Welcome back to Behind the Sawdust, or weekly-ish vlog where we show you what goes on when the cameras are off here at the two Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal shops. Today is a big day! It’s our monthly cool tools episode! These are the most popular Behind the Sawdust episodes because we give you a look at some of the cool tools we use here in the Stumpy Nubs Workshop. Today we’ll look at some safety equipment, a shop machine and some workshop wearables. We’ll also be giving some stuff away to a lucky viewer who leaves a comment below, so stay tuned for the details on that. I placed links to all the tools we’re going to talk about in the notes below the video so you can get a closer look at them. Let’s get started.
First up is an inexpensive workshop accessory that is often taken for granted. This is a push block made by Bench Dogs. Now, I know what you’re thinking, you already have push blocks like this. I used to have a bunch of them. But after I started using the Bench Dogs version, I tossed all my old ones. You wouldn’t think that something as simple as a plastic push block could be improved upon, but the Bench Dogs version is my favorite because of the material on the sole. This stuff is really grippy, much better than the other ones I used to have. That’s important because when you are cutting, for example a rabbet in a plywood panel, you must apply even downward pressure, AND push in two directions at the same time- through the blade and against the fence. Having a good, grippy push block makes that process a lot easier, and your joinery more accurate. It also pays to have the extra grip at the jointer, while keeping your hands safely away from the wood should something go awry. I also like that the handles are padded and comfortable to use.
Of course, whenever I tell people about these they ask “what about the Gripper?” Well, the Gripper is great, but it’s also six times the cost. These are like $10 bucks a piece if you buy them separately. But I didn’t buy mine separately. I bought a kit that also came with a couple of other handy safety devices. A push stick and a feather board. The reason why I like the push stick in particular is because it has a nice comfortable handle, and there’s a super strong magnet inside so I can stick it on the side of my saw, keeping it out of the way when I’m not using it. That solved a serious problem for me, because I was always misplacing my push-stick before. And while we’re on the subject of push sticks, there is one more that I really like. This one is a mini push-stick, which is also made by bench dogs. I use it when I have a really narrow space between the blade and the fence, but I like it especially because it fits in my apron pocket so I have it handy when I need it at the band saw, or router table, without having to walk back to the table saw to get one. I know, these are pretty common accessories, but I just think the way Bench Dogs has improved upon them is very clever and useful. I’ll put links to all of it below the video.
Next up is a little more expensive tool, but the version I have is much less expensive than others. This is a Harbor Freight drill press. Some people love Harbor Freight, others think everything in there is junk. But as many woodworkers know, there are some really good buys if you know what to get. Their drill presses are a great example. This one is a 13” floor standing model (38144), it also comes in a bench-top version. It has a 3/4hp motor and 16 speeds. It doesn’t have a lot of frills, but it has been a reliable drill press for me for years. There are some things I don’t like; I wish it was heavier at the base so it would rock as much. But that can be remedied by adding some weight or bolting it to the floor. Over the years one of the handles has become a little loose. The threads inside have stripped out. I’ll probably have to fix that eventually. The table is small, but I made a super-duper X-Y sliding drill press table for it anyway. I suppose, if you’re waiting for me to start listing a bunch of cool features you’ll be disappointed. Like I said, it’s a no frills drill press. But the reason I am showing it to you is because it only cost me about $200. That’s an enormous bang for your buck. And I know people that have had these cheap, import drill presses for years and years and they just keep on going. My great-grandfather bought one in the early 80’s and it is still going strong in my dad’s shop today. So, if you have been wanting a drill press and don’t have the budget for one of the high-end models, don’t be too quick to dismiss these cheap imports. They just may do everything you need for about a third of the price.
It's one thing to have cool tools. It’s another to look cool while you’re using them. Hard working shop clothing is as essential to getting the job done as anything else. Now, if you’re a regular subscriber to Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal you know that Mustache Mike is a bit of a fashion icon in the woodworking world. His plaid shirts and suspenders have become legendary over the years. But what we wear on camera and what we wear off camera are often two different things. For quite some time I have been wearing Wrangler’s Riggs work pants, and I’ll tell you why in a couple minutes. But a while back I discovered that Wrangler makes a whole line of Riggs workwear that includes pants, jeans, shirts, vests, jackets, you name it. So, since I liked the pants so much, I got my hands on some of the other clothing in the line to see if they were as nice. Mustache Mike and I have both been trying them out and we thought it would be a good idea to give you two different perspectives. One from a handsome young craftsman like myself, and one form an older man with a mustache. So, we’re going to head over to the other workshop to talk fashion with Mustache Mike.
S- So let’s start at the bottom. I’m wearing the Riggs Ranger Pants, and the Stash is wearing Five Pocket Jeans.
M- I’ve actually been trying two different types. One pair has what they call “cool Vantage” technology that is designed to wick away sweat to keep you cool. Those are great for working outside, especially in the warmer weather we’ve been having.
M- The other type I have been working with is their Advanced Comfort jeans. Those are the ones I have on right now. They have a small amount of spandex mixed into the fibers.
J- I never thought I would see you in spandex.
M- It’s only 1% but it makes a big difference. They are very easy to move in. Very comfortable.
J- They look like your fancy going out pants.
M- Maybe, but you can tell they put a lot of effort into making them really durable. There’s extra stitching on all the seams and reinforcements on the pockets like here, where you might wear a measuring tape. They’re good, tough jeans.
S- I feel the same way about the pants. I’ve worn their carpenter’s pants for quite a while because I really like the Ripstop fabric they make them out of, it’s very durable, but still light and comfortable. These Ranger pants I am wearing now have the added benefit of cargo pockets, and we all know what the best part of cargo pants, right?
S- They hold all your stuff so you can concentrate on looking cool.
M- You’re not cool.
S- Well let’s move up to the shirts. While I’ve work the pants for quite a while, the shirts are a new thing for me. What did you think of yours?
M- I love this shirt. Seriously, I’m old and cold all the time. But I hate wearing those big, puffy insulated shirts when I’m working in the shop. This one is lined with flannel, which gives it some extra insulation, but it’s still easy to move around in.
S- I have one of the flannel shirts too, and I really like the snaps. I wish all shirts had snaps. I don’t have time for buttons.
M- Do you often need to get your clothes off fast?
S- What if there’s a fire?
M- You take off your clothes in a fire?
S- If I’m the one that’s on fire I do!
M- That makes sense.
S- Right now I’m wearing a regular work shirt. It has the same pattern in the fabric as the pants, but I think this is a cotton twill rather than the Ripstop. What I really like about it are the gussets under the arms. (If you want to have a good look at my armpit here…)
M- Yes, I see them.
S- They make it very comfortable to move. That’s one of the things I like about all of the Riggs stuff. They give you a lot of freedom of movement, which is a big deal for a guy like me who has all this extra muscle. Would you like to look at my armpit again?
S- Now, I wear a lot of vests, so I got a couple of the Riggs versions to try out. You don’t wear vests, but you’re old and cold all the time, so you wear a lot of jackets. What do you think of the Ranger jacket?
M- It’s nice. It has what they call “Heat Seeker” quilted lining. I’m not sure how it works, but it keeps me pretty warm even though it isn’t a heavy jacket.
S- Right, because you don’t want a bulky jacket while you’re working.
M- No, I like something light and warm, but the most important thing to me is durability. And I have zero complaints about this jacket.
S- I do have one complaint about the vest. I’m not nuts about the high collar in the front. I like a high collar on a jacket because it keeps your neck warm, but if it’s that cold out I wouldn’t be wearing a vest. So, I just think it gets in the way a little bit.
M- I thought high collars were cool.
S- That was in the 80’s. Otherwise, I do really like the vests, in fact I am going to have embroidered like my inside vest is. Then I can advertise Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal inside and outside the shop. So, what would you say your overall impression of the Wrangler Riggs workwear is?
M- Durable and comfortable.
S- Are you glad I turned you on to them?
I’ll put some links in the notes below the video if you’d like to check them out for yourselves. That wraps things up for this special Cool Tools edition of behind the sawdust. Be sure to check out the latest issue of Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal for more great tools, tips, tricks and techniques designed to make you a better woodworker. You can read and subscribe for free over at Stumpynubs.com. Then you can sit back and have a cold one, because you’ve earned it, my friend!
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