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HomeMy Shop9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Here are 9 tools that I should have bought sooner at the beginning of my woodworking journey. They are all super valuable in my shop and I think they will be valuable to you as well.


Tools in This Post

Chamfer & Reamer Tool – https://tsoproducts.com/bench-dogs/accessories/ujk-combined-chamfer-reamer-tool/?ref=MWAWW

Power-Loc Bench Connectors – https://tsoproducts.com/bench-dogs/tso-dogs/power-loc-bench-connector-dogs/?ref=MWAWW

Universal Fence Clamps – https://tsoproducts.com/clamping-workholding/clamps/ujk-universal-fence-clamps-pair/?ref=MWAWW

Portable Drill Guide – https://tsoproducts.com/jigs-fixtures-guides/ujk-drill-guide/?gad=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwpc-oBhCGARIsAH6ote9-4qG6iGIQvxJXOldiWnHxxaeR4CkpTrOfLmeSl_QvwYRmaTskeqcaAlGgEALw_wcB&ref=MWAWW

Straight Edge – https://amzn.to/3QsL6Tz

Enjoywood Pocket Hole Jig Pro – https://amzn.to/3Q6k2YJ

Enjoywood Pocket Hole Jig (cheaper version) – https://amzn.to/45LbA6R

Estwing Rubber Mallet – https://amzn.to/401x6TX

Multifunction Scribing Tool – https://amzn.to/3S5RNMo

Small Parts Organizer Bin – https://amzn.to/45GH7XQ

StudBuddy – https://amzn.to/490q9GI

*Disclaimer – As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases


9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Portable Drill Guide

The first item on the list is a portable drill guide.

This is a great option for anyone who doesn’t have the room or the budget for a drill press in their shop.

In woodworking there’s this concept of taking your workpiece to the tool vs taking the tool to the workpiece.

For most of the larger tools in the shop you’re taking your work to the tool.

But in a lot of cases its easier or only possible to take the tool to the work.

That’s where this tool comes in handy.

If you need to drill a hole into a table top or cabinet which would both be too large for a drill press, you can drop this right on it and guarantee a perfectly 90° hole.

There are several versions of a portable drill guide and a lot of them are cheaply made, pretty lightweight and mostly plastic parts.

This one, made by a company called UJK is really well made.

It has a cast aluminum body and steel guide rods.

The fit and finish are really nice and you can feel it when you get you hands on it

Very substantial, a lot of heft.

This can use all the same bits that a drill or drill press can use up to like 2/14” or 60mm

I don’t even know if I have any bits that big.

Looking closer, it has a keyed drill chuck just like a drill press and the top is a ¼” hex shank for attaching to your drill. This makes it compatible with all the major brands of drills.

The drill then is what powers the tool.

It has non slip rubber on the bottom.

But I advise, especially for larger bits or angled cuts to use clamps to hold the drill guide in place.

You can screw it down as well if that’s acceptable for your use case.

You can now guarantee you’re cutting perfect 90 ° holes.

It also has these v-grooves so you can drill into round stock.

You can also adjust it up to 60 ° in either direction to create angles holes.

If you’ve ever tried to do this on a drill press you know it’s a pain in the @ss to set up and then get it set back up to 90 again.

This is much easier, you can loosen this and dial in the angle with this indicator line then tighten it back down and you’re good to go.

It has these two depth stops on either guide rod so you can set the depth from either side or set up for two different depths.

It’s also good for holding it up to change out bits.

On top it has these onboard pins and those screw into holes on the bottom to use center a hole on the edge of a board.

Based on my experience in my woodshop, the drill press is one of the least used of all my larger stationary tools. It definitely has some advantages over a portable guide like this, but if I were to start over again from scratch I would spend my money on one of these first and then much later down the line look to add a drill press once I fitted out my workshop with other more important tools.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Universal Fence Clamps

The next tool I want to show you is on the list because it’s so dead simple to use and so useful but it’s one that I don’t think people who are just starting out in woodworking hear about.

What I’m talking about are these universal fence clamps.

The way they work is you have the clamping knob on one end and the other end is this hook, I think this is 5/16” or 3/8”, can’t remember but what this allows you to do is attach any number of accessories or jigs to your table saw fence.

All you need to do is drill a couple holes in the top of the jig.

Here’s a really simple example. If you’ve ever used a dado stack in your saw to cut rabbets, you can use a sacrificial fence to bury the blade in. That way you can adjust the width of the rabbet you’re cutting.

So with these clamps you can slide them in here and clamp them down like this.

Now this is rock solid and isn’t going anywhere.

These can be used on other tools as well. I’ve used them for my bandsaw fence and miter saw to make a stop block.

So that’s really it, it’s a very simple little tool but is really versatile. These are almost always sold in pairs so you get two. I think I have maybe 3 sets of these around the shop.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Pocket Hole Jig

So when most people think about pocket hole jigs they think about the Kreg jig.

I’ve had this one for more than 10 years now.

But in that time other brands have introduced jigs onto the market like this one from Enjoywood is one that I like a lot.

I think this not only looks and feels more substantial than my old Kreg jig but it costs a good bit less too.

The body of the jig is all aluminum which gives it a nice fit and finish compared to the almost all plastic Kreg jig.

It operates pretty much the same.

You still set the depth of cut on the side of the jig.

Then set the depth of the clamp and this one has these handy markings here to set the correct clamping pressure to match your work piece thickness.

Also, I like that this jig displays in metric and imperial measurements.

You can then set depth of cut on the drill bit on the base of the jig using this scale here.

or you can use this separate and I think easier to use depth gauge tool.

It comes with this low profile dust collection port and what I like is that this fits the Festool vac hoses which is very convenient for my setup!

So this jig operates very much the same as the Kreg jig so your workflow is going to be the same as what you’re used to.

And this part is detachable and connects to this guide to use like a mini jig so if you need make some pockets in a larger workpiece you can do that.

It also comes with adjustable stops that slide on these rods so you can get consistent hole placement across multiple pieces and you can link them together to get even more reach on the stop.

To make the best use of this jig I built this simple wooden platform.

I’m going to show you how I made this in an upcoming video but I wanted to show you one thing now.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Pocket Hole Jig Board

This is my new jig for my jig! HA! I made it on my CNC.

It has magnetized storage for the bit, collar and wrench as well as the bit depth gauge.

It also has t-track with stop blocks and tic marks every 2 inches for consistent hole placement.

And the old Kreg jig was unable to be sunk into the MDF because it’s too thick!

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

UJK Dog Hole Reamer and Chamfer Tool

This little tool is my favorite tool in this video because it’s so simple and so useful.

This tool is meant to be used with MFT style 20mm dog hole grids like this.

I have this MFT station and I also have the same 20mm hole pattern in my assembly table which I use on just about every project.

This tool chucks up into your handheld drill and does two things at the same time which automatically makes me love it because I love when a tool combines multiple operations into one.

This hole has gotten some glue in it because I use this table for assembly all the time even though I should be using my assembly table.

And this top is made of MDF and what happens when water based glue gets around MDF, it swells a little and couple that with a bit of dried glue and now its really hard to insert a bench dog in here.

All I need to do though is use this tool like this. I’m going slow so you can see it but go at full speed and it completely resets the inside of the hole back to 20mm.

And when its done cleaning the inside of the hole the chamfer blade drops down and creates this small chamfer.

So why is the chamfer good?

For one it removes the sharp edges of the dog holes and also creates an easement to prevent those edges from getting damaged over time.

But it also unlocks the ability to use a couple really cool bench dogs.

This one is called a chamfer dog.

Instead of having an offset like this to keep the dog from falling through the hole it uses this tiny chamfered lip which sits flush in the hole now.

This way you have a direct 20mm reference surface with no offset.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

TSO Power Loc Dog

Making this chamfer also means you can also use these special connector dogs. They sit completely flush and have threaded inserts in them to attach knobs to so you can fasten any kind of extension or jig you like to your worktop.

But even better than that, you can use one of my favorite tools, these power lock dogs.

These allow you to connect other accessories that utilize the 20mm hole pattern directly to the MFT top and they sit flush and lock the two together using an allen key from the top.

This is completely amazing and so useful and all possible because of that little chamfer.

So, you can see how this one little tool can not only revive reset a dog hole that becomes too hard to use but it unlocks lots of other possibilities for utilizing this 20mm dog hole grid system.

And that’s why I absolutely love this thing.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Straight Edge

The next item I want to show you is kind of simple and very inexpensive but it actually has a couple REALLY good uses in the shop and that’s a straight edge.

This though isn’t one of those thicker very rigid straight edges, it’s flexible see, and I’ll show you in a minute why.

Like I said they are super cheap, I think the 3 ft one is like 10 bucks but you can get them in other lengths.

So one really good use for them is if you don’t own a track saw but maybe you have a circular saw, this can provide a straight reference surface for making long cuts across plywood or lumber.

I recently tested out a DeWalt circular saw and this came in really handy making some cuts into a sheet of plywood that were extremely straight clean cuts.

But there’s one more good use for this flexible kind of straight edge that I like even more.

Recently I made a desk and I wanted to create a template because the desk and monitor stand have this big sweeping curve cut in the front.

And what I discovered is I could clamp this straight edge vertically to my bench and line it up to my reference marks.

I could move it into place and create a perfect even curve and it stayed put.

That freed up my hands to use a pencil to mark the curve so I could cut it out.

That one trick alone made it worth the cost of the straight edge.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Multifunction Scribing Tool

Up next is one of my favorite new tools that I’ve discovered.

Again this one is a multi tasker so right away it gets points from me for that.

This is a multi function scribing tool made by Saker.

If you’re not familiar with scribing, it’s a simple process let’s say you need to match up a piece of wood to an irregular surface or angle or curve..

This happens a lot when building cabinets.

You just use this reference pointer to run along the surface you want to match and then scribe that line to the work piece.

Then you can cut this edge and guarantee that it fits exactly into that spot.

What I like about this scribing tool is that it uses a deep hole pencil, which comes with it but it also works with your pica pencils as well which I think is super handy.

This part that holds the pencil also pivots out.

That allows me to use this like a compass and draw arcs or circles.

This also comes with an onboard trammel point.

That goes into this small hole and in this configuration you have a trammel that can draw circles up to X inches in diameter.

You can also flip this around and insert the pencil and now you have this reference edge that allows you to mark out joinery on the edges of your work piece with consistency .

So that’s a lot of tricks in one little tool and it stores up nicely so you can throw it in your tool bag or wherever.

Such a neat little tool.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Stud Buddy

The next item on my list has come in really handy on a few projects in the last year.

I’ve installed multiple cabinets and floating shelves and one of the most important things you have to do on those installs is locate the studs in your walls.

There are a lot of electronic gadgets that you can use to scan for and detect studs.

Most will light up when they find a stud.

But my favorite way to do this is kind of a manual one and relies a little bit on magic.

This tool is called a stud buddy.

Essentially, it’s like a torpedo level with magnets imbedded in the back of it.

You run those magnets along your walls and they catch every time they hit the head of a drywall screw then you can level the stud buddy and know exactly where the stud is running in the wall.

Wherever the screws are is almost always going to be where a stud is.

You can verify this by locating two screws and measuring the distance.

In the US this distance should most likely be 16 or 24 inches.

I like this method over electronic stud finders because you don’t have to worry about batteries dying or weak batteries giving erratic readings and the electronic stud finders will often give false positives by locating pipes or other objects inside walls and mistaking them for studs.

The stud buddy is small so it wont take up much room in your tool bag and it costs ½ to 1/3 the cost of an electronic stud finder.

Small Parts Organizer Bins

So one of the things since moving into this shop that I’ve focused a lot of energy on is organization.

I did a whole video laying out my entire organization strategy and I’ll link to it down in the description if want to check that out.

But one of the biggest problems I had that ended up costing me a good amount of money over time was that I had no control whatsoever over fasteners and other small items.

I had a drawer or two crammed full of random stuff all thrown together and I never really knew what I had which inevitably led to a trip to the store to buy what I needed for my next project.

When I built the charging station that is on the wall behind me I wanted to allocate enough space to add a set of organizer bins and that way all of my most common fasteners that I use could all be at my finger tips and highly visible that way I always know how many I have.

These small parts organizers were the best option I found for a few reasons.

The size of each unit is nice. Each one of these trays holds a really good amount of fasteners compared to the first set of bins I tried.

These are also clear. That way I can see exactly how much stuff is in there.

They come with their own label system but honestly I found it much better and more visible to use a label maker to mark what was in them.

These are also stackable so if you buy multiple bins like I did they can stack and not fall off one another.

So you can see here in my setup I have construction screws, cabinet screws, pocket screws, I even have dominos stored in here

And I can take the tray to my project and when I’m done just return it. Pretty easy.

9 Tools I Should Have Bought Sooner

Non Marring Rubber Mallet

One of the things that you might think would be easy to purchase and move on with your life is a mallet. Everybody needs a good mallet in their shop.

I make a lot of furniture and cabinets and I like to use dominos or dowels a lot which means I need to knock parts together.

I have a traditional joiners mallet, I have hammers and even carving mallets but a 12oz mallet I have found is the best tool for the work I do most often.

Joiners mallets are just too big with this huge face and this is solid white oak and very hard.

If you try to use this to assemble a project you’re going to dent up your work.

Same thing with a hammer. The steel head is going to tear up your project.

And a carving mallet is really for fine tapping kind of work, not really for joinery that I do most often.

This mallet though has the weight and small size of a hammer, but has non marring rubber heads. One side is a little harder plastic and the other is softer rubber.

This can get into tighter places and I’ve used this on hardwoods and plywood and have had great results and it has just enough weight that you can really get a good forceful swing and still not damage your work.

So there you go, I know it’s kind of silly to put that much thought into a mallet but after completing lots of projects over the years this mallet is my go-to for almost all assembly tasks.

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