I am not going to focus on "terrible tools" in this article, instead, I want this to be positive so we can all learn how to select better tools and some of the things to look for. Not all "new advancements" in tools and tool designs are good ones. Sometimes old reliable tools are better, but how do we know that unless we are able to compare them and understand what makes a good tool or a poor tool

Watch it on Youtube: https://youtu.be/FfpWxPBxFI8

Obviously, if a tool does not do its intended job it's poor but some do a half job. Are these poor tools or not?  That really depends on many things, sometimes it's user error and I am certainly guilty of that sometimes, there is just so much to know, and not all things are transferable from one tool to another.

Terrible Tools

What is irritating to many of us is looking at and reading the "ratings" that many tools and items have. What I see far too often are comments like a 4 or 5-star rating and a comment that goes something like this "I just received this THING and it looks very good".  How does that rate a 4 or 5 star rating?? The only ones I pay any attention to are people who have "out-of-box failures" or even more, they have owned the item for a few weeks or months and it has either failed or works poorly. Those are the ratings that count and you need to be a sleuth to find them in a mix of good and bad ratings. 

Work Bench Wheels

Like those flip-down wheels, I installed on my workbench. I am amazed that nobody, at least that I can see, has invented decent wheels for tools. I have a few tools with locking wheels. If you have any of these you will likely agree they are terrible in that they are hard to lock and unlock because they often swivel under the machine so they are hard to get and not easily locked and unlocked. There are a plethora of DIYers who have YouTube website information on the flip-down versions for their tools, and for many of them, their designs work for what they are doing but for many of us, those same designs simply don't work so none that I have found so far work for me. In the end, the only thing I can find that half works are these flip/up/down wheels, which I would never buy again, there must be a better way. Maybe someone with some real engineering skills can design something like these that actually work, and they need to be on the "same plane" another small thing I have found out the hard way.

Transfer Balls
Moving along to the Transfer Balls. For the life of me, I have no clue why someone in woodworking thought these were a good idea. To make these things effectively, you need to have at least 2 rows of them which makes them very expensive. I have yet to find a good use for them and have tried them in a few areas, mostly as outfeed support which they are terrible at. If you want good, reliable, and reasonably price outfeed support a roller. With some doweling and steel rod, you can make your own for a few dollars, or if you want to buy the roller part you can do that too.

Check out the details of the roller portion only at the woodworkweb Amazon store


You can easily make your own adjustable stand, and use one of these rollers on top, or use them for outfeeds on your miter or table saw outfeed table. There are plans online or you can make your plans, these are not complicated devices and they make excellent woodworking projects.

Drill Doctor 

Next, we come to drill bit sharpening. To be perfectly honest with all of you. I have no real good advice on this. I know the unit I have does not work easily (if at all) although it seemed to work the first time I used it (now I am wondering if the drill bit was sharp to begin with). I have looked far a wide for some sort of a device that actually works and doesn't take me 10 or 15 minutes on each drill bit or even more important, one that works. I know the Drill Doctor has a variety of units and now, based on what I had, I am shy about spending a lot more money for a "really deluxe drill sharpening unit" and find out it doesn't really do the job either.

Let me tell you what I have finally done that has been working like a charm for me so far. I went out and purchased a set of Cobalt Drill bits, and a few of the more popular bits, I purchased extras of. I had been purchasing "Titanium bits" you know the yellowish coated ones that are coated with either titanium nitride or titanium carbonitride, both of which are very hard and resistant to wear ... BUT they are only coated on the bits, so if you are using them in wood, plastic, and softer material, they work great but the coating wears off quickly when you start drilling into to steel, mild or not. Cobalt bits are made from a mixture or steel and cobalt alloy making the whole bit harder, not just a coating on the drill bit. I use these "twist bits" a log and the cobalt are turning out to be a good investment and a time saver for me. 
What I will say is there are many different cobalt drill bit sets on the market and the big difference is how many bits are sold in the set. Smaller sets have the most popular sizes, but these aren't always what we need. I ended up getting a bigger cobalt set, then duping a few of the popular drill bits. I encourage you to watch, compare and choose accordingly what is best for you.

Here are some example of Cobalt Drill bit sets from the woodworkweb Amazon store

14 piece cobalt set

Here is 21 piece set  
See details on Amazon

You may even find something similar at local hardware stores in your area. 

Kreg Set-Up Bars

Now on the Measuring Bars. If you don't have measuring bars you may not understand just how valuable these are to a woodworker. I use this thing ALL THE TIME so naturally, I want something convenient. Think of it this way. how often do you use a tape measure?  Would you bother to store it in its own box or leather holder that you had to unsnap or flip open and fish out every time you used it and would have wanted a tape measure that you often needed 2 hands to use? That would be far too awkward for something you use so frequently and so it is for those of us who use measuring bars.  If you have never used the simple little square measuring blocks and have only ever had the Kreg or Powermatic measuring bars, you may not appreciate just how cumbersome they are to use when compared with the old design of square measuring bars. 
I think one of the biggest things that annoyed me the most was the costs, I could purchase 3 or 4 sets of the older square measuring bars for the cost of Kreg or Powermatic sets, which I find, in the end, are in fact inferior to use. 
These little Whitside (a good brand name product) for $12 bucks are excellent measuring bars. I don't believe they come with a holder, but you can easily make one like my plastic one by drilling 5 holes in a block of hardwood and attach a magnet to the bottom, and "presto" you have a Great Measuring system.

Check out these measuring bars on the woodworkweb Amazon store

 Milwaukee M12 hackzall

And lastly, we come to Milwaukee, and specifically, the 12-volt recip saw. As many of you already know I like and use Milwaukee drill and driver, and also have a lot of the 12-volt tools, all of which I love and use a lot. As I mentioned in the video the little 12 volt driver I have is probably the best tool I have ever owned, I can't tell you how many screws that little driver has driven for me over the years with a couple of big home renos, easily my favorite tool. I did have high hopes for their recip version in 12 volt and for some, maybe it is a good tool but for me it is unable to handle anything over a small job, if you want to lob off bolt heads, a Dremel tool works even better for me and for larger jobs I ended up getting a big 18-volt recip that does the job. I had no idea when I purchased the tool that it would be so underpowered, but I should have done a bit more research on it. In the meantime, it remains as a reminder to me to pay attention to what I purchase, ask others about their experiences and read the rating carefully and like many things, sometimes things like this are wiser to purchase locally when you can talk to a (hopefully, Knowledgeable) salesperson and if nothing else, at least you may have some easier option to return for a better tool in the even it doesn't work for you ... all questions you should ask at purchase so you don't end up with unusable tools.

Copyright Colin Knecht