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

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 01-24-2012 07:44 PM 2679 views 0 times favorited 69 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4541 posts in 4323 days

01-24-2012 07:44 PM

Have you ever bought a tool that you didn’t think you needed? Then, after buying it, you feel you could not do without it.

Number 1 on my list for this criteria is my drum sander. I’d didn’t think I really needed one, but a friend was getting a bigger one and wanted to sell his smaller unit, the PerformaX 10-20 Plus. I bought it and I have had it in my shop for about 3 months. I had no idea how handy this tool would be. Why didn’t I get one earlier?

Number 2 on my list is the router lift. I didn’t think I needed one. Now I have one. I wouldn’t do without one now.

Number 3 is quite different. It is a face plate for my lathe. I though a good chuck was all I needed for turning bowls. Then I discovered how well a faceplate can handle a larger bowl. Now, if turning a bowl greater than about 5” in diameter my first choice is the face plate, at least to start.

How about you? Can you identify a tool that, originally, you did not think you needed and now you find it quite valuable?

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

69 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4991 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 4347 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


557 posts in 3605 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


7933 posts in 4162 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


2818 posts in 4131 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 3573 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


495 posts in 3819 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 4323 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 4422 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 3917 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 4218 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


6188 posts in 4492 days

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

Impact driver.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 4804 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


1673 posts in 3912 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


8431 posts in 4624 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....

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