Tools for building BDSM furniture

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The Basics

I started building BDSM furniture on the small deck of a small apartment with very basic tools. It can be done, but I don't recommend it. No matter what, there are certain must-have tools: hammer, drill w/ bits, screwdrivers, saw, hacksaw, adjustable (Crescent) wrench. You'll also have to have sandpaper, measuring tape, steel straightedge, T-square, paint brushes, files, and other little stuff. Most people will want a power screwdriver (or drill-driver kit), socket wrench set, and an adjustable square to measure angles. A final note: you can't have too many clamps (c-clamps, bar clamps, and perhaps strap clamps), and might want a good vice. 90-degree box clamps are invaluable, and a very worthwhile investment.

Basic Power Tools

Power tools make life a lot easier. Here are the investments I'd make if starting from scratch, in order of importance:
- Power drill, which you probably assumed in the basic tools above. Don't skimp. Reversable and variable speed.
- Circular saw. You'll cut a lot of wood, and doing it by hand is sweaty and seriously reduces quiality and fit.
- Scroll saw (table). Best way to cut curves on relatively small pieces. Hand-held jigsaw is another option, and something you should have too if money isn't a problem.
- Orbital sander. Especially if you buy rough wood to save money, a good sander is invaluable.
- Belt sander. If you buy _really_ rough wood, you can't do without a belt sander. It's also much faster for initial smoothing than an orbital.

The BDSM Woodshop

The truly complete woodshop has an amazing array of specialized tools. I assume most people don't have unlimited space and money. If you work your way down this list, you can probably stay in three-digits and end up with everything you need.
- Table saw. No question about the first big tool, and don't skimp too much. A good table saw will do most of the heavy work.
- Drill press. Either a floor or table-top model, this is a must for truly vertical holes. An inexpensive option holds your power drill, but can be a pain.
- Combination miter saw. Most stock we'll use is long and narrow, perfect for cutting on a miter saw. This tool also makes cleaner and more precise angled cuts than your trusty table saw.
- Band saw. If you can afford it, buy a deep-throated band saw instead of the scroll saw listed above.
- Router. Good for dado cuts and deeply rounded or decorative edges. Much more useful with the addition of a router table, and overall an amazingly capable tool.
- Contour sander. Great for smoothing and shaping in small places. Also makes a wonderfully powerful vibrator, as does the orbital sander listed above ;)
- Angle grinder. Another hand tool, this baby can cut and smooth metal much faster than doing so by hand. Don't need it if you stick with wood.
- Workbench. If you have the space, this is your first assignment. You can't work well without a sturdy, large workbench. Plans abound on the web, but you don't need anything fancy. I use two simple 2'x8' benches.

Buying Tools

The local hardware store is about to become your favorite place, if it isn't already. Home Depot and other hardware superstores generally have the best prices on mid-to-high end brands. Craftsman tools from Sears (and Ace, these days) are generally a good value, and come with solid guaratees. The quality difference isn't huge if you move down to a low-end brand like Benchtop, which you'll find at Kmart and similar stores. Make sure you save 25% or so over Black & Decker, Bosch, Craftsman, Skil, and the like before going this route, though.

A Word About Maintenance

Proper maintenance is important. You have a serious investment in your tools, and most will last several lifetimes if you take care of them. Keep tools dry, clean, lubricated, and sharp. Fix pieces that break. Sharpen blades when they get dull.. a sharp blade cuts better, and is safer.


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