Little things that are essential in the shop

Discussion in 'Knife Maker Shop Talk' started by wall e, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. wall e

    wall e Well-Known Member

    I had a hare brained idea for a little lighthearted fun and also some info for beginners on Consumables that are necessity.
    So here are the basics we all know I believe;
    Sand paper,drill bits,pin stock,belts,handle materials,blade steel,guard stock,epoxy, and acetone.
    Some of the little givens to the experienced are shop rags,Qtips,JB weld,wd40 or a light oil for hand sanding, true oil,danish oil for handles or wax.
    So please add on any I have missed.
  2. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Beyond those items you mentioned, I would add....

    **A Radio (for those long days of hand finishing)
    **A Coffee Pot ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ :)
    **And the most important.... an old cardboard box filled with Little Debbie snacks! :)
    OH! And one more thing that is absolutely necessary.....ya gotta have one or more dogs in the shop with you! (personally I have 3)
  3. John Wilson

    John Wilson Well-Known Member

    Digital caliper. Just a little $15 model to begin with. You'll wear it out you use it so much. Everything from checking pin thickness to find the right drill bit to marking thickness on blocks of wood for cutting scales. So much faster and easier (for we of aging eyes) than trying to read subdivisions on a steel rule.
  4. John Wilson

    John Wilson Well-Known Member

    Good idea for a thread, Walt. When I first started making knives all I had on the brain was a grinder and a drill press. I had no idea of the 100 little things that are either necessary or simply make life so much easier. It took me a year to find out where to even get stuff from. Veteran makers always say things like "take a scrap piece of leather and ..." and my brain would go "scrap" leather? People have leather laying around? People have "good" leather versus "scrap" leather? Where do you even buy leather from?

    Which is another funny thing about being a new maker. You don't have "scrap" anything. You count your nickels like they were sewer covers, and the thought of having anything extra just laying around sounds crazy. I used to get sick when I'd throw a belt in the trash.
  5. wall e

    wall e Well-Known Member


    My shop gnome, assists in mess making and losing much needed patterns and pieces.

    And the fair weather shop dog.
    She runs to mommy when it gets too cold for her 40 to 50°.
  6. cnccutter

    cnccutter Well-Known Member

    Walt your really right about all the little things that we have laying around on the bench.

    Things like, files, sanding blocks/jigs, screw drivers of all shapes an sizes, sureface block( my first was a granite tile from Homedepo), rotary tool and 100rds of cutters, super bright arm lamp for the old eyes,

    my my head spins when I look at the knife room now with the bigger things I added like my heat treat oven, and surface grinder, 2X72 grinder.

  7. Mark Behnke

    Mark Behnke Well-Known Member

    Felt pens
    magnification and
    magnets (rare earth)
    Oh and not a little thing but, LIGHTs everywhere!!!
  8. Wayne Bensinger

    Wayne Bensinger Well-Known Member

    Wow, Ed is right on the coffee and music, must have them or I feel my work suffers,lol. I agree about shop rags, clean shop rags, you never have one when you need one, at least a clean one, haha. I think we need a rag fairy to follow us around with a fresh one.
    Love the pictures of the daughter and the dog Walt, l can't get my dog to stay in the shop, always on the move I guess.

  9. wall e

    wall e Well-Known Member

    I forgot coffee and music since those are usually a given at my house.
    Ever since my wife went back to work when our daughter was 9 mo old she has been in eye sight of me working and I forgot how she enjoys being w daddy. Now she is fascinated with the shiny blocks and neat bits of paper/cardboard i e my template I just set down. The funny thing about the dog is she was supposed to be the wife and kids dog an of course she attached herself to me.
    The lil black monster jumps in my lap when she gets the chance and so far I'm fortunate that I am not at a crucial point on a knife. Lol
  10. J. Hoffman

    J. Hoffman Dealer - Purveyor

    I put a TV and Blu Ray player in the shop. It makes hand-sanding and other menial tasks much more enjoyable. I put in a movie I've seen several times, or one that doesn't have a deep plot.
  11. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Nobody else has a stash of Little Debbie's goodies in their shop? Nothing better when you take a break, then a cup of coffer and a Little Debbie Swiss Roll or Honey bun! :)

    I guess I left out a few finish shop has CCTV in it so people don't sneak up on me while I'm at the grinder, along with TWO driveway alarms just to let me know somebody is only took one time of a friend flinging the door open, and me running my knuckles into a 50 grit belt to solve that one! I also have a TV....but that's mainly for "March Madness" (born a Hoosier, so basketball is part of my DNA)
  12. wall e

    wall e Well-Known Member

    Not me, I have a bag of butterfinger cups in the shop fridge though.
  13. Ty Adams

    Ty Adams KNIFE MAKER

    Still fairly new. But a pencil a good white eraser some paper are a couple of things that I cannot live without. Oh and the occasional adult beverage when what looks like a surface scratch just won't go away.
  14. scott.livesey

    scott.livesey Dealer - Purveyor

    Little Debbies Nutty Bars, my personal favorite. a metal drill size gauge, usually about 5x7 from 1/32" to 1/2" by 64ths. sharpies in several colors, levels from 3" to 36", magnet on a stick to rescue the screw that just dropped behind the bench, 18" and 36" T-square, hand towels or wash clothes for cleaning and dusting, bottle of rubbing alcohol for cleaning, sanding sponges(great for contoured surfaces and you can wash them and use again), $10 digital multimeter.
  15. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Scott made me think of something....when he mentioned "hand towels". If you happen to use damascus, and are etching, Scott "shop towels" paper towels! They are the ONLY "paper towels" I've ever found that don't leave residue on damascus that messes up the etch. For whatever reason, there is something in standard white paper towels that leaves a film on steel (rainbow streaks), and if you try to etch, it leave lines where those rainbow streaks appeared.
  16. MT Knives

    MT Knives Well-Known Member

    Hey guys, What Surface Grinders do you guys recommend, I am considering a Grizzly don't know if I should get their base one which has a 6X12 work surface with a 3/4 horse motor or get the next one up which has a 2hp motor and a 6x18 work surface. I am leaning towards the next one up because it comes with a magnetic base it is $4095 the base model is $1995 but would require a $800 magnetic base. I like the added horse power but wondering what you guys are using.

    Thank You!
  17. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    My surface grinder is a 6x12, and there are many times I wish I had a 6x18. What I can tell you is... from research and experience, I've learned that ALL the 6x12 import surface grinders sold in the U.S. are made on the same factory floor (actually a ship/barge).... and are shipped to the U.S. in containers of 36 machines..... they are off loaded at the port, then based on each companies order, a given number are uncrated, painted, and the company stickers applied....then recrated and sent to the companies. It you look at pics of various brand 6x12 surface grinders.... there's a striking similarity. What I find funny is that something like a Harbor Freight model sells for about $1k..... while the Grizzly sells for $2k.....and the ONLY difference is the color of paint, and the stickers on the machines. :)

    Pay VERY close attention to the mag chuck they include with any surface grinder..... generally they provide a "standard" pole mag chuck..... that means the magnets are spaced at 1/4" intervals. This works for larger heavy pieces of steel, but if you intend to surface grinder things such as smaller blades or folder parts, a standard pole chuck just doesn't work. Years ago I had to replace the finish shop door because the standard pole chuck I was using didn't "hold" ...and the part I was working on launched THROUGH the shop door (lucky it wasn't me).

    A fine pole chuck has magnet spacing of 1/8" or less. They are usually far more expensive then standard pole chucks, but you have to ask yourself if it's worth not having steel parts wrecked, and/or flying around the shop. :)

    From what I can see on Grizzly's site, they only offer standard pole chucks..... for knifemaking, I think a standard pole chuck is simply a waste of money.

    Personally, I took my time and kept an eye on ebay..... I picked up a Suburban brand fine pole chuck (6x12) for $250. What I found it that the best surface grinder in the world isn't worth a hoot unless you have a "good", fine pole chuck..... at least for what I most do with one.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  18. MT Knives

    MT Knives Well-Known Member

    Ed, Thank You, very valuable information! I was a little put off the smaller unit not having the magnetic base but if it comes with one that is sub par then it really doesn't help much :D How many horse is your surface grinder?
  19. EdCaffreyMS

    EdCaffreyMS Forum Owner - Moderator

    Mine is a Harbor Freight, 6x12, 3/4hp. The only difference between it and the Grizzly is the paint color and stickers... but it was $1k less money.[emoji6]

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  20. Matt de Clercq

    Matt de Clercq Well-Known Member

    Don't forget locktite super glue, zap gap filler super glue, 1,2,3 blocks, carbide file guide, bandaids, craft sticks, plastic Jell-O shot cups, windex, ren wax, carnuba wax, blue tape and shoe boxes for your sand paper pieces. :)

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