joshua tree workshop 2018

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TOOL RULES #1 "THOU SHALL NOT"- when building your house/tiny house/whatever

Another post is coming tonight- this is just one mini post for now....


This is NOT a sponsored review or plug, and the first of series of "Thou shall/shall not" pointers. These are additional, often overlooked rules and tips to keep in mind when building your own small house, or for any construction/carpentry project. I was shipped out to NYC a few weekends ago as a guest speaker for Jay Shafer's Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop and this was one of the things that was incorporated in my 90 minute presentation- we had fun with it, and many in the audience chimed in with their own "self-learned" tips as well- some which I'll share down the road.

This is my way of saving YOU some time and hassle, as I've learned many things the hard way in my 20+ years of tiny structure building.....


WHILE I'M A THRIFTY GUY, AND HELD OUT FOR TOO LONG ON THIS ONE (I've only realize the severe error of my ways more recently)- "THOU SHALL NOT CHEAP OUT WHEN BUYING A HAND SAW". There ARE many things you can buy the low-end bargain versions of (covered in other future rules), but this, I feel, is not one of them.

Wanna tire out prematurely while on the job and later have your arm feel like an elephant sat on it? Go ahead, use that rusted, dull, cheapo saw. On the other hand. if you want to cut through wood like butter (you won't realize the difference until you go from a cruddy old average saw to a new, higher-end one) then consider at least getting a middle of the road tool for your cutting jobs.

I personally TRY to not use power tools when I can help it (although they are incredibly helpful!)- I just don't want their interuptive noise when I'm in some peaceful outdoor setting out in the middle of the woods (for jobs in those style locales).

But seriously, a $3.99 Harbor Freight saw just isn't going to cut it. Some of their other tools WILL, but opt for a decent enough hand saw. Your arm, your time, your patience, and ultimately, your project, will thank you for it.

Mine, its the Stanley Fat Max Saw (Armored version)- not too expensive, and cuts very nicely. Please do share your personal recommendations and choices below, or in our facebook tiny housing group (which you can join in the right hand column of this blog).

-Derek "Deek" Diedricksen


  1. Nice, THANK YOU! Perfect timing as I'm thinking of going into the DIY mode for these study carrels/workstations for my tiny coworkspace.

  2. My favorite tool when I was working on boats was my trusty Japanese pull-saw. If a tool could be described as "delicious," that was it!

  3. I have a 15" Fat Max and it's great and all, but I love my $7.99 Harbor Freight 22". Those extra few inches mean less strokes which, so far, has meant my arm is slower to get tired. Now, I've only had the saw for a couple of weeks, but it cuts leaps and bounds better than my 15" Fat Max. I can saw through a 2x4 at least 30% faster with the longer blade. Not sure how it will hold up over the test of time, but if it doesn't, I'm only out 8 bucks.

  4. The Fat Max I have is a 20", not a 15"- yeah, for many cuts, through thick wood, better to go with any long saw. I have zero problem with the HF stuff- some is junk (like any brand), and some is GREAT.