There are dozens out there, but some are crucial to have on hand, while others are in the ‘nice to have’ category. Make sure you have the following items in your shop at all times.
Though they come in many sizes and materials, all woodworkers and DIYers need to have a very healthy selection of screws on hand. Avoid Phillips and slot heads, unless you enjoy getting angry. Here’s my breakdown, by screw diameter, length and material/use:
#4 x 1/2″, 5/8″, 3/4″ steel and brass
#6 x 5/8″, 3/4″, 1″, 2″ steel
#8 x 1″ to 4″ steel
#10 x 2-1/2″, 4″ steel
#8 x 1-5/8″ – 3″ exterior
Tiny ones for hanging small photos, to huge ones for heavy tasks around the shop. I often hang lights from my shop ceiling while taking photos of my work, and large hooks are strong and easy to move where needed.
Adding shelving high on the walls is going to allow you to store seldom-used items out of your way. When in doubt, go strong. The last thing you need is to realize you shouldn’t have put that last board on the shelf, high above your head, after all.
These long, thin helpers are great for the obvious tasks of nailing pieces in place with minimal visual distraction, but they’re also good for more exciting tasks like unplugging glue bottles and making pivot points for trammel arms.
Now that you have your compressor and nailer you’ve realized how valuable they are. The only trouble is that you’re going through pins, brads and nails like crazy. You don’t want to be left empty-handed as the glue is starting to dry on a jig you’re building. Grab a selection of different lengths in the gauges you require.
These hefty beasts are far from a fine woodworking fastener, though they work wonders around the shop. Right now I have most of my large storage fixtures attached to the wall with lag bolts. I also have some clamps, storage brackets and a host of other items held in place with these monster screws. As a general rule, longer is better, though a selection of lengths from 1-1/2″ to 4″ will come in handy.
Whether it’s shop storage cabinets, basement shelving or some shop jigs and fixtures, L-brackets area time saver. Even though they are ugly, they’re simple and strong, and that’s sometimes the most important part of the job. The 3/4″ x 3/4″ L-brackets are sometimes small enough to be hidden behind rails and the larger versions are almost bombproof. Grab some of both.
It’s a shame there are so many widths and lengths of bolts, as you almost need a backpack to carry them home. But that’s also what makes them so useful. Grab a variety of lengths and widths of standard nuts and bolts, as well as a few exterior-grade ones.
A selection of flat washers work great with the nuts and bolts you just decided you need more of, but I find their assistance as spacers quite satisfying too. Keep your eyes peeled for the cup washers – both the zinc and brass types. If you really want to go over the top, buy some countersunk washers.
Clean a small drawer or tray out and fill it with standard and rare earth magnets of all types and sizes. And grab some dedicated washers that can be screwed to a mating piece if needed, as the combo is attractive and versatile. Magnets are just fun to have around.