Ron Paulk is an extremely likeable mystery and I think he deserves 10x more subscribers than he has. I'm convinced he's a secret millionaire - he has a workshop in what seems to be the 20-car garage of a multi-million dollar mansion - which he claims belongs to a friend and he's only using it temporarily while they sell the house. I think it's been five years now that he's been there. But anyway, Ron is mainly a finish carpentry contractor - that's things like baseboard, fireplaces, kitchen cabinets etc. He is a master craftsman. What makes him unique is his approach to working - he is all about being portable, mobile and lightweight. Every year he seems to fit out a new van or trailer as a mobile woodshop. I've built Ultimate Workbench, Chop Saw station and fitted out a van following his designs. He introduced me to Festool, which was a costly mistake for me! I've built a lot of his projects, and I learned a whole lot along the way.
Poplar is one of the less expensive hardwoods. It’s also fairly soft, considering it is a hardwood, which makes it easy to work with. Poplar is very light in color (almost “white”) with some green or brown streaks in the heartwood (the wood that comes from the center of the tree). Because poplar is not the most beautifully grained wood, it’s almost always painted as it does take to paint very nicely for a uniform finish. Poplar makes for great table bases (often painted, with a stained tabletop of a different wood), drawers, cabinets, hutches and more. Poplar is a very common wood that is versatile and cost efficient.
Even the backside grinding shown in the single frame of the video shows the effects of hand held sharpening. There is a curve on the flat side of the blade! Starting to look like a spoon. It’s impossible to get a flat surface when using bones and tendons. This effect was exploited to make the first lens when done in glass. Telescope mirror grinders do it too using two different hardness of glass, if machine done it would be flat. If those “slate” tiles are flat they must be ground flat not baked. No need to check.
The next hand tool every woodworker should have is a nail set. In fact, you should have several sizes. They look like awls, and you use them to drive nail heads into the wood so they are flush or right below the surface. This allows you to fill the holes and prepare for staining or painting. The nail setter will usually have either a convex or concave surface to grip the nail better and keep it from sliding off and marring the wood.
Non-Standard Miter Slots - This one is a downer. One of the primary advantages of having a table saw is access to jigs that expand the saws functionality. This is a major issue if you plan on buying after market jigs. Given that we are limiting the cost of this buildout to $500, I am guessing that after market jigs are probably low on the priority list. Your going to want jigs once you start researching what they enable you to do, my advice is to build your own - there are plenty of plans online.
When I bought my miter saw, I didn’t buy the cheapest, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. I started out with a small Hitachi. I LOVE my saw and it does a great job—I have no complaints. However, I do kind of wish I had gotten a larger one. Here’s the thing. I can cut up to a 1×6 board in one pass on my miter saw. But if I cut any larger than that, I have to flip the board over and cut again from the other side. That means if I’m making something from 1x8s or wider, I have to make twice as many cuts. Sometimes this is a pain. But it’s obviously not a big enough pain for me to spend the extra money to go buy a bigger one haha. Just something to consider. Either way, a miter saw of any size is guaranteed to be a good investment. Also, watch out for sales on this saw…it’s often listed on sale for $100 (that’s how I got mine!).
Hobbies on a Budget reader Rob sent me this tip: Recycle wood for small projects. I have gotten a lot a usable wood from old mattress frames, pallets, panel doors and even a piano. A little bit of destruction work and some cleanup and you can get a ton of useable wood. The best part is that the wood stays out of the landfill. Cost for reused wood? FREE
The next important hand tool for the woodworker is an accurate tape measure. Get a retractable one that is at least 25 feet long. Any longer than that, and you start having problems getting it to roll back up. Since measurements on large scale projects can be very susceptible to even the most minute measurement variations, you’ll want to make sure the “hook” or tab at the end of the is firmly attached, with no give. When they get loose, you’ll have as much as 1/8” variation in your measurements. This can add up to some severe accuracy problems in the long run.