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:
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)
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)
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)