One of the reasons for writing this blog series is the hope that it may help fellow woodworkers trying to do the same in Thailand. I found it hard to track down information about where and what to buy so hopefully this may be of use to someone like myself in the future. Those of you not in the area may want to change channels about now.
Getting set-up to be able to start building things has been quite a frustrating experience. Woodworking is not a popular hobby in Thailand and there aren’t many places where decent quality basic hand tools can be found. The HomePro stores (large DIY stores like Home Depot or B&Q) have a decent selection of power tools and some hand tools and I am finding them quite a friendly place to shop. I live in Bangkok where there is a 1km long street known as ‘wood street’ which is full of lumber shops, some tool shops and a lot of shops selling mouldings, carvings and furniture. I’ll take some pictures for another blog entry on my next visit. While HomePro is quite a friendly place for a foreigner to shop I find that wood street is not the same story. Most of the shops seem slightly suspicious of foreigners, maybe they think I’m trying to hunt down some illegally logged teak so I can report them to the police! I did manage to pick up some rubber wood and my router there at a considerable saving compared to buying it in HomePro. You would think that a street dedicated to woodworking would have everything, but unfortunately that is not the case. My quest to find a plug cutter there last week met with total failure and blank stares from every store I tried. I am finding that most of the tools available in Thailand are of such poor quality that they might as well be useless and I treat some of them as disposable. There is no point using 50 bahts worth of water to clean a paint roller when the best you can buy only costs 29 baht!
I recently tracked down a hardware store in Nonthanburi (part of Bangkok) called True Value. This is by far the best place I have found so far as they stock a range of imported goods, mainly from the US. I came away from there with some lag screws (finally!), a small woodworking vice and a Master Mechanic smoothing plane. It’s the only place so far where I have seen a table saw that might be worth buying, they have a 10 inch bench top model from Performax. The table saws for sale on wood street looked like a total waste of money, the fences might as well have been made of tissue paper, where only fixed on one side and none of them had a scale or sliding mitre gauge, sigh. True Value also have a store in Pattaya and Chonburi and I recommend anybody in the area to pay them a visit.
I took the easy option for my first workbench, all HomePro stores have a wood centre which will build things for free if you buy the wood (rubber wood) from them. I downloaded some plans from Fine Woodworking for a basic bench and took advantage of their free building and delivery service. It’s not a bad bench and will certainly do me for the next couple of years until I want something with a thicker top and an end vice. I have a small front vice that I will fit soon along with drilling some holes for some shop made bench dogs.
I am going to slap some of Thailands cheapest paint on my workshop walls now to make it look a bit better, time to run through the pre-painting survival check list:
- Large number of towels to soak up the sweat caused by painting in 36C heat
- Large jugs of cold water to replace said sweat
- 2 or 3 changes of clothes
- Beer chilling in the fridge for emergency rehydration after completion
- Boy scouts guide to scary looking insects and creepy crawlies (to be honest I usually run first and then have a look on the internet to see if I should be scared or not!)
Wish me luck!