DIY Tools for the Woodworker
Even though you may be more likely to see these tools in the back of a pickup truck than in a woodworking shop, don't be too quick to dismiss them. In our experience, these underappreciated products come in quite handy for specific woodworking tasks.
Grind your troubles away
Besides smoothing welds and cutting rebar, an angle grinder accepts abrasive discs and wheels for grinding different materials. To shape contours in wood, such as a chair seat, equip your angle grinder with a tungsten-carbide grit disc, as shown above.
Workbench on the go
A portable workbench provides additional worksurface or a temporary tool stand wherever you need one. Most have work-holding jaws and dogholes to provide options as you cut, drill, or sand. The wide stance of the feet keeps the bench stable. And nearly all models fold down easily for storage or transport.
A V-shaped notch running the length of each jaw edge grips cylindrical workpieces, such as dowels, pipes, or metal rods.
Shown: Black & Decker
Workmate 225, $72,
Drive fast and avoid the splits
The brad nailer's big brother, a finish nailer shoots larger and longer fasteners, ranging from 11⁄4 " to 21⁄2 " in length. Pneumatic nailers dominate the market, but battery-powered versions provide portability without the compressor noise or tail-dragging hose.
Use a finish nailer whenever you require more holding power than brads or pins can offer, such as when installing trim or building shop projects like shelving, carts, or jigs. The fast action of the nailer leads to less splitting of wood and no dimples from an errant hammer blow.
15-gauge finish nailer, no. AF635, $184,
Getting out of a tight spot
An oscillating multi tool cuts or sands with a rapid back-and-forth motion rather than spinning. Detachable heads allow you to use the multitool for sanding, grinding, sawing, scraping, or polishing, making it the Swiss Army knife of portable power tools.
Once you own an oscillating multitool, you'll find all sorts of uses for it, from sanding in hard-to-reach places, like the corner of a cabinet or between chair slats and spindles, to cutting an opening inside a cabinet for wiring.
Shown: DeWalt oscillating multitool,
no. DCS354D1, $139,
Supersized layout tool
Essentially a T-square on steroids, this large aluminum square is used by drywall installers to lay out cuts. But it works just as well on plywood or other sheet goods, speeding up the layout process. Store it against the wall where it doesn't take up much space. Some manufacturers offer adjustable squares so you can lay out angles.
Shown: Johnson drywall square,
no. JTS48, $16,
A good stud is hard to find
When you need to hang a cabinet or other heavy item on a wall, don't turn the wall into Swiss cheese looking for a stud. Use a stud finder to locate studs for mounting screws, or torsion-box members behind a layer of plywood. It's worth spending the extra money on a model that detects density changes within the wall. Some versions can also help you locate (and avoid) pipes and electrical wires.
Shown: Zircon StudSensor,
no. WM5, $20,