It doesn’t take long for those of us that are new to power tools to be infected with the DIY bug. Suddenly all of those little jobs that have been put off due to the expense of a tradesman seem simple enough to do ourselves.
With a good range of power tools, we can now put up shelves, decorate, sand, chop wood, plane, construct and even become more creative as our experience develops. Some go a little further and make furniture for the home, or bird houses and benches for the garden.
However there is one essential piece of kit that you need for your workshop, whether you house your power tools in a shed, garage or an outhouse, you still need space outdoors to be able to do those messy jobs that would ruin the carpet and make you unpopular indoors.
For the practical DIYer this is the one piece of furniture that will seem the most important, and scrimping is not an option. When treating yourself to the latest electric screwdriver or jigsaw, think of the workbench first, as a good solid surface will become an essential part of everyday DIY life.
Always look to expand your tool collection
There are many portable workbenches for sale that you can transport indoors or outdoors. These are very useful as they double as trellis for furniture or allow you to work inside. However, if you are to expand your range of power tools to include a circular saw, planers and more, you need something permanent and sturdy on which to use the tools.
Think of it like your office desk. Not only does it need to be able to hold your most precious items, it also has to have enough space for you to work. However, unlike the office desk this is yet another item you can actually build yourself. It may even become your first creative project!
Solid antiquarian mahogany wouldn’t be a wise choice for the construction of your workbench, however old palettes, or 2 by 4 would. By its very nature it needs to look a little scruffy as no matter how careful you are you will accumulate an array of scratches, dents and even holes. Although the wood must be sturdy (pine is excellent) it mustn’t cost so much that you’re scared to use it.
Although you may be tempted to give it a lovely silky finish this may be counterproductive. A glossy varnish will encourage power tools (and your hands) to slip making it quite a dangerous work station. Instead to inject a little personality try a matt varnish or even a stain. This way if you must you can rejuvenate it on an annual basis.
All workbenches should have a vice or two. Not only for holding pieces of wood steady as you drill or sand, but an array of sizes perfectly aligned will enable you to have the pressure required if you have caught the carpentry bug.
Also, many circular saws have the facility to be able to be screwed directly to the workbench. If you have enough space this is perfect as it makes sure the saw stays still as the wood moves through it.
In summary your workbench doesn’t have to be a piece of art, practicality is the key. As long as it’s strong enough and sturdy enough you will get a lifetime of enjoyment out of your new best friend.
Everyone loves a bargain. Indeed there is little more satisfying than finding something you want for less than you would have expected to pay for it. While bagging yourself a bargain gives you a great sense of achievement this feeling can be short lived as second hand tools are rarely as they seem.
When buying a second hand power tool you have no way to vouch for the quality of the item and if you buy it from somewhere such as a car boot or similar, you have no way of testing whether it even works. A tool which doesn’t even switch on is no use to anyone. If you have to pay to fix it you might as well have bought new so that you can at least enjoy known the tool is as it should be.
Avoid Buying Second Hand Tools
Power tool thefts are increasingly common and not a day goes by without someone losing the tools of their trade or a much loved DIY tool collection. Beware anyone selling second hand tools door to door or anywhere other than in a reputable retailer outlet. Tool theft costs individuals and insurance companies hundreds of thousands of pounds a year so if you are approached by someone you are not sure has the right to sell what you are being offered, call the police.
When you buy a new drill, jigsaw or any type of power tool you receive a guarantee and a warranty. You pay for a top quality tool and as part of this you are entitled by law to certainly privileges should the tool not be up to specification and need repairing or replacing. The last thing that you want is to have a tool which cuts out on you mid-job and having to pay over the odds for a repair.
Second hand tools might be sub standard
An additional worry of course when buying second hand tools is that you may be planning on using a sub-standard piece of equipment which could be harmless if not potentially fatal. Power tools can be dangerous if not used properly yet can be just as lethal if used by a professional without being maintained properly or having adequate safety features and electrical cut outs. For the sake of a few pounds it isn’t worth risking your health or continued hits to your wallet.
The stolen tool trade is rife, and even those who sell on their own tools for legitimate reasons can’t offer you the service and guarantees that you are entitled to when buying a brand new tool. If you want a bargain go to a retailer that has a sale on or offers all year round great prices. Ending up with a faulty, dangerous and stolen power tool is not what you need and your money will be long gone.
On the other side of the coin, ensure that you secure all of your own tools and mark them well to make them unattractive to thieves as tools that are security marked are unsellable. By doing this you can be sure that there is no way that anyone else will be getting a “bargain” at your expense.
Make do and mend is back in a big way, partly in response to the financial crisis and partly because we have come to realise that our granny’s way of fixing things and reusing things rather than throwing out and buying new was far more eco-friendly. Many of us have a box of old tools kicking around in the garage, and if they are not used for a while, they can start to get rusted. If this happens there is no need to throw them out and buy new, as rust is easily removed from most items using basic products which many people will have in the house already.
Let’s get on to talking about how to remove rust from tools.
What is rust?
Firstly, rust is not dirt, and whether there is rust or not bears no connection to how much dirt there is on an item. Rust is the product of a chemical reaction which happens when iron items such as saws, screwdrivers or chisels are exposed to the open air. The chemical name for rust is iron oxide. As the metal needs to be exposed to the open air for rust to appear, something with a heavy coating or mud or dirt is less likely to rust than something that is sparkling clean.
When rust starts to appear, it will appear as little spots on the surface of the metal item. If your tools are still at a very early stage of rusting act immediately and this will stop the rust from becoming any worse. The easiest way to treat rust which is just little surface spots is to give it a good squirt of WD-40 and then use either a fine sandpaper or a brillo pad to gently rub away at the surface of the object until the spots have disappeared. Take your time and don’t scrub away too hard at your rusted item – you will be surprised at how easily the rust comes away.
More Severe Cases
If you have tried the WD-40 and the sandpaper and there are still rust spots or larger areas on your tools, you can get a bit scientific to solve your problem. Rust is a chemical compound, and when iron oxide is exposed to an acid, it dissolves. You don’t have to rush out and buy a heavy duty acid to do the job as there are many household items which will work perfectly. Mix up a paste with some baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar, and then apply it to the rusty tools. Leave it for a few minutes for the chemical reaction to get to work, and then just wipe the tools clean with a paper towel, or run them under the tap. If you don’t have baking soda, salt can also be mixed with lemon juice or vinegar for a similar effect. You may have to repeat this a few times to get the rust off completely.
If messing around with vinegar and baking soda is just not your thing, there is a huge range of rust removing products on the market. Many are aimed at the classic car market, but just because something has a picture of a car doesn’t mean you can’t use it on other items too. Always read the instructions on commercial products careful, as they will often be stronger than your home made soda and lemon juice remedies. Also balance up the cost of buying a rust remover with the cost of buying a new screwdriver or saw; sometimes the cheaper option is to buy a new one.
Stopping the Rust Coming Back
Once your have managed to eradicate the rust, take steps to stop it coming back or in another six months you’ll be back to square one. Stop the rust by “sealing” your tools with a light coat of WD-40 or other lubricating oil after you use them, and keep them clean and dry, preferably in a toolbox in the house rather than lying on shelves in a damp shed or garage. Many other DIY enthusiasts keep a bucket or box in their garage filled with a mix of oil and sand where they can bury tools after use which will stop the air getting to them and prevent the rusting process altogether.