3 Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed

woodworking tools

Tools that are more useful than you could imagine.

I like tools, especially good-looking tools. Often I buy a tool solely based on looks. I know that’s a really bad criteria, but what can I say? I’m a sucker for a pretty tool! Some of the “cool” tools I buy never see the light of day, others I find moderately useful, and a rare few surprise the heck out of me as either being extremely useful or really well suited for a specific task. The latter is the category of tools I will share with you in this column. To start off, here are three of my favorite tools I didn’t think I needed:

pocket driver

Bosch Pocket Driver

1. Bosch Pocket Driver, #PS20-2A, $130. When I first saw the Bosch Pocket Driver, I wondered why I would ever need such a tool. I’ve owned dedicated cordless screwdrivers and never found them useful, and my current array of cordless drill/drivers was performing well for my screw driving needs. Even with all of my trepidation, I decided to get a Pocket Driver anyway. Lo and behold, I found myself amazed by how useful this tool is. It’s small, lightweight, has plenty of power, the battery charge lasts a long time, and the clutch works well. It lives up to its name since it’s easily carried in an apron pocket. I use it to drive virtually every screw I install in my shop. It will easily drive 3? long #8 screws, but it’s not a speed demon. If you need to drive a lot of long screws fast, you’ll need to revert to a faster driver. This is not a problem, since most screws used in cabinet and furniture making are 1-1/4? or shorter. (Bosch)

 

6x3/4 steel rule

Starrett 6

2. Starrett 6? x 3/4? Steel Rule With End Graduations, #C304SRE-6, $19. I’m fairly certain that no day has passed in my career where I didn’t carry a 6? steel rule in my apron pocket. I use it to make measurements up to 6?, using the rule’s long edges and I use it to set router bit and table saw blade heights up to 3/4? using the rule’s graduated ends. This tool is like one of my extremities–if it’s missing, I can’t function. The Starrett brand rule I use is a quality tool made from 1/50? thick tempered, semi-flexible steel with a satin chrome finish. The graduations on the long edges are in 8ths, 16ths, 32nds, and 64ths. The end graduations are in 32nds on both ends. The graduation marks are precisely etched and the satin finish makes them easy to read. Even the 1/64? markings are clear as day. Starrett also marks the two finer graduated edges with a system they call “Quick-Reading 32nds and 64ths.” These markings greatly speed up calculating the finer measurements. (Starrett Tools)

 

low angle block plane

Lie-Nielsen Adjustable Mouth Low Angle Block Plane

3. Lie-Nielsen Adjustable Mouth Low Angle Block Plane, #60-1/2, $165. I’ll admit it, this is not a tool I use often, but it sure is a darn nice looking, wonderful to hold, and beautifully crafted tool. Those qualities in themselves are enough to sell me. When the need arises and it comes time to remove a “shaving” of wood, no other hand plane or tool I’ve used even comes close to the caliber of this tool. Glide it across the edge of a softer wood and a sliver of wood peels up the tool’s throat. Wow… that’s nice! Notice I said “softer wood.” The point here is that cutting tools, like planes and chisels, work much easier on softwoods and softer hardwoods like mahogany, cherry, and walnut. Hand planning hardwoods like hard maple, requires a lot more labor and the results, though effective, are not nearly as satisfying. (Lie-Nielsen Toolworks)

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Discussion
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12 Responses to “3 Tools You Didn’t Know You Needed”
  1. Jason

    These eBoot rulers seem to be the same, but at $5.99 on Amazon. Hope this helps! Manufacturer Part #EBOOT-RULERS-04

    Reply
  2. ray wiese

    youre an idiot that bosch pocket drill is my go to tool Im an electrician and it works better thha some heavy drill

    Reply
    • Bill Kline

      He is an idiot because he likes he same Bosch pocket drill that you do?

      Reply
    • Jerry Rowe

      That’s a great tool. I have the little power screwdriver by Milwaukee that has a flexjoint if you want to hold it more like a driil…

      Reply
    • Silvio

      He may be an idiot but at least he understands grammar and spelling.

      Reply
  3. Nate Frost

    I work in a one-man millwork shop, and I have all three of these (except my planes are all Stanley Sweethearts), and I use them often. Yes, a good block plane is faster than sanding, easier to control, and leaves a much better surface for joinery. The Bosch driver was purchased with a slightly larger Bosch impact driver, which I actually use with a Vix bit, then I screw on hardware with the driver. The Starret 6 inch rule is paired with a Starret metric rule of similar size, which is handy for interpreting Euro hardware installations.
    The Stanley planes may not be quite as pretty, but with a little tuning and careful sharpening and care, they can perform nearly as well, and for a lot less money.
    Hardly a week goes by when I don’t use all of these – they are worth the investment.

    Reply
  4. DC Chambers

    I have the Bosch pocket driver and the drill. Why do the other brands have such massive batteries? These last quite well, and do everything I need. Awesome tools!!

    Reply
  5. Mike

    If you rarely use the block plane, why is it on this list…. seems you could have come up with something else that is indispensable….just sayin

    Reply
  6. Daryl

    I’ve used several of the 6″ stick rulers in past as a machinist. And yes Starret is considered the go to standard, I’ve used the “Fowler 6” 4R Rigid Steel Rule. Because been buying one new would only set me back $10-12. Whereas the Starrett would be in the $25-30 range (NEW)
    Hence the common nickname for them was Stare’at’em because I don’t have the money for them. Even today I still have a Fowler 4” that’s close to 30 years old and its just as good now as when I got it back 1993

    Reply
    • fbtool

      Agree! I’ve used a Fowler 6″ scale for 30 yrs. I have many Starrett & Browne & Sharpe measuring tools as I was a toolmaker for 40 yrs, but you don’t always need the exacting quality and price of those tool manufacturers especially now being retired and using my tools for woodworking!

      Reply
  7. stuart

    I love my 60 1/2 and use it all the time. It is a go to tool for clean up, fine tuning etc. And boy does it feel good when i use it!

    Reply