Biggest Game Changer For You?

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Forum topic by MikeJ70 posted 10-26-2021 03:04 PM 950 views 1 time favorited 41 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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117 posts in 1229 days

10-26-2021 03:04 PM

Just curious what would you say the biggest game changer to date has been for you for your woodworking? It could be a technique, new tool, a class you took, or just anything that you feel really made a difference for you.

I have had several things this past year that has really made a difference for me.

1. I completely redesigned my shop which is in the third stall of my garage and went from a mobile shop where I had to move each tool into position when I wanted to use it, to one with a careful and well planned layout so now all of my tools are setup and ready to go.

2. I upgraded my dust collection from a single stage that I had to move from tool to tool, to a 2 stage cyclone with 6” main trunk and dedicated drops with blast gates at each tool.

3. This is a big one. Insulation and a unit heater. I will now be comfortable during the long Minnesota winter that is coming.

4. This is probably the biggest one. The realization that I need to approach each project as a journey and not a destination. I need to slow down and enjoy the process. Attitude is everything and it finally dawned on me when I was grumbling my way through sanding down a desk that I was refinishing for a neighbor, that I am doing this as a hobby so I should be enjoying it. It really changed my perspective and the way I approach things. Hopefully the quality of work I produce reflects that. We will see.

-- MikeJ

41 replies so far

View Thedustydutchman's profile


130 posts in 190 days

#1 posted 10-26-2021 03:11 PM

I am still struggling with the journey not the destination idea. I am trying to get that through my head but its difficult when a project goes on for a long time. The vanity im building is a good example. Not going well and I’m not enjoying the process right now.

Biggest game changer for me would honestly be hand planes as weird as that sounds. It totally changed the way I prep stock. Once I figured out how to tune, sharpen and use them it opened up a whole new world for me.

-- Jerry H - Holland Michigan

View MikeJ70's profile


117 posts in 1229 days

#2 posted 10-26-2021 03:34 PM


I’ve been there, and it’s inevitable that I will be back. If you can, sometimes you just need to step away from it for a while so you can recharge your batteries and reset your attitude towards it. It’s tough, because I am sure you are to the point where you just want it done.

Hand planes do not sound weird and I almost listed sharpening to my list. I am just switching over from doing home improvement projects to making furniture, so I do not have a lot of experience with them. I did finally find a sharpening system that works for me. I have tried sand paper and diamond plates and I finally recently tried Ohishi water stones and I am really happy with the results I am getting. I invested in some Lie-Nielsen planes a few months ago so I decided I would follow their sharpening process. So far I have only practiced on some of my older planes, the Lie-Nielsens are still in the box. As weird as this may sound, I don’t feel worthy to use the Lie-Nielsens yet, but to be honest I haven’t really had the opportunity to use them. I just started a workbench build so I do plan on breaking them out soon.

-- MikeJ

View Andre's profile


4825 posts in 3088 days

#3 posted 10-26-2021 03:37 PM

The 10 week program at Inside Passage! Based on Krenov’s philosophy, changed my life forever.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View RClark's profile


186 posts in 3467 days

#4 posted 10-26-2021 04:02 PM

A separate shop building with heat and electrical service the way I need it.

My shop was half of a two car garage that was unheated and uninsulated. I didn’t want to be out there 6 months of the year. It was cramped, and for a long time, there was only one single 15A 120V duplex outlet to run all of my power tools. Further, that outlet was on the same circuit as the family room.

Now the shop is a place I want to be and I can use it every day of the year.

-- Ray

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12435 posts in 4711 days

#5 posted 10-26-2021 04:11 PM

Probably the Jointech SawTrain and router table system (out of business) installed on my Shopsmith. Using it is a joy.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View JIMMIEM's profile


240 posts in 2124 days

#6 posted 10-26-2021 04:32 PM

Oscillating Multi Tool. Have used it for so many projects and repair work.

View shipwright's profile


8760 posts in 4080 days

#7 posted 10-26-2021 04:33 PM

No contest. Building my first chevalet!

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View controlfreak's profile (online now)


3050 posts in 883 days

#8 posted 10-26-2021 05:10 PM

My gradual move from power tools to hand tool work. I am still at a skill deficit but am improving. Going through a major shop reorganization to make the best use of space after I sold off a jointer.

View Ocelot's profile


3561 posts in 3920 days

#9 posted 10-26-2021 05:56 PM

Some games change for the worse, it seems to me. :)

After I got into buying handplanes and the like, my shop was overrun with them so that I have hardly any space to work. I don’t really intend to use my 2 No 8’s or my 5 No 7’s much. I’m fortunate to have a G0454Z 20-inch 5hp planer and a G0490X 8-inch 3 hp jointer. When I started woodworking I could not have imagined having such capable machines.

That’s probably not the answers you were looking for.

-- I intended to be a woodworker, but turned into a tool and lumber collector.

View pottz's profile (online now)


21281 posts in 2266 days

#10 posted 10-26-2021 06:14 PM

id have to say when i decided to lose the fear and start doing more high end work such as the g&g table i made after an inspirational trip to the gamble house or the maloof rocker after visiting the maloof home.those two alone really motivated me to get out of my comfort zone.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Peteybadboy's profile


4148 posts in 3232 days

#11 posted 10-26-2021 06:22 PM

game changers for me

I’d say just being a part of LJ – getting advice, jigs, reviews, seeing what others make etc is a big one.

Building a tool wall with all the stuff I use a lot is really helpful.

Heppa filter on my dust collector. (got rid of the dust spreading bag)

Festool Domino and sander are pretty big.

Incra 1000HD miter sled

Learning how to sharpen planes and chisels razor sharp.

-- Petey

View LeeRoyMan's profile


2246 posts in 1009 days

#12 posted 10-26-2021 11:22 PM

Stronger eye glasses.

View squazo's profile


304 posts in 2927 days

#13 posted 10-26-2021 11:39 PM

learning how to use CAD, well fusion 360. Now I have a cut list and a plan on how to get the parts made, accurate dimensions, way less scrap. That was the biggest for me. I could almost go back to a garage and give up the shop with the efficiency increase. I bust out the saw and use it and then put it back. Thats it, I dont need it for the rest of the project. I dont have to pull it out and make a cut and think and redesign stuff based on mistakes Im now realizing in person.

View therealSteveN's profile


9208 posts in 1856 days

#14 posted 10-26-2021 11:51 PM

For me it wasn’t a tool, it was figuring out my Left eye dominance, and being right handed meant to everything else, and not just shooting wing sports. When I was around 14 a very smart National Champion trap shooter saw me shoot 3 shells, and figured out my eye/hand difference. Since I have been a much more capable shooter.

However being not so smart as I tend to be, I never thought to apply this same info about my hand eye dominance to everything else in life. Maybe I did in a way, but really thought it had more to do with distance. Shooting trap I was here, and the clay was out there. Playing baseball I always played infield, so I was closer to the batters, and or the pitcher, and never felt I had a deficit. In the shop I was sure I didn’t, because I was right on top of things, what wasn’t I seeing???? Nothing. My fix shooting is I close my Left eye, so my weaker eye does the acquisition, and shooting.

One day when I was 19 I was at work, cutting out a bunch of arm supports for several chairs I was making, and just couldn’t stay on the line worth squat. It irritated me, because I knew I had to do a lot of finish work to get the pieces the same as the pattern. I didn’t consciously think about it, but I just closed my Left eye, and suddenly I was right on the line. Ever since when cutting DTs, or doing any real close work, or even setting a saw fence on the TS, I close my Left eye. Not while sawing, just while doing set ups. the only time I keep the Left eye closed in on a BS, Jig saw, or Scroll saw. I guess because they are shapes that are free flowing.

I take it for granted now at 67, it’s an autopilot kind of thing, but it is/has been a game changer more than acquisition of any tool, technique, or other I have had.

If your lines are off more than on, or you have wondered why things don’t look the same after, especially when you were so careful, I think the biggest thing is seeing the numbers little off where they are with a tape measure. Maybe you ought to see if your mixed. A huge part of the population is.

Eye dominance test article. Using this pyramid style test I have never had as big a finding as I do with the one below, but this article gives some good info.

The test below works the best to illustrate my difference.

Extend one arm out, holding the thumb of that hand in an upright position. (Or you could use your index finger instead of your thumb.)

Keeping both eyes open and focused on a distant object, superimpose your thumb on that object. (Don’t worry if it looks like your thumb partially disappears — that’s normal.)

Alternately close one eye at a time.

The eye that keeps your thumb directly in front of the object while the other eye is closed is your dominant eye.

-- Think safe, be safe

View 987Ron's profile (online now)


2432 posts in 598 days

#15 posted 10-26-2021 11:51 PM

Age, getting old. smaller projects.

-- Ron

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