I’ve learned over the years that when you get into woodworking, you actually get into two hobbies at once. The first hobby is actually making stuff, but the second hobby is tool collecting. And it’s not entirely absurd that you’d spend more money on tools than you’ll ever make back from the projects you build. I think it’s great when you can find tools you love, but like any other possession, it will hold you down while assisting you in activities. In other words, tool buying gets out of hand and I’ve been to dozens of estate sales where the owner had passed and so many possessions in that garage or workshop, so many tools not even opened. Some people that say they are “woodworkers” would be better described as “tool collectors” for most of the year. Speaking of that, the main reason I didn’t link to where to buy the tools below is I’d rather people consider a tool with contemplation and if desired, seek it out on their own at their favorite places. I don’t want to promote one shop over another and I like the idea that more shops and more competition exist in retail not consolidation.
Small Six Inch Combination Square
The small combination square is so helpful to have around in the shop when working on projects to help you match measurements and transfer them from one board or one side to another. This one from Empire is inexpensive, made in the U.S. and accurate as I’ve ever needed it. Sometimes what sets one of these above another is readability. I’ve had a similar quality one but the ruler was reflective polished steel and it interfered with reading it a little bit. There are so many uses for combination squares and perhaps the best thing is using them in lieu of actual numerical measurements. Often when adding fasteners to a project, their location is somewhat arbitrary, but lining them up with consistency or symmetry is the important job. A combination square is great for that, allowing you to lock in a position and slide or remake your mark down the line of the board as far as you need. A regular size one is great but smaller one is nicer to wield and often all you need.
Multi-Tool Belt Grinder attachment for Bench Grinders
Many people, or at least their dads have bench grinders. Some have the standard grind wheels, some have wire wheels or buffers on them. Not a lot of people know this attachment for bench grinders exist. But when you need a belt grinder and you see what they can cost, this Multi-Tool belt grinder starts to look like a great compromise. Pictured here is one attached to a Jet grinder, but it can attach to many others. Also if you are in the market for a bench grinder, before you grab the cheapest one used, just consider getting a variable speed one. Variable speed is a great thing when you’ve got something that tops out at say 3500 rpms. Let’s just say sometimes you’ll want a lot less than that. I’ll end with one last comment. A ‘belt grinder’ is not the same as a ‘strip sander.’ Though their uses can overlap, their main purposes and their mediums are not the same.
Felo T-Handles for sockets and hex bits
Much of what I work on I’m dealing with bolts that haven’t been sized perfectly yet, or they are fitted into a strange spot and I need a little more control over getting them fastened. Instead of buying dedicated wrenches each with their own hex bits or dealing with ratchets that are heavy and imbalanced, these Felo T-Handles are great to have, you can fit what you need to them and, though it’s hard to explain, they are often easier to start a nut or bolt with and many times I don’t even need the leverage beyond what I can get with these just due to my kind of work with bolt-on fasteners.
Mini Socket Wrench (Ratchet) Two-sided
I was kind of torn sharing this one as it’s somewhat redundant to the previous one. However, I think there’s sometimes a need to have just one tool you can fit in your pocket or glove box. And this mini ratchet comes from a few companies, this one is ‘Powerbuilt’ and is two sided, both 1/4 and 3/8 socket size and it’s well-made. It’s heavy for it’s size and I think is worth knowing about as you can get a lot of leverage even from a small wrench.
Milwaukee Angle Drill Attachment
There are a few models of angle attachments in the wild. I think Milwaukee and ARES make the best ones for the toolbag in my opinion. They aren’t cheap but when you need to re-seat a screw between some crowded surrounding structure or are dealing with tightly located pocket holes (that you didn’t foresee when you started) it’s really helpful. Also know that the cheap ones can be annoying, come in multiple pieces and you’ll be fighting to keep it together.
Energizer Vision HD Head Lamp (High Lumen)
It’s strange just how many garbage headlamps I’ve broke or they’ve disappeared and I didn’t really care. I always thought that the Energizer brand for headlamps wouldn’t beat out the outdoor and camping companies who have built them for a long time. But it turns out this is actually a great one to get. There are a few models. Get the highest lumens if you need the distance. For close up stuff, like in a tent or working on a project right in front of you, regular lumens is fine. If They come in regular battery power and USB powered. I guess use your judgement on that one but these are built well, are light, comfortable all that good stuff. If you have a different favorite let me know!
Oil with Needle Applicator
Don’t worry about the oil brand pictured here, I mean it’s great but it’s not the brand of oil it’s the needle tipped bottle for applying it. The first time I ever heard of a needle bottle was I was looking for a small oil bottle for my electric hair trimmer because the included bottles SUCK!. Quite a few people recommended to me the same oil for sewing machines and those seemed to all come in needle applicators. And then I realized it was the bottle that was just as important as picking one oil over another for little parts repair. Ever oil hinges? This actually helps you use less oil and put it where it’s supposed to go with little or no mess. You can actually buy just these bottles empty and put your favorite oil in them.
Pixnor Tweezer Kit
Here’s the thing, as you get older, you need tweezers for all sorts of things. They help you move small parts around, they help you grip elusive slippery aggravating hairs that have no business being on some part of your body. I don’t actually know what the best set of tweezers are, I’m no tweezer expert and they have numbers on some of them even when they look the same. But I do know I have my limits and some sets are cheaper than a single tweezer and you get multiple variants! This set is like $15 you get a few redundant-looking ones and the case keeps it all together nice and snug. From using them, I’ve bent a tip and had to bend it back (it was an accident and only happened once) but if you take care of stuff, these will last you and you’ll be successfully tweezing a hell of a lot more in your life.
Inland UFixit Mini Screwdriver set
It’s a real shame that this Inland kit that I got at Microcenter is no longer carried. When I bought it I was stoked to get such a complete set for probably a third the price of the popular iFixit kits. Inland makes a lot of stuff, and some I wouldn’t buy but this has been great. Prices aside, I think when you get precision drivers and you with all these bits you can get into most any plastic toy or device, you’ll feel confident in replacing batteries or maybe internal repair. I’ve used it once to open a toy just to remove a rattling plastic nub that broke away and was just annoying me. If you end up shopping for a comparable, I hope you find a good one at a good value like I did.