground is not level or firm use boards or blocks to fix that. Secure the ladder if needed to what you are climbing up, or braced to the ground with diagonal poles or staked ropes. Secure yourself to the ladder or what you are climbing with hooks and ropes/straps/safety belt to prevent falls.
  • Work Platforms provide more horizontal surface to stand on or place things than ladders. They are useful when horizontal movement is needed while working. One or two sturdy boards placed across two ladders, or one ladder and building steps are simple versions. Since loose boards can shift, they should be clamped or have angles or blocks attached to prevent sliding off.

Moving and Lifting

 Moving heavy objects or large amounts of supplies happens often on larger projects. Moving or lifting items over 20 kg (40 lb) or carrying multiple smaller or lighter items is difficult by hand, and benefits from various transport and lift devices. Some bags and boxes saved from previous shopping or discarded by stores may be enough to start with. Horizontal movement benefits greatly from wheels. Depending on the task, a Hand Truck, Flatbed Trolley (moving dolly) or Wheelbarrow can be used. Tubs, Buckets and assorted small containers are useful for storing and moving items like fasteners, bulk materials, liquids, and groups of tools. Workshop machines and carts can come with wheels or have them added. This allows moving them out of the way when not being used, or to where needed while working.

 For moving large amounts of material or larger single items, motorized vehicles of many types and sizes exist. The most common are passenger cars, pickup trucks, and enclosed vans. Trailers can be attached to many of these vehicles. Flat or open bed loads can be protected and secured by tarps, nets, elastic or chain hooks, and ratcheted straps. Blocks, wedges, and bars can prevent loads from shifting. Securing loads is important for balancing trailers whose deck extends beyond the wheel base. Shipping containers can carry large amounts of goods and serve as temporary storage or even a small workshop.

Pulleys are used for lifting, dragging, or changing the direction of a force. A single rope and body weight is enough for smaller loads. Sets of pulleys can be combined for added leverage. Inclined boards set on a step or block and fabricated ramps can help withe height changes. The ledge at the bottom of a hand truck and many other objects can be used as Levers to lift objects enough to place supports under them or get them onto wheels. Back Supports may help avoid injury when lifting heavy items with body strength, but proper technique is more important.

Winches multiply leverage with cranks and gears. There are both hand and powered versions. Temporary hoists can use 1-3 poles with anchor ropes as needed. They can support pulleys, hooks and other lifting gear high enough for a given task. These are the Gin Pole, Shear Legs, and Tripod. Commercial lifts and cranes can be rented for occasional use, or are supplied while delivering large loads.

Jacks - are devices to lift heavy weights or apply bending forces, generally more than simple levers. There are may types using ratchets, screws, air pressure, or hydraulics. The type included with most passenger cars for changing tires is enough to start, but a bottle jack of 10-20 tons capacity is a useful addition. Always make sure the jack is firmly supported. On bare ground it is likely to push itself into the ground rather than lifting a heavy object. Boards, timbers, or concrete blocks can spread the load. Also place timbers or other supports as the item is lifted, in case the jack slips or the load shifts sideways.

Measuring and Marking

  • Size Measures - The ruler-type Caliper has a sliding jaw attached to a ruler, with a vernier scale for accuracy. The inside and outside spring types can take and transfer measurements. These three 6-12" (15-30cm) in size to start with. Dial and digital calipers can make more accurate measurements, but not as accurate as a micrometer.
  • Weight and Volume Measures - For measuring bulk items and liquids. These can be conventional kitchen and bathroom scales, measuring spoons and measuring cups. Empty clear/translucent containers can be filled with measured volumes of water and marked for shop use. This is useful for materials that will stain or are toxic that you don't want to contaminate your measuring set.
Note: Some of the angle, curve, and spline tools that follow overlap the drawing tools in the office section above. If you already have those, you may not need more to start with. Larger versions are useful for measuring and marking larger physical projects as opposed to scale drawings. The need for them depends on what projects you are doing.
  • Angle Measures - There are various devices for setting right angles (90 degrees or perpendicular). The Try Square is 20-50 cm (8-20 inches) is for smaller accurate work. The Steel Square is a larger one-piece device with engraved scales. Angled and sloped cuts are either described by the two scales, like "6:12", or calculated from the angle tangent. For cutting sheet goods there are squares the full width of a standard sheet. Sheet goods are generally manufactured with right angles, so an alternate method is measuring the lengths on opposite sides from the corners, and connecting them with a straight edge.
 The Speed Square is a triangular Set Square with a built in fence. This can be pressed against a board edge to mark a cut, or clamped to it to guide a circular saw. A Protractor has an angle scale, and the bevel type has a pivoting arm to mark angles. A Sliding T Bevel can set and transfer angles when you want them to match. One try or steel square is enough to get started, depending on the size of the projects.
  • Curve Marking - A Compass has two sharp points, or one point and pencil/pen for marking arcs and circles. The distance between the points is set against a ruler to the radius desired. The regular and beam/trammel types will mark small and large radii and are enough to start with. Very large curves can be set by hooking the end of a tape measure to a small nail at the center point, and securing the sharp point, pencil, or pen to the tape with a small Binder Clip
  • Reduction Compass - consists of two double-pointed arms on a fixed or sliding pivot. The ratio of point distances is maintained allowing scaling up or down, such as from a drawing to a full-size item.
  • Flat Splines and French Curves can be used for non-circular curves. Lines on curved surfaces like cylinders can be set by marking two or more measured points, then wrapping folded paper or other bendable but not stretchy material between them to mark a line.
Figure 5.5-9 - Carpenter's Level.
  • Carpenter's Level - 60-120 cm (2-4 foot) (Figure 5.5-9). A longer version of the torpedo level from list 1. This can span more distance and be more accurate, but is harder to use in small spaces. For longer distances a level can be set on or against a straight piece of finished lumber with parallel sides or any similar object. Once a horizontal or vertical line is determined, slopes can be set by measuring perpendicular to one end.

Additional Hand Tools

  • Screw- and Nut Drivers - The basic screwdriver set can be extended to cover most projects with about 30 pieces from a large standard plus precision screwdriver sets. Magnetic tips are useful for any driver. Nut Drivers have axial shafts like screwdrivers, but with tips that fit different size nuts and bolt heads. Their use overlaps socket wrenches with extension bars but can be used in smaller spaces.
  • Hand Saws - Compass and Keyhole Saws have narrow blades for making curved cuts. They differ in size and tooth fineness. Interior cuts can be extended from a small starter hole made with a drill or chisel. A Coping Saw has a very narrow blade with small teeth, and a frame to keep it straight under tension. The small teeth are good for thin material. The Bow or Frame Saw is a larger version. Interior cuts can be made by unhooking the blade, putting it through a starter hole, and re-attaching it. The blade can be rotated as needed for the cutting direction. A Bench Hook is a simple accessory, usually self-made, to keep an item steady and slightly raised while cutting, so you don't damage a work table. Hook a pair of them over the edge of the table and press what you are cutting against the upper blocks.
 Hand Backsaws have a reinforcing strip to keep the blade straight and can be used with a Miter Box to guide it. They are used for cutting to length and accurate crosscut angles. They come in various sizes and tooth fineness from the larger miter saw, to tenon, dovetail, and razor types. Ones with offset handles are used to cut pegs and other protrusions flush. Hand saws require periodic sharpening with use. Specialty clamps, file jigs (to even tooth height), and Saw Sets (to set kerf width) are available, but can be made/use other tools. The actual sharpening uses files and sharpening stones.
  • Hammers - Add other sizes of hammers with metal heads as needed, either smaller and lighter for fine work, or heavier up to the two-handed Sledgehammer. One or more hardwood mallets or Dead Blow Hammer for when you don't want to damage what you are striking, with less rebound than the rubber mallet. These often have soft striking faces with sand or metal shot filling the head, which absorbs the rebound forces. The light Tack Hammer has one magnetized head to start small tacks and nails, such as for upholstery. The un-magnetized head then finishes driving them in. Pliers can be used to keep fingers out of the way when hammering small fasteners and other tools.
  • Hooks and Picks - These are small tools similar to dental Probes and Explorers, mainly used for reach in small spaces and holes. Start with a basic set with several shapes.
  • Hand Rollers - apply pressure, smooth, or spread material across surfaces. There are various types for multiple uses like flattening roofing, carpet, and wallpaper, or spreading adhesives. Start with a small rubber roller about 4 in (10 cm).
  • Holding and Grabbing Tools - These use inside or outside grips, claws, or magnets, to hold or retrieve parts in difficult locations, or where they may fall and become inaccessible. Often used when threaded parts are near the end of the thread to start or remove them.
  • Shop Magnets - The extension and sweep types are for retrieving dropped items and metal cuttings. A strong shop magnet can be used to locate nails and screws in a wall by feel, and so also find metal framing. A Stud Finder is a more advanced device for finding wall posts (studs).
  • Deburring Tools - For removing rough edges left by cutting tools. Files can also do this task, but a specialty tool set is sometimes more efficient on softer materials and longer edges.
  • Pry and Demolition Bars - These use leverage to remove nails, pry items apart, or start to lift heavy items. They can use hands or hammers to insert. They come in various sizes and shapes like the Cat's Paw, Crowbar, and flat pry bars. Claw hammers have a built-in prying tool, but additional ones are useful.
Figure 5.5-10 - Punch and matching die.
  • Chisels and Punches - Cold Chisels are used to indent or cut thinner metal, and score, chip, or split masonry. Punches are used to indent or pierce leather, wood, or metal. Hollow punches can make well-defined holes in thicker material. Matching Die Blocks support the other side so the surrounding area is not bent (Figure 5.5-10).
 A Center Punch is used to mark where a drill will cut and keep it from wandering. A Nailset is a punch with a small head, for driving a nail flush or slightly below without damaging the surrounding material. Drift Pins are either straight or tapered. They are used to either transfer hammer impacts to hard-to-reach places or align holes before assembly. Start with a punch and chisel set of assorted types and sizes plus one medium Wood Chisel for minor trimming and cutting of wood and other softer materials.
  • Wrenches - Add to the basic socket set a larger set with multiple handle sizes and a larger range of sockets. Sizes up to 1 1/2" SAE and 38mm metric will cover all but the largest projects. Using two handles with a nut and bolt allows more tightening force. The most common sockets have 6 sides, but 8 and 12-sided ones are available for specific bolts and nuts. A Torque Wrench allows a specific tightening force when this is important.
 Open or close-ended single piece Wrenches can apply higher forces that would damage a ratchet type handle. Their drawback is having to remove and reposition for each turn in tight spaces. A combination wrench has one open and one closed end. Using the ratchet handle first, then this type for final tightening minimizes the work.
Adjustable Wrenches have a wheel to change the jaw opening. Four sizes from 6-12" (15-30cm) should cover most needs Pipe Wrenches have serrated rather than flat jaws to better grip large nuts and heavy pipe. These come in a wide range of sizes. One medium size to start. Strap Wrenches use a strap or chain to grip rather than jaws. A Ball-End Hex Key can be used at an angle to the screw in hard to reach places. Sizes from 0.05-0.5" and 1.27-10mm in addition to the plain hex keys should cover most needs.
  • Pliers - As needed, add Pincers and Nippers, to grab or cut across the handle rather than along it. They are useful for pulling items like nails, or cutting protruding items flush. Add to a the single locking pliers a set with other sizes and jaw shapes. Add other sizes and lengths of other pliers from List 1 as needed.
 Specialty pliers include ones to install and remove Retaining Rings. The rings have different styles and sizes, so you may need a set, or one with replaceable tips. Needle-nose pliers can open small chain links from the inside, but Fixture Chain Pliers open rather than close when squeezed and can open larger links. For even larger chain, insert the head of a compound leverage tool like metal snips or bolt cutter and pull the handles apart.
  • Bolt Cutter - For cutting thicker rods or bars than pliers using compound leverage. For even thicker items use a metal hacksaw, angle grinder, or reciprocating saw.

Portable Power Tools

 There are many types and sizes of Power Tools. The portable ones are meant to be moved to the work and used with one or two hands, while stationary ones are larger and have the work brought to them. Most use electric power either from a battery or cord. Batteries allow moving anywhere without worrying about cord length and handling, but they eventually need recharging. Battery packs and chargers add to the cost. Corded tools generally allow higher power levels and longer running time. Which to use depends on the projects you are doing.

 Most power tools come in a range of quality and power level. The standard unit of power is the Watt, or kiloWatt (kW or 1000 Watts) for larger amounts. Watts are Amperes (A or Amps) times Voltage (V) at the power source, usually a wall outlet. Power tools are often labeled in Amps of maximum current draw. We assume 120 V source in our discussion, and 240 V for high power devices, but voltages vary by country. Some larger motors for stationary tools are rated in Horsepower of 746 Watts each.

Caution: Regardless of how power is described, take care to not go over 80% of the rated capacity of any electric circuit, either permanent wall sockets or extension cords. Motors that are starting up or stalled can draw more than their rated power, and overloaded wires can heat up, which is unsafe. Long cords have reduced capacity from resistance losses. Their limits are either supplied with the cord, or can be found from reference tables.

  • Extension Cords allow working farther from a power outlet. Cords should be rated for the highest power tool you expect to use, and for outdoor use if you expect to use them that way. If you are moving around or climbing up, tie an Overhand Knot with the ends of the tool and extension cords before plugging together. This prevents them from pulling apart. To use multiple tools and work lights without constant plug changes, you can use cords with multiple socket ends, separate multi-way adapters, or Power Strips.
  • Electric Drill - Start with one corded drill around 6 Amp (720 W) power and a set of standard wood drill Drill Bits up to the drill chuck capacity. If you expect to work with metal, there are bits made of stronger materials with a different cutting angle. A Drill Gauge can help identify the size of a bit if it is not clearly marked or worn off.
 The Hammer type drill can apply forward impacts to better go through hard materials. Many drills have side handles for better control, and a depth gauge to know when the hole is deep enough. Specialty Right Angle Drills have the chuck mounted sideways to the grip rather than axially, which allows drilling in smaller spaces. Hand Drills of various kinds still exist but are mostly obsolete. They are used where power is not available or to save weight and space in a toolbox.
  • Drill Accessories - There are many other accessories that can fit in a drill chuck. Driver Bits can be used in place of screwdrivers and socket wrenches. They are faster but with less control. A driver assortment set is enough to start. Wheels include sanding, wire, and buffing types. Specialty Drill Bits include countersink, counterbore/spade, expansion, and auger types for wood, and abrasive stones for metal.
 For large holes a stationary drill press (List 8) handles the higher torque better. Alternately use a smaller starter hole, then a hand or power jigsaw, or a Hole Saw to enlarge it. Mixing Paddles can be used for paint and grout, but for large or stiff mixes, dedicated mixers should be used with more torque. Various kinds of Hand-Powered Drills still exist, but are mostly used where power is not available, to start a hole, for small spaces, or countersinking.
  • Circular Saw - uses a high speed blade to make straight cuts. Start with a portable corded type, with a 7.25 inch (18.5 cm) wood cutting blade with carbide teeth. Blades with different tooth sizes and for other materials are available. Smaller and larger saws are available, as are cordless (battery powered) ones. The latter typically use smaller blades due to battery limits. Due to high cutting forces, whatever is being cut should be secured to prevent movement, and use a firm grip on the tool with both hands. For accurate cuts, a straight object is clamped to the work, offset by the blade distance from the base plate edge.
  • Reciprocating Saw - moves the blade forward and back rather than rotating. Longer blades allow cutting thicker items than a circular saw. Since only the blade is in the cutting area, they can work in tighter spaces than a circular saw. A variety of blades are available for different materials, and in different lengths and stiffness. Start with a pack of assorted blades. This tool is generally less accurate than a circular saw, but clamping something to the work to guide the tool can improve accuracy.
  • Jigsaw - This is a type of reciprocating saw where the blade goes vertically through a base plate. They are most useful making straight or curved cuts in boards or sheet goods. A wide assortment of blades are available, so start with a pack for different materials.
  • Angle Grinder and Rotary Tool - These use high speed wheels and bits for tasks like cutting, grinding, and sanding. They differ in the direction of rotation and size. Angle grinders rotate at a right angle to the tool body, and are generally larger and more powerful. Rotary tools, such as the Dremel brand, rotate in line with the body, similar to electric drills. Compared to electric drills they spin at much higher speeds but with lower torque at the same power. Start with one of either type depending on the size of the work.
  • Heat Gun - produces much higher temperatures than a hair dryer, and should never be used for that purpose. A hair dryer can be used for milder heating. Heat gun uses include paint stripping, shrink wrapping, softening plastic for bending, and general heating and melting. Higher temperatures require an oven or furnace, but heat guns are portable and can cover larger areas.

Stationary Equipment

 Stationary tools and machines are intended to be fastened in place when used, or are heavy enough to stay in place on their own. In general they can be manually operated or powered, but the ones here are all powered:

  • Power Miter Saw - These perform the same function as a hand backsaw and miter box but are much faster using a powered circular saw blade. Basic versions have a horizontal angle gauge and fence. More advanced ones have blade tilt and slide features, clamps for the material, and projected lines for the cut. A workbench, sawhorses, or rollers support longer and heavier lumber, keeping it straight and balanced while cutting. These saws generally have mounting holes to secure them to a board or table, and some come with portable or wheeled stands.
  • Bench Grinder - This mounts high speed abrasive, wire, or buffing wheels to sharpen, remove material, clean, and polish. Care should be taken that the wheels are balanced and secured without wobble. Grinders throw cuttings at high speed and can generate sparks, so gloves and face protection or a safety shield should be used. On metal the heat generated can affect the Temper and burn hands, so dipping in water periodically can cool the item.
Wet Grinders turn more slowly and apply water to the wheel to avoid overheating. They are typically used for blade sharpening. A Sharpening Jig holds the tool at the right angle to the abrasive. Start with a 6-8 inch (15-20 cm) bench grinder with abrasive wheels. Bench grinders can be fastened to a workbench, or to a stand if larger items need to be worked on.
  • Air Compressor - This is useful for inflating tires and other items, and also for air tools like nail guns and paint sprayers. Start with a small one light enough to move where needed plus an air hose and attachments kit.

Care and Maintenance

Building Maintenance - Homes and other structures require maintenance to stay functional. Many of the tools and equipment listed above can also be used for repair and replacement, but the following are mainly used to diagnose and fix problems:

  • Test Lights - are used to check if an electrical outlet or other device has a voltage (power). They are used for safety, to make sure power is off before doing work, and to see if a device is not working from lack of power, or has an internal problem.

Vehicle Maintenance - After their homes, the next most important items for many people are their vehicles. This includes passenger cars, light trucks, motorcycles, bi- and tricycles (manual and electric), utility trailers, golf carts, riding mowers, and all-terrain vehicles. Some of the tools above, such as socket wrenches, can also be used for vehicle maintenance. There are many vehicle-related specialty tools and supplies, but the following basic items are commonly used at home:

  • Fuel Containers - (see List 12)
  • Tire gauge
  • Accessory Tire Inflater - A small compressor, often using a 12 Volt car accessory socket. It is mainly intended for vehicle and trailer tires, but can also be used for wheelbarrow, mower, and other small tires.
  • Battery Charger
  • Engine Oil, Grease Gun and other lubricants
  • Engine Coolant
  • Vehicle Cleaning Supplies

General Maintenance - When damaged, stripped, or frozen fasteners need to be removed, there are several ways to deal with it. Dirt and rust can be removed with brushes and rags, or specialty rust remover fluids. Penetrating spray lubricants and strong wrenches may then be enough to remove them. Many kinds of Extractors are made for removing broken or frozen screws, nuts, and bolts. If the hole is too damaged to reuse, it can be re-threaded with taps and dies, an insert or filler material used to patch it, or a new hole drilled nearby.

4.0 - Upgrading and Specialization edit

 This section covers upgrades to storage and work spaces. It also introduces the more specialized expansion set lists in Sections 5.0-8.0. They build upon and add to the items from lists 1 and 2 above. Each list covers a category of projects, but some projects will need items from two or more of them. Some kinds of upgraded space can be used for many types of projects. Other projects need specialized areas better suited to their needs. We note such cases under their respective lists.

 Tools, larger machines, parts, materials, and supplies will accumulate as you move from basic to more advanced projects. So more room to store and use them is needed. Section 3.0 mentioned basic items like portable toolboxes and storage containers. Temporary outdoor space can use sawhorses and boards or mobile/folding workbenches. Moving vehicles out of a garage can provide temporary indoor space. Eventually more permanent workshop space becomes preferred over setting up and taking down temporary ones. It saves time and allows better working conditions and task flow.

Storage edit

Storage Areas - When starting out, tools and supplies can fit in small household or vehicle spaces using items like a portable toolbox, drawer, and plastic or cardboard storage boxes. Over time you can outgrow such small storage, it gets harder to keep things organized, and it takes longer to find items and put them back each time you want to work. So custom storage becomes useful. This can be in a garage, spare or utility room, outbuilding, or other space. Since floor space is usually limited, multi-level units like Storage Shelves and Cabinets are very useful.

 Tools, parts, materials, and other supplies can be quite heavy, so storage units should be strong enough for their loaded weight. Shelves and cabinets can be wall-mounted or freestanding, fixed or movable, and any size required. They can be integrated with machines and work surfaces if desired. Longer or larger items can rest directly on the floor, on support blocks and pallets, leaned against or hung from a wall, stored on racks, or use taller cans and boxes to keep them vertical. Tools and equipment with wheels can be stored out of the way, then pulled out as needed.

Storage Containers - help keep items organized and accessible, but out of the way when not being used. Some portable tool boxes have drawers, as do the larger wheeled or stationary tool chests and storage systems. Organizer boxes, empty jars and cans, or open bins can be used for bulk items like nails and screws. Cardboard boxes are often free from stores if you ask, and come in all sizes. Sturdy ones are preferred. Labels help finding the right items once many have accumulated. A pack of blank address labels and a bold marker can serve for this.

Workshops edit

Figure 5.5-11 - A professional woodworking shop with storage and workbenches.

 When you add dedicated working space to storage, it becomes a Workshop (Figure 5.5-11). Workshops can be specific to one type of activity, or more general supporting multiple types.

Types - Stationary workshops come in all sizes from a craft area in the corner of a room, to garage and basement space, to freestanding buildings that can be as large as needed. Mobile storage and workshop spaces are useful for working in different locations. This can be as simple as a toolbox in an unmodified vehicle, an enclosed trailer or modified truck for tools and materials, or as large and complex as multiple shipping containers holding equipment and inventory, and temporary structures to set up on arrival.

 Some homes may already have space for a workshop, or one in place. But other homes and many apartments don't have enough space or weight capacity for the kinds of projects you want to do, especially if you go beyond basic home improvement/do-it-yourself ones. You can try to find existing shared workshop space in the community, move to a home that has one, or lease/buy a place for a new private or shared workshop space.

Setup - The items in these starter and expansion sets enable making and building things. That includes building some or all of a workshop. Shelves, work tables, chairs, and cabinets within a workshop are collectively called Shop Furniture. They can be built similarly to household furniture. Simple workshops can be built with the basic items from Section 3. Larger and more complex workshops may need woodworking (List 8) and construction items (Section 8.0) to complete. When to build a new workshop depends on what you already have available, the need for added space, and outside factors like cost, financing, and permits.

 Setting up work and storage space, furnishing it, and getting all the tools and other items to work with can be a very big project. So typically it is divided into smaller stages. The completed part can then be used to help finish the rest. For example, once you build a workbench, you can then use it to help build the other shop furniture.

Workshop Buildings - are one or more suitable existing or purpose-built structures on a property. A given property may be residential, commercial, industrial, or bare land. Workshops can be additions to an existing building, or detached free-standing structures. On commercial or industrial property they may only take up part of a larger building.

 The building's size, location, and features depend on what kind of projects are intended. When planning them, you should consider future growth in addition to current needs. This can be handled by over-sizing a structure, planning for additions and extensions to it, or adding additional separate structures. There are a number of reasons for a separate residential workshop. They include (1) outgrowing existing home space, (2) excessive noise, dust, debris, and fumes, (3) extra power and light requirements, and (4) better access for vehicles and moving large items.

Planning - Workshops should be planned and designed for their final form. This minimizes later changes and rework. They don't have to, and seldom are, built and outfitted all at once. When planning them, the following items should be taken into account:

Size - How much workshop space is needed is determined by the size of the projects being made, and the shop furniture, assembly areas, tools, stationary machines, parts, materials and supplies being stored and used. Workshops can be used by one person or many, so there should be enough space to not interfere with each other. Enough additional space is needed to move around and for large items to overhang and move through machines. For some projects, outdoor space can be used temporarily to extend the working area.
Access and Load Capacity - Vehicle driveways, foot paths, ramps, and regular and large doors are needed for access. Access features, and the workshop floor, walls, and upper areas for hanging items, must all be able to support the total weight of everything moved or stored on them, which can be quite large. For heavy machinery and storage, thicker concrete slabs or deep footings may be needed. If there are upper floors, the heavier items should be on the lower floors. Stairs and lifting devices can ease moving items between floors.
Storage and Growth - Shops should not be overcrowded and items piled haphazardly. That is both unsafe and hard to use. Plan for enough space to properly store current tools, equipment, materials, parts, and supplies, and room for future growth.
Lighting and Power - Workshops need adequate lighting, either natural or artificial. Natural light includes windows and skylights. Artificial light includes fixed ceiling units, plus task and portable lights where needed. Enough electric power is needed for lighting, heating and cooling if not already provided, and for running all the power equipment being used. This may require upgrades to existing systems. Power is preferably routed through ceiling drops and wall channels for flexibility, and to avoid trip hazards from cords. Electrical conduit is used to protect exposed wiring from damage.
Water and Environment - Access to water, such as a utility sink or outdoor spigot is desirable. So is ventilation if fumes or dust are generated. Temperature and humidity should be controlled enough to prevent rust, wood rot, and be comfortable to work in. Access doors should be large enough to move materials and finished items through. Some storage and work areas can be outdoors, with partial protection from rain and wind. For example, vehicles and mobile equipment can be stored outdoors, but they will be better protected with at least a roof over them.
Layout - The contents of a workshop can be arranged into general areas used for multiple activities, and those specific to a particular task. The layout should consider your workflow. In general, work starts with delivery and storage of supplies, materials, and parts. Materials are then converted to finished parts, finishes applied, and assembled into completed items. Unless the completed items are to be used in the shop, the last step is delivery. A "U" shaped layout often works for medium size shops, with supplies and finished items both going through a single large door, and steps in-between progressing around the perimeter.
Safety - A first aid kit or station should be available if a workshop or vehicle is away from a home that already has one. Manual and low-power tools may not need them, but sprinklers and fire extinguishers should be considered for fire protection. Smoke detectors and Fire Blankets may also be useful. Fireproof or outside storage may be needed for flammable materials.
Office Area - a separated area to keep out dust and dirt from desk, electronics, drawing table, files for record-keeping, etc.

Expansion Sets edit

 Sections 5.0 to 8.0 include a series of expansion set lists for items beyond the basic ones in Section 3.0. The added equipment may fit in space you already have at first, and outgrow it later. The lists are grouped into four categories by type of working space: Small Indoor (5.0), Large Indoor (6.0), Outdoor (7.0), and Construction(8.0). Each list is specialized according to types of projects and materials. The expansion sets are not in a required order where earlier lists are needed before later ones. They are a set of mostly independent choices, depending on your interests and what you want to do. An exception is List 17 - General Construction, which has items used by multiple construction trades listed separately afterwards.

 Most specialized projects will need some or all of the basic items from Sectopm 3.0. We try to list items where they are most likely to be needed, but some items can be shared across different project types. So you may want to review the items in related lists. Within each list the general order is from hand to power and larger tools. We try to note accessories that go with a particular tool or machine, and special feature needed for work areas when needed. We also try to note reference sources, and materials, parts, and supplies needed for the project type. At present the later lists are less complete than the basic ones.

5.0 - Small Indoor Projects edit

 Small indoor projects can be for personal enjoyment, creative expression, or to make useful items for personal use or sale. These are crafts and projects that can begin in temporary space like a desk or dining table, or in dedicated space of less than a room in existing living areas. We include light arts and crafts, printing and digital media, fabrics and leather work, jewelry, and electronics. They can mostly start with ordinary room lighting and electric power, perhaps with extra lights in the work area. Serious hobby or small business production can grow beyond such workspace and have special needs. Section 4.0 covers new workshops for this.

 We don't cover every possible indoor activity and project, just some of the more common ones. Wikipedia's Outline of Crafts, Handicraft, and Fine Art articles list many of the other subjects. See also Smooth-On's website for additional categories, and the Blick website for types of tools and supplies. For ones not covered here you will need to find some reference books, printed articles, or websites that cover what is needed to get started.

List 3 - Light Arts & Crafts edit

 Light arts and crafts involve creative expressions that don't require much power, space, or stationary equipment to start. Lightweight examples are Drawing and art painting, where all the tools and supplies can be hand-carried to work on location rather than at home. Note that the Arts and Crafts Movement refers to a particular period and style in art history, but in this list we mean ones you do for yourself in the present day. The Internet Archive has over a thousand titles that can be borrowed or downloaded about both the historical and current arts.

Artistic Painting is distinguished from the general use of Paints for coloring or protection, as in room walls and automobile bodies. General paints can be used artistically, but usually artist's paints are specialized types in smaller amounts. Modern paintings are usually portable on a surface like framed canvas or wood panels. Fixed paintings are sometimes done on building interiors and exteriors. Historically some sculptures were painted to make them look more lifelike. Almost any surface that paint or ink will adhere to or be implanted in can be used.

Papier-mâché uses paper or pulp, fabric reinforcement if needed, and glue, starch, or wallpaper paste. Mixed Media are assemblages, collages, and sculpures using more than one type of material or Art Medium. In addition to some basic tools from prior lists, arts and craft tools can include:

Hand Tools

  • Craft Scissors
  • Craft or Hobby Knives - These typically have replaceable razor-type blades of various shapes, held in a handle. Sets are inexpensive. For heavier cuts use a utility knife (List 1).
  • Brushes - Art, foam, craft and general paint types.
  • Single Hole Punch
  • Crafting Needles - Including Crochet, Knitting, and Hand Sewing types,

Work Area Items

  • Work Table and Storage - These can be existing household items or dedicated for arts and craft work.
  • Art Furniture - Easel, drawing boards, portfolios, carrying cases, and folding tables and chairs for working in a studio or on location.
  • Surface Protection - Newspaper, old bedsheets, dropcloths, plastic tablecloths, or plastic sheeting.
  • Work Clothes - For messy arts and crafts such as an apron, smock, or old large shirt.
  • Storage containers and Organizers - for storing and mixing the variety of tools and materials. These can be purpose-made, or reused egg cartons, empty boxes, clean cans, jars, and small plastic containers.

Power Tools

  • Hot-Melt Glue Gun - uses sticks of glue and heat to melt them.
  • Small Oven - such as a kitchen toaster oven. For heating or melting small items.
  • Vinyl Cutter - a computer-controlled knife and roller machine to cut sheet vinyl and similar materials.
  • Airbrush - uses compressed air to spray paint and similar materials through a fine nozzle for artistic purposes. Spray painting (List 22) is a large-scale version, usually in one color.
Materials, Parts, and Supplies

  • Drawing - colored crayons, chalk, markers, pens, and pencils, drawing paper, pads and sketch books.
  • Artist's Paints - includes oil paints, pastels, watercolors, tempera, acrylics and enamels.
  • Art Printing - ink pad, sponge, brayer, rubber stamps, printing ink, wood blocks, linoleum.
  • Disposable containers - for weighing and mixing powders and liquids, and casting low-temperature resins.
  • Disposable stirrers - for paint, resin, etc. These can be bought, leftover plastic utensils, or scrap items.
  • Aluminum foil - to protect surfaces, and liners and containers for items needing oven heating.
  • Plastic - sheets, tubes and blocks from materials like acrylic and high-density polyethylene.
  • Casting Materials - Plaster of Paris, resins, etc.

 Mixed media can use any found items, but some basic supplies include:

  • Fasteners & Adhesives - White, decoupage, fabric and wood glues. Glue sticks, painter's tape, thumbtacks, and hardware fasteners like brads, or nails.
  • Textiles - Yarn, craft felt, fabric scraps, thread, embroidery floss, muslin, burlap, and wool felt.
  • Sculptural Materials: - Salt and bread doughs. Modeling, polymer, and air dry clays. Craft foam and foam rubber. Chenille stems (pipr cleaners), toothpicks, straws, and craft/popsicle sticks. Scrap, found, and shaped wood pieces. Floral and coiled metal wire of various diameters, and larger metal pieces.
  • String, Bead and Knotwork - Cord, string, artificial sinew, fishing line, and thread. Pony, wood, glass, plastic, and metallic beads.
  • Decorations - such as glitter, pom poms, feathers, cotton balls, googly eyes, and sequins.
  • Papers - Copy, colored construction, wax, colored tissue, bath and "bleeding" tissue, freezer, crepe, and newsprint (blank or printed). Paper napkins, towels, and bags. Contact (adhesive-backed) paper, clear or colored. Card stock, flat and corrugated cardboard. Roll white, brown, and tracing paper.
  • Reused Items - such as magazines, junk mail, netting from produce bags, bubble wrap, packaging peanuts.
  • Natural Materials - such as leaves, sticks, small rocks, acorns & nuts, pine cones, flowers, and seeds & seed pods.

List 4 - Printing and Media Production edit

 Writing and drawing by hand can be done with very simple tools and materials, but only produces one copy of a work. Artistic or Decorative Printing includes Linocut and Woodcut on fabric or paper. It can produce relatively small numbers of copies. Production Printing can produce and distribute many more copies of text and images for business, education, and entertainment. It has a long history of making physical physical products like books and newspapers. Printing in any quantity needs different specialized equipment for paper, fabric, photographs, and lithographs.

 Today Media of all types are increasingly produced, stored, and distributed by digital electronic methods. In addition to text and drawings, digital media includes capturing photographs, sound, and video. It also includes creating digital content wholly electronically.

 New creations and recordings can be made, combined, and edited with a variety of suitable computers and software. These include stationary and portable computers, tablets, and smartphone. Additional input and output devices are often used with them, and the completed items distributed by communication networks or physical media. Depending on the type of printing or digital media projects you want to do, you may need any of the following to get started:

  • Basic Working Space - including shop and office furniture, and general tools from lists 1 and 2 for setup.
  • Basic Content Creation - this includes technical drawing and basic computing equipment and software from List 2 for text and illustrations, and light arts and crafts items from List 3 for artistic creations.
 A basic computing device generally includes some storage, display, keyboard, mouse, and speaker components. These can be merged into a single device, such as laptops and smartphones, or separate components for desktop systems. They also generally have a network connection - wired, wireless, or both.

Computers and Peripherals

  • Upgraded Computer(s) - High-end media creation, editing, and display may need better computers than the basic office and media type from List 2. This is generally set by the needs of the software and peripherals you will be working with. For example, if you are doing digital photography, you need enough storage for all the pictures you are editing and saving. Rendering high-end 3D graphics may require a corresponding graphics card, or even a dedicated computer for the task. If more than one person is working, you will need multiple computers.
  • Upgraded Input Devices - This includes special keyboards, mouse, joysticks, and touch-sensitive tablets.
  • Upgraded Displays - Some work benefits from larger, multiple, or higher quality displays.
  • External or Networked Storage - These are additional storage devices for one computer, or networked storage for multiple devices in a local network. Offsite and storage services are located elsewhere. Both external and networked storage can be used for more storage space, or for backup copies if the original is damaged or lost.
  • Scanners and Printers - These range from basic office types to large format versions. Multifunction units can do both scanning and printing.

Photography and Media Production

  • Digital Camera - A dedicated digital camera can produce better results than smartphones or webcams. They have larger lenses and sensors, and more adjustments for focus, zoom, exposure time, etc. Higher-end cameras have interchangeable lenses for different purposes.
  • Camera Accessories - These include mono- and tripods for stationary work, stabilizer rigs for recording in motion, many kinds of lights, and microphones for audio recording.
  • Audio Production - In addition to a basic or upgraded computer this can include higher quality and quantity of speakers, microphones, multichannel audio output, amplifiers, and headsets. Digital Audio Workstation hardware and software is specialized for audio production. Discrete mixers and recorders can be used for live or remote audio capture.
  • Studio and Location Equipment - Depending on the kind of photography and media production, you may also need studio space, lighting systems, props, backdrops, green screens, makeup, costumes, motion capture, and other specialized items and equipment.

Printing Equipment

 These are for doing your own printing rather than sending to a commercial printer:

  • Paper and Photo Prints - An office type printer can do standard paper sizes, and some can do higher quality prints on coated papers. More advanced printers can do larger pages or roll-fed sheets. The ink is deposited on top of the paper. Photographic prints are produced by exposing light-sensitive paper where the dyes are embedded.
  • Screen Printing - is on fabric with separate inks of different colors applied in series. A typical setup is a 4-color press, with accessories and supplies.
  • Lithography - originally meant printing on a stone surface, but now includes other types of prepared surfaces. It differs from artistic printing in having recessed surfaces to hold the ink, rather than raised ones to transfer ink or paints.
  • Letterpress Printing - was the standard method of printing from the mid-15th ti the mid-20th centuries. Pages are composed of pieces of type and artwork secured in a frame. They are inked, paper positioned, then pressure applied to transfer the ink. This is now mostly a craft and specialty method, as commercial printing uses other methods and paper in general is replaced by electronic displays.

List 5 - Fabric and Leather Work edit

Textiles are fibers commonly used to make Woven Fabrics. Sewing and related processes then turn fabric into creative and useful items such as clothing, drapery, and bedding. Leather is animal skin treated to prevent decay. Leather Crafting or leather work is the craft of making items using leather. In some cases it can be sewn and used like fabric. But the thickness, stiffness, and strength of leather often requires different tools, and it gets used for different kinds of items.

Patterns are full-size drawings fastened or traced onto the material as a cutting guide. They are often purchased, but custom patterns made to fit a particular body or project, or scaled-up patterns from books and other sources can be self-made. You can use wide paper rolls or inexpensive cloth to make patterns. The latter can be test-fit on the wearer before cutting more expensive material, or used multiple times since cloth is more durable than paper patterns.

 Custom patterns for complex shapes like feet can be made by wrapping plastic wrap or bags around them, then wrapping flexible tape around the plastic. Seam lines are then marked on the tape, and the pieces carefully cut off the body and flattened. Patterns made this way need to have seam margins added to them.

 There are many reference works on available on needle and textile crafts. For example Amazone lists over 60,000 results under Books > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Crafts & Hobbies > Needlecraftss & Textile Crafts. The Internet Archive and many websites also have free information. You can start on projects with either a sewing kit (below), or the getting the items listed in the kit separately.

Hand Tools

  • Sewing Kit - While all the items can be bought separately, it is convenient to get all of them at once to start, and kits are typically not very expensive. It can include any or all of the following: storage for all the items, spools of thread in various colors and thickness, scissors, spare buttons, spring clips and dressmaker's pins for holding fabric together, hand sewing needles of various sizes, machine bobbins, safety pins, crochet hook, magnifier, tip and ring thimbles, a pin cushion, and a measuring tape.
  • Cloth Measuring Tape - A flexible cloth or plastic ruler without a case. This was included in List 1, but if you don't have it yet, get one at least 60 inches (150cm) long for measuring body dimensions, and another up to 144 inches (360cm or 4 yards) for measuring uncut fabric and large sewn items like drapery.
  • Tailor's Chalk or Soapstone - For temporary marking on fabric.
  • Dressmaker's Shears - These are very sharp scissors with an offset handle that leaves the fabric flat while cutting. They should not be used for other purposes.
  • Thread Snips - Small pointed, and usually spring loaded, scissors for cutting thread and trimming fabric. The small size allows reaching into tight spaces after sewing.
  • Seam Ripper - A tool with a razor-edged hook for cutting sewn stitches without tearing the fabric.
  • Rotary Cutter Set and Mat - This uses a razor edged wheel rather than scissors action to cut material. A set includes replacement wheels with different shaped edges. A soft mat protects the table surface while allowing the blade to penetrate through.
  • Tailor's Ham - A tightly stuffed pillow for pinning and ironing curved areas of fabric.

Stationary Equipment

  • Sewing Table - This can be any kind of table to start with, to support a sewing machine or fabric being hand cut and sewn. Custom tables inset a sewing machine bed level with the rest of the surface. This makes sliding the material easier. For larger and heavier material, a machine set perpendicular to a longer table eases movement. Custom tables can also have storage for accessories and tools or fold up to save space when not in use.
  • Sewing Machine - with accessories. A light domestic electric machine with at least straight and zig-zag stitches is enough for basic household sewing, like clothing and drapery. Modern ones can have many other stitches and accessories, and electronic features for semi-automatic tasks. A "foot" is what holds the fabric down while the needle passes through it. A basic one comes with the machine, but specialized ones either come with it or can be bought afterwards.
 A heavy-duty machine has a stronger frame and motor to sew thicker materials. Industrial machines are faster for production work and have more clearance between needle and frame, but typically fewer stitch types. Domestic machines typically feed one or two threads from a spool above, and another from a bobbin beneath, so a set of bobbins of the correct type are needed if they did not come with the machine. Sewing machines also use specialized needles of different diameters, which should be added if not included. The following specialized machines are not needed to start with, but added as needed:
  • Overlock Machines - (Sergers) are used for edging, hemming, and seaming using multiple threads at once, needing fewer steps to finish a task.
  • Embroidery Machines - add stitched threads to underlying fabric for decoration rather than construction and edging of basic sewing. Patterns can be formed by hand or with electronic control, beyond the mechanically formed fancy stitches.
  • Washing and Drying Machines - Some fabrics need pre-washing to remove residual dyes, avoid later shrinkage, or removing sizing applied to the fabric. Some dyeing can also be done in a washing machine. Most people already have such machines or access to commercial ones.
  • Ironing Station - This includes a heat-resistant surface, usually cloth covered, and a heated Clothes Iron to remove wrinkles and flatten fabric or finished items. Pressing cloths are used between the iron and item to protect from excess heat.
  • Leather Tools and Machines - Sewing leather requires heavy duty or specialized tools and machines. Other processes like dying, painting, carving, stamping, and molding, use a different set of mostly hand tools. The production of leather from skins and hides uses yet another set of tools and processes.

Materials, Parts, and Supplies

  • Fabric - cotton, synthetic, upholstery
  • Leather
  • Thread
  • Notions - refers to small items and accessories besides fabric, leather, and thread, which end up in finished articles. Examples include buttons, clasps, zippers, hooks, eyelets, and laces.

List 6 - Jewelry Work edit

Jewelry is decorative wear, often made from high value materials. Creating it often involves small-scale Metalworking and Lapidary, but can use a variety of other techniques. At a beginner level items would mostly be assembled from parts. More advanced projects involve making the parts before assembly.

 Jewelers use basic items from Section 3.0 like measuring tools, some kind of workbench with a vise, small clamps and clips, needle files, and abrasive/polishing supplies. To those, add the following as needed:

Hand Tools

  • Ring Sizers - A set of measured rings for fingers and a marked tapered rod for the rings themselves.
  • Magnifiers - Since jewelry work is typically small, these are very helpful. One useful type is an articulated lamp with a built-in lens.
  • Helping Hand - A base with jointed arms and clips or end clamps, and often a magnifier. It allows positioning an item at any angle, leaving both hands free to work with.
  • Bench Pin - A protruding hardwood pin with at least a narrow "V" slot, and optional other holes and indents, that is clamped to a workbench. It supports items while sawing or otherwise being worked on. Pins can be bought, but as sawing often damages them, they can be easily made to suit and replaced as needed using basic tools.
  • Piercing or Jeweler's Saw - A small coping saw 2-8 inches (50-200mm) in size with adjustable frame length. It uses very fine blades that often break, so shorter lengths can reuse broken pieces. A pack of blades of various fineness should be added if not supplied with the saw.
  • Jeweler's Anvil - A small anvil with round and flat horns.
  • Small-Jaw Pliers - If you don't already have them, a set with very small jaws for fine work, in assorted shapes.
  • Small Forming Hammers - A set of polished hammers around 5 ounces (150 grams) with various head shapes. For very fine work add a set of "micro" hammers around 2 ounces (60 grams)
  • Soft Hammer - A light hammer with rubber and plastic heads, which is less likely to leave marks on the work.
  • Planishing Stakes and Swage Blocks - for hammering outside and inside compound curves. These are the same tools as used in blacksmithing (List 10), just smaller and working cold rather than hot metal. The process is also known as Sinking, doming, dishing, or dapping.
  • Mandrels - Metal rods held by a vise or base block. Tapered ones are used for sizing and shaping items like rings and bracelets. Straight ones are used to support hollow or curved pieces being worked on. A set of various diameters and shapes (round, oval, triangular, square, etc.) can be accumulated as needed. Plain steel bars and rods can be used to start with.
  • Wire Drawing Plate - has a series of sized holes for reducing soft wire diameter by pulling it through with lubrication. Depending on wire diameter it may require mechanical leverage to get enough pulling force.
  • Hand Engravers - cut grooves into a hard surface for decoration or lettering. A pantograph allows reducing larger patterns for smaller jewelry.
  • Small metal shear
  • Body Forms - These are in the shape of complex parts of the body like head, neck and shoulders, hands, and feet. They are used to lay out and hang jewelry while being designed and fitted.

Power Tools

  • Rotary Tool - with accessory bits, if you don't already have one. A stand to hold the tool steady is useful for fine work. A flexible shaft is also useful to reach small spaces and is lighter than holding the motor section. Appropriate bits are available for small drilling, sanding, sharpening, and engraving.
  • Small Soldering and Spot Welding Equipment - also useful for electronics.
  • Buffing station
  • Small Oven and Annealing Pans
  • Engraving Machine - Uses computer axis drives for a hard rotating or dragged point, often diamond.

List 7 - Electronics edit

Electronics involves more complex active devices than simple passive ones like on/off switches. It typically uses lower power levels than Electrical Work (List 21) that is done during construction and remodeling, though some electrical work may be needed for electronics projects. In addition to basic tools from Section 3.0, add the following, or a second set for electronics work:

Hand Tools

  • Precision Screwdrivers
  • Wire Stripper - is designed to cut the insulation from various gauge (diameter) wires without cutting the wire itself. They usually have built-in cutters to then trim the wire itself to length.
  • Pliers - Smaller Diagonal and long nose
  • Precision Tweezers
  • Magnifiers - Electronic components are often small, so an Eye Loupe (a head-mounted magnifier) or an articulated lens with built-in light is useful.

Portable Power Tools

  • Soldering Iron - with assorted tips and sponges.
  • Digital Multimeter - Although a used analog multimeter can be a cheap starting point, they are now mostly obsolete. Both can measure different electrical properties with probes and a dial or button selector. There are a wide variety of types, but they should be able to at least measure DC and AC voltage, current, and resistance.

Stationary Equipment

 Electronics projects benefit from a dedicated Work station. This typically includes a Work Table with a heat-resistant surface, Fume Fan, Universal Vise with standard and circuit board jaws, Third Hand, Test Leads, and a magnifier light. Additional items can include:

  • Digital Microscope - Modern electronics uses small parts. Instead of an eyepiece, this uses a digital camera sensor to send an image to a monitor or computer.
  • Bench Power Supply - Converts local electric power, such as from a wall outlet, to the typically lower voltage and current level needed for electronics. Consumer devices generally include such a supply, but unfinished projects may need a variable output version. Get one that covers the range of voltage and current you expect to use in projects.
  • Oscilloscope - Older analog versions have a vacuum tube display. More modern digital versions have a flat panel, memory storage, computer connectors, and more complex signal and logic analysis. More advanced versions include the Signal Analyzer and Function Generator features rather than using the separate equipment below. What type to get depends on the kinds of projects you are doing, but you can start with a low-cost used one of any type.
  • Signal Analyzer - Used to measure complex information-carrying signals.
  • Function Generator - used to produce various input electric Waveforms to test electronics.
  • Rework Station - uses any combination of hot air, suction, and controlled hot iron to desolder and repair electronics. May be combined with basic soldering iron.
  • Reflow Oven - Where a soldering iron heats a single point to melt solder, the oven heats an entire circuit board at once at controlled temperatures.
  • Flash Memory - programmer and debugger
  • Computer - for communications to and from the electronic device, recording, analysis, and design.

Parts, Materials, and Supplies

 Electronics is notable for the wide variety of parts available and used. To start with some basic items like wire and resistor assortments can be stocked, but the rest should probably be bought as needed for projects.

  • Discrete Components - Assorted Resistors, Capacitors, Choke Coils, Diodes, Transistors, Motor Drivers, Voltage Regulators, Amplifiers, Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs), Photodetectors
  • Other Components - LCD Displays, Speakers, Microphones, Temperature Sensor, Hall Effect, Accelerometers, Microcontrollers, Frequency Crystals, Radios, Magnets, Buttons & Switches, Headers, Assorted Jacks & Plugs, Ribbon Connectors, Screw Terminals, Battery Holders, USB cables and connectors, Ethernet cables and connectors, Transducers, Small DC Motors and Digital Servos.
  • Power Supplies and Transformers - These end up in finished projects rather than the stationary bench equipment listed above.
  • Wire - General Electrical: single, pair, and grounded types, solder wire, magnet wire, shape memory
  • Circuit Boards - Pre-made commercial or kit boards. For making custom ones you need Blank Boards, Ferric Chloride, layout software or an existing layout, access to a laser printer or copier, and some basic supplies and tools.
  • Other Supplies - Antistatic Bags, Heat Shrink Tubing, Desoldering Braid, Cable Ties, Rubber sheet/feet

6.0 - Large Indoor Projects edit

 This section covers a selection of common project types that typically need larger or more dedicated indoor space. They often need extra power or other special workshop features, and result in more practical and useful finished items. We include woodworking (List 8), basic metal fabrication (List 9), hot work (List 10), and machine shop work (List 11). These lists assume you have most or all of the equipment from the basic sets in Section 3.0. There is some overlap in tools and equipment used, but each of these has some unique items and workshop needs. Combining equipment from all four sets allows making a wide variety of common items, including more tools and equipment.

 Typical larger home workshop spaces include a garage or basement. More space, power, heavy weights, and heat resistance than those can handle may require a freestanding building. Advanced community projects may need dedicated property. This can be from extra parking, more and larger shop furniture, large stationary machines, materials storage, and the size of the items being made.

List 8 - Woodworking edit

 Other animals use wood for tools, so it is likely the oldest tools of our ancestors were too. Many human artifacts, like houses and furniture, are primarily made from it. So some tools for basic Woodworking were already included in the lists in Section 3.0. Additional tools from this list can be added as needed for projects. Growing trees (Forestry), converting them to lumber (Logging and Sawmills), and woodwork for buildings (Carpentry) are specialized enough to cover in other lists. This list covers hobbyist and small business wood projects like furniture, cabinetry, and related items.

 Prior to the 20th Century, woodworking was mainly done by hand. Since then electricity and compressed air have greatly increased the speed and power of tools. Some woodworkers prefer using hand tools - they are quieter and you can more directly feel what is happening to the wood. Power tool users still need some hand tools to avoid damage, precise finishing, or getting into small spaces. Power and stationary tools generally need more workshop space and cost more. So it is a matter of choice, budget, and working space for which ones to use.

Reference Material

 If you are new to woodworking, the Internet Archive has over 400 general books on the subject available to download or borrow for two weeks at a time. They are sorted newest first. Books prior to 1950 will tend to focus more on hand tools, because modern power tools were not as common or too expensive for individual use. You can enter more specialized search terms on that site to find more books.

 A general YouTube search for "woodworking" brings up many results, but you are better off searching for more specific subjects. A single video is not long enough to cover all of woodworking. For beginners, we suggest a search term like "beginning woodworking series" to find ones that give a general introduction across several videos. An example is Start Woodworking, with 13 videos taking about 8 hours, which you can watch a little at a time.

Materials, Parts, and Supplies

 Woodworking obviously requires Wood to work with. It comes mainly from Trees and some other large plants like Bamboo. Wood properties vary widely depending on the species, growing conditions, and other factors, making every piece unique. Certain kinds of wood and particular pieces are better suited than others in a given project. There are artificial products like Plywood and Composite Lumber partially made of wood, and some non-wood materials like plastic can be worked on with the same tools. Some artificial products require different bits or blades.

 Commercial lumber is grown and processed into grades of similar type, suited for a category of projects. When buying, you should inspect and select individual pieces. For bulk amounts, you should expect some loss from defects, warp, etc. A knot or split may make a board unsuitable at full length, but you can cut off the bad part and use the remainder as a smaller piece. Other wood sources are old furniture, construction scrap, used pallets, and local trees.

 There are a wide variety of other materials, parts, and supplies used in woodworking. We list some of the more common types below. Home improvement, hardware, and online stores will stock many of these. Specialty items can be bought from other suppliers. An assortment of nails, screws, and a bottle of Wood Glue are enough to get started:

  • Fasteners are used to mechanically connect pieces of wood to each other, or other items to wood. Common types are Nails and Wood Screws.
  • Adhesives - These can be divided into temporary - used while working on a project, and permanent. Masking and double-sided tape are examples of temporary, while wood glue is used for permanent connections.
  • Woodworking Hardware - fabricated non-wood items attached to wood like handles, hinges, slides, and hooks.

Wood Finishing is a set of processes applied to bare wood pieces or assembled items after they have been shaped to final dimensions. Finishing typically consumes materials and supplies such as:

  • Defect Removal - As a natural material, wood can have undesirable defects. These can cut off while making a piece, or cut out and patched with good material. Small defects like cracks, dents, and scratches can be fixed with wood fillers and putties. Grain Fillers are used on wood with large pores when a smooth finished surface is desired.
  • Sandpaper - and sanding blocks are noted as basic items in List 1 above. For woodworking additional grain sizes, particularly the finer ones, and different backings like cloth are useful for hand sanding. Belts, disks, and other shapes are used with power and stationary tools.
  • Wood Stain - is a type of paint that penetrates the wood surface and changes it's color. Wood can also be painted with opaque paint, but this hides the natural wood grain and color.
  • Protective and Smooth Finishes - These are the final outer coatings on the wood such as paint, varnish, or polyurethane.

Hand Tools

  • Marking Gauges - Have an adjustable fence and single or dual points or knives, for scribing lines parallel to an edge. The Mortise type marks both sides of a mortise and tenon joint at once so the two parts will fit exactly.
  • Profile Gauge - consists of many thin pins or leaves which are pressed against an irregular surface. The shape can then be copied to another surface.
  • Profile Scriber - holds a marking tool, like a pencil or sharp point, a fixed distance from the tool's tip. Used to fit an irregular surface by holding the new piece against it, then scribing a line with the same shape.
  • More Clamps - Woodworkers say "you can never have too many clamps". They are used to hold items in place while being shaped, groups of items that need identical cuts or smoothing, drilling aligned holes, and while gluing pieces together. Types include bar, screw, pipe, locking, spring, rigid C-shape, corner, strap, hose, and others. Since there are so many kinds, we suggest accumulating them a few at a time from used sources or bought as-needed for a project.
 Clamps can also be self-made by (1) taking any length of lumber, fastening two or more blocks to it, then driving a pair of wedges to tighten, (2) wrapping cord around the item, and driving one or more wedges between cords and wood, (3) using a loop of cord and twisting it with a stick to tighten, or (4) placing the item on the floor or a table and placing heavy objects on top.
  • Woodworking Chisels have a sharp edge at the end of the blade beveled 25 degrees on one side. They are either pushed by hand or hit with a Mallet, typically wooden so as not to damage the tool handle. A simple mallet can be made from a tree branch the diameter of the head, with the handle portion trimmed down to size. Get either square edge or beveled wood chisels in several widths to 1 inch (25mm) or so to start with. There are a number of other types, like the mortise chisel for cutting grooves, which can be added as needed.
Adzes are specialty tools with curved blades and a chisel edge. They are swung to rough out a shape. Long-handled ones are used standing on or next to the work. Smaller ones are used on bowls and other interior curves.
  • Hand Planes - have wide chisel blades that slightly protrude through a flat base so as to take thin shavings, with one or two handles. The blade is positioned so as to preferentially cut high spots in the wood, enabling flattening it. There are a wide variety of shapes and sizes for different purposes. The Scrub, Block, Jack, and Jointer types are for flat surfaces. The Rabbet/Rebate type is for cutting grooves or recesses, while circular planes have a curved rather than flat base for working curved surfaces. The combination plane has an adjustable frame for accepting different widths or sets of cutters. A few sizes of flat planes are enough to start.
  • Drawknife and Spokeshave - These are two-handled tools used on the pull stroke, generally for shaping round pieces. The first has a wide, unprotected blade for removing bark and large shavings. The second has a smaller blade extending a variable amount from the body for finishing work. The blades may be straight or curved. One of each type is enough to start.
Figure 5.5-12 - Woodcarving tools and mallet.
  • Carving Tools - These are used for more intricate wood shaping than the ones previously mentioned. Depending on blade size and accuracy they can be driven by hand or a mallet (Figure 5.5-12). The carving knife has a short lengthwise blade, while gouges are sharpened crosswise, with longer blades that are either curved, hooked, or V-shaped. A set assorted shapes can be used to start.
  • Finish Applicators - Brushes and cloth pads can be used to spread the finish and remove excess. Hand or power sprayers can more evenly coat large areas. Applying finishes can be messy and involve toxic solvents and media. Workshop dust can contaminate the finish before it dries. So a separate finishing area with ventilation, drop cloths, and personal protection like gloves and filter masks are desirable.

Portable Power Tools

 Modern portable tools can use a power cord or batteries, with the choice depending on convenience, power level, and running time. List 2 included some basic portable power tools. Additional ones include:

  • Routers - The portable type has a fixed base and uses a variety of bit sizes and shapes, for cutting wood and other materials. If the router did not come with them, you should get at least a basic set of bits. The Plunge Router has a spring between motor and base, allowing vertical bit movement while working. Many types of Router Jigs can be bought or custom made to guide the motion of the router and thus make accurate cuts.
  • Sanders - There are many types of power sanding devices, both portable and stationary, which work faster than hand sanding. Some sanding accessories can be mounted on other tool types like electric drills or bench grinders. The portable Belt, Detail, and Orbital types use belts, cut sheets, and disks with different grain fineness. One palm or belt sander with a assorted abrasives is enough to start.
  • Hand Planer - Uses a rotating cutting blade to flatten surfaces similar to hand planes.
  • Dowel and Pocket Hole Jigs - Accessories for an electric drill to accurately position holes.

Stationary Equipment

 These larger machines can work faster and more accurately by using built-in or accessory guides. The built-in table or work surface can be enlarged with extension tables, and side supports like sawhorses and rollers can be used to stabilize larger wood pieces.

  • Table Saw - A circular saw blade and motor mounted under a table, with adjustments to height and tilt. They generally have fences and other accessories to control the movement of the item past the blade. Compared to the portable circular saw in List 2 they are generally more powerful with a larger depth of cut, and easier to set up for repetitive cuts on multiple parts. A bench-top version may be enough for lighter projects, but should be secured while in use. Larger versions have a stand or cabinet. Different blades are available depending on what is being cut.
  • Jointer - is similar to the power hand planer in having a rotating blade, except it is below the wood, and the wood moves rather than the tool. A fence is used to guide the wood, and some can be set at other angles than perpendicular.
  • Thickness Planer - Pulls a board with rollers between a flat table and rotating knives. It produces boards with flat and parallel surfaces. If you don't have a jointer to produce one flat surface, you can use a flat sled with the board shimmed and hot-glued to it to flatten one side with shallow cuts.
  • Sanders - Stationary sanders use a variety of abrasive belts, disks, cylinders, and drums. Some types will feed the work through the machine, but most require manually moving the wood against the abrasive surface. A medium combination belt and disk sander is a good starting point.
  • Bandsaws - use a loop of metal with teeth as the blade, running over two or more motor-driven wheels. They come in a variety of sizes from bench-top to floor-mounted, with different width and height capacity and motor power. Different blades are available for various cutting tasks.
Figure 5.5-13 - Woodturning lathe.
  • Woodturning Lathe and Accessories - Turning makes symmetrical wood shapes mainly using a wood lathe (Figure 5.5-13) and long-handled chisels, gouges, and scrapers. Various holding devices are used with the lathe, according to the size and shape of the item being turned. Finishing operations like sanding can also be done while the piece is still mounted.
  • Scroll Saw - A reciprocating saw with a vertical narrow blade in tension, capable of cutting intricate curves. Get a set of assorted blades if not provided.
  • Drill Press - This is an electric drill mounted to a column and base, with an adjustable table. Compared to a portable drill they are more powerful and accurate. There are many sizes and variations, with the chuck axis-to-column distance being a key measurement since it sets the maximum distance a hole can be from the edge of a part.
 A very basic Drill Stand mounts a portable drill vertically, but this is only suitable for light work. An 8 inch (200mm) bench-top press is a better starting point. The frame is more rigid and the drive belt lowers speed and increases torque for a given motor. Smaller machines should be clamped or bolted to a stable surface. Larger versions are floor-mounted, and some can move and tilt the drill head for better access.
  • Router Table - This mounts a portable router, usually below the table surface, or can be a dedicated machine. Typically it has guide fences, and allows moving the wood through rather than moving the tool. This helps with doing multiple pieces of the same kind.
  • CNC Wood Router - uses motors to move the cutting tool along defined axes, under computer control. This is useful for doing complex or repetitive patterns. The table can be any size, but ones large enough to cut quarter, half, or full sheets of plywood are common.
  • Dust Collection System - A simple version is a wet/dry Shop Vacuum on wheels which is brought to whatever machine is being used. The machines may have fittings installed for the vacuum's hose. A more advanced version has pipes installed around the workshop that lead to a larger stationary vacuum system that has a separator for dust and larger chips.

List 9 - Metal Fabrication edit

 This list covers basic metal fabrication, This type of Metalworking involves forming, cutting, and joining thinner metal pieces where high accuracy is not required. Larger and thicker pieces require heating to shape or cast. Ceramics also require high temperatures, so we group them with blacksmithing and foundry work into List 10 (Hot Work). Machine Shop Work (List 11) can produce highly accurate finished parts, but needs a different set of equipment than the ones here. A given project may need some equipment from all three lists. Basic metal work needs many or all of the basic equipment from Section 3.0, such as workbenches and vises.

Reference Material

 The Internet Archive lists about 50 general books on metalworking which can be downloaded or borrowed for 14 days. You can find additional works using more specific search words like "welding" or "sheet metal", then selecting for "Always Available" and "Borrow for 14 days". Other types of reference and training sources, like paper books, instructional videos, and classes are also available.

Materials, Parts, and Supplies

Metal is of course required for metalwork. By far the most common type is Steel, which is iron with a little carbon added, and optionally other elements to make a particular Alloy. Scrap and auto salvage yards, recycling stations, and discarded appliances are cheap sources for basic metals. Auto and other types of repair shops may have scrap bins. Retailers like home improvement, hardware, and online stores stock some metal and fasteners. Dedicated metal and industrial suppliers have larger selections and can be found in most cities. Other items besides metal stock include:

  • Consumable Electrodes - These are rods or wire used to fill joints and make weld beads, with a flux added protect from oxidation.
  • Abrasive Blasting Media - a wide variety of materials are used in blasting operations besides the sand from which sandblasting got its name.
  • Fasteners and Other Hardware - Some of these are the same as for woodworking and other projects, but machine screws, bolts, and rivets tend to be used more with metal.

Shop Furniture

  • Steel Welding Table - with magnetic welding squares, for grounding and magnetically clamping workpieces. This is in addition to a basic workbench. It should be located away from combustible materials.
  • Portable Welding Screens - to protect other people and equipment from sparks and UV light.

Hand Tools

  • Welding Clamps - The ordinary C-type clamp can be used, but ones with a deeper throat distance or locking jaws with flat tips are useful for welding.
  • Chain Vise or Clamp - Uses a flexible chain to hold round or irregular objects in place.
  • Forming Tools - Also known as "auto body tools", since that is a common use for them. These include various shape hammers and metal or wood blocks, but also specialty slappers, spoons, dollies and forming bags to create complex curves or flatten sheet metal. The tools used by jewelers and blacksmiths work similarly, but are smaller and larger respectively.
  • Bending Tools - This includes hand bar, strip, and tube benders for lighter metal.
  • Blind Riveter and Rivet Set - for setting expanding or solid Rivet fasteners.
  • Scriber and Ink - for accurate marking for cutting and drilling.
  • Soapstone Pencils - for marking metal when welding, since it is heat resistant.
  • Chipping Hammer & Stiff Wire Brushes - for removing slag and cleaning surfaces while welding. The hammer head has one sharp point side and often a chisel edge on the other.

Portable Power Tools

WARNING - Many types of welding produce harmful UV light, fumes, and hot sparks, and all produce a lot of heat. You should therefore have suitable goggles, face mask, respirator, gloves, cap, and heat-protective clothing like gloves and aprons. Some electric welders require dedicated or upgraded power to operate and all present a shock risk. All welding machines risk fires from the high temperatures. Welding areas should be well ventilated against fumes and heat build-up. Basic welding machines include:

  • Spot Welder - for sheet metal. Melts a small area by resistance heating.
  • Flux Core Arc Welder - also called "Shielded Metal Arc Welding" (SMAW) a light-duty A.C. unit with sticks or spool feed is enough to start working with thicker steel sections.
  • Gas Metal Arc Welders - These use a separately supplied inert shielding gas like CO2 or argon. There are a number of types. MIG uses a consumable weld wire as the electrode, while TIG uses a tungsten electrode and a separate stick or wire weld feed.
  • Torch Welders - These use a fuel-air or fuel-oxygen torch. The hot flame melts the material, into which a weld rod can be fed. Torches can also be used for rough cutting. These require gas tank supplies, but can work where enough electricity isn't available. A friction or long-handled lighter is needed.
  • Plasma Cutters - Use a highly heated gas to cut most materials. Smaller ones are portable, and larger computer-controlled ones (CNC) are stationary with a support framework and water bath below.
  • Power Shears & Nibbler - Shears work scissors, while nibbler punches through metal, and can work from an interior starter hole.
  • Impact Drivers & Wrenches - These tools accept hex-shank bits and square drive sockets respectively. They apply rotary blows to the chuck or socket for extra tightening and loosening forces. Bits and sockets should be designed for impact use to prevent breakage.

Stationary Equipment

  • Abrasive Saw - Also called a Chop Saw, it is used to cut hard materials like metal, tile, and concrete. Smaller jobs can use an abrasive blade in a circular saw, or an angle grinder. The larger bench version protects the motor from metal dust, and can clamp the material for higher accuracy. It can cut thicker angle, bar, and pipe stock to length.
  • Sand Blaster - Uses compressed air to blow high velocity sand or other media at a surface to clean or finish it. The stationary version has a cabinet and collection system to contain the debris. The effect is similar to paper and wheel abrasives, but can be used for larger and more intricate items.
  • Brakes - are used to bend sheet metal. The finger type can bend and fold selected parts of an edge. These come in hand and powered versions depending on size and thickness of the bend.
  • Sheet Metal Shears - In addition to the left, straight, and right compound hand snips, and portable power shears and nibblers, the stationary shears can handle larger and thicker sheets. This includes the bench, foot, power and compound throatless types.
  • Roll Benders - can form cylindrical and conical shapes using three rollers that are either parallel or with one at a slight angle.
  • Wire, Bar, and Tube Drawing - Devices that pull or push stock through a die to change shape and thickness. May require "pointing", reducing size of an end section so it can go through the die and be gripped for pulling. May also require heating to reduce pulling forces. Use is mainly for specialty parts where stock sizes are not suited.
  • Machine (Shop) Press - For applying large forces for bending, rolling, shaping, or setting fasteners. The press by itself supplies the forces, but various inserts and accessories are used to make specific shapes. Arbor presses use gears for mechanical advantage, while hydraulic presses use fluid pressure. Ironworkers are heavy duty machines using hydraulic or flywheel power to cut, punch, or shape thicker materials while cold. Hot work equipment from list 10 is used to soften metals when cold work becomes too difficult.
  • Parts Washer - This can range from a simple utility sink or tub to more complex units with a pump and spray system. Used to clean dirt, grease, and other contaminants from metal parts before working on them.
  • Hydraulic Pipe & Bar Bender - More powerful than hand benders for thicker bars, tubes, and pipes.
  • CNC Metal Router - Similar to the CNC Wood Router above, but typically more sturdy, different speed, and smaller table. Designed to cut and engrave smaller parts than a milling machine, with moderate accuracy. Can also work with thicker plastic.

List 10 - Hot Work - Blacksmith, Foundry, and Ceramics edit

 This list covers projects that require high temperatures using a forge, furnace, or kiln. They can share some of their equipment and the need for a working area designed for the heat, so we group them together. They differ in the temperatures needed and the materials being used.

CAUTION - For safety either an outdoor or specially designed indoor area should be used. Good ventilation and fireproof/heat-protecting clothes are needed.

  • Reference Sources - The Library of Congress lists about 90,000 online resources on blacksmithing, 83,000 on foundry practice, 25,000 on pottery, and 10,000 on ceramics. Pottery refers to the made objects, while ceramics is the technology of making them. There are many other references on these subjects in books, magazines, websites, and tutorial videos.


Figure 5.5-14 - Blacksmith's forge and leg vise.

Blacksmithing is the general term for shaping thicker and heavier metal pieces softened by heat, but also for working iron and steel particularly. There are specialty names like Tinsmith and Silversmith for working other metals either cold or hot.

 A minimal starter set requires (1) a heat source like a forge or furnace, (2) a gripping tool to handle the hot metal without getting burned, (3) a striking tool like a hammer, and (4) a thick piece of material to receive the blows, typically unheated hard metal like an anvil. The impacts force the hot metal to conform between the striker and receiver according to their respective shapes. While basic work can be done with general-purpose tools, blacksmith's tools are specialized for this purpose. In addition to specialty tools, basic ones like chisels and punches are also used. Specialty tools include:

  • Forge or Furnace - A Blacksmith's Forge (Figure 5.5-14) burns a bed of coal or charcoal to reach high temperatures. Furnaces are insulated chambers with a door or opening. They use propane, natural gas, electric coils, or induced currents for heating. Fire Brick, made from minerals with high melting points, are commonly used as liners in both, although clay brick will work with more heat loss at lower temperatures. Fire brick is only moderately insulating, so it is sometimes backed with other materials like mineral fiber blankets to reduce heat loss.
 The supporting and surrounding structure is typically steel or brick, which are fireproof. A variable air or fuel supply controls combustion rate and temperature for fuel-powered versions. Forges and furnaces can be bought, but assembling one from common items like sheet metal, fireplace bricks, and a hair dryer is not difficult. Judging the metal temperature by color is important, so a shaded area is typically used. Impurities in coal smoke are toxic, so good ventilation is needed when using it. Traditionally this is a hood and chimney.
Figure 5.5-15 - Blacksmith's tongs (center left) and other tools.
  • Tongs and Rakes - Blacksmith's tongs (Figure 5.5-15) have long handles with high leverage. Their length keeps hands out of the heat, and leverage is needed to hold heavy metal pieces. A variety of jaw shapes are used to fit the piece being picked up. For very heavy objects, an integral handle or the object's length keeps one end cool enough to grip. It gets cut off later. Small rakes and shovels, which can be self-made, are used to remove coal ash (clinkers), or to move solid fuel around and over the piece.
Figure 5.5-16 - Various hammer types.
  • Hammers - These come in various sizes and shapes for hand shaping the heated metal (Figure 5.5-16). They include the simple one-handed square-head Sledgehammer, Ball Peen, and other Wedge or flat heads. Section 3.0 already included some hammers. For blacksmithing a one-handed sledge and two sizes of ball-peen are enough to get started. For heavy-duty work, a Trip Hammer uses a foot pedal to raise and then drop a heavier hammer. Power hammers use motors and flywheels, or hydraulics, to produce greater forces.
  • Anvils and Blocks - Anvils are heavy steel blocks shaped specifically for blacksmithing. Swage Blocks have various holes, indentations, and grooves to hammer into. They are often used with complementary hammers. These specialized tools are fairly expensive. Any heavy piece of steel can be used to start with, such a length of scrap railroad track, square or cylindrical blocks, or a section of thick plate. All of these should be mounted at a comfortable height on a stable impact-resistant stand. A vertical log buried partway into soil or a tree stump still in place are traditional methods.
Figure 5.5-17 - Hammers and forming stakes.
  • Stakes are various shapes attached to a rod or bar which fit into a hole in an anvil or metal plate (Figure 5.5-17). For example used steel balls from a Ball Mill welded to a bar can be used for compound curves. Straight pins inserted into a plate can be used for bending, typically with a length of pipe for leverage. Since blacksmiths make metal items, they can make some of these themselves.
  • Draw Plate and Bench - Used to reduce and shape heated rod or wire by pulling through a hard plate with a series of holes. The bench holds the plate, through which the filed end is fed, then clamped and pulled by hand or a winch.
  • Leg Vise - This is a large sturdy vise with a leg that extends to solid ground (Figure 5.5-14). This allows heavy hammering or bending without damaging the workbench or other support it is attached to. Either the part or a shaping tool can be clamped in the vise.
  • Quenching and Tempering - the former rapidly cools workpieces in liquid, which results in a different crystal structure than slow cooling. Tempering is moderate heating of steel to control hardness and toughness. Annealing is heating metal enough to remove Work Hardening and allow more shaping without cracking. Containers with fluids or sand, and controlled-temperature ovens are typically used for these processes.


 A Foundry is used to make items by Casting, first melting then pouring into a prepared mold to cool. Depending on the metal it can require higher temperatures than blacksmithing, which only requires heating to soften. In addition to a high temperature furnace, basic equipment includes:

  • Crucibles - Containers designed to hold heated or melted materials. Some have handles, but many are simple bowl shapes, sometimes with lids. These require special tongs or lifting tools to insert and remove from the furnace, and pour molten material.
  • Casting Molds - There are many types of molds. Sand Casting uses a parted box filled with damp sand mixed with a bonding agent. Patterns and additional cores are pressed between the box parts, then removed. This leaves a void the shape of the desired casting, and holes for the metal to pour in and hot gases to escape.
  • Patterns - These are replicas of the desired cast shape. They are typically made of wood, metal, or plastic if intended to be reused in sand casting. Other methods like Investment, Lost Wax and Die casting use different types of molds and pattern materials.


Ceramics are shaped at room temperature, then heated in an enclosed furnace to make their shape permanent. Typically they use inorganic materials like clay. It takes time to first remove water with moderate heat, then reach the required high temperatures and slowly cool to avoid breakage. So furnaces are generally either thick-walled or insulated to reduce heat loss.

Figure 5.5-18 - Updraft Kiln.
  • Ceramic Kiln - A type of furnace for longer-term heating than metal casting. Pit Firing requires only a hole in the ground and fuel, but can't reach the higher temperatures of a kiln. Updraft Kilns (Figure 5.5-18) have a lower chamber for fuel, with an air supply. Combustion gases then go to an upper chamber with the ceramics, and finally to a chimney to draw air upwards. Simple ones can be made from clay, optionally lined with firebrick. A first firing will then harden the kiln. Enclosed gas or electric kilns can be purchased. To start with or for small amounts, it may be easier to find a community arts center that already has a kiln.
  • Potter's Wheel - typically a lower flywheel and upper table spun to mold clay on the upper surface with hands and tools. It is used for the main shaping of symmetrical objects. They may be powered by feet directly, a pedal and crank, or electric motor.
  • Clay Shaping Tools - The simplest tools to use with a potter's wheel are hands and fingers. This can be hard on the skin, so other tools include flexible and rigid Ribs pressed against the rotating clay, a rigid steel Edger with a variety of curves and notches for more distinct cuts, a Trim Tool to cut away parts of slightly dried clay, Shaped Sponges to remove surface water, a Mudwire, which is a wire with handles on the ends to cut clay, Loop, Ribbon, and Needle Tools to cut or indent the clay.
  • Clay Decorating Tools - are for adding decorations rather then overall shaping of an item. They include a metal Serrated Scraper with teeth around a curved shape for making grooves, hollow Hole Cutters to perforate the clay. Cutters can be circular, square, or other shapes. Carving Tools have handles and various shaped tips for surface decoration and modeling. Custom tools can be shaped from any convenient wood, plastic, or metal.
  • Paint Brushes - Art-type brushes to decorate surfaces and apply glazes.

Parts, Materials, and Supplies

 Hot work needs clays and glazes for ceramics and metals for smithing and casting. Molding Sand is needed for sand casting, and machinable wax for lost-wax casting.

List 11 - Machine Shop Work edit

Machine Shops use machines and specialized tools to make parts for other machines. Until recently they only used "Subtractive Manufacturing". This is removing some material to turn unfinished into finished parts. Modern 3D Printing uses the opposite method of "Additive Manufacturing", where material is added to make a finished part. Both depend on accurate tools and machines in order to produce accurate parts. Accurate parts, in turn, are needed in machines where they must fit together, or move and rotate for long periods of time.

 While some machine shop work can be done with hand tools, the majority is usually done with special-purpose machines, which are themselves mostly made using other machine tools. One way to obtain accuracy is using thick and rigid machine tool parts. This makes them heavy. So the workshop needs a suitably strong floor, such as a thick concrete slab or deep individual foundations for very heavy machines.

Reference Material

 Many websites, books, and videos can be found with search terms like: machine shop, machine tools, machinists, and the individual names of tool and machine types. For example, the Library of Congress lists over 200,000 items for the term "machine tools". One basic book you can download is Fundamentals of Machine Tools, US Army, 1996.

 Older books focus on the simpler and less expensive tools of that time, so are useful when starting out despite their age. Modern computer-controlled (CNC) machines, and those that are larger or have more features, are typically more expensive, need more room, power, and heavier floor support. Learning about these can be postponed until needed.

Shop Furniture

  • Heavy Duty Workbench - Building and maintaining machines involves heavy metal parts. So one or more suitable workbenches are needed when the machines or their parts don't stand directly on the floor. Some have a metal plate top for durability, but for smaller and more delicate parts a wood top can be used.
  • Storage - Like other project types, machine shop work requires storage. This includes parts, materials, and supplies, hand and portable power tools, cutting bits, and machine tool accessories. Nearly all of this will be metal, so storage should be strongly built. Precision measuring tools need protection from damage, such as padded custom cases for each tool. Cutting tools should be stored in a way they don't damage each other and other tools. They can be wrapped in cloth, or use racks, dividers or individual boxes to keep them apart.

Holding Tools

Figure 5.5-19 - Machinist's Bench Vise on metal-top workbench with brass insert at upper right.

 Shaping metal parts often involves large forces, so various devices are needed to hold them in place while doing so. These include:

  • Bench Vise - One or more heavy duty vises are typically mounted to a workbench with the jaws overhanging the edge, so that tall items can be clamped. Various inserts are used to hold different shapes, or are made of softer materials to not damage the item (Figure 5.5-19). Some vises have a small built-in anvil. If any hammering is to be done on the vise, it should be mounted over a bench leg, or on a post clamped to the bench.
  • Machinist's Clamps - Machine tools often have slots in their tables in the shape of an inverted "T". Inverted bolts and specialty T-slot Nuts can be inserted, then bars and other clamping devices can be bolted down. Toolmaker's Clamps are all-metal handscrews with parallel jaws and two screws to hold items together. These would be in addition to the vise and other clamps from previous sets.
Figure 5.5-20 - Rotating machine vice with angle scale. Inverted bolts hold it to the machine bed.
  • Machine Vise - securely holds a part to a machine tool while being worked on (Figure 5.5-20). These are either fixed or have rotation and tilt motions. They are often used with other clamps and fixtures for precise positioning.
  • V-Blocks - with clamps are used to hold round or irregular shapes when drilling or cutting.
  • Setup Blocks - Often 1x2x3 and 2x4x6 inch sizes for setting up exact positions. These can either be plain or drilled and threaded.
  • Parallel Bars Set - To raise parts above the vise jaws or at offset positions while staying parallel to the machine table. Often used in combination with other setup blocks.
  • Angle Plate - Used to hold a part at a measured angle to a machine table.
  • Magnetic Holders - have a switchable magnetic field to temporarily hold an item in a fixed position, typically for taking measurements, centering, or machining. They are an alternative to clamps and vises, but care should be taken that they have enough holding force for the task.

Measurement Tools

Machinists use a wide variety of measuring tools to produce accurate parts. Some machines have built-in scales and devices, but separate tools are often needed. They are often more accurate versions of basic measuring tools.

  • Solar Scientific Calculator - For general calculations. Some machinist calculations involve trigonometry and circular areas, so it should have these higher functions. The solar cells avoid needing to replace batteries. It should also be protected with a case or stored in a clear plastic bag.
  • Machinist Squares - These include plain right angle squares in different sizes, and combination squares for centering and angle setting. These are more solid and accurately made than the same tools for woodworking.
  • Radius and Feeler Gauges - Radius gauges use a bright light to detect if a part matches the curve of the gauge. Feeler gauges are made to accurate thicknesses to measure small gaps.
  • Thread Pitch Gauge - Has leaves with tooth profiles to determine the size of threads on an existing part.
  • Taper Gauge Set - These have varying widths or thicknesses across the gauge with a scale. Sets have several pieces to cover a wider size range.
  • Edge and Center Finders - Also called "wigglers" after how they work. Used to find the center or edge of a part, after which a precise offset can be set with a machine's handwheel or digital readout.
  • Micrometers - These use a calibrated screw for accurate measurements. They come in different size ranges and for outside, inside, and depth measurements. Start with a 0-1 inch/25 mm outside micrometer and add others as needed.
  • Bore Gauges - The telescoping type have a pair of heads that expand to measure inside diameter or width. Used with a micrometer to set or read their width.
  • Thread Wire Measuring Set - Uses two wires on one side and one on the other plus a micrometer to accurately measure the size of a threaded part.
  • Toolmaker's Dividers - with rigid legs and spring. To transfer measurements and draw arcs on inked parts.
  • Calipers - a more accurate version than the basic one from Section 3.0.
  • Indicators - Dial or digital, with magnetic base. Measures distance from a reference surface to a probe.
  • Surface Plate - Highly accurate flat surface, typically granite or cast iron. Used as a reference surface for other measuring tools, setups, and marking of parts before cutting.
  • Machinist's Level - A precision spirit (bubble) level for leveling machine tools and other surfaces.
  • Adjustable Parallels Set - spanning 0.375-2.25in (10-50mm), for measuring and setting exact widths and offsets.
  • Gage Block Set - Highly accurate blocks which are stacked to produce exact lengths. Typically used to check the accuracy of other measuring devices rather than direct use.
  • Sine Bar - This is two accurate cylinders connected to a bar so that exact angles can be calculated or set by the mathematical sine of a triangle formula.
  • Coordinate Measuring Machine - an advanced and often automated machine to measure the physical geometry of an object.
  • Optical Comparator - a device to magnify and project the profile of a part so it can be measured.

Marking Tools

  • Industrial Marker - These use heat and oil-resistant ink for marking and layout.
  • Layout Fluid & Brush - For more durable layout marks. Either commercial, or a denatured alcohol/shellac/fabric dye mix.
  • Scriber, Carbide Tipped - For scratching lines onto metal parts.
  • Prick and Center Punches - Prick punches are smaller and used for marking exact points on a part. Center punches are heavier and struck like chisels to make a starter indent for drill bits.
  • Transfer Punches - These come in sets of different diameters, and are used to transfer the centers of one or more holes from one part to another.
  • Steel Straight Edge - An accurately made flat bar for scribing lines onto a part, and checking flatness with a light held behind it. Commercial flat bar stock may be enough to start with, but precision ones made for the purpose will be more accurate.

Assembly Tools

 Basic assembly tools like screwdrivers and socket wrenches were included in Section 3.0. Some Additional Specialty Tools may be needed to maintain or adjust machine tools such as the Torx type. Some of these allow higher torque, which can be useful when building new projects.

Cutting and Abrasive Tools

  • Tap and Die Sets - Includes handles and individual taps and dies. Used for cutting matching inside and outside screw threads. Screwdriver handles are available for light hole tapping, but handles with leverage are standard.
  • Reamers - Hand and Expanding. Uses tap handle for turning. Finishes a hole to an exact size.
  • Center Drill Bits - Used in a lathe to drill a center hole in the part for the Tailstock to fit into.
  • Center Gauge - used to guide grinding thread-cutting tools to the correct angle and then mount them perpendicular to the part.
  • Hand Scrapers - Used with or to make surface plates and produce precision surfaces.
  • Tool and Cutter Grinder - A powered machine to create or sharpen cutting tools for machining.

Subtractive Machine Tools

Figure 5.5-21 - Vertical milling machine with manual positioning, electronic readout, and Kurt machine vise to hold parts being milled.

 Basic machine tools have an electric drive motor, but positions and speeds are adjusted by hand with levers, cranks, and hand wheels with scales. Better versions may have screw-driven motions at a steady rate. The more advanced digital and CNC types use electronic controls or a computer to perform set or programmed tasks. The latter need suitable software to prepare and load the series of instructions.

 Machine tools come in a wide range of sizes, from table-top to large industrial units that only fit in factory buildings. They are described by the size and weight of parts they can handle, their accuracy, and motor power. Combination/Universal machines exist that do multiple tasks like Lathe/Mills.

  • Vertical and Horizontal Milling Machines - (Figure 5.5-21) These are named by the rotating axis of the tool head. Capacity is in terms of maximum part dimensions and motor power. Vertical mills are typically smaller and lower power. A compound (2 axis) slide table added to a medium drill press may be enough to get started, but a floor-mounted mill will be more accurate and can handle larger parts. Desktop CNC mills can be used for small items, but are lower power and therefore slower.
Figure 5.5-22 - Small Bench Lathe.
  • Metal Lathe - These are heavier and more powerful than wood-cutting lathes, with higher accuracy. Their capacity is the maximum diameter and length of parts they can work, such as 7x14 inches. A small bench-top one (Figure 5.5-22) may be enough to start. Larger ones require custom tables or are floor-mounted. Combination machines exist that do both milling and lathe work if space is at a premium
  • Lathe & Mill Accessories - Lathes and mills use a variety of Cutting Tools and need specialized holding tools (noted above) for the items being worked. The cutting tools are held with Chucks, Collets, and Spindles due to the high forces involved. They are often particular to a given machine or machine size. A Rotary Table or Indexing Head allows allows positioning items at precise angles.
  • Cutting Fluids - cool and lubricate both the parts and tools used in metalworking and machining. They can also carry away metal chips and particles. There are many types depending on the work being done, but common engine oil can be used to start with for smaller projects. A brush or oil can applies it at the point of use, and a separate cleaning brush wipes away metal chips if too many accumulate.
 For larger machines and projects, a steady feed of fluid and chip removal is needed. This can be built-in to more advanced machines. Fluid can be filtered and reused, but metal chips are sharp and should be carefully disposed of.
  • Industrial Drill Press - These are larger and heavier than woodworking drill presses, typically floor mounted with gear rather than belt drives. Some come equipped with cross-slide or rotating tables, or these can be added as accessories. Others have radial and tilt heads for large and heavy parts where it is easier to move the head than the part being drilled. One or more sets of metal-cutting drill bits with different diameters and lengths are needed to start with.
  • Horizontal Metal Bandsaw - For cutting larger metal bars or blocks to length. In contrast to the wood saws, the metal is clamped in place while the cutting blade slowly pivots down.
  • Vertical Heavy-Duty Bandsaw - For rough cutting curved metal sections by moving them through the saw. This can be a woodworking bandsaw with a metal-cutting blade, or a more powerful one. It is suitable for thinner and lighter metal pieces. For larger and heavier items, they are held stationary while a portable cutting tool is moved through them.
  • Shaper - Uses a single-point cutting tool mounted on a reciprocating ram. It makes linear cuts across a part clamped to the table. Table motions allow making complex shapes.
  • Surface Grinder - Produces flat surfaces by moving a part horizontally under a grinding wheel.
  • EDM Machine - Electrical discharge machining uses sparks across an insulating fluid to remove material and shape a part.
  • Laser Cutter/Engraver - uses a focused high-power laser to cut or ablate material, often under computer control. There are various types and sizes of machines.

Additive Machines

3D Printing is a category of methods and machines that make parts by adding material under computer control. There are now a Wide Variety of types and sizes that "print" different materials by different methods. Some methods are better suited to industrial use, and others for home use. Part resolution can be as small as 10 nanometers, and other machines work on a large enough scale for Building Construction.

 Related processes involve spraying material onto an existing surface. Examples are Spray Painting and Thermal Spraying. The spray is often directed by hand, but can be done by machines under computer control. Yet others involve building up parts by layering material onto a form or mandrel.

 Printed parts often need additional finishing steps, like removing supports that were needed during printing but not afterwards, or sanding to smooth sometimes uneven surfaces. Which types of additive machines are needed depends on the materials you want to use, and the speed, size, and accuracy required. Due to the wide variety of processes, machines, and purposes, we don't list individual machines. Instead, we recommend looking at some Reference Sources, then investigate available machines.

 Most printers need a computer file describing the part to be made. They can be made yourself using suitable software, or use existing ones made by others. Depending on the printer, they may need a separate computer to send commands, similar to how office printers work with paper. Otherwise they may have the control computer built-in and only need the part file delivered to it.

 When starting out, it may make sense to use a commercial printing service, as they only need the computer file to make a part. Open-source printer designs and kits are available. They are less expensive, but require doing some or all of the work of building them. Already built Printers are available new for as little as a good portable power tool, but supplies of printing material can be expensive if you are making many parts.

7.0 - Outdoor Projects edit

 This section covers projects where the work or the finished items are mostly located outdoors. It includes yard work, gardening, landscaping, forestry, and farming. They differ in purpose, scale, and locations, but share somewhat overlapping sets of tools. So consider the other lists in this section besides the primary category you are interested in. Lists 12 to 16 are generally in increasing scale of projects and equipment used. They assume you already have some items from section 3.0.

 Outdoor tools and equipment often see hard use, so need periodic maintenance. With a few exceptions they should be stored dry and out of the weather to extend their life. Finished outdoor projects like fences will by necessity stay outdoors, and should be designed and protected for the conditions they will endure.

List 12 - Yard Work edit

 A Yard commonly means an area of land adjacent to a house, typically in suburban areas. In urban areas, residences may have little or no yard area. Properties larger than a few acres (1 hectare) can be called "acreage" if mostly undeveloped, and a large house with lots of outside improvements on multiple acres is called an Estate. This list covers items for self-maintenance of suburban yards, or maintenance of yards for others on a small-business scale.

 Typical yards have live items like grass, some trees, and decorative plants and ground cover. They can also have a variety of constructed items like paths, fences, storage sheds, decks and patios. Most of these need some degree of cleaning and maintenance for appearance and to meet local rules.

Hand Tools

  • Brooms and Dustpans - For sweeping paved areas and picking up the resulting piles. Includes the wide push, upright sweep, and wide dustpan types.
  • Rakes - have a long handle and multiple teeth set perpendicular to it. The Leaf type has widely spaced springy teeth that catch leaves and other loose material without damaging grass or soil. The Bow type has a rigid bar with teeth. Both sides are used for moving and leveling soil. The Thatching type has blade-shaped teeth for removing dead grass (thatch) and loosening topsoil to receive seeds, fertilizers, etc.
  • Lawn Edger - A manual tool used to keep grass and roots from encroaching on paved or other types of surfaces.
  • Hedge Trimmer - Large scissors or pruning shears used to trim hedge plantings or decorative bushes. Pruning Shears have shorter blades, usually curved, with more leverage for cutting thicker or harder stems.
  • Wheelbarrow - A single or dual-wheel cart with handles for general moving of bulk or heavier items. The wheel(s) carry most of the weight while steering and pushing with the handles. Most have a sloped tray so they can be emptied by tilting vertical.
  • Hatchet - A combination tool with a sharp blade on one side and a hammer head on the other. An example use is trimming a branch to make a stake then pounding it in.
  • Lopper and Pruning Saw - Loppers have long handles with short blades, sometimes with compound action. Can cut saplings and branches up to 2 inches (5 cm) for the largest version by working around the stem until severed. Pruning saws are hand saws with teeth designed to cut living wood, and can cut somewhat larger branches in crowded areas. Large branches should be cut partway from below with two cuts removing a wedge, then finished from above. This prevents a split from damaging the main stem or trunk, and makes a more controlled fall for the branch.
  • Polesaw - A pruning saw attached to a pole to reach higher without a ladder. Many have a levered pruning blade with a cord, to cut smaller high branches.
  • Garden Hose - For delivering water where needed in a yard. A simple spray or pistol nozzle is enough to start, but there are a number of other special purpose attachments. Rubber grommets are used to prevent leakage.
  • Containers - Water Buckets and smaller containers can be used to transport small amounts of water, other liquids, or dry materials. Fuel Containers are needed for machines and devices that use them. Other yard supplies like fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides can be toxic. They either come with a container, or can be stored in suitable boxes and bags.

Portable Power Tools

 Some outdoor power tools are electric, using either a power cord or internal batteries. Corded tools generally need outdoor-type extension cords of sufficient length and wire gauge for the required distance. Battery types typically need a matching charger for removable batteries. Portable generators, and inverters connected to a vehicle, can supply power at greater distances than extension cords. Other outdoor tools have combustion engines that require fuel or a fuel/oil blend, and some need separate lubricating oil. The choice among power types depends on cost, convenience, noise level, and required power level.

  • Leaf Blower - uses high-speed air to move leaves and other debris away from buildings and pavements or into piles. Mower blades act like a fan, and with a side discharge can both chop up and blow leaves into piles or rows for pickup.
  • String Trimmer - Cuts grass and weeds around obstacles or edges of a yard, without damaging other items. Some types accept other accessories for different tasks. Alternately herbicides, woven or sheet weed barriers, and solid objects like brick pavers can prevent growth in unwanted areas.
  • Power Hedge Trimmer - Typically use a reciprocating blade that slides against stationary fingers. Does similar tasks to hand hedge shears and pruners.
  • Pressure Washer - Uses high pressure water, sometimes with additives like soap, to clean exterior surfaces. Some have different angle nozzles and adjustable pressure.
  • Brush Cutter - The hand-carried type has more power than a string trimmer and accepts accessories like circular saw blades to cut thicker items. A Brush Hog has wheels or is mounted to a larger machine, and functions like a heavy-duty lawn mower.

Mobile Equipment

  • Lawn Mower - uses blades to cut larger areas of grass to an even height. Most modern ones are powered. Smaller ones are walk-behind and either pushed or are self-propelled. Larger Riding Mowers have a seat and steerable wheels. Some types have a bag to collect grass clippings, and may have a side discharge to blow the clippings away from the blades. Even larger Lawn Tractors are powerful enough to tow wagons or mount other attachments. These start to overlap in function with small agricultural tractors with a mowing attachment.
 The type of mower to use depends on the area to be mowed, cutting speed, cost, noise level, whether it is for personal or commercial use, and what obstacles have to be worked around. For example, with Zero-Turn mowers the drive wheels rotate at different speeds/direction, and the other wheels swivel in any direction. This allows maneuvering in tighter spaces.

Materials, Parts, and Supplies

  • Mulch - A layer of material applied to the surface of soil. It can be applied around structures, plantings, and trees to make maintenance easier, conserve moisture, improve fertility, reduce erosion, and for looks. Ground covers can be artificial, like landscape fabric, inorganic like gravel, organic like wood chips, or living plants which are close to the ground. Organic mulches can be self-made on-site from items like fallen leaves and branches which are shredded or composted.
  • Lawn Maintenance - Depending on the current and desired condition of a yard, this can include adding topsoil, organic material, sand, and other soil additives to improve its quality. Additional supplies include grass seed, fertilizers, pest controls, and herbicides. It can be much easier to work with the natural soil and climate conditions than to force a specific lawn type. For example, a grass/clover mix can self-fertilize since clover can fix nitrogen from the air. Other ground covers, perennials, shrubs, and trees may be less work to maintain.

List 13 - Gardening edit

Gardening is distinguished from general yard work by intentionally planting and growing plants for food or aesthetic reasons. Yard work is more basic exterior maintenance to suppress weeds, maintain access, and reduce vermin. There is overlap between the two, but gardening typically has more specialized tools.

 This is a very popular activity, so there are many reference sources, suppliers, organizations and groups, and outside help such as Agricultural Extension education.

Hand Tools

  • Garden Trowel - a small pointed shovel designed to use with one hand.
  • Hand Cultivator - small single hand, or long handle two hand types. They have several curved tines for breaking up soil or pulling weeds by the roots.
  • Hand Weeder - any of several tools to sever deeper roots or cut weeds near the surface.
  • Draw Hoe - has a blade set crosswise to the handle. It is intended to chop into the ground and then pulled or levered. Can be one or two-handed, with various blade shapes. Narrow blades are for hard soil, while wider ones can move looser soil.
  • Scuffle Hoes - The Hoop or action type has a cross blade more parallel to the handle, often sharpened to cut roots near the surface. Linear hoes have blades parallel to the handle and can cut roots without disturbing adjacent soil.
  • Garden Fork - has around four sturdy tines set parallel to a D-ended handle. They are driven into the soil and then levered to loosen or lift it. The Pitchfork has a longer straight handle and slightly curved tines. It is used to pick up and throw loose material rather than drive into the ground.
  • Bulb Planter - has pivoted cylinder halves and a serrated bottom to cut and lift soil for planting bulbs and other plants, then replacing the soil to cover them.
  • Wheel Hoe - A narrow wheel attached to handles, on which a hoop blade and other attachments can be mounted. It is useful where longer rows of soil need to be worked.
  • Root Cutter - any of a number of serrated tools designed to cut thicker roots. The shovel type has a chisel bottom edge and toothed sides, and is stepped on for cutting force. The one hand type have hooked saw blades or a toothed trowel shape. The shovel and trowel types are first used to expose the root before cutting.
  • Hand Sprayer - is used to spray herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals. It uses a hand trigger or a manual air pump to supply pressure.

Stationary Equipment

  • Garden Shed - This is a building near a garden to store tools, equipment, and materials. It may also include a workbench for maintenance and tasks like potting plants.
  • Raised Beds - are enclosed areas of soil above ground level set up for any of a number of reasons: easier access, erosion control, eliminate compaction by not walking on the soil, and others.
  • Garden Structures - These are other structures like walls, fences, trellises, greenhouses, stakes, and wire mesh. They are used for weather and sun control, to keep out animals, and to support growing plants. The simplest gardens use none of these and compensate for yield losses by planting more. This may be less than the cost and work of building structures.

Mobile Equipment

 For larger gardens and heavier soils, hand tools will take too long or are too hard to use. Wheeled power equipment, either electric or combustion engine, can handle the needed soil preparation. For new gardens, this includes breaking up the soil, removing excess rocks, grading for drainage, and mixing in soil amendments. It may make sense to hire people or rent equipment for the heavier one-time tasks. Categories of equipment include self-powered walk-behind, and attachments to larger riding mowers and garden tractors (List 12).

  • Garden Cultivator - walk-behind machine for breaking up and mixing soil using rotating tines.
  • Dump Cart - Two wheel mower attachment with a tilting bed. For moving larger amounts of material than a wheelbarrow or with less labor.
  • Ground-Engaging Attachments - These are used with larger garden tractors to turn and break up soil. They include a plow, cultivator, and harrow.


  • Water, Light, and Temperature - All plants need these in the right amounts to grow. The easiest way to do this is selecting plants suited to the climate. For example Hardiness Zones are mapped out by minimum annual temperature, and various information sources will list which zone(s) a given plant is suited for. If natural conditions are unsuited, they can be modified artificially. There are many ways to do this from simple watering cans to complex irrigation systems, removing or adding items for shade and temperature control, and artificial lights.
  • Compost - is decomposed plant, food, and other organic material. It is used to fertilize and condition soil. It can be bought or made on-site from garden and other sources. Composting takes time, so making it involves an open pile or suitable container.
  • Planting Stock - Many plants grow from seeds, which can either be purchased, or obtained from previous generations of grown plants. Other forms of Plant Propagation don't require seeds, but need a previously existing plant, or parts from it, as starting material.
  • Fertilizers - Besides the basics of water, light, air, and usually soil, plants need a variety of other nutrients to grow. If they can't obtain them from the available soil or water sources, they have to be added. General additions of fertilizers, based on knowledge of the soil and what given plants need can be helpful. More specific recommendations can come from Soil Tests.

List 14 - Landscaping edit

Landscaping is intentionally changing the visible features of land. A landscape typically includes non-living features like steps, walls, and fences, and living items like grass, trees, ground cover, and ornamental plants. For building the non-living items, see Section 8.0 on construction projects.

 Landscaping overlaps with yard work, gardening, and construction. Yard work is more concerned with maintaining an existing landscape, and gardening is focused on growing specific plants rather than all the land. Building construction often disturbs the land, requiring landscaping to restore it, and uses heavier equipment for excavation and contouring the land. Construction can also install utilities and equipment later needed in a landscape such as water and electric.

Landscape Architecture is concerned with the design of landscapes. As a profession it is related to Architecture, which is concerned with structures and the built environment. You can hire professionals for complex projects, but most home and small business projects don't need that level of training. Landscape Design Software is available to help design and visualize projects. Many Books and other reference sources are available on this subject.

 Power versions in various sizes are available for many of the yard, garden, and landscaping hand tools. They are used for bigger jobs, and can be rented or hired with crew for larger projects that only need them once. They are either dedicated machines for a single task, or mounted as attachments to a larger machine like a garden tractor, Skid-Steer Loader, or farm tractor. Some are towed to a working location, but others have drive wheels or tracked treads to move themselves. None of these are needed to start on a small scale, but can be used as needed for larger projects.

Hand Tools

  • Shovels and Spades - These are variations of the general tool type used for digging and moving bulk material. A shovel has a rounded and more angled blade and is used at a lower angle. It is more suited for picking up and moving loose material. A spade has a flatter and in-line blade and is used vertically for trenching and other straight-sided digging. One general-purpose long-handled shovel is enough to start. Other variations can be added as needed.
  • Earth Auger - The hand version has a wide screw or two curved vertical blades, with a T-handle for leverage. It is only suited for smaller holes in soil.
  • Digging Bar - A long metal bar with various shaped ends, used to break up, pry, and tamp soil and rock, using their weight and thickness, and using repeated impacts or leverage. One about chest to head height with flat and pointed ends to start.
  • Pickaxe - T-shaped tool with sturdy pointed and flat ends of the head. The swing motion allows more impact force than a digging bar, and is used for similar tasks.
  • Cutter Mattock - Similar to pickaxe but has lengthwise and crosswise blades suited to exposing and cutting roots.
  • Post Hole Digger and Post Pounder - The digger consists of facing shovel blades, hinged so they can grab dirt trapped between them to pull out. Both are used for setting fence posts, either directly, or by making a hole which is later filled and tamped.
  • Soil Tamper - any heavy object with a small flat base used to compact loose soil by impact. The small end of a heavy branch can be used as an improvised one, but metal rods made for the purpose are also used.

Power Tools

  • Lawn Aerator - uses rotating spikes or cores to create holes in the soil. This allows air, water, and fertilizers to reach the roots, and with grass divides the roots so the leaves multiply. Commonly a towed attachment.
  • Broadcast Spreader - uses a spinning disk with fins or blade to distribute seeds and granular material evenly over the ground. Smaller hand-crank ones exist, but a towed attachment is used for larger areas.

Mobile Equipment

  • Trailer - is pulled behind a powered vehicle for extra weight and volume capacity for tools, equipment, and bulk materials. There are many types and sizes, but must be coordinated with the towing vehicle's capacity and hitch (connector) for safety.
  • Excavator and Backhoe - have a jointed hydraulic arm with a toothed digging bucket. Excavators are generally larger and pivot as a whole on the undercarriage. Backhoes are generally smaller with only the arm pivoting. Smaller backhoes are attachments rather than complete machines.
  • Loader - a wide hydraulic bucket with two support arms for scraping up, lifting, and dumping loose material. Wheel and track versions are used for different ground conditions, and smaller versions are attachments.
  • Bulldozer - a heavy machine with treads to push or pull materials and objects with great force. Small Versions exist, but since they rely on their weight for traction, they are generally larger machines or attached to larger equipment.
  • Wheel Scraper - has a large, low-slung bladed bucket to gather and then hydraulically disperse material. Often used for grading land contours.
  • Trencher - cuts a relatively narrow trench in the ground to a desired depth. Sizes range from walk-behind, to attachments, to larger self-propelled units.
  • Dump Truck - wheeled units to move and then dump material within a project site or over the road. For small loads a hand-cranked sliding sheet unloader can be attached to a pickup truck or trailer, but most units have a mechanical lift and hinged bed.
  • Grader and Box Blade - a machine or attachment with an open or semi-enclosed adjustable scraping blade to level and contour soil and loose surface material.

Materials, Parts and Supplies

 Landscape projects can use a wide variety of materials and supplies. General categories include:

  • Topsoil
  • Soil Amendments
  • Sod
  • Water Distribution System
  • Water Features
  • Drainage System
  • Erosion Control
  • Outdoor Lighting & Electronics
  • Natural Stone

List 15 - Forestry edit

Forestry projects involve one or more Trees, long-lived plants that grow more than 30 ft (10 m) tall. At a residential level, maintaning and removing trees is called Tree Care, and a business which does this a Tree Service. Planting tree seeds, seedlings, or saplings uses the same tools as gardening and landscaping (Lists 13 and 14) do for other small plants. Urban Logging aims to extract usable wood and other products from around homes and other developed areas.

 Larger scale forestry manages and harvests multiple trees in less developed areas, and tends to need larger and more specialized equipment. Logging is the large-scale harvesting and removal of trees. It is usually at an industrial rather than personal production scale. Clearing is the removal of trees and other vegetation so the land can be used for other purposes. It can be done at any scale. Sustainable Forestry aims for the long-term health of forests while getting useful products from them.

WARNING all serious timber cutting is very dangerous due to powerful machines with exposed teeth, and the weight of falling or shifting trees and branches. It should never be done alone or without some training. Methods like anchor ropes/chains can pull down trees from a safe distance. If you are at all unsure, hire professionals with the right equipment and experience.

Hand and Power Tools

  • Axe - A sharpened wedge, usually metal, attached to a handle. There are several size and shapes for different tasks like Felling, Splitting, or Hewing. The hatchet noted in List 12 is a small axe. One single- or double-bladed felling axe is enough to start.
  • Wedges and Mauls - Wood, metal, and plastic wedges can help direct how a tree falls, and assist in splitting by inserting and pounding a series into a growing crack started with an axe. A heavy wood mallet will not damage metal axe heads and wedges while pounding. Mallets can be improvised in the woods from any thick branch, but one with a proper head and handle is easier to use. A Splitting Maul is designed to start or complete a crack.
  • Hand Saws - Cutting trees and branches over 2 inches (5 cm) diameter mainly uses saws. A number are noted in previous lists, but for standing (still part of a tree) and Green Wood (has not lost internal water), specialized cutting teeth are more efficient. If you have a reciprocating saw, such blades are available. The hand Bucksaw is for cutting smaller logs to length. The Bow Saw typically has a narrower blade and smaller frame for branches and working in tight spaces.
  • Chainsaw - An electric or fuel-powered machine for cutting larger trees down and to size. Cutting at high speed with a chainsaw will quickly dull the teeth, so a sharpening kit should be on hand for more than occasional use. For fuel-powered types a container of the right fuel mix is needed, and for all types a thick Bar Oil is used to lubricate the chain and prevent clogging with sawdust.
  • Cant Hook - a metal hook on a sturdy handle for turning and lifting logs with leverage.
  • Debarking Tools - Bark is the protective outer layer around the wood in trees. It is often desirable to remove it, and this is easier when the wood is still green. Tools include the Bark Spud, long-handled scraper, drawknife (List 8), and power tools that grind or chip away the bark.
  • Moisture Meter - an electronic device for measuring water content in wood, typically as percent water relative to dry wood weight.

Mobile and Stationary Equipment

 Logs are generally too heavy to move by hand, so moving and lifting equipment from List 2, and powered vehicles are often used. Specialized machines and attachments like Skidders and Logging Arches make it easier to move logs out of the woods by dragging, lifting, and supporting on wheels. Once at a road they can be lifted onto trucks and trailers for transportation. Logs are then converted to usable lumber and prepared for use with:

  • Sawmill - a machine for sawing a log into pieces of lumber. A woodworking bandsaw can be used for smaller logs, but larger stationary or trailer-mounted machines are needed to handle large logs.
  • Wood Drying - Freshly cut logs and branches have a high water content. This invites rot, and wood changes size and shape as it dries, so drying is needed for most wood after cutting or sawing. This is also called "seasoning" because drying time in air is measured in seasons.
 Air drying involves stacking the wood so air can circulate on all sides but rain is kept off. Small spacers between sawn pieces allow air movement and prevent rot. The stack can be simply supported with blocks and treated timbers to keep them away from ground moisture, and covered with anything waterproof that overhangs the stack enough to keep rain off. A drying kiln is a low-temperature oven with moisture removal, to speed up drying.

List 16 - Farming edit

 Farming is Agriculture on a larger scale than gardening (List 13) and can involve raising animals as well as plants. The same items as in List 13 can be used to start at smaller scales. Larger and more specialized equipment and buildings can then be added when needed. They will vary according to the types of farm product. These include food, fibers, fuel, and raw materials. Food types include cereals, vegetables, fruits, oils, meat, milk, eggs, and others.

 Farms can produce much more than needed for personal use, so they are often Community Efforts or small businesses. Farms tend to specialize in one or a few products suited to the local climate and soil. This requires fewer kinds of specialized equipment and knowledge.

 Among the types of agriculture, a Tree Farm is a forest managed for timber production, and is covered by forestry (List 15). Forest Farming is performed under a forest canopy, without major clearing. Agroforestry uses a mixture of trees and shrubs among fields and pastures, while conventional Farms remove all or most other vegetation. Aquaculture and commercial fishing occur in water, rather than on land. Hydroponics and Aeroponics are done without soil or other solid medium.

 In addition to hand, power, and mobile equipment in the previous basic and outdoor lists, farming uses:

  • Farm Tractor - This has an engine and large wheels designed to produce high traction (pulling) force. Their usefulness comes from a large variety of Attachments for different tasks. Unpowered attachments are directly moved by the tractor. Powered ones use the tractor's a hydraulic pump or power take-off (PTO) shaft connected to the engine. Tractor engine power ranges from just above garden tractors (18 hp/13 kW engine) to large ones (600 hp/450 kW) with additional wheels or treads for more traction. The size, weight, and features scale along with the engine power.
  • Specialty Machines - These are designed for specific tasks and have their own engines. An example is the Combine Harvester, which performs several harvesting steps in one machine.
  • Sheds and Barns - These are farm structures used for storing equipment, materials, products, and livestock. They can be any size required, and a farm may have multiple structures depending on need. Barns and sheds overlap, but generally share having large access doors. Sheds are typically smaller and simpler, and may not be fully enclosed or have a constructed floor. Barns may have multiple floors, be built into a slope for access or cool storage, have finished floors, and upper doors and hoists to lift items. Barns used for animals may have internal dividers, containers, and feeding systems.
  • Greenhouses - enclosed structures that regulate the internal environment, but let enough light in to support plant growth. Their sizes range from small Cold Frames to ones covering many acres (hectares). Depending on needs, they can include ventilation, heating, cooling, lighting, and CO2 enrichment. Some modern ones now include automation and robotic equipment.
  • Farm Storage - Farms generally deal with a large amount of materials and products that need storage. Storage structures and equipment includes Silos, Storage Tanks for liquids and gases, open holding bins, either manufactured or constructed, enclosed bags, bins, covered piles, and various kinds of refrigerated and altered air storage units.

8.0 - Construction Projects edit

Construction in general refers to making buildings, infrastructure, and industrial facilities. It is a Complex Activity with many specialties, which we can't cover all the details of. In this section we cover the more common and basic kinds of construction for personal or small business scale projects, or doing portions of larger projects. It also includes maintenance, repair, and remodeling of existing structures using the same set of tools.

 These projects use basic items from Section 3.0, and some equipment from sections 6.0 (Large Indoor) and 7.0 (Outdoor). They generally need additional items from this section. We divide them into six lists (17 to 22). The first is general construction items, useful across multiple project stages and types. The others are carpentry, masonry and concrete, plumbing, electrical, and finishing, which are more specific. The lists in this section are not a strict sequence, but rather grouped by type of work. A given project may need equipment from any of them.

 The Construction Process generally follows the following series of activities, although some may be omitted in a given project, overlap in time, or have portions in a different order:

Pre-Construction Phase

  • Land Acquisition - searching, selecting, and negotiating for a suitable place to build. Concluding the purchase may be deferred until some later steps are completed. Land may require Geotechnical Investigation to determine if it is suitable, and Surveying to determine exact location, bounaries, and topography.
  • Planning and Permits - This covers any Architectural Engineering and design needed before physical work begins. This includes preparing the detailed sequence of steps for a complex project, drawings (plans), and specifications for carrying out the work. It also includes making sure physical access and outside utilities will be available, what site features currently exist that may need to be changed or worked around, then obtaining needed permission such as building permits. Simple construction projects from existing plans on existing land may need very little planning.
  • Finance, Insurance, and Legal - Many projects require borrowing money, which will be repaid from their operation later or from outside sources. They also can involve preparing multiple contracts for work and materials, and insurance to cover project risks. These aspects are often covered by outside specialists.
  • Procurement - is obtaining the materials, parts, and equipment that will end up in the finished project, and hiring the skilled trades and labor to do the work. For small projects, this may be entirely self-done. For larger ones or where the personal skills and time are lacking, this is through Contractors. These can be General Contractors, who covers all or most aspects of a project, or individual contractors who do specific parts.

Construction Phase

 The CSI Masterformat standard, and reference materials based on it, have a comprehensive list of physical construction steps and components, but the general activities and typical order include:

  • Site Work - This includes locating existing underground utilities, removal of natural vegetation and topsoil, demolition of existing structures if needed, Construction Surveying of the building site (rather than the property as a whole from land acquisition), Staking points and lines on the ground, and excavation, grading, and compacting the ground. It also includes providing temporary utilities and sanitation if needed. Larger equipment for earth-moving is found in Landscaping (List 14), and for clearing in Forestry (List 15). At the end of construction temporary items are removed, the site is cleaned up, and final landscaping installed.
  • Substructure and Foundations - This includes installing items that end up at or under ground level when complete, such as drainage, utility lines, building foundation, and floor slab. It includes leaving exposed stubs to later attach internal utilities and services to.
  • Main Structure and Large Items -This is assembling walls, floors, roof, external doors, and windows to the point a structure is weather-protected. It also includes installing items like heating and ventilation systems and bathtubs that are too large to install later, and delivery of larger prefabricated components. Following this is passive or active drying of the components that had previously been exposed to the elements.
  • Internal Utilities and Services - Covers installing items like electrical and plumbing that will later be covered by finished walls, or left exposed in unfinished or utility spaces. Also includes connecting internal to permanent external services like power, water, and sewer lines. Insulation is then applied to walls before covering the insides.
  • Finishing - Covers ompleting the final surfaces, cabinets, interior doors, fixtures, and appliances that will be visible and regularly used.

 How many of the steps can be done individually or within a community, or done by hiring contractors, depends on their skills, crew size, and how often they expect to do it. Earlier work like excavation generally needs larger and more expensive equipment that is only used once on a project. So when starting out in construction we suggest contracting out the bigger steps.

List 17 - General Construction edit

 Basic tools from section 3.0 are used in all kinds of construction, but additional general equipment is useful across multiple phases of such projects. We list those here, and more specialized items in the remaining lists. The earlier stages of construction often require working outdoors, with less access to services from more developed areas. So certain personal items, and temporary equipment for weather protection and comfort may be needed:

Personal Equipment

Weather Protection and Comfort

 A very simple shelter can be rigged from Tarps, lumber or poles with nails or screws at the ends, anchor ropes, and either heavy objects like concrete blocks. Tent Pegs, or Earth Anchors set into the ground to secure the ropes.
  • Folding Chairs - for resting or working while sitting down. Seats can be improvised from inverted buckets, tool chests, and other items already on a work site.
  • Insulated Coolers - to keep food and drink cold or warm at the construction site. Hot liquids are often stored in Thermos Bottles.
  • Tables - Plan tables are for holding construction drawings and other reference items. Portable tables, often folding are used while eating or resting. Temporary work tables are often made from construction items like sawhorses and plywood sheets.
  • Portable Toilets if restroom facilities are not available nearby.

Safety and Security

  • Traffic Cones, Roadblocks. and Barricade Tape - to direct traffic, warnings about construction areas, and for temporary hazards like holes and building openings with a drop beyond them.
  • Safety Signs - more durable signage about specific hazards and safety equipment locations.
  • Silt Fence - to control erosion and sediment from construction disturbances.
  • Temporary Fencing - and other security equipment, to keep unwanted people and animals out and prevent theft.
  • Scaffolding - Temporary structures to support workers and materials while building. Smaller ones can have wheels and be used indoors, while larger ones are stationary, fixed to the ground or a partially built structure.
  • Aerial Work Platforms and Cranes - for raising workers and materials, respectively. These are dedicated machines used when greater heights or weights are needed than temporary hoists and winches can handle.

Measuring and Marking

  • Chalk Line - For marking out straight lines by snapping a chalked string against a surface.
  • Mason's Twine - Light string to mark edges and horizontals with minimal stretch and sag.
  • Tape Measures and Wheels - longer than the tapes in List 1, and more accurate, for measuring horizontal distances. The Surveyor's Wheel has a known circumference and measures distance by counting rotations and fractions. They are less accurate than tapes, especially on rough or wet ground, but can cover longer distances.
 Accurate long distances are measured by Triangulation with a transit, but require lines of sight for the segments. Differential GPS can measure the relative positions of two satellite receivers to a few cm (1 inch), without needing a line of sight.
  • Builder's Level and Transit (theodolite) - Instruments with a telescope and accurate bubble level to sight on a horizontal plane. A Level Staff (rod) is a large vertical ruler. When sighted through the telescope, different readings mean different heights at its base. A transit additionally has vernier angle scales to accurately measure horizontal and vertical angles.

Temporary Services

 If permanent utilities are not accessible nearby, a construction site may use any of the following for temporary services:

  • Power Inverter - connected to a vehicle battery or electrical system to run lights and power tools. These generally have lower power output.
  • Portable Generator which use a combustion engine connected to an electric generator. They come in a range of sizes from hand-held, to having wheels and handles, to large units mounted to a trailer chassis.
  • Temporary Power Panel - This connects to the power line that will later supply the finished construction, often mounted on a pole or other temporary support. It supplies enough current and outlets for tools and lights during construction. Enough extension cords of the outdoor type are also needed.
  • Construction Lighting - These are temporary lights designed for outdoor or indoor use before permanent building power is installed. They have features like poles, stands, clips, and protective coverings to make them movable and prevent damage.
  • Water Supply - If a permanent water supply is not available at a construction site, it can be imported by temporary hoses or pipes from nearby, or delivered in water tanks. If a permanent water supply and meter are available, temporary piping and spigots can be installed during construction until the permanent fixtures are in place.
  • Drainage - Site work should provide permanent rainwater drainage, but during excavation and other work, temporary Water Pumps may be needed to remove standing water or lower the soil water table.
  • Ventilation, Heaters, and Drying - This includes box, pedestal, and drum Electric Fans, Space Heaters, and Dehumidifiers as needed for air flow, heating, and drying.

General Accessories

  • Sheet Goods - This includes plastic sheeting, drop cloths, and tarps. They are used to cover openings and exposed parts of unfinished structures, as rain covers for materials and equipment, and to protect surfaces from paint, dirt, sawdust and other contaminants.
  • Site Cleanup - Tools and supplies to collect and dispose of trash, scraps, and other unwanted items. It includes general cleaning items like brooms, dust pans, trash cans and bags, and empty containers that held parts and materials. For large amounts a commercial Dumpster can be rented, emptied or hauled off by a commercial service.

List 18 - Carpentry edit

Carpentry is the cutting, shaping, and installation of general building materials that make up a structure. For this list we exclude items in the later lists below. It includes wood framing, roofing, structural metalwork, fireplace installation, and drywall. Installing drywall is typically left until after internal utilities and services are installed. A wide variety of fasteners like nails and screws, and accessory hardware like brackets are used to connect the many parts of a building. Some basic carpentry tools were included in Section 3.0, and in Lists 8 and 9 on woodworking and metal fabrication. Additional tools include:

  • Framing Hammers are larger and heavier than claw hammers, for driving large nails in wood-frame construction. Either the nail or hammer head can be textured to reduce sideways slippage.
  • Roofing Hammer - a type of hatchet with a hammer head on one side and a blade on the other for cutting or prying roofing shingles.
  • Nail Guns - These drive nails with electric, air, or other power sources, and make driving large numbers of nails easier. They come in assorted sizes and types, so start with whatever kind of nails you are using the most. Most use clips of many nails at a time. Basic electric drills with suitable bits can drive screws, but specialty Screw Guns exist that feed from a clip for doing many of the same type in sequence.
  • Drywall Square - A large T-square for scoring and snapping drywall to fit a room. Generally used with a utility knife. A keyhole saw (List 2) is used to cut small openings, and jig and circular saws for cutting off larger pieces.
  • Taping and Putty Knives - are used to fill in and smooth joints and screw holes in drywall. They differ in width and blade shapes.
  • Joint Compound and Drywall Tape - are the filler and reinforcement applied to drywall joints. Corner Beads are right-angle metal strips fastened to outside drywall corners before filling joints.
  • Pole Sander - is used to smooth out drywall joints in places that are hard to reach with hand sanders.
  • Glass Cutter - for trimming window and other glass to size.

List 19 - Masonry & Concrete edit

Masonry is construction with individual units, often bound by Mortar. The units can be brick, stone, concrete block, and other strong, durable materials. Concrete is cast stones and sand, with a fluid Cement-Water mixture that hardens to bind them together. Portland Cement is most common type. It is mostly limestone and clay minerals converted in a high temperature furnace, with some gypsum and other minor additives.

 Concrete can be mixed and poured in large amounts at a time, but requires Formwork to contain it until it hardens. Masonry may not need formwork or stabilization, but involves many smaller pieces, typically needing more labor. Both types may use high-strength reinforcement such as steel Rebar to resist tension forces. Masonry and concrete are strong against compression forces but often weak in other directions.

 Structural masonry and concrete support the weight and other loads of a construction project. Lighter or thinner layers like Masonry Veneer are used for weather protection and appearance. Structural masonry can be covered or surface-finished by a number of methods, some of which are in List 22.

Hand Tools

  • Bricklayer's Hammer - has a square head on one side and chisel edge on the other. Used to tap bricks into place in mortar or score and cut them to size when needed. A mallet and cold chisel can do the same jobs but require two hands instead of one.
  • Stonemason's Hammers and Hardies - have various head shapes for either directly crushing or splitting stone or positioning then striking with a mallet. The heads are generally thicker and heavier than other hammers. Hardies are wedges fixed below a stone while hammering from above. The Bush Hammer - has a grid of points to roughen stone or concrete for traction or adhesion of pieces.
  • Chisels - Cold chisels were noted in List 2, but additional sizes of Brick, Concrete, Masonry, Stone Drafting, Point, Toothed, Tile, Offset and Cross-Cut chisels may be useful. Chisels are usually struck with non-metallic mallets so as not to damage their heads. Hand protectors and clamping handles like a locking pliers can protect from hand injury.
  • Plug and Feather - Three piece sets of wedges used to split large stones along a desired line.
  • Masonry Trowels - for leveling, spreading, and shaping mortar and concrete. Start with the basic brick type, but there are numerous types and sizes for specialized tasks. Jointers are narrow tools for smoothing the mortar surface between bricks.
  • Screed Board and Rails - a straight board moved across support rails to level the surface of concrete. The concrete form can act as the rails, but for large slabs additional rails may be needed, then removed and back-filled once the concrete has partially set.
  • Concrete Floats - are used to smooth and compact the surface of concrete before it dries. They are 9 inches (22 cm) wide and up for direct hand use, and larger ones have extension poles to reach farther across a slab. For a non-slip surface, a broom is used rather than a smooth float.
  • Hawk - a board about 13 in (34 cm) square with a perpendicular central handle. Used to hold a quantity of mortar or similar materials while placing it with a trowel.
  • Mortar Hoe - a square-bladed hoe with holes to aid manual mixing of mortar and similar materials. Any water-tight container can be used for mixing, but smooth-surfaced ones are easier to clean before it hardens.
  • Line Blocks - two or more corner-shaped blocks with string grooves. Mason's twine is stretched between them, then are hooked to corners to align the remaining pieces. Protruding sticks clamped to the corners can also be used.
  • Storey Pole - a straight piece of wood marked with the heights of bricks or blocks and the mortar spaces between them. It is used to check row heights during construction.

Power Tools

  • Mixers - The concrete type typically have fixed fins inside the drum, while the mortar type has moving paddles. Hand-held electric paddle mixers are for small amounts. These mix in a separate container. Wheeled electric or fuel powered drum mixers are for larger amounts. These can be moved by hand or towed by a vehicle depending on size. Very large amounts are typically delivered by dedicated Mixer Trucks.
  • Concrete Vibrator - used to compact and remove air bubbles from freshly poured concrete. Different types can be inserted into the wet concrete or placed against the concrete forms.
  • Rotary Hammer Drill - uses slotted SDS Shank Bits to pound while drilling into hard materials like stone and concrete.
  • Masonry Cutting - is with either silicon carbide or diamond blades on regular reciprocating and circular saws, or dedicated machines for cutting tile, brick, concrete, and other hard materials. Hand sawing such materials is very slow except for small cuts.

List 20 - Plumbing edit

Plumbing Systems transport and store fluids using pipes and a variety of hardware, fixtures, and tanks. Common uses are water supply, water and sewage drainage, and delivering fuels like Natural Gas for heating and cooking.

 Plumbers use a multitude of component types of different sizes and materials. When starting out, we suggest getting what is needed for a particular project. For more extensive and regular work it makes sense to stock some of the commonly used items by purchasing in bulk, but many projects will still need specific less common items.


 These tools are in addition to basic tools from Section 3.0 and benders from List 9:

  • Specialty Wrenches - The Basin Wrench has a pivoting head, and the Lock Nut, Adjustable Plumber's and Basket Strainer Wrenches are aligned with the handle or hold a part up while securing. All are designed to work in tight spaces. The Internal Pipe Wrench grips from inside a pipe so as not to damage outside surfaces or threads. Offset Pipe Wrenches have an offset head for better access.
  • Sillcock Key - a cross-shaped tool to open and close valves with a square exposed head but no knob. An 8-point socket and wrench will also work.
  • Pressure Test Gauge - designed to screw onto some part of a plumbing system to check fluid or gas pressure.
  • Pipe Extractor - a square tapered bar that is hammered into a damaged pipe then turned with a wrench.
  • Pipe and Tubing Cutters - These leave a cleaner cut end than hacksaws, who often need reaming and filing after cutting.
  • Pipe Threader and Dies - for threading heavy pipe after cutting to length.
  • PEX Expansion Tool - temporarily expands PEX type pipe so a fitting can be inserted into an expansion sleeve.
  • Butane Torch - for localized heating, such as soldering pipe sections together.
  • Press Fitting and Crimp Tools - connect plumbing components by compression of the pipe or fitting itself or a sleeve surrounding it. A component often has ridges to prevent slipping.
  • Borescope - for inspecting narrow or difficult to reach cavities.
  • Hydro Jet Machine - is used for cleaning pipes and tanks when power snake augers or suction pumps are not sufficient.


  • Pipe and Tubing - are the main component of most plumbing systems, used to carry fluids from one place to another. Pipe and tubing perform the same function, but use different standards for size and pressure rating. Standards are needed to make sure various components will fit together.
  • Piping and Plumbing Fittings - are used to connect sections of pipe or tube. There are a multitude of types, sizes, and materials.
  • Gaskets - are mechanical seals between two rigid components, to prevent leakage. Rubber Washers and O-Rings are common types. Gasket sheet material allows forming custom shapes when standard gaskets are not suitable.
  • Valves - control or limit flow. A common type is a "shutoff valve" to stop the flow through a plumbing system while it is being worked on.
  • Plumbing Fixtures - are the end points of a plumbing system where water is delivered or drained, such as bathtubs, sinks, and flush toilets. It also includes components for natural gas or steam.
  • Tap/Spigot/Faucet - a valve at the end of a plumbing system that controls the release of water or other fluid. Mixing Valves allow combining two fluids, like hot and cold water, in variable amounts.
  • Pipe Supports - are components like brackets and straps used to support pipes and fasten them to a building's structure.

Materials and Supplies

  • Thread Seal Tape - lubricates and seals tapered thread connections.
  • Acid Flux Brushes - for applying cleaning paste before soldering copper pipe.
  • Lead Free Solder - for potable water joints
  • Plastic Cement - solvent cement for PVC and similar piping.
  • Emery Cloth - for cleaning copper pipe and fittings. The cloth backing allows wrapping a length of strip around small pipes in tight spaces, then sanding by moving the ends back and forth.
  • Acid Flux Paste - for removing oxide coatings before soldering. Applied with a bristle brush.
  • Silicone Caulk - used to seal joints to make them water-tight. Typically used around sinks and bathtubs.
  • Wire Brushes and Wool - used to clean copper and brass plumbing fittings. Inside and outside brushes are made for this purpose
  • Pipe Dope - pipe thread lubricant and sealant for non-plastic pipes
  • Plumbers Putty - also used as a sealant. Compared to caulk it remains flexible and more easily removed. Performs a similar function to gaskets but can be more easily shaped into complex joints.

List 21 - Electrical and HVAC edit

 This aspect of construction includes installation of Electrical Wiring and permanent devices like switches, distribution boards, sockets, and light fittings. It also includes built-in electric Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC), electronics, and built-in electronics cables that are installed before finishing work (List 22). Electric appliances which use plugs are part of finishing as they are usually installed after other construction is completed.

 Compared to electronics (List 7), electrical work is more concerned with supplying and controlling power rather than more complex uses of that power. It uses some of the same tools, such as wire strippers, soldering iron, and digital multimeter, but with higher power levels and larger wires.

Caution: - Electricity is dangerous. Power should be off while working on exposed wiring. Typically this is by turning off a switch at the distribution (breaker) panel, then checking the circuit is unpowered with a tester. When possible use insulating gloves and tools for added safety/

 In addition to basic tools from Section 3.0, and some from List 7, Electrician Tools include:

Measuring Tools

  • Test Lights - insert into an outlet to check for voltage and current.
  • Insulation Testers - check for leakage current (which should not happen).
  • Ground Fault Testers - for testing that type of wall outlet.
  • Digital Clamp Meter - a digital multimeter that allows checking current and voltage without wire contact, in addition to using contact probes.
  • Circuit Breaker Finder - To find the correct breaker in a panel. One part plugs into an outlet and sends a signal down the wire. The other detects the signal in the panel.

Hand Tools

  • Electrician's Hammer - straight-claw hammer with longer neck and smaller head for working in tighter spaces.
  • Insulated Screwdrivers - To prevent electrical shocks.
  • Specialty Pliers - The Screw Removal type has vertical serrations at the tip in addition to horizontal ones further back. Parallel Action pliers keep the jaws parallel rather than pivoting to an angle.
  • Combination Pliers - do multiple functions in addition to grasping. Can include wire stripping, loop making, reaming and screw cutting.
  • Crimping Tools - to apply terminals or splices by compression.
  • Tubing Cutter - noted in List 20, a small one is useful in confined spaces where a hacksaw won't fit.
  • Conduit Benders - specifically designed for metal Electrical Conduit, protective tubing for wires and cables.
  • Conduit Reamer - for smoothing the sawn end of conduit. Can also be done with small grinding bits in a drill.
  • Cable Cutter - heavy duty shears with blades designed to grip and cut thicker cables. The ratcheting type is for thicker cable than the simple hand type.
  • Armored Cable Stripper - for cutting apart the metal sheath, typically with a cranked blade.
  • Knockout Punch - for making holes in sheet metal such as electrical boxes which don't already have them. Hydraulic ones can punch larger holes with less effort.
  • Fish Tape - for pulling wires through walls and conduit.
  • Fish Rod - sectional rod with hook or other tips, also for pulling items through walls and floors.

Parts and Materials

 Electrical parts and materials come in a wide variety of sizes and materials. To start with, get what is needed for a given project. If you are doing many projects, you can start stocking the more commonly used types. Types include:

  • Electrical Wire
  • Electrical Switches, Outlets, and Cover Plates
  • Electric Lights and Bulbs
  • Electrical Connectors
  • Electrical Tape
  • Cable Ties
  • Electrical Conduit and Fittings
  • Junction Boxes and Receptacles
  • Distribution Boxes and Circuit Breakers
  • HVAC and Electronic Systems and Components

List 22 - Finishing edit

 Construction finishes are the final visible parts of a building after the structural, mechanical, and hidden utilities are installed. We cover tools and materials for several kinds of finishing steps: Finish Carpentry, Paint and Wallpaper, and Flooring and Tile. This does not cover all types and methods.

Finish Carpentry

 This includes interior doors, cabinets, countertops, closet interiors, wood flooring, baseboards, and moldings. Finish carpentry uses many of the same tools as woodworking (List 8) and structural carpentry (List 18) but can add some additional specialized ones:

  • Digital Sliding T-Bevel - allows calculating angles in addition to transferring measured ones.
  • Trim Carpentry Jig - attaches to tape measure end to quickly mark 45-degree angles for corner trim.
  • Trim Puller - is a thin, wide pry bar with a right-angle bend, used for removing nailed trim.
  • Shims and Wedges - for fine positioning of items like doors and cabinets the right distance from the floor or wall. These can be purchased, but are often made from any available scrap wood. Additional crap blocks are used for rough positioning.
  • Hinge and Lock Jigs - to guide marking and drilling the correct positions for these items.
  • Brad Nailer - a smaller nail gun than for structural carpentry. Ideally battery powered due to large amounts of moving around when installing trim.
  • Floor Nailer - a nail gun designed to drive at a 45 degree angle for floor boards. Spacers should be used with wide wood boards to allow for expansion and contraction, either between boards or around the room perimeter.
  • Color Putty - to hide nail holes and other small imperfections in trim work. Color match to the underlying material.

Paint and Wallpaper Tools

  • Drop Cloths - Surface protection was mentioned in List 3, and sheet goods in List 17. Construction painting often requires covering entire floors, then placing heavier items like ladders and platforms on top. Painter's drop cloths are therefore often heavier material like canvas, and designed not to leak paint through. Disposable items like newsprint or empty plastic bags can be placed wherever drips are likely to happen, as in filling roller trays from cans.
  • Surface Cleaner - to remove any surface dirt left from previous work.
  • Sanding Sponges - To smooth out surfaces before painting.
  • Painter's Tape - a type of masking tape designed to not leave residue for a specified time. Used to mask off the edges of painting areas. Since it is a weak tape, it should not be used to hold any weight besides itself.
  • Painter's Brushes - come in a variety of widths for general coverage, and some have angled or tapered tips to get into corners. Various handle shapes and lengths are used for reach and in tight spaces. Foam Brushes are small disposable ones for small projects. Even smaller or detail painting can use artistic paint brushes (List 3)
  • Paint Rollers and Covers - use for painting large areas rapidly. The roller is a handle and frame which holds the cover - a cylinder with pile fabric that holds the paint. Extension handles allow doing higher walls and ceilings. Roller Trays are designed to apply paint across the width of rollers. One each 9 and 4 inch (22.5 and 10 cm) sizes are enough to start.
  • Roller Edgers - have barriers or edges to prevent paint from spreading beyond a defined limit. Masking off an area with tape does a similar task.
  • Flat Edgers and Pads - are designed to slide in sideways in narrow spaces, where regular brushes and rollers won't fit. The pads are replaceable.
  • Paint Racks - support smaller items being painted above a surface. Typically they support items on a right angle corner. If both sides need painting the item is flipped over once the first side is dry.
  • Paint Can Tools - A Paint Can Key is specifically designed to open metal paint and other cans with a press fit lid. Other tools can also be used as levers for this task. A Stirring Stick is any flat stick strong enough to mix paint which may have separated during storage.
 A Can Hook can hang a paint can on a ladder for access. Some ladders have built-in shelves accept accessory shelves or hooks for this purpose. A rubber mallet or flat board hit with a hammer can close cans with remaining paint without deforming the lid. Any smaller container with an airtight lid can be used to store leftover paint, and also to hold small amounts of paint for working where a can is awkward. A small container with a side handle is easier to hold for long periods.
  • Large Paint Bucket - Purchased or store-mixed paint cans may have small color differences between cans. Pouring all of them into a large bucket and mixing ensures the color is uniform across a large visible area like a room.
  • Brush and Roller Cleaners - Combs and scrapers are used to return the majority of paint to a container when finished. Brush cleaner liquids or dish soap and warm water then remove the remainder.
  • Spray Painting Equipment - Pressurized cans can be used to spray paint smaller areas. Large spray paint guns use compressed air or electric power to cover a large area more quickly. Since sprayed paint tends to spread widely, areas you don't want painted need to be masked off with tape and some kind of area covering.
  • Smoothing Brush - To smooth out and push out air bubbles once wallpaper is pasted to a surface. The paper is then trimmed at corners and edges with a utility knife.

Surface Finish Materials and Supplies

 These are layers of material applied to produce the final look and protection of a surface. Since there is a wide variety of colors and types, and is usually a matter of personal preference, they should be bought as needed for a given project. Leftover materials can sometimes be saved for later maintenance and repair.

  • Paint Strippers - are used in addition to physical removers like scrapers and sandpaper. Old paint can also be removed by heat guns or steam. Which to use depends on the size of the job, from single drops and smears to whole buildings, the kind of paint, and the material under the paint.
  • Spackling Paste - or "spackle" is a putty to fill small holes and cracks before painting.
  • Caulk - is used to fill and seal gaps, especially outdoors. There are many types, and not all can be painted, so select them based on specific uses. A Caulking Gun is commonly used to apply caulk that comes in tubes.
  • Primers are used to prepare a surface for a later finish layer or layers of paint.
  • Paint - is a pigmented material which dries to a solid film. They come in all colors and typically have water or oil bases.
  • Other Wood Finishes - These are the same types noted in List 8 - Woodworking, but on permanent parts of a building.
  • Clear Coatings - used to protect but not color a surface, such as Varnish.
  • Wallpaper Paste - used to adhere wallpaper to surfaces.
  • Wallpaper - Decorative material used on walls and other surfaces.

Flooring and Tile Tools

 This includes permanent Floor Coverings other than wood. Examples are carpet, synthetic sheet, and floor tiles. It also includes exposed ceramic Tile such as in kitchens and bathrooms.

  • Heavy Duty Scraper - has a crosswise razor blade for removing old floor coverings and tile. They have handle lengths 12 inches (30 cm) and up, and blade widths 4 inches (10 cm) and up, usually with replaceable blades. They are variously hand pushed, struck with a mallet, or pushed with legs and body weight with a scraping or prying motion.
  • Tile Chisel - a flat cold chisel with a slightly angled blade to better get beneath existing tile.
  • Grout Saw - hand saw with a small abrasive blade for removing old grout between tiles. For larger amounts, a rotary or oscillating power tool with an abrasive bit can be used.
  • Notched Trowel - has regularly spaced notches or serrations along the edges to evenly spread tile grout or flooring adhesives.
  • Grout Float - Similar to a concrete float but with a soft surface like rubber to not scratch tiles. Used to smooth grout between tiles.
  • Ceramic Tile Cutter - The stationary manual version is used to score and snap thinner tiles. Harder and thicker tiles require a diamond blade in an angle grinder or a Wet Saw, which uses water to cool the blade and reduce hazardous dust.
  • Tile File and Rubbing Stone - These have carbide or diamond grit for smoothing edges of cut tiles. Typically coarser grit than sharpening stones or tools. The file has a handle, while the stone does not.
  • Ceramic Drills and Hole Cutters - carbide or diamond bits for making holes in hard materials.

Flooring and Tile Materials

  • Carpet - here we mean the type securely fastened to a floor. Detached carpets and rugs are furnishings added after construction.
  • Laminate Flooring - is made of layers of synthetic material, typically in plank shapes.
  • Vinyl Flooring - a synthetic material in the form of large sheets, planks, or tile.
  • Ceramic Tile - a hard and durable surface covering kiln-fired at high temperatures.
  • Polymer Flooring - is applied in liquid form, and dries or cures to a seamless surface.
  • Polished Concrete and Terrazzo - the latter differs from concrete in having ingredients added for looks rather than strength. Both are mechanically ground to a smooth surface, with optional surface coatings and sealants.