Friday, December 31, 2010

New England Woodworking and D.I.Y. Show

Shelter will be one of the exhibitors at the New England Woodworking and D.I.Y. Show in West Springfield, MA, January 14-16.

Tickets are $10 for adults and can be purchased online. Children under 15, active duty police, fire, and military get in free.

The list of exhibitors includes Lee Valley & Veritas tools, Kreg, Delta, Bosch, Bessey Tools (more clamps!), and many more. There will be lots of free stuff, tools on display, and discount buying opportunities.

The show also offers an impressive list of educational seminars. One of the seminars, "Woodworking in High Definition," is offered by Bob Settich, author of Built-Ins (in Taunton's Build Like a Pro series). He will talk about cabinetmaking details, shop tricks, and jigs. Maybe he'll get me motivated to start the built-in bookshelf/window seat I've promised my wife for years.

We're very happy to be part of such an impressive lineup. If you can make your way there, please stop by and see us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gift Ideas from Maine Writer Richard Grant

Richard Grant recently posted a list of "gifts to to delight the Maine Luddites in your life" on his Coffee With That blog at

Grant's list for Luddites includes our Silky Zorin 370 saw and an assortment of other quality items like a fountain pen, snowshoes, and (my favorite on the list) a reproduction of an old-style film camera.

Thanks for including us in your great gift idea list. Check out the list and blog, or follow Richard on Twitter.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Buy a Woodstove Now, Before the Tax Credit Expires

For the next week on Shelter Blog, we're posting new Holiday Gift Idea entries and republishing entries from last year. Keep an eye on our site for great gift ideas.

Now is the time to buy a woodstove. The Federal tax credit for "biomass" stoves expires at the end of this month (December 2010). Shelter sells quality Vermont Castings stoves, and they are truly things of beauty. We can help you select a wood stove that qualifies for the tax credit (a full list of Vermont Castings stoves that qualify can be found here), and we are happy to help you find the right size and type of stove for your home.

The tax credit is for 30% of the cost (installation included) of the biomass fuel stove used for heat or heating water, up to $1500 . You can purchase more than one stove and receive credit on both of them -- up to $1500. The stoves must have a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75% as measured using a lower heating value.

Biomass is not a word you see too often. The law defines "biomass fuel" as any plant-derived fuel available on a renewable or recurring basis, including agricultural crops and trees, wood, wood waste and residues (including wood pellets), plants (including aquatic plants), grasses, residues, and fibers.

For more information about wood stoves, energy efficiency, or the Federal tax credit, read our blog posts on energy efficiency, contact us by phone at (207-442-7938) or email for additional information.

Need more gift ideas? Send us an email at or check back soon. We'll post more gift ideas from Shelter.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gift Ideas for the Woodstove Family

For the next week on Shelter Blog, we're posting new Holiday Gift Idea entries and republishing entries from last year. Keep an eye on our site for great gift ideas.

The woodstove family likes to heat their home independently and economically with wood. They have eschewed the gym membership, and you can find them in their backyard working out on winter afternoons splitting and stacking wood. When you visit their toasty warm home this holiday season, here are the gifts you should bring:

Felling and Splitting Tools:
At Shelter, we carry the Gransfors Bruks line of hand-forged axes. Their quality and and craftsmanship is apparent the minute you hold one in your hands. For the Woodstove family (or any serious woodsman), the double-bit working axe is a great gift if they fell trees on their own property. When they need to split that wood, the splitting axe is the tool they'll need. (If they're more power tool oriented, we carry Efco chain saws at the store too. Call or stop in for details.)

Woodlot Knowledge:
What's one to do with all of those trees? Before the axe is sharpened, the Woodstove family should gather around with some hot cocoa and read The Woodlot Management Handbook. If you find the family can't seem to part with their favorite arbor, perhaps Home Tree Home, a step-by-step guide to building treehouses, is right for them.

Backwoods Tools:
A bark spud, loading tongs, and pulp hook are essential tools for the Woodstove family. We carry more backwoods tools too, if the family you know has a full collection of Swedish froes.

If It's Not Hot in the House:
Sometimes, even a hot woodstove can't heat the house. Shelter can still help. We all know that heat rises. So it's sometimes helpful to circulate the woodstove heat into living spaces. The Ecofan does just that. Place an Ecofan on top of a woodstove, and without using any electricity, the fan silently moves and circulates heat.

We also sell books on improving the house itself. Efficient Buildings 2 is a good reference for someone wanting to build an air-tight, energy efficient building.

If you are interested in becoming a Woodstove Family, Shelter is the place to begin. We can help you select a wood stove that best fits your home's needs. We sell Vermont Castings wood stoves, which may qualify for an energy tax credit. For more information about wood stoves, energy efficiency, or the Federal tax credit, read our blog posts on energy efficiency, or contact us.

Need more gift ideas? Send us an email at or check back soon. We'll post more gift ideas from Shelter.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Can a Saw Fit in a Stocking?

For the next week on Shelter Blog, we're posting new Holiday Gift Idea entries and republishing entries from last year. Keep an eye on our site for great gift ideas.

Everyone likes cash, but it lacks personality. Chocolates are gone in a day. A bottle of 21-year-old-Honduran rum is apt not to fit in the stocking. So what can you find at Shelter that's the perfect stocking stuffer?

Folding Japanese Hand Saws:
A folding saw! Yes, they do exist, and it's not only practical for the stocking, it's enormously handy for home, out in a field, or in the shop. The Gomboy 300 pictured here is 13 inches long (when folded). Maybe not pocket size, but certainly the right size for a toolbox. The blade is coarse, suitable for pruning green limbs perhaps. However, the blade can be replaced with a finer blade that might be used for carpentry. Or you might want a smaller folding saw. I keep a Silky Gomboy in my tool belt. It's a little over eight inches when folded and is classified by Silky Tools as "interior" or "civil" engineering grade, suitable for interior trim work because of its finer tooth configuration. We carry many more folding saws and other Japanese hand saws. Call us, or view our online store for more details.

Hammers and Mallets:
One of our favorite tools in the store is the Wood Is Good mallet. (Hint to my wife: the 20 oz. mallet would fit perfectly in my stocking. I promise it won't be too hard to wrap.) We also carry a 30 oz. Wood Is Good mallet. They fit comfortably in your hand. The urethane head is a wonderful shock absorber and is easy on a chisel handle. Our favorite hammer is the 21-ounce Yamaguchi, available with a smooth or waffle face. (Umm waffles.) It is very durable and capable tool.

I think I heard a joke once that God could have created the world in fewer than seven days, but he didn't have enough clamps. Everybody could use more clamps. Since this is a religious holiday season, perhaps they're apt as well. Feel free to reuse the joke on the card.

Pocket and Kitchen Knives:
Everyone can use a pocket knife, and we carry a wide selection of Leatherman tools in our store. Online, we offer our favorite, the Leatherman Squirt S4. It offers ten functions, and it fits easily in your pocket. (Just make sure you don't leave it in your carry-on bag at the airport. I've seen sad travelers relinquish their favorite Leatherman, and it's not a happy moment.)

We used to have a very dull knife for chopping vegetables in the kitchen. I hated using it. That was my excuse for not helping with dinner prep. Now I have no excuse, because we have a full set of really sharp knives that we received as a Christmas gift. Does Shelter carry kitchen knives? You bet we do! And they're really sharp. Which one should you start with? You can't go wrong with a seven-inch chopping knife. It's tempered and sharpened to a razor edge. It will cut through a melon like it's a tomato.

Last Minute Gift Idea
If you need something at the last minute, a gift certificate always works. A Shelter gift certificate can be used for classes, tools, building supplies, toys, and more. Contact us, and we'll get one out to you as soon as possible.

If the person you're shopping for has all of the above, contact us at, and we'll help you find the perfect gift your Holiday needs.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Annual Open House and Sale

Saturday December 4, 2010
Annual Open House and Sale
  • Up to 20% off in stock items
  • Sidewalk Sale with deeper discounts on overstock items
  • Free refreshments
  • Door prizes
  • Demonstrations and Show Room with Displays
Join us this Saturday to celebrate the coming of another holiday season. This year we are excited to announce that several of our favorite suppliers and businesses will join us to demonstrate some exciting tools, products and techniques in a mini holiday Shelter Show. We'll have GRK Fasteners providing product demos and information, Tormek Sharpening Systems, Sunmar Composting Toilets, Tajima Tools, local carver Andy Rice will give a carving demonstration, Timber Framing author Michael Beaudry will be sign books, and much MORE!

As always we'll offer free coffee and treats, and door prizes! Admission to the show room is free, the tool store will offer up to 20% off of in-stock items only and we'll have a sidewalk sale on the deck with overstock items marked down as much as 60% off. You'll find Panasonic Fans, Homeslicker, HomeslickerPlus, fasteners, tie-downs, even a small timber frame!!

If you cannot make it to the sale it is available at Shelter Tools online -- if you saw it in the store and can't find it online we will accept phone orders during the sale hours on Saturday (sidewalk items available in person only).