Tools I don't Want To Do Without

Damn, this came out longer than I'd figured. If you've gotta respond to it, do us all a favor and learn how to snip first. Out in the shop last evening, and had occassion to use one of my favorite handy tools. Magnet on a string. Got me to thinking about some of the handy, and inexpensive, things it'd be hard to do without.
NOTE: I differentiate inexpensive from cheap. To me, inexpensive means not high priceed, but works, sometimes better than the expensive stuff. Cheap, to me, means won't do the job, might even break first time you use it, and is not necssarily inexpensive either. I often buy inexpensive tools, I look them over first, and so far they've usually lasted - the exceptions are when one of my sons "borrows" a tool, and I never see it again - one more reason to buy inexpensive. One of the benefits of painting my tools yellow is they don't use the tools, let alone walk off with them.
Magnet on a string. From one of my kids old speakers. Not the ceramic type that can shatter. Just the thing if you spill a batch of nails or whatever on the floor, especially if you've got a batch of sawdust on the floor. Works behind tool stands usually, may have problems if the stand is metal. Great if you drop a screw or nut under the car, toss it out, pull it back with the string. Doesn't work on non-magnetic bolts, etc.
I used to use one of t hose metal compasses for drawing circles and arcs. Always a PITA. Found a plastic version in an o ffice supply store for about $1. Works great, especially using one of those cheap plastic Pentel type mechanical pencils in it.
El cheapo plastic Pentel type mechanical pencils - I say el cheapo, but I've used them for years and they're all still functional. I can get them for maybe $1 or $2 for a dozen or so. Beats the Hell out of sharpening a pencil, plus the line size is always consistent. I've heard people calim they wear out fairly quickly, but I don't think so. When the lead as about used up they don't work well, that makes people think they're worn out. I've foud that they have spare leads under the eraser, usually 3. Replace the lead and they work great again. Mine are all 7mm lead size, and sometimes it's not real essy to find replacement leads. No prob. It's actually less expensive to buy a dozen new pencils, with their spare leads, then it is to buy a pack of replacement leads, plus you wind up with more total replacement leads. Stupid isn't it?
Extend-A-Hand. Or whatever they call 'em. They're those things that you squeeze the handle and the other end grips. I've got a bad back and bending over is not a joy. This thing lets me pick up some fairly hefty stuff off the floor without beiding over, and then haveing to suffer with the getting back up part. I got a case of them, so they only came to about $2 each, including shipping - buy one at a time and they usually run from about $8 to as much as $20, each. Ratchet screwdriver. These are the inexpensive plastic ones. You can find them for $1-$2 if you look around a bit, and they normally come with various spare bits. I've got some in my vehicles, in the house, in the shop. The handiest one I've got has a T-handle. With a little adapter you can use sockets with them. Not high class, but great for a lot of things.
Baby sledge hammer. Apparently th is was originally a full size sledge hammer that someone cut the handle to about a foot long, for whatever reason. I think this may have come from my dad. I use it as a hammer on occassion, but more often use it as a weight when gluing pieces together. Much more useful in this short version than it would be full length - I can't think of anything I would have used it for full length.
More speaker magnets. I've got two on top of my drill press. They stay in place with no problem at all, and I've got severl chuck keys and probably at least a dozen drill bits of various sizes up there. No danger of any of it dropping off. They're heavy magnets, and as long as you lay them on a horizontal surface they'll stay put. Sometimes they'll stay on a vertical surface, but don't count on it, they're heavy.
Ammo boxes. I picked up 10 .50 caliber ammo boxes awhile back, for a good price. Spray paint 'em yellow, store stuff you don't use often, and set 'em on a shelf. Label 'em with a marker and amazing the space that gets freed up.
Magic markers. I mark my ammo boxes with them. And my patterns and jigs - any special cutting info, what the pattern is for, and so on. That way I know immediately what it's for and anything special I need to know - and that means I don't have to remember anything, and possibly forget something vital. No need to think is always good.
I've got a batch of inexpensive tape measures in various places, bathroom, El Camino, beside the couch, etc. As you all should know, tape measure vary slightly, one from another. So these aren't really usied for measuring, but when I'm thinking about a project, they let me see just how much a foot, 18 inches, 2 feet, etc., actually is. But, if you use the same tape measure for all the measuring on a project, you get consistency, which is the same as accurate. Me, I normally use a aluminum yardstick on my projects.
Waxed paper in the shop. Put it under something being glued up and if there's any drips it won't stick to whatever the piece is resting on. Alternately, I dust some sawdust down. You do understand I do this with things I'm not trying to do "nice" with.
Roll of paper towels. Along with a plastic jug of water, mosten a towel, and wipe of excess glue. Or wipe off your face.
Plastic clothes soap containers. I generate these on a regular basis, and they're one of those things I feel like it's a crime to just toss them, but can't figure out what to do with 'em. Well, fill them with sawdust, toss a couple in your car trunk, and forget them. Until you get out in the winter and can't move on packed snow, or ice. Then sprinkle a couple of handfulls in front of your tires, it shouldn't take much, and get some traction to get you moving.
None of this stuff is rocket science, and there's probably more I do I haven't recalledt. This is just to get some of you thinking a bit. I'm sure some of you can come up with stuff I've never thought of. It's all about exchanging ideas, and passing information along. I'm pretty sure this'll draw out a comment from one or more of the Buttercups, with nothing to contribute except some sort of snide comment. So, Buttercup, in advance, up yours.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
J T wrote:

OK, snippage completed. Probably have several inexpensive things that are frequently used, but one at the top of my head is a new one. $0.50 at Harbor Freight. I've seen several self-stick measuring tapes in various catalogs, and thought they'd be handy, but could never justify $5 for one of these when I'd only use a couple feet and then the rest would be wasted. But then I was at HF the other day, and found 10 feet of self-stick measuring tape marked a buck, check out, and they charged $0.50. They were smart enough not to label the foot markings, so if you only use 3 feet of it, you don't have a tape that starts at 36". I just stuck a piece of it along the front of my workbench, and wrote in the foot markings with a marker (also handy for me - permanent marker resides in my pocket all the time). Of course it's not as accurate as my aluminum yardstick or even a tape measure, seen's it's only graduated in eighths, but it's already come in really handy for quick measurements on a variety of workpieces, screws, parts, etc. One less thing to hold in my hand; don't have to reach into my apron pocket for the 10ft tape as often.
Another recent aquisition that's been nice is an anti-fatigue floor mat. Again, they always seemed overpriced to me, even when the 2x5ft mat was on sale for $15 at Woodcraft. So I started looking around and found various interlocking tiles sold for gym floor mats or garage flooring, much cheaper per square foot than dedicated anti-fatigue mats. Check your local Dick's sporting goods or Sports Authority. I ended up getting 4 interlocking tiles at 4 sq ft each from Northern Tool - 16sq ft for $16, including shipping. Eases strain on feet/knees/back; makes shop time even more relaxing.
Oh - one last thing - bandaids and superglue, both to keep me from bleeding on a workpiece if I bark a knuckle or something. Doesn't happen often, but just the other night I realized it was kind of silly to run all the way upstairs just for a bandaid. No, the superglue isn't for attaching the bandaids - handy for sticking together MINOR cuts/punctures. Andy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sat, Oct 21, 2006, 7:26am (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com (Andy) doth scribe: <snip> Another recent aquisition that's been nice is an anti-fatigue floor mat. <snip> Oh - one last thing - bandaids <snip>
I've got a wood floor, so that helps. However, I have back problems if I stand a lot, so use my folding chair when using my router table or scrollsaw, which helps a lot. Also use it if I'm thinking on how to do something, etc., so I wind up spending a lot less time on my feet than I would otherwise. I can fold the chair and easily put it out of the way, even hang it up if need be.
I've found the best bandaids are those sport types, that will stick even to wet skin - which is handy if you have to wash blood off first.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

i have a couple of bags of flexx-wrap lying around for accidents : it stretches over the skin, seals to itslef great, and lasts forever
vets have used it for years on dogs - doesn't stick to fur or hair.
shelly
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

I use these for emergency wash/flush water. If the water is ever cut off, I've got water for flushing toilets and for washing. Would not want to use them for drinking water as you can't get the soap odor out of them.
Cut the bottom from plastic milk jugs and use them as scoops. Another use for milk jugs is as a miniature greenhouse when setting out plands early in the season. Remove the top, cut off the bottom and set over plant.
Fortunately almost all plastics can be recycled locally, including detergent and milk jugs - otherwise I'd go nuts trying to figure out what to do with them.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sat, Oct 21, 2006, 2:48pm (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@verizon.net (LobbyDosser) doth posteth: <snip> I use these for emergency wash/flush water. <snip> Cut the bottom from plastic milk jugs and use them as scoops. <snip>
I've used milk jugs, but soap jugs would be even better.
The soap jugs are a lot better for scoops, stiffer.
I drop off plastic locally to be recycled.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 21 Oct 2006 09:40:56 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

Some of mine:
"Magnet on a stick", I use 4 magnets about 1/2" diameter glued to a ply backing sheet, which is then glued to a length of 3/8" dowel. Lets you get into places where a magnet on a string will fail.
I have three monster magnets that are very useful for picking up spilled nails, swarf, etc. But BEFORE doing that, I wrap it with a piece of cloth. Then you can easily let everything fall off, by removing the magnet. Saves much time picking swarf off a powerful magnet !
Gather up all those free sample pieces of Formica and the like, great for mixing epoxy on.
Squeeze bottles (ketchup or similar) filled with water and salt (Medics call it "Saline solution") Good for washing out minor cuts, or even major ones, and;- hopefully never required,- for an eyewash.
Barry Lennox
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sun, Oct 22, 2006, 7:37am (EDT+17) snipped-for-privacy@spamgourmet.com (BarryLennox) hath posteth: Some of mine: "Magnet on a stick", <snip> I have three monster magnets that are very useful for picking up spilled nails, swarf, etc. But BEFORE doing that, I wrap it with a piece of cloth. Then you can easily let everything fall off <snip> Gather up all those free sample pieces of Formica and the like, great for mixing epoxy on. Squeeze bottles (ketchup or similar) filled with water and salt <snip>
I've got one of those extension magnets, and don't think I've ever used it, even once. Magnet on a string's always worked so far.
I prefer picking the nails off, otherwise I'd ave to have something extra to catch them. One less thing to worry about.
Never seen free samples of formica.
Nice idea on the squeeze bottle. The tops also fit perfectly on a Titebond II bottle - I broke a top and had to come up with a replacement. Works very nicely.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (J T) wrote:

Color samples about 2x3 inches. Sometimes have a binder hole punched on one end.
Around here some places charge for them, but refund if you bring them back.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 22 Oct 2006 07:37:54 +1300, Barry Lennox
SNIP

I put down a couple of small strips of 2" wide clear plastic packing tape on my workbench or any other surface near the item I am working on and presto I have an epoxy mixing place. Make sure to hang the ends of the tape off the work surface to make it easy to peel up and throw away when you are done.
Dave Hall
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I suppose files are also tools. I bet I go to these things a couple times a week to check a manual, or a sales receipt. Saves me a lot of time.
http://homepage.mac.com/heuring/Workshop/PhotoAlbum24.html
--
Vince Heuring To email, remove the Vince.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sun, Oct 22, 2006, 3:28pm (EDT-2) snipped-for-privacy@dimensional.com (VinceHeuring) doth sayeth: I suppose files are also tools. I bet I go to these things a couple times a week to check a manual, or a sales receipt. Saves me a lot of time.
Uhm, yep. I've got a plastic file box in the hop, has a top that snaps closed, seals agains sawdust getting in, a handle on top, and I move it from place to place as needed. Flat top, can even use it as a mini work table, or glue station, at times.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 21 Oct 2006 09:40:56 -0400, J T wrote: (snip happens)
I use popsicle sticks bought from the local dollar store for glue speaders. Woodcraft wanted a ton of money for some tongue depressers but these work just fine at $1 for a bag of 100.
I bought some $1 plastic shoe boxes with snap-on lids from the same place for storing / cataloging my pen-turning kits and finished stock.
They also have brand new t-shirts for a buck or two apiece. Nicer ones than I was wearing. So I bought a half-dozen to free up some of my older t-shirts for polishing, etc. I only mention this as the price of a bundle of t-shirt material rags around here is ridiculous. It was cheaper to buy new shirts for myself and put perfectly serviceable shirts in the rag bin.
I just made myself a landing-deck drill press table complete with a dust channel for use with barrel sanders. The table uses intechangeable inserts to allow for the sander to extend below the surface of the table. I made an insert for my trepanning (large hole) drill to match the fitting on the end of my shop vac. This lets me easily set the blades of the trepanning drill to this often-used size just by touching the tips to the inside of the hole. It just came in handy yesterday when making a horiontal table for router use.
Oh ... and the landing deck drill table is a REAL lifesaver in and of itself. In making the horizontal table I needed to put in about a dozen flathead screws and having a larger table saved a lot of contortions trying to get the parts steadied and flat on the dinky little table that came with the DP. When I was assembling the DP, I thought it pretty fancy that they had included a table for my coffee cup ... until I realized that they had cheated me out of the work table I was expecting.
Electric pencil sharpener. I very much prefer a very fine point on my pencils and this makes renewing a point a 3 second operation.
My laptop computer and DSL comm line. Sure makes getting information, plans and inspiration a simple matter.
ShopNotes magazine for the same reasons. I just wish it was a weekly!
Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mon, Oct 23, 2006, 5:34am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@line.net (Bill) doth sayeth: I use popsicle sticks bought from the local dollar store <snip> I bought some $1 plastic shoe boxes with snap-on lids <snip> They also have brand new t-shirts for a buck or two apiece. <snip> I just made myself a landing-deck drill press table complete with a dust channel for use with barrel sanders. <snip> Electric pencil sharpener. I very much prefer a very fine point on my pencils and this makes renewing a point a 3 second operation.
I get popsicle sticks from the grocery store; 24 popsicles, 48 sticks, for about $2. Might cost a bit more than you pay, it's worth the enjoyment.
I use smaller boxes I get in the grocery store, about 6 for around $1. Keeps my various types of nails, furniture glides, etc., handy, and can see instantly what's inside. Also works for small amounts of paint, if the top sticks, just use a popsicle stick to run around the edge.
I've got a clothes hamper dedicated only to old clothes. When something gets torn, wornout, whatever, it gets washed, and then into the hamper.
Does making a landing-deck drill press table cout?
Electric pencil sharpener? I get a fine line every time with the el cheapo Pentel type of mechanical pencils. Probably as inexpensive new as wooden pencils, last a lot longer, stay the same length, much faster to get a new point.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 23 Oct 2006 06:43:58 -0400, J T wrote:

Good idea!

What does the subject line say? I needed to drill several lines of holes in a 24" span today and it certainly earned its keep. I also make canes and secure the brass handles to the shaft with pins made of brass and smoothed / polished so as to be invisible. That requires that I cross-drill near the end of a ~33" shaft. Tough to do on a 10" table ... simple matter on a 38" wide table.

What can I say ... I also use a 12" dial caliper for many of my measurements. Not because I need that much precision but because I already owned it from a previous occupation. Same for the pencil sharpeners. Moreover, I simply don't care for mechanical pencils. Never have. I like the smell of cedar that comes from a freshly sharpened wooden pencil and that is fully lacking in a Pentel.
Bill
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I completely agree. Used to prefer the mechanical ones, until I realized the vast difference between really cheap pencils and good ones. Can't stand the ones made of that plastic-like substance with the erasers that only smear the graphite around.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tue, Oct 24, 2006, 6:33am (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@line.net (Bill) doth sayeth: What does the subject line say? <snip> I like the smell of cedar that comes from a freshly sharpened wooden pencil and that is fully lacking in a Pentel.
OK, fair enough. Should have made the subject line different. LOL
OK, that's as good a reason as any. Me, I don't much like the smell of freshly sharpened pencils, and it's always very irritating when you get a nice sharp point, and the lead breaks, then there's always the fact that the pencils keep getting shorer and shorter, until they're just an aggravation to use.
I've tried a knife, which does give a nice sharp line, but just sn't satisfying to use somehow. Oh yeah, I've got several square erasers I prefer using over the Pentel erasers, give a nice clean erasure. I do use the Pentel erasers when I'm sketching something out on paper, does smea a bit, but at that point I'm just interested in leaving my primary lines highlighted, when I get an image I'm after, I then normally go over it with very heavy lines, or black ink, then sometimes make a fresh, clean, drawing based on that. Sometimes trace it on clear plastic, for reproducing multiple copies later. Works for me.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
(Bill) doth sayeth:

This is why you use a flat leaded pencil, either a "carpenter's pencil" or one made for use by artists http://www.dickblick.com/zz204/13 /. Sharpen it like a chisel so that it's sharp in one plane and wide in the other and it doesn't break nearly as easily but still gives a nice thin line.

My Dad often used a nail.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tue, Oct 24, 2006, 10:54am snipped-for-privacy@cox.net (J.Clarke) doth sayeth:This is why you use a flat leaded pencil, either a "carpenter's pencil" or one made for use by artists http://www.dickblick.com/zz204/13 /. Sharpen it like a chisel so that it's sharp in one plane and wide in the other and it doesn't break nearly as easily but still gives a nice thin line. then there's always the fact that the pencils keep getting shorer and shorter, until they're just an aggravation to use. My Dad often used a nail.
Nope. The only time I now use a carpenter's pencil, or nail, is if I'm doing rough carpentry.
I do have a set of colored lead drawing pencils I reserve for special occassions. For sketcing, drawing, woodworking, etc., I use Pental type el cheapo mechanical pencils. Writing, highlighting sketches, crossword puzzles, and the occassional rough sketch, I use el cheap Bic ballpoint pens.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.