If you have wood pallets just lying around the yard, put them to use by turning them into a great mud room bench. This bench would look fabulous on the deck or just inside the door, wherever you want to put it. When you finish putting it all together, just sand and stain it whatever color you want and you have a beautiful bench that cost you very little to create.
This is known as the “Scary Sharp” method and I first learned of it on Usenet back in the day. I’ve had pretty good luck only going up to 2000 grit automotive paper. That stuff is commonly available near the spraypaint at Wally-world. At this grit, I can easily shave the hair on my forearm. For a plate, I use a single 12×12 tile from a Big Box store.
On the 100/300 grit combo stone: absolutely, positively NO – and I’m a woodworker by training who sees sharpening of tools as a means to an end and not as a religion. DMT bench stones are soooo cheap in the US (they cost as much as 3 times as much in ROW) that you should not waste (expensive) time with Chinese carborundum stones or EZ-Lap …err … junk.
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.
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