10 Home-Shop Improvements

Choice items for a harder working, more convenient environment

You can only build so much when creating the shop you’ve always wanted. Certainly, the projects on the following pages target the major needs of the up-and-comer woodworking shop. But they take time to make. And while they’ll help you launch your hobby, you’ll find that there are cool products to buy that can make your workspace even better. Consider adding one or more of the following improvements.

Tune up your shop with a radio

No need to whistle while you work when you have this rugged jobsite radio on hand playing all of your favorite tunes.  The Porter-Cable 20v Max radio features a pair of high-performance speakers offering crystal clear sound. In addition to its AM/FM/AUX reception and 12 station presets, the model includes Bluetooth, letting you wirelessly stream music from a smart device. Power sources can be either a 20v Li-ion battery that provides up to 7 hours of runtime or the AC adaptor.  (The 20v battery and charger are sold separately.) A hard plastic frame protects the radio from damage.
Available at home centers; $90.

Lightweight stands for heavy-duty work

Collapsing to a tidy 6" wide × 9" long bundle when not in use and weighing only 12 lbs, this 30 1⁄2" steel stand can spread to 2 × 4' and hold up to 1,500 pounds. Named the Centipede Sawhorse because of its multiple legs, the stand can be nicely paired with a 2 × 4' sheet and serve as a support base for benchtop power tools, a table for assembly work, and other shop assignments. Place two together and you can quickly make a 4 × 4' workstation.The stand comes with six P-Tops or plastic rests that protect sheets and the steel struts when cutting sheet goods; two Quick Clamps for locking tabletop materials in place; four X-Cups (not shown) for supporting 2 × 4s; and a handy carry bag. There’s also a Centipede Support XL (not shown) for securing 4 × 8' sheets. For more, go to centipedetool.com.
Available at home centers; $49.

Get your cold drinks here!

Staying quenched and hydrated in the shop during warmer months is as critical to your well-being as achieving a perfectly crafted joint. Since most shops don’t have a fridge, go with the next best thing–a quality personal cooler like this Roadie 20 by Yeti. The compact ice-retaining container keeps water bottles and power drinks crispy cold while preventing sandwiches from becoming warm and soggy. Measuring 13 3⁄4" w × 14 3⁄4" h × 19 1⁄4" l, the ice chest features self-stopping hinges that keep the lid propped open when in use. Sold in three colors (white, tan, and blue), the cooler comes with a seal-tight locking system and a stainless steel carrying handle.
Available through yeticoolers.com; $249.99.

Rack’m, stack’m

Keep your stash of woodworking stock up and out of the way with this six-shelf rack by Portamate. Holding 110 pounds per shelf level, the rack consists of (12) 12 1⁄2"-long brackets supported by two easy-to-install metal standards made of powder-coated steel tubes. Locate the brackets and standards at stud locations, spacing them as needed to provide the best overall support. Secure the standards using #8 × 3" screws.
Woodcraft #152860; $74.99.

Temp-taming cooler

Don’t let summer heat drive you from the shop. Fight the furnace with a constant infusion of cool moist air from a Portacool Cyclone 3200. According to the maker, the evaporative cooler can lower temperatures by up to 30° F. Powered by a 115v outlet and requiring far less electricity than a window air conditioner, the money-saving unit can cool a 700-square-foot room with its two-speed fan and adjustable louvers. It works off a 16-gallon refillable water tank or water hose. Should dust accumulate in the filter, remove it and wash it off. Important: Leave a door or window open when using the cooler to provide ventilation that assists in the evaporative cooling process. For more info, go to www.portacool.com.
Available at home centers and tractor supply stores; $739.

Too cool shop stool

Sit in comfort at your workbench on a retro Bottle Cap Shop Stool. The seat rotates 360° on its chrome base while a chrome ring provides parking for tired feet. With the overall weight capacity at 290 pounds and a 14"-diameter slightly concave seat, woodworkers of all sizes will find the stool the go-to place when seeking temporary relief during a long day of shop activities. A lever adjustment lets you raise or lower the seat from 23 1⁄2" to 31 1⁄2" to suit your leg length.
Woodcraft #159244; $77.50.

Quick & affordable shop flooring

Beat the brutal punishment dealt your dogs by a concrete shop floor. Improve to an easy-to-install polyvinyl rollout flooring from Better Life Technology’s G-Floor. Rolls come in widths from 71⁄2 to 10' and in varying lengths. While the vinyl is kinder to your feet than unforgiving concrete, it also provides a durable, textured surface for slip resistance. Sawdust settles out of the way between the raised coins that serve as the contact surface (other patterns are available). The flooring is also friendlier to dropped tools and offers some insulation from cold concrete. Cleanup is fast and easy with a push broom. Spills wipe up in a jiffy, leaving little or no discoloration behind.
Available through the dealers listed at bltllc.com; $1.90-$2.50/square foot.

Power from above

Let’s face it, power cords lack intelligence … with the exception of the RoboReel power-cord reel by Great Stuff, Inc. This intelligent cord winder contains a microprocessor within a high-impact plastic shell that you can mount to a shop ceiling or go with the portable model, for servicing up to three users at the same time–from power tools to lights to fans. With a simple push of the button in the cord’s receptacle end, the “brain” in the RoboReel gently retracts the heavy-duty 50' 12-gauge (20 amp) cord without whiplash for out-of-the-way storage. And should the cord be severed, the unit will shut off the power. The reel also will not retract while a tool is in use. For more, go to roboreel.com/power-cord-reel/overview.
Available through the above website; $279.

Brighter future for woodworkers

Forever, your choices in shop lighting for doing precision work boiled down to power-gobbling incandescent bulbs or long, vulnerable fluorescent tubes that broke into a thousand pieces when dinged by a swinging board or clamp. Say hello to the Garage Light by Big Ass Light–the ultimate solution for tough, long-lasting general lighting in the home shop. Although the fixtures are compact (9"d × 4 5⁄8"h × 23 5⁄16" l), just one LED fixture puts out more light than 15 60-watt incandescent bulbs (about 5,000 lumens and 5,000 kelvins). And while an incandescent bulb lasts on average 1,000 hours and a fluorescent bulb lasts 9,000 hours, the Garage Light provides a whopping lifespan of over 150,000 hours.

Better still, if you accidentally clobber the fixture with piece of lumber, it won’t break (or even flicker). One reason: Lumen maintenance trays protect the LEDs and are simple to pull out, wipe down, and replace. In fact, the cool running lights clean quickly and are ideally suited for dusty environments. If desired, you can add an automatic on/off motion sensor for $40 for convenience and energy savings. To determine the number of lights for your workspace, get with a sales rep through www.bigasslight.com/products/garage-light.
Available online at https://store.bigasssolutions.com/lights/shop-led.html or by calling 1-877-244-3267; $399/fixture.

Router table from a box

If you’re not up to building your router table, consider assembling a full-service model from a box. The Precision Router Table System by Kreg features a 24 × 32" table, a 36" self-squaring T-square style fence with a micro-adjustable wheel, insert plate with levelers, and an assortment of rings. All of it sits atop a sturdy steel stand that adjusts from 29" to 35" to suit. For those wanting to partially design and build their own router table, the fence, table, and stand are also sold separately. View a product video on the Kreg YouTube Channel for more on the system.
Woodcraft #160628; $499.99.

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