My Tools #3: The Most Embarrassing Tools I Own

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Eric posted 04-22-2008 11:10 AM 1495 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Who Needs a Ryobi When You Have a Ryoba? Part 3 of My Tools series Part 4: The Tools I'm Most Proud Of »

This post was inspired by one with a nearly identical name over at Modern Woodshop. It seemed worthy of being classified as a meme, so let’s all join in and share our own personal embarrassments.

As for me, I don’t own all that many tools yet, so I have had fewer chances to make dumb purchases. While Dave has six tools of which he’s embarrassed, I only have three. And here they are:

3. Bevel gauge kit (via eBay). I wanted a bevel gauge. On the one hand, I didn’t want to pay out the money for a vintage Stanley; on the other hand, I was being a little too snooty galooty to go buy a new Stanley from Home Depot. I compromised by getting a kit – something I could make with my own two hands without really needing any real skill. Well something got screwed up in the assembly (go ahead, blame me) and the blade isn’t tight – even with a shim. Well, it looks nice hanging on the wall anyway.
2. Local chisels, scraper, wooden bench plane and spokeshave (okay, I’m lumping a few tools together here). These things are not embarrassing in and of themselves; what’s embarrassing is what I tried to do with them. The chisels, plane and spokeshave (Chinese made, poor quality) were as dull as any other you might get right out of the box, but I thought they were sharp and was frustrated by how poorly they functioned. And the scraper? I had read somewhere about how great scrapers were at smoothing the surface of wood, so I bought one. A paint scraper. And you know what? It didn’t really do squat to smooth my surfaces. Go figure.
1. Craftsman 14.4 volt cordless combo. This included a drill/driver, a dustbuster and a circular saw. The combo came with two batteries, and good thing! Each one held a charge for like 20 minutes it seemed. It was even worse (as you might expect) with the circular saw. Speaking of the circular saw, when I got it out of the package, the blade spun the wrong way! After searching the forums (and being berated by “real” woodworkers for buying Craftsman), I figured out that the wires were crossed between the motor and the battery receptacle. Easy enough to fix. Upon returning to Malaysia, I found that the batteries are just about entirely shot. All in all, a hideous purchase. I still have them, though I don’t use them at all anymore. My ryoba and bit brace do just fine; as for the dustvac, well I’m doing hand tool stuff now so it’s more contained and easily swept up.

-- Eric at

20 comments so far

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3764 days

#1 posted 04-22-2008 11:35 AM

The most embarrassing tool I have ever purchased was a power drill from harbor freight. Burned up the first time I used it. Went all the way back to get a replacement, got home and it went to the same tool graveyard as the first. I returned it and used the store creit to buy some casters. No more crappy tools for me.

-- making sawdust....

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3662 days

#2 posted 04-22-2008 02:13 PM

Well buddies I started with a hans saw , a hammer , a small electric drill and the next year my wife bough me a small jig saw I still have all those after 4o years , but now I have all the tool you need some cheap some expensive but remember this I was told by a very good cabinet maker that the tools dont do the work it is the person using the tools , this guy has not that many tools only what he needs and he does the finest work you ever seen

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3733 days

#3 posted 04-22-2008 02:16 PM

I bought a dovetail saw for 6 dollars when i was young thinking i was getting a great deal. it couldn’t even cut pine right out of the box.

a cobalt air hose. i put on the plumbers tape and everything but it was still leaking and in my attempts to tighten it it pulled the threaded part off of the hose and it was stuck in the threaded part of the coupling

Thats all i can think of for now but I’ll probably add some later.

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3847 days

#4 posted 04-22-2008 02:30 PM

Just because it lives on in infamy: Wobble Dado.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3709 days

#5 posted 04-22-2008 03:00 PM

25 years ago, I fell into the “Norm” trap and bought a biscuit joiner, complete with about 1,000 assorted biscuits. In my opinion, that’s one almost useless tool. I find something to use it for occasionally, but I don’t think I’ve used it more than 4 times. Too much trouble to set up, very weak joint. I think when I did use it, it was for plywood work.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3850 days

#6 posted 04-22-2008 04:41 PM

A wobbly dado blade, Craftsman dovetail jig, and an unknown brand cordless drill – all auction purchases when I first started out and all junk.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4271 days

#7 posted 04-22-2008 05:10 PM

I think its funny that the teenagewoodworker made reference to “when he was young”??!! Like what, in diapers?

As for my most embarrassing tool, I’d have to go with the Ryobi detail sander, I could do a better job with a wet Q-tip…with my eyes shut….left handed….and upside-down.. yeah, it’s that bad…

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4279 days

#8 posted 04-22-2008 05:22 PM

...OK so I have the very same Ryobi detail sander. Yep RobS has it right. It was enough to turn me off any sort of detail or profile sander. Somehow I ended up with a craftsman nail/staple gun that will not shoot anything over 3/4 inch….paper weight.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4023 posts in 4028 days

#9 posted 04-22-2008 05:52 PM

Slick Plane, and, yes of course the infamous Wobbler (Thanks Steve for breaking the barrier).

wobbledado_sirens PG

Gives me the chance to pull this graphic out of mothballs. Image edited to protect the younger generation from any disturbing depiction of anatomy.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4090 days

#10 posted 04-22-2008 07:45 PM

Cheap dovetail jig. Worked okay for soft woods like pine and redwood, but when I tried to clamp it hard enough to hold hardwoods in place the knobs pulled off of their bolts. Would count this as a failure of expectations, but I bought it after I started buying Festool and the like, so there’s no excuse, I should have known that I’d be replacing it with a Leigh.

Sandpaper bought from the “bargain bin” at the (then) local Ace Hardware. Come to think of it there are a number of “Illinois Industrial Tool (IIT)” branded things I picked up from that bin, based on “at a buck fifty, how bad can it be?”, that… well… I’ve learned how bad it can be. Still use the tape measures, kinda, but they’re getting replaced slowly.

A combo square with a plastic head. ‘nuff said. The ruler part gets used with a cast head for which I lost the original ruler.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4159 days

#11 posted 04-22-2008 08:10 PM

Wobble blade…although, if they ever figure out a use for “domed” dados this could turn into a very sought after item. -SST

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Texasgaloot's profile


464 posts in 3665 days

#12 posted 04-22-2008 08:25 PM

Okay, this is a recurring theme, because I have a wobble, too. I’ve never had the heart to “stick it to the next generation” by putting it on eBay, either. But that’s a mere second place for me: first is a gen-yoo-wine stanley plastic miter box, complete with plastic-handled miter saw that doesn’t cut. Anything. And the plastic miter gauge? Warped. Sigh…

-- There's no tool like an old tool...

View SteveKorz's profile


2134 posts in 3679 days

#13 posted 04-22-2008 08:32 PM

I have a Dewalt 12” miter saw… awesome… but the original blade got dull. I couldn’t find anyone to sharpen it. So, I just happened to be in one of those discount, close-out stores and saw a 12” combination saw blade for $9.99. I thought, ok, how can I go wrong? Use it for what I need while it’s sharp, then use it for junk lumber during house remodels… Well, it was TERRIBLE!! I’ve never had a blade that slapped the wood instead of cutting it. I took it off the saw because it was dangerous… maybe I’ll make knife blanks out of it or something… (I’d probably regret that, too)

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

View jcees's profile


1058 posts in 3764 days

#14 posted 04-22-2008 10:04 PM

I confess that half of my handscrews were made in China.

There, I said it but I swear I bought them years ago from Harbor Freight before the current scandals. That said, I had to disassemble the lot of them and run a thread chaser on ALL of the screws to get them operate smoothly. And while I had them apart, I sanded off the incriminating evidence of their origin. Nowafter a whole day of clamp tuning they work just as well as my Jorgensens. Sheesh. At my hourly rate those puppies are now the most expensive clamps I own. Further proof of how expensive real knowledge can be.


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3709 days

#15 posted 04-22-2008 11:36 PM

I don’t get it. What’s wrong with a wobble dado? Just because you have to incorporate the splintered tearout into the design, doesn’t make it that bad. Does it? You just rough up the whole board and call it “rustic” :]

showing 1 through 15 of 20 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics