Learn about Life in the 1920s

The Home Workshop

Information on essential tools and equipment for fitting out a back-yard shed or garage as a home workshop suitable for the home handyman.

EVEN the best planned and most efficiently conducted home frequently gets out of order. If it is necessary to send for a carpenter, mechanic or upholsterer every time a chair arm becomes loose, a cushion spring breaks from its moorings or a screen door gets wobbly, either the repair bills will mount to staggering proportions in the course of a month or the needed repairs will be neglected until the home takes on a down-at-heels appearance.

The best and most economical solution is a well equipped home workshop. If there is a cement-floored, well-lighted basement this workshop is best located there. A well built carpenter's bench equipped with one or two vises, racks for chisels and drawers for other supplies will prove a good investment in most households.

If possible the work bench should be placed beneath a window so that it may get the maximum of natural light. An electric light socket should be placed in the ceiling above it so that it will be available for use at night. The bench should be removed as far as possible from the laundry, furnace and other activities in the basement so as to have plenty of space for work and for the storage of articles in process of repair.

A full equipment of tools with a place provided for each one is a first essential. Much time is apt to be wasted and tempers frayed if the required tool or the needed size of screw or nail is not at hand when desired. If it is necessary to go through a disordered heap of tools and materials to find the hammer, screwdriver or chisel needed for a given piece of work the home workman will accomplish much less than if every facility for his task is laid out in easy sight and reach.

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For this reason the first task after the work bench is in place and a kit of tools secured should be the fitting of the home workshop itself. A tool box of the type shown at the bottom of the place will provide places for most of the essential working equipment. If cared for in this fashion the outfit of tools has the advantage of being easily portable so that outdoor repairs may be made without requiring repeated trips to the basement for additional tools.

A systematic arrangement of screws and nails is a great help to good work in carpentry and repairing. One neat and effective method is using a few pieces of plank and a number of cigar boxes as materials. The planks are used as a casing and the cigar boxes, with the lids removed and a knob screwed into the end of each one, are used as drawers. Paper labels may be pasted on the ends of the boxes above the knobs to tell the size and nature of the article inside. A good type of nail box which may be carried from place to place where work is being done has divisions in which assorted sizes of nails or screws needed for the work may be kept.

Another method of storing the supply of nails, screws and other small articles used in the home workshop is to have a series of shelves in a cabinet beside the bench. Rows of glass jars—mason jars may be used for the larger and jelly glasses for the smaller—can be arranged on these shelves. Each jar may be reserved for a special size of nail or screw and a label on the outside will give its measurement or description.

This method has the advantage of keeping everything in sight, so that the proper length nail can be selected by appearance as well as the description on the label. It also shows when the supply gets low so that it can be replenished.

Illustration of Tools in a Cupboard
Typical Tool Storage Cupboard

The outfit for the home workshop need not be elaborate. A tack hammer, hatchet and small welding hammer will meet all ordinary needs for pounding instruments. The handsaws may be limited to a rip saw, a cross cut saw, a medium size keyhole saw, and a cabinet saw. A brace with a full set of bits will provide the boring equipment.

There should be a large box plane and a smaller metal one for the finer work. The equipment should include a half dozen different sizes of chisels and a large and small screwdriver. A pair of small tweezers and some larger pincers are often needed, while a monkey wrench, a larger pipe wrench and one of the pocket tool kits with the hollow- handle in which the unused pieces are placed will all come in handy on many occasions.

Other tools which will aid the general repair man of the home include a glass cutter and putty knife for use in replacing windows, and solder and a soldering iron which will be useful in any metal work and may be used to repair cooking utensils.

In addition to the actual working tools there are a number of accessories which should be included. Among these are a small grindstone and a whetstone. A grindstone geared so that it will revolve at a rapid rate is very handy.

By keeping the cutting edges of the tools sharp and the saw teeth properly set much time and effort will be saved. Better workmanship will also be possible, as saws will follow the lines more exactly and chisels wil: cut more smoothly.

Illustration of a Workbench
Woodworker's Workbench

Other aids to good workmanship that should be included in the workshop equipment are following:

A marking gauge, to lay out lines along the grain of the wood. It consists of a beam, which is a stick about a foot long, with a sharp point or spur on one side near the end to make the mark, and a head or block which can be pushed along the stick. The head ,has a thumb screw on one side to hold it when it is in the desired position. The beam has inches and fractions of inches marked out on it measuring from the spur and the head should be set the distance along this measure that the line to be marked is to be placed from the edge of the wood. The head is then presged closely against the side of the wood to be marked andt the line is drawn by the point of the-spur. In doing this the gauge should be-pushed away from the person doing: the marking and not toward him andl the beam should be tilted so that its corner just touches the wood.

A trying square, to furnish a guide for marks by pencil or knife across the grain of the wood. This consists of a beam or thick piece of wood or metal in which the blade or thin piece is set at right angles. The edge of the beam is laid snugly along the side of the wood and the blade furnishes a guide for a straight line at right angles to the edge.

Dividers, to describe circles and parts of circles or to locate points at given distances from other points. The dividers consist of two pointed arms hinged together at one end and with the movable arm sliding over a meta) arc which measures the size of the angle between the arms.

Accurate rulers for measuring. Both a bench rule and a folding rule which may be opened to a length of several feet should be provided.

A bevel for measuring other than right angles. The bevel is like a try square in that it has a movable blade which is pivoted in the end of the beam and may be moved to any desired angle from zero to 180 degrees.

A pencil and knife for marking. If rough, heavy material is being used a pencil with heavy, thick lead should be used, but in finer work with smooth material a sharp pointed pencil with hard lead is advisable. The knife used for marking should be kept sharp with a good point at the end of the blade.

A miter box to cut wooden frames. This is a wooden box minus a top and the two ends with slits sawed in the sides at the points necessary to guide the saw in cutting at the angle needed to make a joint. The wood used in making the frame is then placed in the bottom of the box, the saw is inserted in the slits and is moved back and forth until the wood is cut in two.

Hand clamps either of wood or metal which can be tightened or loosened against the edge of the bench to hold articles in place.

Saw horses to hold boards too long to be handled on top of the tool bench.

A chisel board of hard wood to place under objects on which the chisels are being used to protect the top of the bench.

With an equipment such as has been indicated the householder will soon learn to do most of the common repair work about the home and may even launch out into the construction of some simpler pieces of furniture.

Source: Woman's Weekly Supplement, 1923.


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