Frugality in the shop?

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Forum topic by Gene Howe posted 11-12-2011 07:42 PM 2282 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Gene Howe

12302 posts in 4438 days

11-12-2011 07:42 PM

I admit it, I’m cheap.
But, more than that, it’s a long way to town and I might not find what I’m looking for anyway.
What use do you other frugal woodworkers make of everyday items. For instance. I use cut up pop cans for shims. If that isn’t enough, I have a chain of old Formica samples that work.
My digital calipers have been retired…at least for gauging thickness out of the planer. Now I use open end wrenches. For odd height and spacing of router bits, I use drill bits. That’s when my keyway stock isn’t sufficient. Got a bunch of keyway shorts from a machinist’s cutoff bin. $5.00 and sizes from 1/8 through 3/4 by 1/6ths. Sure beats those brass bars for price and utility.
Got tired of paying big bucks for ceramic band saw guides, so I made my own from oak. Soaked them in used motor oil and they work great.
A few sptrizes of 409 or Simple Green and my saw blades and router bits look like new.
Recently, I decided I’d had enough of cleaning up behind my SCMS so I built a dust catcher. Dollar store $4.00 large plastic storage container on it’s side. 4” Toilet Flange through the side (now the bottom). Lockable sliding sleeve attached to the back (the orig. bottom). 2X3 post fits in the sleeve. 45* cutoffs for feet. Attach the DC hose to the toilet flange. Total cost…..about $10.00 and some scrap wood and all thread.
Works like a charm.
Now, don’t get me wrong. When it comes to tools and safety, I don’t scrimp.
I’m sure there are a lot of you guys and gals that resist opening your wallets or purses and have lots of frugal tips to share. So, how about it?

-- 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

17 replies so far

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 4933 days

#1 posted 11-12-2011 08:09 PM

Probably should know but what is SCMS? Acronyms are good if you know them or only want to communicate with those who do.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12302 posts in 4438 days

#2 posted 11-12-2011 08:14 PM

Sorry, Bill!
Sliding Compound Miter Saw.

-- 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 felkadelic's profile


220 posts in 3549 days

#3 posted 11-12-2011 08:30 PM

Not exactly a revolutionary tip, but I use plastic TV dinner trays to hold hardware as I’m assembling projects

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4350 days

#4 posted 11-12-2011 09:00 PM

the wrenches is a great idea

haven’t had much luck
with the drill bits
standing up though
and getting another to stand
on the point of it
is even harder

i still do with the boat building axiom

‘by guess
or by God’

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4124 days

#5 posted 11-12-2011 09:42 PM

freebee wood like pallets , old tile tables other old furniture to steal … eerrrrh salvage the legs from
to make toolhandles
candy plasticbins 8×8 or 10×10 inch with the lid is good too I know there shuold be some that is about
8×15 inch I think they are better in some cases if you want to store tools in them
old bed rolers is good to have clamps in and other bigger items
salvage old hardware to the day in about 15 years from now you maybee can re use them again …. :-)
use old sawblades for cardscrapers and in scratshstock
old circelsaw blade cut in smaller piece to make marking knife and carvingcheisels other types of iron
can be used simular … but the difficult part is to figur out what type of iron it is
used bandsaw blade can be used for scratshstock and scrapers as well
an old worn out socketspanner set can be used to bend different things around it has all size in one place :-)
and can be used to trace the pencil around if you need one particular round size on your pattern
the old feders from the cars back in the 20 and 30 is great for iron for tools :-)

and if you make sawdust enoff you maybee shuold consider to by a maschine to make pellets
out of it and either sell them or get a pelletburner your self …. :-)

the rear axel on an older Volvo is great to build a windmill with …. lol
old popcans can be recycled to make a sun to air heater or a watersolar panel so you don´t need so many pellets ….. LOL

old plastic botles is great to cut up and mix two component epoxy glue on
and last don´t be affraid to transform one tool into another tool you need :-)


View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5341 posts in 4970 days

#6 posted 11-12-2011 10:19 PM

The used 2 lt. soft drink bottle cut in a scoop form or funnel.
You don’t want to get me started about off cuts. I hate to throw any wood away (but I do once a year).
Nut, bolts, screws, rivets… know.
Recycle paint thinner.
Old socks for storage bags for my planes.
Small pieces of sandpaper.
On and on.
However, my shop is cleaned at the end of every work day. That’s just the way I was tought.
By the way, I have an adapter to set the timing for a 1973 Ducati 750cc GT.

-- [email protected]

View wchips's profile


314 posts in 4097 days

#7 posted 11-13-2011 04:11 AM

I use plastic soda bottles for funnles old pellrts for firewood

-- wchips

View BarbS's profile


2434 posts in 5095 days

#8 posted 11-13-2011 06:16 AM

I think I should get a prize for being ‘frugal.’ When I needed to weigh down some air-dried sawn boards, I scooped up DOT road sand off the sides of our road and funneled it into used plastic milk jugs. Made good weights for nothing, and I didn’t waste my much-needed cinder blocks.

I collect ladies’ emory boards to use as sanding sticks in tight places. They work great for de-fuzzing inside grooves.
Salsa jars make small containers for a 2” paintbrush to go into.
All the plastic credit card offers get their edges cut with pinking shears and make nice glue spreaders.
Plastic coffee can lids get cut up for shims in different things.


View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 4250 days

#9 posted 11-13-2011 06:17 AM

Hi Gene,
Yup. I’m with you! I too squeak when I walk!

You know that “dust collector cyclone lid” we all end up buying? I’ve found that the output pipe just fits inside a filter bag. That, assembled and hooked in line to our trusty but dust clogged shopvacs yields a good, relatiovely long lived dust collector without the hassle of cleaning out the filter..

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View SeaWitch's profile


149 posts in 3404 days

#10 posted 11-13-2011 06:35 AM

I save every coffee can, every peanut butter jar, every mayo jar etc. They get filled with random odd screws, small cut off bits, paint, etc. Every screw I place, I think first, can it come out of the random screw jar or is it important and need a special screw? I just stacked some small odd shaped green boards and stickered them with a laundry basket (broken) full of odd shaped 1 X 4 and 2 X 4 cut offs…....

-- When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.”   Theodore Roosevelt

View devann's profile


2257 posts in 3702 days

#11 posted 11-13-2011 06:54 AM

Reused packaging:

saving scrap:

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View devann's profile


2257 posts in 3702 days

#12 posted 11-13-2011 05:51 PM

Here’s another example. I reused sport drink caps for chisels.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4565 days

#13 posted 11-13-2011 06:03 PM

I don’t throw anything away without taking it apart first, even an old sofa. I found some good hardwood in there, even if I didn’t find a use for it until about 15 years later. Anything mechanical I get all the screws, nuts and bolts out of there I can, even springs. And electrical cords, motors and wheels. I use cat litter as dessicant to keep my wood biscuits dry. I make my own wood filler. I’ve done some finishes on boxes using home made prep/stain: tea, coffee, iron/vinegar, tobacco/ammonia, I’ve even processed husks for walnut oil (not really worth the trouble).

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3876 days

#14 posted 11-13-2011 07:36 PM

I use a lot of coffee cans to store things in. I was also very patient on Ebay when I bought a lot of my tools and didn’t mind waiting on the right ones to come along and set a limit not to go over and stuck to it.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5228 days

#15 posted 11-13-2011 07:54 PM

I like the wrench idea.

Barb, I’m pretty sure the government will be knocking on your door soon looking for their sand.

Frugal? I’m wiping on finishes with my old, tattered underwear. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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