Category Archives: Supplies

Helping Families Make Their Homes Safe and Secure

This might not seem like a woodworking related post, but I think for many woodworkers, this would be a good way to provide a useful service, use their skills, and make some money.

My wife and I have a friend who lives alone with her children. They recently moved into a nice neighborhood, and she asked for help making sure her home was safe and secure. I looked online and asked a friend who is a police officer for tips on what to do. After looking at that list I realized that some homeowners would have a tough time getting through that list on their own. If they were to hire out the work, they’d need to hire a few different companies and that would be expensive.

The To-Do List

Physical Security of the Property

  1. Reset the garage door openers to disable all existing transmitters, and get owner transmitters working. This ensures any previous occupant is locked out.
  2. Replace all locks in the house with new deadbolts that are keyed the same. When the door has a sidelight, require a key on the inside and outside of the lock.
  3. Add peepholes to exterior doors.
  4. Add chain latches to exterior doors.
  5. Cut 1″ dowels to length for all sliding windows and sliding doors.
  6. Make sure all outdoor landscaping doesn’t facilitate break-ins.
  7. Make sure outdoor lighting is adequate and on timers or motion detectors.
  8. Repair fences and gates.

Interior Safety

  1. Secure tall furniture with anti-tip straps.
  2. Bolt down a safe to secure valuables, important documents, firearms.
  3. Check the water heater temperature.
  4. Show the owner how to shut off electricity, gas, water.


  1. Reset WiFi access codes, computer passwords, email passwords, etc. to lock out former occupants.
  2. Reset alarm codes to lock out former occupants.
  3. Reset the pass-phrase used when on the phone with the alarm company.
  4. Change voice-mail passwords and cellphone pass-codes.
  5. Replace all smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarm batteries.

Getting the Right List

This is a good start and if hired out separately would require a handyman, computer tech, landscaper, electrician, locksmith….

Many local police departments will do a walk-through make additional recommendations, so there are likely other things to do. Alarm companies also have good information about ways to secure the home. It’s best if you don’t position yourself as a security expert, get the recommendations from the police department and/or alarm company and then go through the list with the homeowner. Position yourself as the best person to do the work on the list. There may be jobs that even you don’t want to do or shouldn’t do, and should be hired out, like trimming the landscaping or inspecting and repairing chimneys – no thanks!

When is this Service Needed

  • Moving into a home, especially if that home had previous owners
  • After a room-mate moves out
  • After a divorce or separation

It’s a good idea to go through a home security checklist periodically even if you’ve lived in your home for a while. For example: if your smoke alarms went off in the middle of the night and your family evacuated your home, does everyone know where to meet? Does everyone in the home know to keep their keys, checkbooks, garage door openers, etc. in a secure place in the home?

Put Your Skills to Good Use

Most woodworkers I know have skills in doing Long Fence Patios, and would do a great job doing this type of work. The doors may need new mortises and holes for the deadbolt locks and peepholes. The doors I worked on were not in good shape and needed some stripped holes repaired so that screws would tighten securely. Window dowels would be nicer if sanded, spray lacquered, and capped (I found 1″ oak dowel with 1″ white plastic end caps at the big box store). There are lots of things to do and that could overwhelm a new owner.

Tell Me What You Think

For our friend, I did this for free. But what if in your community you offered this as a service? What else would you add to the list? Would you see this as a valuable service that could make a customer happy and make you some extra money?

Hayden Renews her Holzapfel Workbench Top

Workbenches are meant for work. They get dirty, stained, and tell stories with the drips and drops of finish and glue. Hayden’s workbench also tells stories: of painting with chalk by rubbing her project with chalk, then wetting them with water; glue drips; glitter from school projects; and other things an almost-eight year-old woodworker would do.

Clear versus Clean

In the shop last weekend she wanted to work on some projects. He bench was covered in tools and scraps, and I told her she couldn’t start a new project until her bench was clear. So she diligently put tools away and when her bench was clear she decided it wasn’t clean enough. I told her we could make the benchtop as good as new with some sanding and some oil.

She thought that was a great idea.

Sanding the Holzapfel

Here she is sanding the bench with the Bosch ROS. The dust collection on this sander is great, and we had fans going. I did most of the sanding while she ran in to change her clothes.

Oiling the Holzapfel

After sanding and clearing away the dust, two coats of Watco Danish Oil do the trick. We used gloves, had the door open and fans on, and disposed of the rags properly.

Now, if I can just get her to clear off my bench.

This Woodworker’s Christmas list

[Edit #1: Hayden and I went through the planet maids because we wanted to get done this break, and she’s already added more to the list]

[Edit #2: Updating what’s done]

My family has a hard time shopping for me. I have opinions about my tools, fishing gear, and tech. So this is my attempt at publishing my Christmas list for 2014 and getting your opinion on the specific brands and models too.

What I Want Most

It’s been a busy year moving into Bluebird (our new house) and getting the shop functional. I’d like time to relax, get projects done in the shop, watch the bowl games, and spend time with my family and friends. Seriously, this is what I want most. Oh… and food. Lots of food.

But Wifey has been asking me to create a list. So here it goes…


I have a ton of projects I want to get done around the house

  1. Clean up the yard before Wifey’s party – done!
  2. Assemble the firepit for the backyard (burning shop scraps)
  3. Make some Christmas decorations for yard
  4. Hang various things for Wifey and hang Hayden’s mirror on a french cleat – mostly done!
  5. Make a bunch of wooden letter Gs in various fonts and hang on the wall
  6. Fix a couple cabinet doors
  7. Get the garbage disposal installed – done!
  8. Hayden and I need to finish our spoons
  9. Smoke some meat
  10. Go through old books and clothes and donate them
  11. Finish Wifey’s crown-moulding shelves and get them up
  12. Finish Angie’s drapery rod hanger
  13. Build a bunch of marking gauges
  14. Get the guest room closet organizers installed
  15. Get the shop blinds installed – done!
  16. Get the shop lights installed
  17. Get the shop french cleat up and start on the organization
  18. Build a sanding station
  19. Build a compressor & air nailer station
  20. Build a wall-mount First Aid Kit
  21. Build a Deneb sharpening station
  22. Take the King bed to Crescent bar and get the garage clean
  23. Any home maintenance (septic system UV light, refrigerator water line, …)
    1. Septic system – done!
    2. Refrigerator water line – done!

Woodworking Related or Gifts for the Shop

  1. A dovetail marker. Lie-Nielsen or similar.
  2. A good moisture meter. Reviews on these are old. I need a recommendation.
  3. Bandsaw wheel brushes. Highland Woodworking 189104 or similar. This one looks fine.
  4. Blinds for my shop windows. Already ordered from
  5. Router Bit survival kit from Eagle America. I find myself changing bearings on bits sometimes.
  6. A killer, awesome, fantastic, ridiculous dado set.
  7. The Easy Wood Tools midi set (all three), for when I get my lathe up and running.
  8. Bessey strap clamp, you know, this one time at band clamp…
  9. These. Lots and lots of these.
  10. A cell phone holder, like this, for my truck. Gotta work with my Lumia 1020.
  11. This delicious Incra Miter Gauge 1000HD.
  12. Hot fresh coffee. Anytime from this little Keurig.
  13. A new shop TV. Yeah, I’m spoiled like that but I like the games on in the background.
  14. A drill press table with all the bells and whistles. Yeah, I have one that I made, but it’s seen better days.
  15. A spline jig. Yes, I could build one, but I want to build furniture, not shop fixtures.
  16. Another router. A smaller one with a great base. I’m thinking this DeWalt. I have a Bosch colt, but the base is poor with bad height adjustment.
  17. A belt and disc sander. I like this one from Grizzly but the table is very small and the dust collection looks shady.
  18. A new shop calendar from Lie-Nielsen.
  19. This marker is perfect. I need a bunch of these from Lee Valley.
  20. You never have enough Robertson bits.
  21. The Mk II honing guide is deluxe.
  22. At some point I’m going to need to upgrade my Drill Press. I’d love electronic variable speed and a lot of distance between the spindle and column.
  23. If I can’t get my free lathe working well, someday I’ll upgrade that. Electronic variable speed as well. Is this really an electronic variable speed lathe?
  24. I haven’t pulled the trigger on a new cyclone yet, mostly because I’m trying to find a 5HP cyclone that will work with 96″ ceiling height.

Non-Woodworking Related

  1. Anything from Tommy Bahama.
  2. BlueTooth receiver for the stereo in Crescent Bar.
  3. Tri-fold wallet.
  4. Dopp Kit (Men’s travel kit). No men’s purses please.
  5. Cool entry mats for the house and shop would be cool.
  6. Dents and rearview camera fixed on the truck.
  7. Really good binoculars for Crescent Bar.

I don’t need anything fishing related, and I don’t need any clothes. I don’t want or need any sweaters (did you read that Mom?).

The list is long enough, it already makes me look like a needy woodworker.

What’s on your Christmas list?

So tell me in the comments, what’s on your list? What websites have the best gift-guides? For the things on my list above what are your opinions and recommendations? What’s on your Christmas list?