Enhance Your Workshop with Tool Accessories
DIY Tools and Accessory Kits
There are lots of websites that gives reviews on tools and recommend which tools are best, which is great.
When I'm looking to buy new tools, or accessory kits to enhance my existing tools, I use these sites to help me make an informed decision.
However, when it comes to finding the right tool as a gift for someone else you may not know what they want, and no doubt they may already have all the common tools such as saws, screwdrivers, hammers and drills.
Therefore you may be looking for something a little out of the ordinary or supplementary to their tool kit to enhance what they already have; or you may just be looking for something for yourself to compliment your own collection of existing DIY tools.
With this in mind I've gone through my tool shed and picked out just a few items (other than the obvious mainstream tools like a powered drill, jig saw or a set of good chisels) that I find particularly useful.
This includes the 215 drill and bit set which I find invaluable and use all the time, and the Japanese pull saw.
Review and Recommendations
For each DIY tool I've chosen for this review article I've given my personal review (often with my own photo of the tool) with my experiences; and I make recommendations for either the same or similar products as appropriate.
DIY Demo for Using Hand and Power Tools
To Make Fitted Shelving
This full length video made by me gives a step by step demonstration and guide in remodelling existing shelve and making new shelves to match using many of the hand and power DIY tools featured in this article. Further on in this article a more detailed description and use is given of these and other tools frequently used by me when completing DIY woodworking project around the home.
Drill Hole Saws and Forstner Bit Sets
Any Size Hole for Any Occasion
The Drill and Bit set mentioned above does include four useful drill hole saws for cutting large holes in wood which are handy, but I find you can never have enough and there are plenty of other size holes I find useful to be able to cut from time to time. So I was grateful when I received a box set of 11 quality hole saws that cut through a variety of materials (including wood) and covers a wide range of hole sizes, the most useful of which is the largest for cutting holes big enough for electric plugs to fit through; which I’ve used many times at the back of furniture and for desk tops to provide easy access for cabling electrical and electronic equipment. And this set is far superior to the cheap hole saw sets that consist of a load of metal rings that clip into one base, these cheap sets don’t give a good cut, are not very durable, and don’t last long so it’s a false economy buying them.
I also treated myself to a five piece Forstner bit set ranging from 15mm (3/5 inch) to 35mm (1.5 inches) for precision drilling for the smaller holes. They cut holes just like the drill hole saws but the edge of the blade is the guiding edge rather than a centre drill bit which makes them ideal for cutting precision holes part way through timber, which can be handy at times, especially the 35mm Forstner for making holes to fit kitchen type cupboard hinges. Although a Forstner bit set is an indulgence, especially if you get a good drill hole saw set which covers most hole sizes that you are likely to want to cut.
Forstner Bit Sets
Used in Your Electric drill Just Like Any Standard Drill Bit
I bought a 5 piece Forstner bit set a few years ago and have made good use of it since. The give a clean cut and ideal if you want to drill a neat circle just part way through the wood e.g. for fitting kitchen sprung-hinges. Unless you buy the extremely expensive Forstners, and they're not cheap, these drill bits can wear out with lots of use; but it's not a type of tool accessory many DIY enthusiasts would normally use frequently so they should last a long time making many of the cheaper Forstner drill bits good value for money. In fact, when needed, I find them so useful that next time I'd be looking for a larger set giving a wider range of hole sizes, but as I don't use them often enough I'd still be looking for one of the cheaper rather than the top range sets.
Router Bits Sets
Quality Beats Price
If you have a Router (great for making decorative architrave) then you’ll have router bits but if the bits came with the router they may only be the cheap metal bits that just like the cheap drill hole saw sets don’t give best performance and don’t last when seriously used.
It’s the same with many circular saws, often they are shipped with cheap blades that don’t give best performance and blunt easily. The general advice in such cases when buying a circular saw to also buy a quality blade to go with it; the one exception (and I’m sure there are others) being the Evolution Rage circular saw which is shipped with a high quality blade already fitted.
Therefore to get the best from your Router it pays to invest in a quality router bits set like the one pictured above.
15 Piece Router Bit Set With Carbide Tipped
My first router bits set that came with my first router was just cut from cheap mild steel and did not last long before they blunted and broke. Therefore I treated myself to a fine set of 10 high quality 1/4 inch shank router bits as pictured above. That set has served me well for many projects over many years, covering all the major routing cuts I wish to make; although it would be nice to have a few more.
You can buy top range router bits individually, as some people do, but then doing it that way just two bits costs as much as an entire set of 10 or 15 high quality router bits.
You can buy the thicker 1/2 inch shank bits which will fit most routers and at the right price would make sense.
However, I have been using the 1/4 inch shank bits for years with no issues with performance, and each is as sharp today as the day I bought them so I don't think whether you buy the larger 1/2 or the 1/4 inch shank bits is critical.
Japanese Pull Saw
Fine Cut Double Blade
Now this is one hand saw few people would normally think of buying, but it can be useful at times, and that’s the Japanese Fine Cut Double Blade Pull Saw with Crosscut and Rip Cut blades with long handle, as pictured above. Its big advantage being that the blade can be much thinner than an ordinary saw blade bought in Europe or America because it is a pull saw e.g. cuts on the pull stroke, as is standard in Japan, rather than saws that cut on the push stroke as conventionally made in Europe and America. Without being too technical if you use a push saw where the blade is too thin then the blade will tend to bend as you push making it impossible to use. However, this saw (pictured above) is designed to be able to bend and cut at the same time so that you can use it flat right up against a surface such as a ceiling, wall or floor and cut timber that is coming out from that surface e.g. to slide the blade under a door and cut the bottom of the door frame with the blade bending such that the handle is at a comfortable 45 degree angle to the blade.
Where I found this saw particularly useful was when dismantling a stud wall. I prefer to dismantle rather than demolish, unlike these reality TV programmes where people demolish the whole lot in a frenzy creating lots of dust. I like to dismantle piece by piece damaging as little as possible and salvaging as much wood as possible for future DIY Projects. Therefore, when dismantling the stud wall there were several cuts I needed to make level with the ceiling and this pull saw proved invaluable; and of course, being the only pull saw I own there are other times it’s more convenient or easier to use than the conventional Western push saws.
Saws that cuts on the pull rather than the push
The great thing about Japanese saws is that their blades are thin and flexible and they cut on the pull giving in many cases greater control and a finer cut than the traditional Western hand saws; and once you’ve tired one you’ll always want one in your toolbox. Some have a stiffened back for even greater control for delicate woodworking others have flexible blades for flush cutting.
The greater the number of teeth per inch the finer the cut; the more general purpose saws having fewer teeth for ease of use when cutting larger sized material but still giving fine neat cuts. And unlike many other tool accessories where quality costs many good quality Japanese saws are not expensive.
Handheld Ratchet Screwdriver
All in the Twist and the Bits are Interchangeable
If you have a modern power drill which also act as a power screwdriver there are times for quick jobs when hand screwdrivers are useful; I know one person who went out and bought a large bag of assorted screwdrivers (about three dozen) of all shapes and sizes to cover just about any eventuality, that is if you can find the right screwdriver amongst all the others. I think it was a waste of money and space when for a fraction of the price he could have treated himself to just one good hand ratchet screwdriver (as shown above) that with enough screwdriver bits will cover the full range of screw size and types just as well. And as he already has a power drill and screwdriver and a good screwdriver bit set to go with it all he needed was just the ratchet screwdriver.
The advantage of the ratchet screwdriver depicted above is that it has a good strong grip (handle) with a good torque so it will drive home a stubborn screw almost as well as a good power drill/screwdriver can do. And of course the screwdriver bits are interchangeable with the power drill/screwdriver. So rather than carry around a load of hand screwdrivers of different sizes in my tool box I just keep the ratchet screwdriver in it and if I need to just undo the odd screw or two it's quicker to use the hand screwdriver than go all the way down to the shed to get the power drill/screwdriver. Obviously if I've got lots of screws to do then I'll get out the power drill/screwdriver and have the job done in no time.
The only other hand screwdrivers I would advocate in having are the small 'Precision Screwdriver' sets and a good set of electrician screwdrivers; or as shown in the picture below a fine set of high quality handheld screwdrivers which includes a wide range of precision screwdrivers, screwdriver bits (which are always handy and interchangeable with the electric screwdriver) and a fine set of sturdy screwdrivers all in one case.
Obviously for most jobs around the house I’d just take the electric screwdriver and screwdriver bits but for DIY Projects in the home workshop shed it’s handy to have just a few hand screwdrivers to hand that you can grab at a moment’s notice for small jobs. Previously to receiving this fine set of screwdrivers as a gift I had an odd assortment of old screwdrivers hanging up in the shed (as shown in the other picture below) just for occasional odd use.
Which Screwdriver to Use and When
These days I use almost exclusively the screwdriver function on my powered drill making all work significantly quicker and easier; saving hours.
However, there are times, if it is just the odd screw or two to reach for a hand screwdriver; and for this I have found the multi-bit hand ratchet screwdriver most convenient, especially as it takes all the driving bits that my electric drill driver power tool uses.
There are also very occasional other times when it is handy just to have a small collection of handy hand screwdrivers to hand for the odd job in my workshop and in the house.
On these occasions, especially if it's a small job of just one or two screws in the house; I just grab the ratchet screwdriver or my box kit set of hand screwdrivers from the shed and in no time at all the job is done.
My Hand and Power ScrewdriversClick thumbnail to view full-size
Bit Set Kits
For Drill and Screwdriver
These days most good power drills also double up as a good powered screwdriver (convergence of technology) the drill bits can be used in any drill and the screwdriver bits are interchangeable and can even be used in hand ratchet screwdrivers, which can be handy at times.
When I had a new power drill a few years ago, an 18V Dewalt drill come screwdriver, I had an assortment of old wood, metal and masonry drill bits, many well used and quite blunt, but I didn't have the full range of sizes available. And as I previously had mostly ordinary hand held screwdrivers of different sizes I didn't have many screwdriver bits to fit the new power drill. Therefore, rather than buying lots of small sets of drill bits of different sizes and types and a small set of screwdriver bits to cover most jobs on my shopping list was one big set that covered everything, and more; and which is not only much cheaper than buying lots of small sets but it also meant that I had just about all the main accessories I need for the power drill in one carry case.
The Drill and Bit set I bought to complement the new power drill is an assortment of 215 pieces, as pictured above; and as you can see from the pictures are already well used. This convenient carry case opens up into four trays, the first two trays being all the drill bits; and conveniently up to four drill bits for each size is provided so as one drill bit eventually blunts you have spares, and in time if you get through three of the same size and on your fourth you have plenty of time to replenish your stock with new individual drill bits which are readily available in any DIY store and being a standard size will fit in your carry case in the appropriate place keeping your drill bits organised and ready for use.
The second two trays contain an assortment of useful drill bits and drill bits accessories and a wide range of screwdriver bits to fit just about any screw size and type imaginable. One feature I find particularly useful on the lower right hand side of the screwdriver bits in the tray is a metal plate with pre drilled holes of different sizes; with the size of the hole marked beneath each hole. I use this plate often when I want to know what size drill bit to use e.g. if I have a piece of dowel or a screw I can poke it in each hole until I find the hole that it snuggly fits into, then I know what drill bit to use.
One Plier is Useful but a Set is Great
This may not be an obvious one; most DIY enthusiast tool boxes will have one or two pliers in them but not necessarily a full set. If this is the case then buying a set of quality pliers will complement the existing pliers; there may be some duplication with existing pliers in the tool box but it is handy to have a couple of spare and for any serious DIY enthusiast the additional pliers will get used.
In my case I have a sturdy pair of pliers in the tool box along with the wire cutters so I keep this set (pictured above) to hand on the tool rack in the shed and then grab what I need as and when I need it.
4 Piece Pliers Set
Quality Tools for a Quality Job
Different Pliers for different tasks. A good set of pliers for those occasional jobs where you need to cut wire, pull a nail out, grip something or pull-in and reach something that your fingers cannot reach, to pull it out.
The little tasks where pliers are needed are endless. I have had some cheap pliers in the past which have been ok to a point; but since I have been treated to the quality set of four pliers as a Christmas gift and these have served me well.
The Wizard Dremel
A Small Tool With Big Applications
I’ve owned a Dremel for years and although its not an everyday DIY tool in my workshop it has hundreds of uses that other tools cannot do; getting into those awkward places and doing all those fiddly little cutting, polishing and sanding jobs that requires a delicate touch. More recently I have been experimenting with its engraving attachments and finding it rather useful for small engraving jobs on woods, plastics, metals and glass.
With hundreds of attachments, which are inexpensive to buy, it’s a very versatile and extremely useful tool to have to hand in your workshop or DIY tool shed.
A Versatile Tool With 100s of Uses
Once you’ve have a Dremel you’ll know the value of this extremely versatile tool with lots of attachments that are quickly and easily interchangeable. The Dremel is very useful for getting into places too small for other tools to access and doing intricate work including engraving on wood, plastics, metals and glass. The Dremel is handy little tool for cutting, polishing, cleaning, sanding and engraving on a wide variety of materials.
The Dremel Tools and Attachments - Great for Engraving Glass and Cutting Nuts and Bolts in SituClick thumbnail to view full-size
Using Power Tools With Confidence
Are You Comfortable With Using Electric Power Tools?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Arthur Russ