Woodworking Adventures [Part 3] and Tool-Making Satisfaction!

Last year I wrote a series of three articles for Good Woodworking Magazine, called Woodworking Adventures. They appeared in the June, July, and August editions (GW319, GW320, GW321). Now that several months have past since those magazines were printed I’ve decided to offer the articles to you here, and this is the final part!


It’s always hugely satisfying to stand back and enjoy the project you have just completed. But, it becomes even more satisfying when you have used tools that you have made yourself. My first proper exposure to tool making was through a forum called Home Made Tools where anyone can share what they’ve made. Other resources like Dad’s old textbooks called ‘Practical Cabinet Making’, Roy Underhill’s ‘The Woodwright’s Shop’, Pinterest, and of course Good Woodworking Magazine. The tool cabinet, featured  in the previous article, was a great start, but I needed much more than that.

Pic.1: Hand-made mallet and bench hook, made using scrap materials

Workshop tools

I needed a mallet (Pic.1)! It’s impossible here in Phuket to buy a traditional mallet, so I made one out of scrap, using the same composite wood that I used for the tool cabinet and other projects. It is a laminated design, glued with TOA latex glue and the handle carved and sanded to a comfortable shape. A year and several dints later it is still almost as good as the day I made it.

Another staple tool in any workshop is the bench hook; this is my first, and it too is very satisfying to use. Another immensely valuable tool in my workshop is my sander (Pic 2), which my Dad used this for years on a simple table that he had made. However, as my parents started downsizing he gave the sander to me, but to make it work I had to get creative: it needed to be compact, storable, and inexpensive. The frame is made of pallet wood, the table is cut from a piece of shop-shelving, and the power-source is an electric drill. I made the sander so that can be easily clamped to the end of a table (Pic 3). The drill is attached to an adjustable block using a hose-clamp, which is screwed to the block.

Pic.3: The sander is easily clamped to the end of a table
Pic.2: My sander – another valuable tool

I made the belt pulley for the drill by laminating plywood in two different diameters, running a bolt through it, and then turned and sanded using the drill. It was then lined with sanding paper to provide grip for the belt. It proved invaluable when making the jewellery cabinet for my wife.

Another tool that I have made is my workbench. I was inspired by the workbench feature in Good Working Magazine (GW307) which was made entirely of recycled materials (Pic 4). Okay, mine is not as classy as Paul’s but it has a necessary party-trick: it can fold away into a small space (Pic 5). The angled braces quickly unscrew, and the legs fold up under the table, and the braces pack away inside the legs. It is made entirely of pallet wood and recycled plywood, and recycled door hinges.

Pic.5: … and folds away easily when not in use
Pic.4: My workbench is made using recycled materials…

Tools for everyone

What I am sharing with you here is just a drop in the ocean compared to what people all over the world are making, but the important thing is that anyone can enjoy the satisfaction of DIY tools, and you don’t have to spend a fortune on materials either: recycled materials work really well, as you can see here. I have some very nice tools, modern and antique, but none of the give me the same level of satisfaction as those I’ve made with my own hands. I hope that you too can have a go at making your own workshop additions, it’s certainly very addictive!

Enjoy the adventure!

This article was original published in Good Woodworking Magazine GW320, July 2017. I wish to thank the magazine for their interest in my work. Click here to find out more about the magazine. 

Please note that I am not receiving any ‘kick-backs’ from the magazine by supporting it here, I simply wish to recommend it to you.

Blog posts covered in this article: 

Wooden Mallet

Bench Hook (Cutting Block)

Drum sander: Drill powered!

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