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Do This!

A dust brush for every occasion! I’ve purposely accumulated multiple dust brushes so that I could have one available no matter where I am in the shop, and not worry about carrying it in my pocket. I like doing this with other things too, like push-blocks.

Your shop layout can be ruined and made pointless by something trivial.

You’re jointing a bunch of boards, and when you’re done you plan on switching seamlessly to the Table Saw, which is positioned perfectly for that very thing.

But, you have a pile of shavings getting in the way of your Jointer operation, so you look for a brush to sweep them off the Jointer bed.  Not a brush in sight. Dangit, it’s over there on the assembly table near the sander.  So you walk over, grab it, and go back to the Jointer.  Perfect workflow?  Fail.

This could happen when you go to the Table Saw and can’t find a push block.  If you have to keep looking for little things all the time, there’s really no point in arranging your machines at all.

What is the answer?

Release flocks of these things to many stations throughout your shop!  Who cares if people think you’re ridiculous for having 5 marking gauges.  The time savings and convenience is worth the teasing.  And no, it’s not a waste of money or being lazy.  It’s smart.

You don’t have to go out and buy 8 dust brushes and 6 push blocks all at once.  I accumulated them slowly; when the dust brushes are on sale I pick one up.  When I go to The Woodworking Shows, I look for extra push sticks or featherboards.  When I go to the home center, sometimes I’ll pick up an extra rubber grout float to use as a push block.

Here are some items I like to have multiples of at several stations:

I’m constantly sweeping stray shavings and dust off the router table surface or jointer bed.  The dust collection can’t get everything, and you don’t want to put stock down on the table and have chips under it, or it’ll make your cut inaccurate.  The Table Saw, Jointer, Planer, Router Table, Drum Sander, Bandsaw all get one.  There’s one at the Assembly Table and Workbench too.  That’s why I have so many.  I put rare-earth magnets on each dust brush so I can stick it on the steel cabinet or cast iron table of each machine.  If a station happens to not have metal on it, you can attach a sheet metal plate where you want the brush.  Use a magnet cup so you don’t have to epoxy the magnet in; then recess the magnet surface slightly below the brush surface.

  • Featherboards

I like to use MagSwitch feather boards whenever possible, but if the station doesn’t have a cast iron table (like the Router Station), I use T-track compatible feather boards.  Featherboards don’t leave their assigned stations; I have dedicated the proper featherboards, stops, and other jigs to their own station.

  • Push Blocks, Push Sticks

I use push blocks at the Table Saw, Jointer, and Router Table.  So, I have one or two at each of these stations. I tend to use two (one in each hand) for the Jointer.  I use a push stick at the Table Saw.  I bought one at Rockler with a magnet already in it, and just stick it under the fence rail so it’s always within reach.

I like to mark cuts on the fly a lot, and while I could carry a bunch of these items in a leather pouch or apron, I prefer to have them at several workstations.

  • Marking Pencil

I use a 9mm mechanical pencil to mark things with, and I want to have one at the Workbench, Table Saw, and Mortiser. Haven’t done this yet (laziness?) but next time I’m at the office supply store I’ll get a 4-pack.

These are sold in rectangular blocks, and act like erasers for your sanding belts.  I have one at my Drum Sander and one at my Oscillating Spindle Sander.

Here are some things that I keep on me during my shop time:
  • Safety Glasses

I drilled small holes in the temple tips of my safety glasses, and threaded a cord through the so they hang around my neck.  This way I never lose them and don’t have to look for them.

  • Hearing Protection

I added a cord to these as well.  When I’m doing a lot of machining, I carry the earmuffs with me, and when I take them off they rest around my neck.

  • Dust Collection Remote Control

I store the keychain remote on a peg at the entrance door to the shop; I pick it up and clip it to my key loop, so I can turn on the dust collector anytime I want.

The very next step is to put these items on a small sticky note, write how many of each you eventually want, and put it in your wallet.  When you’re out looking for supplies, or browsing online, look at this Buy List and pick one to get.  Mark off the quantity until you get to zero.

WoodChip Tip: Be careful that you don’t brush off dust while blades and bits are spinning!


This concept has worked wonders. Just drill a flat-bottomed hole using a Forstner bit, put in a magnet cup with a screw countersunk in the center, and stick the magnet in. No glue needed. The magnet is slightly recessed and so it’ll never come out.



Things tend to stay cleaner when the ability to clean is convenient. This push block, which is really a grout float, has a super grippy surface. When it starts to get dusty and lose its grip, I clean it with a solvent to refresh it and it’s good to go for quite some time.

These things are everywhere!

This is so awesome to have.


More Quick Shop Things to Make You Happy

When I first get a new machine, I always incorporate vibration isolation and other sound-attenuating features on my own during assembly of the tool.

My Jointer arrived largely unassembled, so while putting together the cabinet I added thin sticky-back foam rubber sheets to separate the sheet metal components.  I also had some left over sticky-back foam rubber sound insulation and lined the area where the motor sits with it to help absorb some of the sound.  Be sure not to block any of the ventilation holes for the motor.

Since I’m making a Mobile Planer Cart, I thought I’d incorporate vibration isolation pads under the Planer base. This will prevent machine vibrations from being transmitted through to the cart and the floor, reducing noise. I did this to my Jointer as well, during the initial assembly, I added foam rubber sheets between some cabinet components to reduce vibration.

In addition to these isolation pads, the planer cart (in the background) will have rubber caster wheels, and the caster plate is also isolated with foam rubber pads from the 4x4 frame of the cart.

I did the same thing when assembling my dust collector.  I also add isolation pads to my caster wheel plates to help absorb at least some frequencies, and the rubber wheels help too.

Using link belts to replace your stock belts on your Table Saw and Jointer can also quiet your machines.

By isolating parts of the machine itself or the machine from its table, you’re eliminating a lot of future rattling, and absorbing quite a bit of annoyance.

Use this Woodshop Station and Tool Organization guide to help list the things you’d like to have at each station.

Connect with me on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter for more ninja tips to Optimize Your Woodshop!


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2 Responses to “Do This!”

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Bobby,

    Great post. I liked the magnetic brush tip. Thanks for sharing. You’ve convinced me to add you to my RSS feed.


    • Bobby says:

      Thanks, Chris! Hey I looked through your blog and it had me hooked and captivated for quite awhile. Very impressive. Also like the photography for your business site’s portfolio.

      I’ll definitely be reading more.

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