I’m always on the lookout for ways to both be more self-sufficient and tools to help me along the way. My favorite tools belonged to my grandfather or father. Next are those that I can use or download free.
Old Farmer’s Almanac
The companion planting chart on the Old Farmer’s Almanac site helps me remember which plants in the garden should be grouped together, and which to avoid planting near each other.
Farmer’s Almanac Gardening Calendar
The gardening calendar at this other almanac site is invaluable. I get a month-by-month calendar of when to plant what based on where I live.
The weather reports and forecasts at Weather Underground are much more useful than others, IMHO. I can select the weather station(s) nearest where I am. Hopefully, I will be able to build a weather station myself and contribute to the weather that is reported on this site.
SketchUp can be downloaded here for free. I’ve found that it helps me
to understand how parts go together before I start cutting lumber. It helps me work out how much of each lumber size/type I need, too. There are a couple of things I do to help me make the translation from model to reality:
- After I’m happy with the model and how all the parts go together, I copy the model (beehive, for example) and disassemble it to lay out flat on cutting diagrams.
- I code each type of lumber in a different color. 1×12 is white, 3/4 plywood is the OSB pattern provided, 1/4 plywood is red, etc. This helps me lay out cutting patterns in SketchUp before I buy lumber.
There are a few tools I use for nearly every project. Tape measure, combination square, speed square, drill and driver are the ones that come to mind most quickly. All of my must-haves are collected here.
Radial Arm Saw
I LOVE my radial arm saw. For starters, it was my grandfather’s. Second, with the exception of finger joints, it can do almost any cutting job. Cross cuts, rip cuts, simple and compound miters…all without removing the blade. If I remove the blade and attach a chuck to the other end of the motor shaft, I have a drill press and router table (find router bit sets here). There are other add-ons I can use to do other jobs: I have the sabre saw and would love to get my hands on a planer attachment and moulding cutters. I even built a jig for cutting carbon arrows to length that ensures every arrow is the same length and cut safely. I use this jig with a metal-cutting wheel.
What are your must-have tools or resources? Let us know in the comments or on social media!