A description of the hand and power tools I use most frequently, and some recommendations.

Shop size

Few people have the luxury of a large amount of space for use as a hobby area. My own "shop" space is a cramped bit of space at the end of the garage in front of the car. Before that, I have worked in wood sheds, closets, and outdoors. Having a dedicated space is much better than using a kitchen table or other commonly used space, because it's ok if it gets a little dirty, and more importantly it doesn't conflict with the job of "being a dining table".

Work Holding

Currently I do not have a "proper" workbench, which is annoying. However, what I do have is still useful. The top is probably from an old kitchen countertop or computer desk, loosely stacked on top of an old set of drawers.

The complaints I have about this work surface are:

  1. It lacks any kind of built-in work holding capability, such as a face vise.
  2. There's no way for me to clamp anything to the surface.
  3. It's slippery.
  4. The top is not attached to the base.

I own a pair of small vises with suction-cup bases. These actually work well with the low-friction benchtop. On the other hand, work that is small enough to hold in a mini-vise generally doesn't need to withstand lots of force.

Recently I wanted to plane some boards smooth with a hand plane, so I added a non-adjustable planing stop to the left edge. While this makeshift planing stop was better than nothing, the fact that the workbench top isn't fixed to its base became much more apparent with use, because the top started shifting.