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Didn't think you needed it - Now you could not do without it

by richgreer
posted 01-24-2012 07:44 PM

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69 replies

69 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3766 days

#1 posted 01-24-2012 07:55 PM

12 inch disk sander

I bought after taking a class on shaker boxes – it was a great way to sneak up on the line to make the box like fit the bent and brass tacked bands to make the box.

So I got one at harbor freight so I could do more with the kids.

Now I seem to use it all the time – touching up miter splines, pinewood derby cars, heck even making the plastic kitchen drain strainer that goes over the garbage disposal a little smaller when we got our new disposal.
Really handy tool and was only a hundred bucks with a 20% off coupon.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3122 days

#2 posted 01-24-2012 08:21 PM

Be sure to read this Invaluable information before contemplating any DIY task!

DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.

WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light . Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, ‘Oh shit!’

SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.

PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.

BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.

HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle… It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.

TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.

HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes , trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.

BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.

TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.

PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.

STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.

PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.

HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.

HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. It is especially valuable at being able to find the EXACT location of the thumb or index finger of the other hand.

UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.

SON-OF-A-BITCH TOOL: (A personal favorite!) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling ‘Son of a BITCH!’ at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.

Hope you found this informative.

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2380 days

#3 posted 01-24-2012 08:31 PM

Ummm thats a hard one to answer… because I have always said buy the tools you need not want… and it is a rule I kinda live by… hence why I haven’t yet got a bandsaw (though the more jobs I do the more I need one) so all the tools I have bought, I need and could not do with out… ? Can I get back to you on this one…?

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2938 days

#4 posted 01-24-2012 08:36 PM

My Tablesaw Super Sled. Never thought much about it, but once I built the sled and started using it everything changed and my cuts were much much more accurate and repeatable.

OK, the above was a shop-built-jig and NOT something I bought. As for purchased tools, I would have to say that when I bought my first pneumatic nailer (18g) and pinner (23g) that I really did NOT understand what I had been missing. Wow.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2907 days

#5 posted 01-24-2012 08:42 PM

I bought a bandsaw about 6 months ago, didn’t get it set up until 2 months ago, only used it a handful of times so far. I really haven’t discovered its usefulness yet, but I’m sure that given time, it will turn out to be the most important machine in the shop.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jeremiah's profile


82 posts in 2348 days

#6 posted 01-24-2012 09:15 PM

Lee Valley Medium shoulder plan. I thought the $180 was high, and i really didn’t think i got a good value when i first bought it….BOY WAS I WRONG! i use it for so many things i never thought of when i first got it. I probably grab it nearly as much as my Veritas low angle block plane (and i would sleep with that one under my pillow if i could)

Birdcage makers awl (aka square bladed awl) I had a regular awl that i used now and then but never thought it was very special. on a whim i bought a square blade awl after reading something about them. I use it all the time.

Trim router. 1hp Bosch Colt. I got it just to trim laminate (its original intended purpose) and found it had more than enough muscle to do most small jobs. I have much better control and versatility with it than a full sized router. My big 2hp router says permanently mounted now. I almost never need it in a handheld capacity.

View jerkylips's profile


416 posts in 2594 days

#7 posted 01-24-2012 09:39 PM

not specifically a woodworking tool, but but I gotta go with the cordless impact driver. I was in the market for a new drill & was talked into getting a 3 piece combo kit with the drill, driver, & a fluorescent light. The price of the makita kit was only slighly more than the hitachi drill I was looking at so I thought, “what the heck, even though I probably won’t use it much”. Several years later, the drill is what I don’t use much because the impact driver is the absolutel go-to tool.

On a side note, that little fluorescent light gets a surprising amount of use too…

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#8 posted 01-24-2012 09:43 PM

After reading other people’s comments, my memory is jogged and I have to say that both my impact driver and my TS sled have proven to be much more valuable to me than I originally expected. They both get a lot of use.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3198 days

#9 posted 01-24-2012 09:45 PM

LOVE my drum sander and router lift, too.

My other entry, though, has to be my Starrett 4” double square. I use it constantly.

-- -- Neil

View woodjunkie's profile


35 posts in 2692 days

#10 posted 01-24-2012 09:50 PM

Got to be my Shop Fox Mortiser from Grizzley. Was not looking forward to making a Mission Style bed for my daughter but after using this I am constantly on the lookout for Mortise and Tenon furniture ideas.

-- He: Can I get the plans for that? Me: Plans???

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2993 days

#11 posted 01-24-2012 10:09 PM

Plunge saw. Amazingly useful tool, in and out the workshop. I’ve done cuts on site with mine that you couldn’t do in the workshop on a table saw.

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3267 days

#12 posted 01-25-2012 12:53 AM

Impact driver.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3580 days

#13 posted 01-25-2012 12:57 AM

Believe it or not – table saw. I had a really good bandsaw and built quite a bit with it. But now that I have a TS the poor BS sits dark most of the time. And I agree with MrRon, I didn’t think I needed an impact driver but I just love the one I have.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Bobsboxes's profile


1367 posts in 2688 days

#14 posted 01-25-2012 01:03 AM

Yep impact driver, router lifts,and 8” carbide planer.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View knotscott's profile


8056 posts in 3399 days

#15 posted 01-25-2012 01:12 AM

1) Dust collector

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#16 posted 01-25-2012 01:37 AM

No! Not yet. All my purchases have been well thought out and placed in the appropriate place, cleaned regularly…..................OH CRAP!!!! I lied!!!!!
Rich, why do ya do this kinda stuff to your friends?


View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10526 posts in 3452 days

#17 posted 01-25-2012 01:38 AM

A little Grizzly 1hp DC on wheels. Bought it used because it was so cheap. I use it every day along with the HF 2hp. Now I can leave the HF hooked to the TS and move the little one around to the miter saw, planer, sanding table, etc.
Japanese saddle square with one 45* edge. Neat little tool.
Folding Japanese pull saw. Handy as heck.
Rigid oscillating belt/spindle sander.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3219 days

#18 posted 01-25-2012 02:25 AM

#1 – Bosch Colt router. Bought it to trim laminate for some shop jigs, etc. It is now my go-to router for doing all trimming and round overs that cannot be done on my router table.

#2 – Rockler table saw sled. Needed one for a project and did not have time to make a shop built. Have been very pleased with it and use it many times a week.

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2340 days

#19 posted 01-25-2012 03:26 AM

Festool Domino. After using it I don’t think I’d want to go back to doing all my mortises on a horizontal router. It takes minutes to do what used to take me hours.

-- See my work at and

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


405 posts in 3045 days

#20 posted 01-25-2012 03:39 AM

digital fractional micrometer. I went for years without one but now I use it constantly on every project and set up times are cut in half.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2586 days

#21 posted 01-25-2012 03:45 AM

Splinter tweezers w/ magnifying glass
Impact Drive
Dust Collector
Reciprocating Saw

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#22 posted 01-25-2012 05:19 AM

I never thought I would use fractional calipers. I bought one cause it was a bargain and use it every day on every project. I even use it for non woodworking projects. Another great topic by Rich!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View klw's profile


17 posts in 2385 days

#23 posted 01-25-2012 07:46 AM

a General Bench mounted wood vise. Never had one – after it was mounted, use it all the time!! Shouldn’t have wasted so much time before getting it…

-- I don't remember being absent minded...

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3034 days

#24 posted 01-25-2012 10:20 AM

Impact driver and tracksaw for me. Didn’t know what I was missing on both of these.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View JohnMeeley's profile


255 posts in 2357 days

#25 posted 01-25-2012 11:03 AM

Jim C That was funny stuff. My favorite is apparently I own a good selection in the “son of a bitch” family of tools.

-- "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what others say you cannot do."-Walter Bagehot

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2860 days

#26 posted 01-25-2012 01:52 PM

Great stuff yall. Next time I am in the shop I will have to muse on this.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3120 days

#27 posted 01-25-2012 02:59 PM

Oh, oh. After reading this, perhaps an impact driver is in my future.

I do use my folding Japanese pull saw a lot more than I thought.

I think the reverse question might be interesting too. What tool did you think you really needed but rarely use (in descending order of cost)?

-- John from Hampstead

View Alan Robertson's profile

Alan Robertson

66 posts in 3942 days

#28 posted 01-25-2012 03:17 PM

Jim C,
Absolutely, brilliant discription of my shop tools.
Thread—-impact driver was a great surprise.

-- MrAl

View mondak's profile


71 posts in 2424 days

#29 posted 01-25-2012 03:38 PM

I own 7 routers all the way from 1hp to 3-1/4hp and thought the bosch colt would be a nice addition for certain applications. Wha-la…........I reach for it for 90% of my routing. It is the greatest.
I also own several old fashion calipers including dial calipers and then I purchased a digital. I love it and couldn’t do without it now. I darned sure go for and get tighter tollerences now.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3898 days

#30 posted 01-25-2012 03:41 PM

Dremel tool is a big one for me. I went to buy one several times but never did, because I didn’t need it. Now I have one (um … two … ok, three), it gets used a lot.

I knew I would use an impact driver, but the day I bought one I needed it for a task that I couldn’t have accomplished without it.

-- -- --

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#31 posted 01-25-2012 04:05 PM

I’ve got to think about that Bosch trim router that has come up a couple of times on this page. I have one heavy duty, high powered router that gets virtually no use. I like my mid-weight routers (2 1/4 hp) better and for lighter work I like my little PC 690 (1 3/4 hp). Now I’m thinking I may like an even lighter router even more for some applications. My problem – I’d have to get bits with a 1/4” shaft.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10526 posts in 3452 days

#32 posted 01-25-2012 05:18 PM

That’s true Rich. But, having a small and light router handy is …...well, just plain handy.
I do a lot of smalls and even the PC 690 is too bulky and awkward.
It’s well worth the investment in the 1/4” bits.
When the palm router get’s to be too big, I go for the Dremel with the router base. It takes 1/8” shanks.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View dbhost's profile


5723 posts in 3256 days

#33 posted 01-25-2012 05:34 PM

For me that is a tough one. I’d have to say the larger table saw wing based router table instead of the the tiny Wolfcraft router table I used to have. I have been able to do anything I want routing wise on this.

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2995 days

#34 posted 01-25-2012 05:49 PM

Japanese pull saw.

Good chisels. I always used chisels, but really good ones are a whole nuther thing.

Small carving chisel set.

A real workbench with woodworking vises.

View ChuckC's profile


828 posts in 2959 days

#35 posted 01-25-2012 05:49 PM

Good thread.

For me the Ridgid OSS has has been a great addition to the shop. I didn’t think I would use it as much as I do.

In addition, I’ve been cleaning up old hand plans recently. I reach for them way more than I thought I would. It’s nice to be able to sneak up on a cut in a way a power tool could never do.

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2586 days

#36 posted 01-25-2012 06:14 PM

Rich – I looked at the Colt and DeWalt and bought the DeWalt compact router combo (plung and fixed bases). I like it alot! After handling the two makes and looking at reviews the Colt was good but it was the first. And as the first it wasn’t as well designed (in my opinion and that of many reviews) as a “go to” router. I find my DeWalt compact is more than sufficient for most of my work as most of it is not hogging out a lot of material but rather decorative edgining or inlay in which case the lighter router is much easier to control.

I also have a Bosch 1617 EVS with both the fixed and plunge base, which now stay almost exclusively in my router table.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Jeremiah's profile


82 posts in 2348 days

#37 posted 01-25-2012 06:35 PM

Now that I’ve read other peoples postings, it suddenly brought new stuff to mind:

TOTALLY agree. Impact driver is probably No. 1#. thought a normal drill/driver was just as good…wrong. impact guns are great. Now its a must to own and on many jobs

2 Japanese pull saw. thought they were overpriced specialty item, until i owned one. Great item.

Has anyone ever done a thread on items you saved and saved for, thought you wanted and then never used? i have a good sized list for that one :)

View Porchfish's profile


824 posts in 2556 days

#38 posted 01-25-2012 06:54 PM

I have more sumbitches than I care to count ! and the colt trim router I used to trim laminates on the kitchen remodel job. Never owned a router before , this is fun making free hand silly signs for friends and grand children ! But it will never come near a carved panel. Oh and the little blue handled marples saw ( a real cheap dozuki substitute) it is always close by !

-- The pig caught under the fence is always the one doing all the squealing !

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#39 posted 01-25-2012 08:19 PM

Regarding trim routers – - A few years ago I bought this trim router – -

I was VERY disappointed. In fact, I deemed that it was not worthy of taking up space in my shop and I could not, in good conscious , sell it to anyone. I threw it away. That experience really turned me off regarding trim routers.

I need to reconsider trim routers based on what I have read here.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View buffalosean's profile


174 posts in 3411 days

#40 posted 01-25-2012 08:28 PM

I picked up a used edge sander and drum sander from a retired furniture maker last august. I was most excited about the drum sander. The gentleman I purchased the tools from told me, “your going to use that edge sander a whole lot more than you think!”
boy was he right. i use it all the time.

the next ones are a chain fall & a cable come-a-long. Moving heavy machines (my heaviest weighing 2100 lbs) its a necessary evil. the chain fall I got for free. But I cringed forking over the money for the cable come-a-long. However, once you have rigging equipment, you use it more and your back less…... money well spent.

-- There are many ways to skin a cat...... but, the butter knife is not recommended

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3461 days

#41 posted 01-25-2012 08:30 PM

Wecheer rotary tool. I got it to try my hand at carving. Instead I use it a lot to clean up work that’s to tight to sand. Particularly scrolled stuff. It holds little sandpaper tubes and cutting burrs, wire wheels, etc. It saves me a lot of work on small areas.

Oh, And my HVLP spray gun. I had the large compressor so the gun was a small expense but boy, I have been delivered from the drudgery of brushed on poly. Often the spraying takes less time than the gun clean up. 30 minutes of brushing equals about 5 minutes of spraying. Lifesaver for me.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2904 days

#42 posted 01-25-2012 08:37 PM

Top on my list has to be my drill press. When I was setting up my shop I was not really looking at getting a drill press right away as I didn’t think it would get used much. I so happened to come across an amazing deal on a used floor model Delta so I bought it. I would have never bought one this size had it not been for the deal I got. Now that I have had it for a couple years I cant imagine not having it. I use it all the time.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View DamnYankee's profile


3301 posts in 2586 days

#43 posted 01-25-2012 09:33 PM

@Rich – the newer ones are really Compact Routers, not really trim routers. As I understand it, the Colt was the first to go beyond just trim routing. Since the Colt, DeWalt (and of course PorterCable – as they are owned by the same company) have come out with their own version. I gotta tell you, I REALLY REALLY like my DeWalt Compact Router. I use it almost exclusively from my Bosche 1617EVS unless I am really hogging our material or using my router table. It is a lot lighter, the height/weight to size of base makes it easier to maintatin control, and the small motor also makes it easier to control without noticable decrease in cutting capability. Again, I don’t and wouldn’t use it on larger applications. It comes in real handy when flush cutting, pattern following, decorative edging after assembly, all that kind of work. Also, I’ve found that 1/4” bits aren’t as much of an issue as they once were when you buy better made bits.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3034 days

#44 posted 01-25-2012 10:38 PM

I definitely love my compact router (Dewalt 611 with plunge base). Very very handy and I prefer to use it whenever I can instead of a heavier router (and I even have a “light” 2-1/4 hp). I didn’t put it on the list because when I bought it, I knew that I would really appreciate it.

Yes, getting 1/4” shank versions of the common bits was a bit of a pain, but really, all I needed for the majority of what I do with it was a chamfer, 1/8” roundover, and a double-bearing flush trim. Some of my smaller spiral bits were already 1/4” shanks, as well as a short top-bearing pattern bit.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2617 days

#45 posted 01-25-2012 10:49 PM

My EARLEX 5500 HPLV turbine spray system.99% of the time no more brushes for this boy!

View BerBer5985's profile


445 posts in 2444 days

#46 posted 01-26-2012 12:48 AM

One of my first major tool purchases that I cringed at buying:
My starrett combination rule. I thought that an $80 item was overkill but went with what people said and I’m
Glad I did. It is used more than any other tool and I can trust it’s accurate.

-- Greg, Owner, Quality Carpet One,

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2617 days

#47 posted 01-26-2012 02:02 AM

BerBer Starrett Rocks! I would like to pick up the 3 piece set and I would be set for life.That was a well spent $80!!!

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2617 days

#48 posted 01-26-2012 02:04 AM

richgreer You start good questioner posts!

View Dustmite97's profile


439 posts in 3244 days

#49 posted 01-26-2012 02:10 AM

I thought that I wouldn’t use a biscut joiner that much. I think it is a very good tool and I am starting to use it a lot more now.

View Alan Robertson's profile

Alan Robertson

66 posts in 3942 days

#50 posted 01-26-2012 02:26 AM

JimC, where is your responce?

-- MrAl

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