What do you want to see reviewed on ToolGuyd? Any suggestions or requests would be welcome!
I have been cleaning up my workspace (again), and have been rejiggering my schedule and editorial calendar.
To be frank, I recently realized that I’m not having as much fun as I’d like. Because of that, I’m making sure my schedule allows for sufficient personal project time.
While I’m at it, I want to ensure there’s also more time for readers’ interest reviews and explorations.
3 years ago, when I posted about the then-new Bantam CNC milling machine, I mentioned the idea of benchtop mill conversions. I’ve fielded a couple of questions and recommendations requests since then. I finally finished budgeting for it, and just ordered a Precision Matthews benchtop mill, shown above.
I’m not sure how in-depth my eventual CNC mill conversion coverage will be, but I’m taking notes every step of the way as I research all of the many components. I also hope for any lessons learned to apply across machine types.
A couple of readers expressed interest in more flashlight reviews from varied brands. Absolutely!
A reader recently asked for knife recommendations with a 3″ max blade size. I can do that! I gave them some quick recommendations, and a more formal post is in the works.
A reader asked for Makita XGT cordless reviews. I’m working on it!
The way I see it, my time will be split four ways – personal interest projects and tool reviews, sponsored personal interest projects and tool reviews, general audience tool reviews, readers’ choice tool reviews.
Every now and then a regular reader will say “I wish you had more posts about [type of tool]” or “how come you don’t post more about [tool, brand, category]?”
Generally, ToolGuyd has 2 types of readers – regulars who check in day to day, and visitors looking for information. Sometimes we’ll also get visitors who came across a post on their news feed.
I know that I sometimes feel let down when the sites I follow don’t touch upon certain topics. If you’re checking in on ToolGuyd regularly, as opposed to only coming here to research a specific purchasing decision, you could have a say in what you read about.
I can’t promise that I’ll be able to satisfy everyone’s requests. But, many overlap with my own interests and experience, and others should be easily achievable.
Let me know what you want to see more of, and I’ll do my best to make it happen.
Lastly, shown above is the Precision Matthews PM-728VT benchtop mill. It’s been on my shopping list for a few years now, and I finally ordered one!
I’d appreciate an overview of today’s most popular tools and jigs for doing floating tenon joinery. Biscuit joiner, Domino, etc tools. DowelMax & JessEm doweling jigs, JessEm Pocket Mill Pro, Woodpeckers Morty, and so on. I’m sure there are several I didn’t list.
That’s a tough one, as I am extremely biased.
Are you looking for just a roundup and discussion, or reviews on different options?
The Woodpeckers Morty looks to be the most functional floating tenon jig I’ve seen, but it’s pricey at $440 and up.
I have this dowel jig – https://www.leevalley.com/en-us/shop/tools/jigs-guides-and-fixtures/32250-self-centering-dowelling-jig?item=25K6401 and recommend it.
I also bought the Bridge City Tool Works jig and do not recommend it.
I’d tried beaded floating tenons and don’t like the hassle.
The Dowelmax looks like a useful problem solver, but it’s more than half the price of the Morty.
I have a Domino test sample. It’s a fantastic machine, but limited and flawed. I’ve been balking on getting 3rd party accessories to improve its functionality.
The JessEm has also been on my “hmm, that looks interesting” list, though I don’t like the idea of how their Pocket Mill Pro works.
You said: “I have a Domino test sample. It’s a fantastic machine, but limited and flawed.”
I agree with you – mine is the XL (700) machine – which is now my most used joinery approach – despite the flaws.
You also said: I’ve been balking on getting 3rd party accessories to improve its functionality.”
For me – I started out with add-ons from RTS Engineering – OK but not as useful as I hoped. I bought all of the Seneca reworked cutters – letting me use the full-size range of dominos – with the XL machine. I found this to be very functional but not perfect. I noticed adjustment creep in using the machine for repetitive cutting (e.g. making a houseful of cabinet carcasses) Seneca “domiplates” helped.
My take is that when the patents expire, and competition arises – Festool and the competitors will likely fix some of the issues – maybe even at lower price points.
I can appreciate your hesitancy about doing an exhaustive testing of the options. Just running the 2 Festool machines through their paces – with and without aftermarket add-ons (Seneca, TSO et.al.) would be challenging. Selecting what to build (cabinets, casework, doors, furniture, etc. – would prove difficult. Then add in the optional approaches and tools (table saw/motrising jig and machine, loose tenon jigs vs. domino machines, doweling jigs, doweling machines like the Mafell) and you would probably have a very lengthy project. Then if you add in the Lamello Zeta P2 (as I did) because of a desire to cover building knock-down furniture – you could open up another can of worms of different approaches.
I would like to hear what flaws you experience with the Domino. I have both for a long time and can’t point out flaws per se. Improved usability with accessories is a reality for most any higher end tool. Seneca plate is the top of the list as my most used method for speed and flat registration.
The “flaws” that I see are mostly quibbles. Building my first row of plywood cabinets using dominoes instead of pocket-hole joinery – started noticing that the first batch of mortises were well centered but then as I cut more and more, I was a bit off. My thought was that lockdown of the fence was moving ever so slightly. Looking online for comments – I learned about Seneca Domiplates – that solve that problem – albeit with some changes on how you hold the machine. Plunge depth is a bit of another quibble that I have. I’d like to have control over a full range of depths to prevent blowout on thin stock. I also learned after several initial test cuts that your technique in plunging the machine matters. If you hesitate or plunge at an inconsistent rate (or maybe shift your grip) the mortise may end up out of plane side to side with the surface. I’m not sure why this happened but once I got used to a consistent technique (maybe muscle memory kicking in – or the machine got broken-in) I got better results. Of course, I would have liked Festool to have designed the XL machine to accommodate the full range of cutters – without aftermarket add ons. A design to allow adding an auxiliary fence and handle for stabilizing the machine across a sheet of plywood (as in creating a line of mortises) would also be nice.
I’m mainly looking for a roundup and discussion. In-depth reviews of any of the devices are easily found online.
Speaking for myself the Domino is completely off the table due to the price. I’m looking for a solution for hobby projects and this will not be very high volume so there’s no way I can justify Festool money. On the other hand I am willing to pay a few hundred bucks so I’m willing to consider the other options. Anyway, I figure there are others out there who have different needs than me and a Domino may make sense for them, so I think a general roundup may be useful for other readers too.
What don’t you like about the Bridge City Tool Works Jig? Do you mean the DJ-3? It’s one of the things I’m looking at buying (along w/ a JointMaker Pro).
I have the traditional self-centering jig you describe, and while it works well for what it does — it only does that one thing — these days when I need a hole in something it’s often a dowel, or other odd shape, so the DJ-3 seems a good fit.
It does the job, but is very particular about drill bit selection. There are/were accessories that expanded its functionality, but they were waitlisted and then unavailable at the time, and certainly not available now. Its build quality is superb, but some of the components – like the sliding bar – seem delicate, as if the entire tool would become scrap metal if I knocked if off the workbench just once.
The Jointmaker Pro is much less expensive than when it was made in the USA.
Yeah, the JointMaker Pro is a lot more affordable now — still needs for me to have a dedicated space to set aside for it, which wants my getting a larger workspace — something for when I retire.
Tool belts and hammers! Used everyday by most people in the trades, but there’s not too much coverage on ToolGuyd. I’d love to see reviews of top brands and how they all compare. Thanks!
I’m not a tool belt person. I tried to be and bought a couple of test samples over the years, but never took to it.
Hammers… oh boy. That one’s highly subjective.
Budget: whatever’s on sale for the holidays.
Can’t go wrong choice: Estwing
Can’t go wrong choice alternative: Vaughan
Personal choice: Dewalt
Heavier use: Martinez
Heavier use with a promotion: Stiletto
I’m a tool bag guy, Veto Pro’s are what I prefer.
So when a friend asked me to troubleshoot an electrical problem at his house, I quickly realized I should’ve also had a tool belt/pouch. Doing that work from a bag was a pain.
I pulled out my decades-old, well-used but still young looking Klein chrome-leather pouch, a canvas bolt bag & Klein belt. Loaded it with more well-used and still fully functional “extra” tools, good to go.
I don’t know if chrome leather is still a thing for Klein, maybe not due to environmental issues, but I’ve had nothing but good luck with that.
I would be interested in a review of the new M12 fuel hammer drill. Every time I see it I have to talk myself out of buying a third drill. Reviews of specialty pliers or drivers might be nice too. Every once in awhile I find a new type of tool that makes my job easier and that is delightful.
I love the M12 line. lucky for me I started with the hammer drill model so im not fighting that temptation now.
First impression, solid little guy, but so small its great to use. The chuck took getting used to from my dewalt series, nearly broke my wrist setting a bit with the chuck in drill setting (which i would do often with dewalt)
M12 3/8 & 1/2 impacts are AWESOME, plenty of power for everything automotive that I have thrown at it.
I’d love to see a comparison on how the major hardware stores deal with warranty claims on their in house brand tools.
Like taking a broken socket into each of the stores and see how they deal with it. Masterforce at Menards, husky at Home Depot, and kobalt at lowes.
That’s tricky, as experiences will vary depending on how a store’s management trains their customer service associates.
Maybe we can crowdsource this.
Measuring and markup tools coverage could be a good topic. Stuart, I think you have been doing a good job of opening these as discussion options which can lead to some valuable inputs from recurring readers. You can then recap and add your own analysis. I think you do that better than most blog/review sites and it’s a reason I keep coming back.
Framing squares and combination squares. Levels. Those are used everywhere by everyone. Show us some glam and some that are purely “functional/affordable” options.
Laser measurement tools could be good. I have a Bosch Blaze GLM-165, and really like it. However, I wish I’d been able to research this a bit more as I would probably have opted for the green laser which (I think) is much more visible outside and would have been really helpful on my current project (deck renovation).
I am primarily a woodworker; where there area a lot of overpriced tools claiming unparalleled accuracy. I’ve found by looking into the machinist space, I’ve been able to get great accuracy at (often) lower prices. Also, I have found that visiting sewing/craft shops sometimes provides great options. Exploring this could be pretty good, and allow for good comments and feedback.
Finally, show us plenty of non-TTI and non-SBD vendors. Fine to include those guys if they have some good stuff, but I really want to know who makes great measurement and layout tools and is worth supporting as relatively small or US owned business.
Thanks – I’ll add these to the list.
What’s a good way to check for squareness? Surface block plus a 2-4-6 gauge?
(Ouch, brand-name 2-4-6 blocks aren’t cheap.)
For measurement equipment, I generally look at McMaster, Zoro, and MSC. Amazon sometimes has promos on Mitutoyo, but talk about counterfeits has me concerned.
I look at Penn Tool Co on occasion, haven’t ordered from them yet.
I bought some PEC combination squares from Harry Epstein, can make a point to review them soon.
For speed squares and similar, Swanson still has USA-made options, and I particularly like Milwaukee’s. Woodpeckers’ are good too, and the last I checked not too outrageously priced.
Your question about checking for squareness triggered the idea that there are a lot of tools out there that, by knowing a few “tricks”, a lot more value can be pulled out of things we already have, or need to add due to new value found.
As an example, a long time ago I needed to measure the spacing between screw studs. Somehow I finally clued into using a digital caliper and zeroing it to the stud diameter. Duh. A simple lesson but I didn’t have a Journeyman to help me over that dumb hump.
I’m still wondering about drill bit sets, drill bit types, caring for & sharpening them. And some The bigger picture, if you will.
Just some ideas…
A wonderful source of learning “tricks” is to look at old textbooks from trade schools or even just “shop class” before the days of computers and automation. We are so used to using modern conveniences that many of the skills of yesteryear have been forgotten. And while modern methods are often better in many ways there are times when the old-school method is superior. When I had my machining business many times we were racking our brains over how to make a particular part with modern CNC only to find the solution in a book nearly a century old using nothing more than basic machine tools and clever use of geometry.
Yes! Applying some simple (but clever) geometry and some old tricks can help. Winding sticks (I’m willing to bet they would be familiar to Egyptians) are really effective to exaggerate the flatness of a board.
I bought some engineer squares from Lee Valley for pretty cheap (now $20.00 and $28.00 for 6 and 8 inches) and use this to check my table saw and other equipment. I also use it as a quick check on my combination square.
1-2-3 blocks from Taylor Tool Works are $20.00. They’re good enough for my work, though maybe not for a discerning machinist. Generally, if I can get things within 1/32nd deviation in the touchiest of work (especially over a long rip), things are precise enough.
Machinists live in a whole different world of .001s”. Their cheaper stuff is more than good enough for me.
If anyone else has counterpoints, I’m happy to hear them.
I started with crude woodworking projects (like building birdhouses) some 70 years ago. What I’ve learned over the years is that machinist’s precision is seldom needed – but consistency is very important. If you are making a 8 x 12 inch drawer the dimensions probably can be off by a a 32nd or even a 16th – but both sides need to be exactly the same. The first time I built a piece of furniture with inlay doors I struggled trying to get the dimension of the doors to precisely fit the openings. Then I realized that what I really wanted was a consistent and equally small reveal side to side and top to bottom.
That’s true in metrology too – repeatability is the most important factor.
If a gauge or sensor is repeatable, you can make it accurate. If it’s not repeatable, then there’s no fixing it.
I would love to learn more about Shapeoko, Genmitsu, GRBL, etc. Yes, some of those are overseas, but there is a lot of work being done by small domestic companies.
(ob. discl., I work for Carbide 3D)
The Shapeoko is a 3-axis CNC router sold by Carbide 3D, now on its 5th version, which has gone from an 8″ x 8″ working area in v1, to a 4′ x 4′ work arear in the just-launched Shapeoko 5 Pro. See:
If you have further questions, you can write in to [email protected]
Genmitsu seems to be one of the Chinese companies importing 3018 and similar inexpensive Chinese machines.
— if you use Reddit see:
and the /r/hobbycnc subreddit where such machines are discussed.
Grbl is a firmware which was written for the Arduino (an inexpensive single board computer) which provoked a sea change in the affordability of CNC machines — running in an almost impossibly small memory space it provides real-time conversion of G-code commands to machine motions with motion planning, eliminating the need for a dedicated computer/control board connected by a parallel port.
I’d also be interested in a breakdown of small/entry-level CNC options.
Some big ticket items I’m considering. Precisely because they are big ticket and so it hurts more if I make a mistake. The NOVA Viking DVR 16″ Benchtop Drill Press and the second generation Origin Shaper.
I own a Nova Voyager.
I had trouble with it at first – the rack for raising and lowering the table was defective, and the company reps didn’t seem to have a clue what I was talking about. When I sent a photo, they asked if it was wear damage – on a brand new drill press I was assembling.
All the safety stickers fell off due to being applied partially over plastic wrap.
They sent a replacement rack that didn’t look identical, but fit. They sent replacement stickers when I asked, but those fell off too due to oil seeping out of the cast iron.
I had to drag a PC to the garage in order to upgrade the drill press’s firmware – a phrase I don’t imagine many people have ever said – because they added a spindle brake feature that makes it easier to tighten one-handed keyless chucks.
I have not tried the Viking, but if I didn’t already have a Voyager, I’d possibly consider it.
Origin Shaper Gen 2 – I considered it, but no – unless someone from the company would like to send one. It seems useful, but only for very specific tasks. I don’t like that they added useful features that are only accessible via paid unlock. I also don’t like that the more capable design software requires a paid subscription.
They showed off a great usage example – routing a cutout in the middle of a conference room table.
However, I’m not convinced of its practicality for anything other than special-case usage.
Shaper has a “30 day risk free trial.” If you think it will benefit you, and you have the money, that’s the way to go.
This is a tool that will take many reviews from users with overlapping project needs and interests, and I haven’t seen that when I researched it myself a month ago.
I can add an overview to my queue and we can see what that leads to.
The Nova drill presses are similar in a way, but even if you ignore all the special features, they can still be used as ordinary drill presses.
Yikes on the Viking. That’s a lot of teething problems on a device that costs hundreds more than comparable drill presses. So what positive features did you like enough to outweigh that to still consider a Nova family? The easy speed setting, the CNCish depth control, the fit and finish?
The variable speed control – without having to change belts – is nice, and the programmed settings come in handy when I’m too lazy to look up a speed chart. The spindle brake was a nice quality of life improvement when I upgraded the chuck to keyless. The table is large, and I eventually plan to add a woodworking-style table to it.
The Voyager is a good machine, I just never got over the feeling that the Nova team seemed a bit disconnected from it.
Laguna acquired Dake tools, which I considered as my “maybe someday” upgrade path.
I have never used the NOVA Viking but having read up on it I would say it’s a hard pass for one huge reason: no gearbox. Electronic variable speed control is convenient but the problem is that you get essentially constant torque throughout the rpm range. Something with belts (eew) or gears (yes!) is far preferable because when you run at a low RPM you get a lot more torque.
With many machines, such as mills, gear boxes do allow for higher torque than variable speed drives.
However, I’m not sure which have gears – drill presses traditionally have belts and pulleys.
Looking online, drill presses with gear drives are in a higher and pricier class of tools.
Generally speaking the lighter duty drill presses, especially those for a home shop or garage, will be belt driven. Heavier duty models meant for commercial use will be gear drive. Now you’re right, the chance of finding a gear drive drill press for $1200 is pretty low, but even a basic belt-drive model which costs a fraction of that has low speeds. It doesn’t need to have literal gears, but it needs to have some kind of low range that increases torque at low RPM.
As a sponsor of FLEX tools why don’t you do some reviews of their new tools that came out in April, their router, new compact hammer drill, more tools less flashlights
They were announced in April but aren’t shipping yet.
That said, I do have some of the new tools on-hand and set aside some time tomorrow and over the weekend to see what they can do.
Also, your requests aren’t any more important than other readers’. If others ask for more and you want less, skip those headlines.
If you ask us what we’d like to see more of, then isn’t it also ok to comment on what we might want to see less of? I mean yeah it’s easy to ignore stuff we don’t care about, and I love flashlights (I probably have 50 in my collection if you could all the ones that leaking Duracell batteries destroyed) but I’d also like to see less posts on flashlights and more on other tools. Like this recent talk about milling machines and CNCs. Sorry I didn’t take the previous commenters post to indicate that his requests were more important, just an expression of what he’d like to see more (and less) of.
A couple of other readers specifically requested more flashlight posts. Old Dominion is seemingly suggesting – perhaps unintentionally – that I disregard others’ requests because they’re not interested in that.
Given that there were a couple of posts with “please post more about these other flashlight brands too” requests, I felt the “less flashlights” request was in opposition to that.
I’m also coming from a place where every holiday season one or two people say “too much deal coverage” when my inbox is blowing up with all kinds of specific “more, more, more” requests.
Perhaps I misinterpreted their tone or intent.
Mitre saw review and discussion would be nice. Continuation of the last conversation
Automotive tools like cordless ratchets or compact impact wrenches. Oddity. An indepth inaccuracy and ease of use of torque. And torque and angle adapters. The digital gage for you ratchet or breaker bar. There are quite a few out there but some are clones.
Review of some triton tools like their nifty router
Hmm. I’m sure I can think of others with time but they will probably be odd
I enjoy reading round up posts with comparisons of different hand tools and what tiers you (and other readers) would put them in. Ratchets, sockets, wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, etc. Particularly some of the tools that have already been on the market for some time (e.g. how do channelock diagonal cutters compare to Knipex and other competitors?)
The mill looks really interesting! It’ll be fun to read about the learning process.
How about some other basic metalworking tools for a home hobbyist, like die grinders, nibblers, shears, smaller press brakes, ring rollers, etc.
I’m replying to myself here, but information about sheet metal saws, portabands or benchtop metal bandsaws would also be great. What about other machines like benchtop metal lathes? I’m curious about all of it.
I hope to expand to more metalworking tools, as space allows.
Pricing is a challenge.
A top of the line miter saw might cost $600. That won’t even pay for Harbor Freight’s entry level metal lathe.
At $800 to $2000 price points, there’s a confusing jumble of different models of the same Seig-made machines with dealer-specific options and accessories. Beyond that, the next-level machines start at 10×22, with a 4-foot wide footprint.
I’ve looked at other metalworking equipment over the years, but the gap has been too large between entry level tools that are rarely spoken favorably of, and pricier and heftier equipment not well-suited to hobbyist needs or spaces.
I’d be interested in good small portable socket sets. What are the minimum sizes (sae & metric) to have most covered? This would be for a small go-bag (and what bag?). What else would be indispensable ?
Man that is tough to know without a use case. I keep a metric Wera toolcheck at home that is real handy. I also keep some small husky ratchet sets in the cars I think they go up to17mm and 9/16. One thing to do would be look at a set of nut drivers since those typically have all the common small sizes. At work I might find myself needing big sizes past5/8 or 17mm buy I rarely find that around the house. Most of the small kits I have used don’t have deep well sockets. So you may want to keep that in mind if you work on anything long.
When you mentioned Harbor Freight, I’d be interested in finding out more about the company’s plans, upcoming tools, etc. Their transformation over the past few years into a new Sears-type tool store has been interesting, to say the least–although I miss the monthly catalog–to the point where I’m interested in what’s next down the pipeline. Of course, I may be the only one…
A friend recently reached out to me considering plumbing his shop for air tools. He’s an old-school guy, and his first instinct was to go down a traditional route for his installation.
I pointed him to RapidAir, which another friend has put in place, but agreed with him that the market is sort of challenging to sort out.
He went down the more traditional route and called me frustrated. So…how about a review of the various air line options for $, flexibility, convenience, complexity, and so on?
Maybe a starter and intermediate 3d printers review
Multimeter reviews but include odditys like that Kickstarter Bluetooth to phone multimeter. Does a lot using you phones processor and screen supposed to be accurate
Maybe some of the new tekton stuff. USA made flare and standard crowfoot. For example.
Anyway good luck.
Would be interested to see your take on the Flex in-line circular saw, especially versus traditional configurations.
Flex’s inline circ saw kicks ass. I love it. It’s lightweight, it has fantastic visibility on both sides of the blade, it’s super thin so it fits into tight spots easily. It’s plenty powerful. The handle being inline with the blade means it cuts very straight and you aren’t having to fight the saw trying to follow a line. It’s also especially nice when you have to use it in your off hand. In my opinion the only drawback is the 6 1/2″ blade size is less common than the 7 1/4″ standard. Its depth of cut is just as good as a 7 1/4″ saw though.
You posted a while ago how an air quality test(done by a company selling a diyish shop air filtration) could’ve been flawed in its testing methodology due to placement of sensors, accounting for room shape or size. I’d like a deeper dive on this with some real numbers rather than conjecture, because I always like to see hard numbers. Not necessarily a test where you compare 10 air filtration systems but more like a test where you show obvious flaws with the original test setup.
I think air filtration is something that easily gets overlooked and far less data around for less than industrial setups so would always appreciate more on this from someone way more informed than I am.
Routers. Best uses for hammer drills and impact drivers. Multi meters, not sure if that would be something you would cover.
I know it was rather tangential to your usual tool news, but I really enjoyed those DIY series you did several years ago like for your modular workbench. Would love to see more content like that, when there’s time.
Also, without meaning to throw you down a completely new rabbit hole, maybe keep an eye on maker space stuff? Small scale CNC, 3D printing, rotary tools, soldering stations.
That was BenV’s modular workbench https://toolguyd.com/author/dustytools/ . I liked his constructions too!
For my workshop, I DIY a lot of things, but approach it from a business stance rather than personal. I can write off the cost for pre-cut 80/20 extrusions, but not the hours it would otherwise take me to cut, tap, and counterbore them myself.
A lot of people DIY to save money. I still do this. But for ToolGuyd purposes, when I go the DIY route, it’s to save time and effort, or to produce a better quality or suitable solution. Cost-effectiveness is a consideration, but not the highest priority.
This creates a significant disconnect when it comes to individual interests, making posts about such things difficult. Basically, my approaches work for me, but I often cannot recommend them to others.
That said, I do plan on more project posts – that’s part of what I’m currently working towards.
Maker Stuff – absolutely!
Agree. More please
Ronald R Longhi
Would like to more
Drill Bits, Taps, and Tap extractors.
Also thru different types of saw blades, ie table saws, miter saws, hand circular saw blades
A review of vacuum hoses for track saws. I see several online users that review everything about track saw as and they show how to vids. I’ve never seen a thorough review of the vacuum hoses that they use. Some hoses are very costly but may be good value depending on user’s needs. Thanks
Festool’s updated hoses are quite good. Other brands’ dust extractor hoses are decent as well. Some brands have adapters to bridge the gap between hose and tool.
The challenge is in determining the best diameter hose. I tend to use 27mm for simplicity. 36mm isn’t quite necessary, but works better for routers that generate more dust. 27mm also improves mobility, which is a concern when making longer cuts that drag on the workpiece. You can sheath hoses to achieve Festool-like hose jackets that don’t catch as much as ribbed hoses.
This information is really helpful to me already – thanks a lot! I look forward to your PSA in the future (hopefully)
This is not so much for me as I already own a few of them, but if you are tired of cheap plastic 5-gallon buckets shattering on you (which happens to me all of the time using them in the winter below freezing), Yeti’s “Loadout” 5-gallon Bucket is definitely pricey, but a great “buy once, use for a lifetime” option. Great for fishing trips too:
I enjoy visiting even when I may not find the content as interesting….so my opinion is keep doing what you’re most interested in and that which increases your own happiness. If you shift focus to one category or another or even an entirely different area, just enjoy what you do.
I had a thought the other day about brick and mortar good old fashioned tool retailers/suppliers. Locally we just lost one that used to have a half dozen locations over the last 40 years or more – sad to see it disappear and there really isn’t anything else like it (Home Depot, etc, and Harbor Freight don’t come close, and some of the more industrial supply houses aren’t as accessible and/or just geared toward larger customers/invoicing).
So it would be neat to maybe do some in depth articles about this – maybe interviews with some of these outfits across the country. Many of us are aware of them if we haven’t actually purchased from them online, but it could be a fun series, maybe get some interesting information out of it, too. These shops seem to be getting fewer and farther between in recent years but they are so valuable. Even specialized ones like Routerbitworld.
Another idea that may not be popular but I’d like to see good reviews of some of the various router jigs or other woodworking jigs – maybe comparisons if that fits timewise and budgetwise. Corner radius templates might be an interesting starting point – there’s enough on the market now in both design and price point. The unpopular part might be the various China clones but by gosh many of them are excellent quality these days.
Enjoy the mill….may be one of the most complex frustrating interesting enjoyable learning curves you ever take on, with a smile! Except for the cost of materials….but it’s not as bad as what happened with lumber products.
I’ve been looking to add a benchtop jointer, any help would be greatly appreciated.
Another suggestion – best tool for the job? Recently came across a guy using a joist drill for through-thickness masonry holes; he claimed it was much faster than his SDS. Would be curious to take a case study like this and get some comparisons.
I’d be interested in your review of Shaper Origin and CNC router tables. Also, unique tools that I don’t need, but are cool; like FACOM 1/4″ FAST ACTION TWIST HANDLE RATCHET. I especially love stuff from other countries that we don’t see at HD or Lowe’s.
Love your site! Hit it everyday
Plans for 3D printing tool storage accessories, like Packout, ToughSystem or Stanley organizers!
What are some ways people can leverage a 3D printer to make life better, especially with tool/accessory organization?
Rock splitting wedges, demolition grout, oil absorbents and any tools under $100.
I had to google demolition grout – very interesting and I’ve never heard of it before. I knew about anchoring cement, similar I guess, but I’ve never been around masonry work too much other than the piddly homeowner stuff and comments from tradesmen on occasion.
Looking for alternatives for a specific job I can’t reach with a hydraulic breaker 🙂
Yep – having the right tool and knowledge for the job does help. We had a few jobs when we were the GC on new homes where we encountered rock shelf or a boulder in the spot where the house was meant to sit. No amount of demolition grout or jackhammering would have worked on them. Telling the prospective homeowner about the alternatives and potential upside costs was not pleasant. Discovering that a rented hoe ram on your excavator was not up to the job – and that you needed to call in the rock drillers and blasting crew was even more unpleasant. But, in one case I recall having a client who was understanding (and wealthy enough) to tell us ” OK – If I’m in for a penny I’m in for a pound” did help. Seeing the final house situated on the spot with the view that the homeowners enjoyed made it happy for them and better for us.
I am thankful for you considering our requests. I would love to see 18v tank sprayer comparisons for herbicides, etc.
I would also love high power 800 lumen or more, headlamp reviews which hopefully include olight, coastportland (I know you are not a fan per an email), milwaukee, dewalt, Nitecore, etc.
Lastly, it there a best bike tool kit that is also a great value. I am sure Park tools is the best, but not a value for a non-pro guy. Those have value for bike shops.
I know you will have tons of requests, but if any of these are covered over the year, that would be awesome!
Park does make many good to excellent tools for bicycles. But there are other toolmakers like VAR (France) and Hozan (Japan) producing professional quality tools. In the less expensive range, you might take a look at Unior (Slovenia) or Pedros (Taiwan). I’m sure that you can find many other kits on Amazon of various quality and price. With some bicycle tools – quality or lack thereof becomes very apparent. Pedal wrenches and cone wrenches come to mind – where inferior steel can make their use problematical.
Long time cyclist and can do almost all work save for some of the newer electronics and tooling needed for some fork rebuilds. I’d say that if you’re going to do the work yourself and either a) do it better/properly, or b) save a boatload of money over what shops charge these days, then give another thought to Park even if various tools are a few bucks more. Most of what they make is very good and some items are excellent, but as Fred mentioned they’re often not the same as some of the things that Hozan makes, and less so Var (most people will never need some of the shop items they manufacture). I don’t know how much Pedro’s is doing anymore but they were always a great defacto less expensive option…these days many brands offer that same good quality for a bit less money. There is still some junk available, which generally you always want to shy away from. Fred’s point about cone wrenches – if you still need to use those for your bikes – is excellent and do buy the high quality ones, even the cheaper Park cone wrenches are better than many of the china ones available. If you deal with like BMX freewheels then often the cheap removers are ok but sometimes you will need the better steel (and certainly will want a high quality wrench to turn them).
Surprisingly, Park makes a really excellent pair of straight tap wrenches. Made in Japan and they are actually good solid tool steel with just a little manufacturing stuff to clean up at home.
If you need a headset press or crown remover, and depending on your parts, the cheaper ones are totally fine for home use. Same with a hanger alignment tool.
General tools like hex keys, screwdrivers, hammers….Park has good ones but they’re usually a poor value unless you want the blue theme, so pick those up from other quality brands. Same with a few specialty tools like a disc pad spreader or third/fouth hand caliper brake holders. If you want to invest in low-torque wrenches, then do invest in something good especially if working on carbon parts, or just take it to the shop and let them final tweak those jobs for you.
If you don’t have a repair stand yet, that’s possibly the best investment you can make – bench mounted much preferred if you can do that, but there are some good stable freestanding ones, too (I’ve had the Feedback/Alpine for years and it’s nearly a perfect stand, definitely was worth the money over so many less expensive or “race” versions). If you get into wheels, cheap versions of truing stands are ok (as long as they fit your axle and spacing needs), they’re just less convenient as they lack some handy features but they work great and are still better than attempting to true on the bike. Same with a dishing tool.
Bikes have become almost akin to automobiles with the number of specialty tools required for some – and the differences between running gear from one builder to the next. My first full-sized bicycle was a 1947 Schwinn – replace later on with a Peugeot which was my introduction to the world of derailleurs, handbrakes and skinny tires. I remember some USA-Made inexpensive wrenches (bought at a local bike shop) that were not up to snuff – and they got replaced by ones from Campagnolo (made in Italy) that were. fast forward to adulthood – and I became the neighborhood bike mechanic for a couple of generations of kids. Buying tools mostly from Park, Hozan, Shimano – but also a few specialty items to tackle gear from makers like Cannondale and Chris King. I guess if I were getting back into it today, I might need tools to deal with hydraulics and disc brakes. For a bike stand, I use a Park S4WM mounted to a plate welded to a 4-inch length of black iron pipe that can be screwed into a flange in the floor of my garage.
I think today a lot of where they get you is with bearing presses and for some reason the bike world makes those ridiculously expensive – a lot of this category is much higher priced than it should be anyway, but sometimes it’s eyebrow-raising. Most of the brake tools are inexpensive, just making good cuts and bleeding.
In my above dissertation I meant to say that floor-mounted stands are most preferred….bench being next best. Floor mounting takes some commitment though. 🙂
I still have some old cheapie tools from Suntour and no-name stuff from the 80s. Fun to think back about my beginnings with tools, which were solely due to the magic of bicycles! I don’t miss white grease and cleaning loose ball bearings…..
Oscillating multi-tools and the tooling that you put on them.
I personally would love all tool review websites and YouTube channels to take a 24 month hiatus from anything involving drills and impact drivers.
Aside from that, things non construction related, the person above mentioned bike tools, that would be awesome. I like low voltage electronics like car audio and home audio/video. Wire strippers by themselves are a whole bunch of topics, crimpers another group. But anything involving audiophiles might start fistfights. If you get into high quality or pro wiring harness building the tools are really cool, and if you think knipex and snap-on are expensive for hand tools, you are in for a surprise.
I would really like to read your opinions on space saving sliding miter saws. When I say space saving, I mean those saws that don’t have the sliding bars on the back of the machine. So I am thing Festool, the Makita, Bosch and Delta. Maybe I am missing another?
I don’t expect you to buy all of theses of course, but I think a lot of people compare these saws who have a certain type of shop and I can’t find a good comparison anywhere.
I have the Metabo C3610DRA 36V 10″ mitre saw which is also a rail-forward space-saving design. It runs on either the 36V 2.5 or 4.0 Ah Multivolt batteries or the available 120V adapter.
You know I thought of something else. I guess you would need to poll readers to guage interest to be fair. I know I’ve emailed you before. What about picking up already funded projects on kickstarter and other platforms and discuss merits of the tools they have. I get plenty of notices since I frequently back projects, but only once did I back a tool per se and it was useless. All else has been great.
Stuart, I enjoy the relatively broad subject matter of your blog but especially appreciate the opinions, suggestions and other commentaries of your readership. I have an odd range of tool interests but would love to see some comparisons a la Project Farm or Torque test channel. I realize this is probably outside of your time constraints but the discussions are always interesting. That said, I’d love a dive into the Langmuir MR-1 mill. Metal-cutting CNC starting at $4495 is intriguing. Also, some head to head comparisons of say Nepros or Vessel tools with solid American made companies like Williams or Proto and the European companies like PB Swiss and Hazet.
Another random idea: an article titled “Everything You Need to Know About T-Track, Miter Track, Multi-Track, and Saw Guide Track”
Samples of allll the different types and how they interact with the handful of different t-bolts, hex bolts, stamped t-nuts, maybe even good machinist t-nuts.
It’s not that difficult but there is enough slight variation in the market that it seems to cause confusion, frustration, and poor product reviews until people figure out the details. Powertec made a blog entry and video about this but it didn’t really cover it well. An article like that might rank well on searches and surely would drive traffic here over time. A good PSA article!
Been waiting on both new Ridgid jigsaws since home depot was charging $179.00 or some kit with a 1.5Ah battery. Between then and now DTO has had the Octane version for anywhere between $40-$90 depending on the sale. The other day I noticed HD had a new Ridgid jigsaw which I assumed to be the new brushless D-Handle.. However, its brushed and $149.00. Not sure if I need a review of it but seems to me the brushed version should be ‘tool only’ and $79.00. Besides, I can’t imagine what kind of price they’ll be asking for the D-Handle & Subcompact barrel when they finally do make an apperance. And can’t figure out why they didn’t release the new 6Ah charger with the Max batteries in the first place. I have the regular subcompact charger that is 2 amps. It took me about 3hrs and 40 minutes to charge my new 8Ah.
I’d like to see more reviews of Japanese tools, in particular interchangeable screwdriver bit/blades and handles. Their ISO/DIN implementation is the *only* way to go with JIS crosspoint or “+” screws and is far superior to SAE drivers for Phillips screws. The Japanese screwdrivers/bits are intended to *not* cam out. I’ve used my Vessel 9900 +0 driver four to five times each working day on average over the just-ended school year. The tip is still brand new and cam-outs only occur when screwheads are previously gumped up. Anex interchangeable handles are the best I’ve ever seen. Engineer PZ-57 screw removal pliers are superb. Olfa scissors and snap-off knives are great.