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My shop & the tools that I use as well as others that I want
There are more tools in this world than can be counted. Every one with a purpose. There are plenty that I can't understand the logic behind, and at the same time so many that I would love to own, but simply could never afford. As a result, I began looking into how I could build some of these tools, how difficult it would be, and how I could do it as cheaply as possible. And thus my DIY workshop project was born. As of writing this, I have a couple months shy of a year of experience with pretty much all of this (so if you see something that I was able to make and think that you can't do it, you may be right at that time, but you could get there very quickly). Last December I got my first multimeter and my first soldering station, I literally could do none of this, but I started collecting old electronics and appliances and started tearing them apart and making simple circuits from the components. I started to get an idea how it worked and decided that I wanted the ability to make the stuff I want but can't afford. I found many resources online, but nothing as broad and as basic as I was looking for. So I decided that I would try to document my builds and make a website that showed what I did, while including a forum where I can answer any questions directly. This site will always be under construction (though far more at the beginning). This page will provide basic knowledge I think is helpful, my personal experiences and choices, as well as reviews for items I find particularly good - or bad. There's a link to my contact page, as well as a link to my forum. I hope that this site is able to be of some help to some people, or at least a form of entertainment as you watch an idiot fumble his way through projects he has no business undertaking. On the subject of being an idiot, please don't be one. Always use PPE, and never try a project that you feel is above your skill level. We're playing with lethal levels of energy. One mistake is all it takes.

Basic Handtools

Well. You gotta start somewhere. The beginning of my tool collection was a 300-something piece Craftsman mechanics tool set that I got for my birthday 10+ years ago. It's held up great and I still have it today. One thing that didn't exist at the time I got my original tool set (or at least wasn't popular) and is SUUUPER convenient (especially for mechanic work where there's limited space to maneuver in) is a ratcheting wrench set. Mine has a pivoting/locking head and standard open side on the other. Probably hand tools that I most suggest are a good ratchet set (I think 3/8" is the perfect size. 1/2" is overkill most of the time, and might not fit either. 1/4" has a small range of sockets and you can't get a lot of leverage) in both SAE and metric. If you'll be doing a lot of work in tight spaces, ratcheting wrenches are a gift from God. I can't think of one example where a fixed wrench is more useful than a ratcheting wrench. But unlike most hand tools, where as long as it's good steel and the right proportions, you're good, ratcheting wrenches from inferior makers can wind up useless pretty easily. So do your research and get a good set. You'll need screwdrivers for the type of bits you use, phillips is most common, but there are many many bits. A few different hammers, I have a little rubber mallet with swtchable hammer heads that I use by far the most. But if you'll be forging metal, you'll want blacksmith specific hammers like ball pein/cross pein/etc. You'll want at least one or more type of pliers. I like vise grips for full-size, but if you'll be doing much soldering, you'll need tweezers - antistatic preferably. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you'll be smithing, you'll want some good tongs. You should have metric and SAE allen keys. And finally, if you'll be working with electrical circuits, you'll need wire strippers. And take it from me, just spend the money up front and get the auto wire strippers. Just in this past near-year, mine have saved me literal DAYS worth of time. I regret not having picked them up first.
Every shop I've been to has some sort of combination of these. And every shop has been different. Mine and your shops will be no exception. Well, first of all, in order to even use air tools, you need an air compressor. What kind is dependent on your needs. If you're going to be painting cars with an HVLP gun, you're not going to want to cut corners on your compressor. As the name suggests, they use a high volume of air. So you would need to get a compressor with either a huge tank (or tanks - add on more tanks to increase the amount of air storage) or a powerful compressor capable of keeping up. I don't have the kind of space or the kind of budget to get a huge powerful compressor. In fact, I went with a 3 gallon pancake from Harbor Freight for $40 with coupon. But it was leaky right out of the box so I decided I'd exchange it the next day, as they were already closed for the day. I ended up finding a Porter Cable 6 gallon pancake for $40 on Offerup because the regulator was leaking. I decided to take a chance and was able to fix it with just the things I already had laying around. When you buy a compressor, the best thing to buy first is a kit with a hose, air spray gun, inflator, and quick detach fittings. Also grab some whit thread tape, maybe blue Locktite or thread sealant as well. Once you start acquiring air tools, you'll get a better idea as to what accessories you need. But my additions were an adjustable regulator/air filter combo attached to an oil fogger with quick coupling fittings on each end so I can insert it in the air line or remove it with no problem. Though I'm still debating on a hose (primarily if I want one on a reel or not. They seem quite convenient. But disproportionally expensive), though I do know I'll be getting at least a 50' hose with 3/8" ID made of a durable rubber or hybrid. I started searching for a HVLP gun that I could use with my compressor and discovered LVLP guns. They sounded like the perfect solution, so I picked up a SPRAYIT set with 2 guns (0.8 and 1.3mm), adjustable regulator and 2 other size needle/nozzle/cap kits (1.7 and 2.0mm) for $80. Seemed like a steal to me. As for powertools, from everybody I know that use them daily for work (cordless), the general consensus was that Makita and Milwaukee were the way to go. I ended up getting the Milwaukee ONE-KEY M18 Hammerdrill/Impact set because it allows me to track my tools locations and even lock them out so they become paperweights. Which I liked so that I don't need to worry about losing them (with someone else's assistance). But using the same app, I can fine tune the torque and RPMs as well. It's proven to be extremely useful. Sanding/buffing/polishing any surface, even delicate ones, is no problem at all and comes out fantastic. The pair of 5Ah batteries last quite a long time too. It's an expensive set that I expected to instantly regret. But nothing could be further from the truth. It's saved me so much time in just the one year since I purchased it that even at minimum wage, I've saved more time than the kit cost. For the drill, I picked up a 115 piece M35 Cobalt drill set for just shy of $80 after coupon. And for the impact, a 100 piece security bit set for like $8 after coupon. The cobalt bits are like $3-400 elsewhere, and the security bits are like a master key for taking anything apart. The next most common powertool that you'll see in a shop is an angle grinder. The one I'm lusting over is a Metabo corded 5"angle grinder for about $200. But haven't been able to afford that yet so I've been using the dirt cheap $9.99 DrillMaster one from Harbor Freight for now. I'm on my 3rd one now. I hope to be able to pick up the Metabo sooner rather than later. But an angle grinder does so much. Cutoff disks go through steel or brick/concrete, grinding disks obviously grind surfaces down, sanding disks and wire wheels clean surfaces very well. Another versatile tool is a rotary tool. I suggest any Dremel or knockoff that fits the Dremel Workstation. It gives you the ability to do about anything. The only downside is it can only be on a very small scale. But indispensable for drilling your own PCBs and similar detail work.

A Workshop

It's the basis of this website. If you want to make stuff, you need the workshop in which you can do so. Areas where you can do all of the work is paramount instrumental in your success. And I don't necessarily mean professional workbenches, ground-standing shop tools, etc. Just a space where you're comfortable working is more important than you would guess. If you're uncomfortable, it's hard to come up with unique ideas. You should also have a means of doing research. Google is great. As is YouTube. I've had the best resuts by combining the two. Detailed written instructions while seeing somebody physically complete it has always helped me greatly to understand what I needed to do. Some way to document your projects - whether writing it all down, taking pictures of each step, or best of all IMO, video record it. Ideally you'll have a custom workbench built for your height, electrical sub-panel with enough power for all of your equipment, including parts you've yet to add, isolation transformers, variacs, lab power supplies, drill presses, band saws, CNC Mill, foundry, multi process multi voltage welder, machining tools, great lighting, plenty of tool storage, and on and on. But it isn't totally necessary. I STILL don't even have a workbench, the center piece of any shop. Though I AM building one. And luckily my friend that's a very talented woodworker is helping me out. So I won't end up with just a pile of crap instead. The build page can be found HERE. I had absolutely nothing that I just listed a year ago.. If I can do it, you definitely can. I have a near zero budget, roughly zero knowledge on these subjects, no shop, no skill, no experience. At worst you started as far behind as I did. But you likely already have a head start over me. Don't sell yourself short. I keep finding that I'll start another project, or create some other distraction to avoid finishing some projects because I think I screwed up and don't want to wreck it. Which is just dumb. I'm gonna have to deal with it eventually. There's no time like the present

A 2nd opinion/pair of hands

Not an item in a workshop, but an invaluable asset nonetheless. It would be impossible for me to get as far as I have without any help. I had no idea what I was doing when I started this project (and even now am impressively ignorant on most of these subjects). But luckily for me, there's two people that I know VERY well who are above me by leaps and bounds in these subjects. When it comes to electrical engineering, my father has earned the title of "Principal Engineer" with just an overwhelming body of work. He's likely forgotten more in that field than I will ever know. Similar but opposite, one of my closest and oldest friends is incredibly talented when it comes to building things and remodeling. Especially in the areas of woodworking and residential remodel. He's pulled off some incredible tings and done work for some of the most influential and successful people in the state. I would prefer to find the answers to my problems without having to bother either of them, but it's quite the blessing to have such incredibly talented people nearby that I can ask when I still can't figure out  what I should do. On top of that, it's always good to have another person you can beg for a hand when it comes to moving and setting up large things, which most shops are full of. And when your component stock primarily comes from items people consider garbage - especially on high-end remodel jobs - the more sets of eyes that you have around town, the more likely you are to receive more quality components in little time.

Frame of Mind

Whether it's having the imagination to figure out how to make a sail boat from a stick of gum and an old newspaper, the dedication to overcome any problems you face, the patience to not just give up when it's not going 100% your way, and on and on. So much of this is all in your head. If you're the type that can quickly figure out solutions and has the confidence to actually put that solution into practice, you're well on your way already. I lacked confidence in my ability for a long time. I only just recently got over worrying about failing.

It sounds corny. I know. Like "you can be whatever you want when you grow up little Billy". But seriously. Using an item intended for something way different has proven to be a great way for me to save a bunch of money while still getting the exact same results. Not to mention this is the key factor behind making a super useful tool out of what would otherwise be garbage. For my casting greensand, I made a sifter out of an old cup and 2 speaker grills misaligned with one another so as to reduce the size of the holes. This allows me to remove all of the large grains from a $2 50lb bag of multipurpose sand. For my powdered bentonite clay, I used a coffee bean burr grinder that cost me $4 to grind 100% bentonite litter into dust. Using a regular coffee bean grinder that was $2.50, I was able to grind broken powdered iron cores into - well, iron powder for the greensand as well. Making a cheap end table into a 3d printer enclosure. The possibilities are endless.

Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a fundamental aspect of undertaking any task under the sun. This is likely going to be the only time that I address this topic here, unless the project itself is something centered around PPE (like my welding hood redesign) But just because I don't talk at length about PPE, that doesn't make it any less important. If you're in the marketiy

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Frame of Mind

Whether it's having the imagination to figure out how to make a sail boat from a stick of gum and an old newspaper, the dedication to overcome any problems you face, the patience to not just give up when it's not going 100% your way, and on and on. So much of this is all in your head. If you're the type that can quickly figure out solutions and has the confidence to actually put that solution into practice, you're well on your way already. I lacked confidence in my ability for a long time. I only just recently got over worrying about failing.

It sounds corny. I know. Like "you can be whatever you want when you grow up little Billy". But seriously. Using an item intended for something way different has proven to be a great way for me to save a bunch of money while still getting the exact same results. Not to mention this is the key factor behind making a super useful tool out of what would otherwise be garbage. For my casting greensand, I made a sifter out of an old cup and 2 speaker grills misaligned with one another so as to reduce the size of the holes. This allows me to remove all of the large grains from a $2 50lb bag of multipurpose sand. For my powdered bentonite clay, I used a coffee bean burr grinder that cost me $4 to grind 100% bentonite litter into dust. Using a regular coffee bean grinder that was $2.50, I was able to grind broken powdered iron cores into - well, iron powder for the greensand as well. Making a cheap end table into a 3d printer enclosure. The possibilities are endless.

Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, is a fundamental aspect of undertaking any task under the sun. This is likely going to be the only time that I address this topic here, unless the project itself is something centered around PPE (like my welding hood redesign) But just because I don't talk at length about PPE, that doesn't make it any less important. If you're in the marketiy