In the shop, as in life, little things can make a big impact on the experience. Here are some small things we love.
Shop Accessories

For your Shop Apron

Shop Apron Must Have Shop Tools

A good shop apron makes your shop time more efficient. It protects your clothing and, more importantly, keeps tools within easy reach so you won't have to play hide and seek. Here are a few things worthy of pocket space in any shop apron.

A good shop apron [1] makes your shop time more efficient. It protects your clothing and, more importantly, keeps tools within easy reach so you won't have to play hide and seek. Here are a few things worthy of pocket space in any shop apron.

A pencil [2] or two should always occupy a readily accessible apron pocket. Sharp No. 2 pencils mark well without scoring the grain. Or choose a mechanical pencil to eliminate resharpening.

A construction calculator or phone app [3] takes the work out of workshop math. It makes adding, subtracting, and multiplying fractions easy, can calculate board feet, and a lot more.

A digital angle gauge [4] accurately sets or checks the angle of the blade in your tablesaw or miter saw. You're sure to find dozens of other applications for this small electronic wonder.

Marking gauges [5] and knives [6] excel at scoring crisp, clean lines on the workpiece. They're the ultimate tools for laying out precise joinery. (Just be sure to use a blade cover or pocket protector for the knife blade.)

You'll reach for the 6" steel rule [7] more often than any other tool in your apron. It's ideal for tool setup and layout tasks. Of course, you'll also want a tape measure [8]. Invest in a 10- or 12-footer. That size provides more than adequate length for working with boards and sheet goods without being bulky.

Use a 4" or 6" double-square [9] for perfectly square tool setups and layout lines. Invest in quality here, and you'll get a lifetime of accuracy.

Tool Maintenance

Keeping your hand and power tools clean and in good working order takes time but has big benefits in safety and quality results.

Tool Maintenace Must Have Shop Tools

Rust sometimes appears seemingly out of nowhere and removing it can be a challenge. Wire brushes [10] and non-woven abrasive pads [11], combined with a little elbow grease, go a long way toward removing the rust. A good soaking with liquid rust remover [12] takes care of more-severe rust easily.

Once the rust is removed, protect the surface of hand tools with a lightweight oil [13]. Use a paraffin wax [14] or metal-protecting coatings [15] to keep cast-iron surfaces of stationary tools such as your tablesaw rust-free without contaminating your wood.

Comfort & Safety

Comfort and Safety Must Have Shop Tools

You understand the importance of wearing safety glasses and hearing protection in the shop. For those of us with additional vision needs, some safety glasses [16] offer bifocal lenses to assist in close-up work. If you already wear prescription glasses, don't rely on those to be your sole eye protection. Instead, shop for safety glasses designed to fit over them.

Ample lighting is essential for any workshop. A variety of super-bright LED fixtures [17] screw into ceiling light sockets and direct light where needed.

When shopping for hearing protection, look for a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 20 decibels or higher. Some ear plugs and earmuffs [18] offer Bluetooth connectivity to pair with your phone so you can listen to music while protecting your hearing.

The importance of a well-stocked first-aid kit [19] can't be understated. Some kits include a special powder to stop bleeding in the event of a severe cut. BleedStop powder is also available separately.

Make yourself more comfortable while you work with an anti-fatigue floor mat [20]. You'll be surprised how much they reduce leg tiredness, foot fatigue, and back pain. A sturdy shop stool [21] also proves essential when you want to get off your feet.

Save your back when moving sheet goods with a panel carrier [22]. It securely clamps and provides a handle for easy lifting.

To keep dust at bay, connect your shop vacuum to a tool-activated outlet [23] that turns on the vac every time you turn on the tool.

Assembly & Glue-Up

Make your glue-ups easier by having these supplies at hand and ready to go.

Assembly & Glue-Up Must Have Shop Tools

Start with a glue mat [24] that makes cleanup easy and protects your bench. Made of silicone, any traces of dried wood glue simply pop off. The same goes for the brush, tray, and spreader in a glue kit [25]. Use these to spread a consistent film of wood glue on a workpiece. Disposable acid brushes [26] prove handy for messy glues such as polyurethane and epoxy.

A selection of glue bottles [27] provide helpful options for glue application. Some feature different caps for specific applications. Others boast a non-drip spout for less mess.

During assembly, clamping squares [28] work in tandem with clamps to keep workpieces square while the glue dries. For smaller assemblies, painters tape [29] lends a helping hand to hold joints together. Keep a spray bottle [30] filled with water nearby to assist with cleanup.


Applying a finish to your project becomes easier with the right supplies.

Finishing Must Have Shop Tools

Start by protecting the worksurface with kraft paper [31]. It absorbs the inevitable drips and spills.

To prepare the project for finish, some sanding is in order. First, don a reusable dust mask [32] to protect your lungs from fine dust. Self-adhesive sandpaper on cork sanding blocks [33] eases the hassle when sanding by hand.

Before applying the finish, protect your hands with nitrile gloves [34]. These stand up to both solvent-based and water-based finishes.

Disposable foam brushes [35] help you apply everything from stain to paint to wipe-on topcoats. Keep a variety of sizes on hand.

No workshop is complete without shop towels. Disposable towels [36] come in rolls or pop-up boxes. Remember to use caution when disposing of rags used with oil-based finishes.

At The Workbench

Your workbench is the heart of the workshop and there are several items you'll want to keep nearby.

At The Workbench Must Have Shop Tools

For example, a good bench brush [37] and extra-large dustpan [38] make quick work of clearing off shavings and sawdust.

Protect the surface of you workbench from glue and finish drips with an inexpensive silicone mat [39]. The nonslip mat also keeps a workpiece in place for routing or hand tool work.

For measuring and layout work, there are several tools to keep within arms reach. A high-quality 6" or 12" combination square [40] facilitates accurate assemblies. Steel rules [41] assist with measuring tasks and make great straightedges for checking the flatness of a workpiece. Flexible curves [42] bend into any profile and hold their shape for tracing curves. French curve templates [43] offer the ability to trace free-form shapes.

Double-sided tape [44] finds a myriad of uses in the shop. It holds a workpiece in place for turning or router work, for example. It's also great for securing templates or holding workpieces together for ganged machining.

Magnetic tool holders [45] mounted to a nearby wall or on the side of the workbench organize metal tools and keep them easily accessible.