Recommend me some tools

Inspired by Tamren's chainmail thread, I think it's high time we put out for all to see our loyalties in the world of tools, be they hand, power, tabletop, corded, cordless or whatever.

What mostly sparked this was a slight derail from a question about Harbour Freight. I think most will agree that in general, its best to stay away from HF, but it does have its purposes. Liquid Mantis pointed out to me that a dust collection system from them had done a great job and not died yet. I can also echo more anecdotal evidence for a system that has thus far survived 2 users working on separate projects over the course of 2 years in my own workspace.

I personally have a collection of woodworking tools including a Porter Cable router, Rikon belt/disk sander, and Steel City (new to the industry, but all people from other companies) table saw.

I also recently acquire a Crasftsman 200+ piece mechanics tool set and I'm amazed at the difference just having all the different possibilities of socket sizes and throat depths makes.

I'm just gonna stop there before I get carried away.

So what tools do you use, for what purposes and what specifically have you found to be good? What random tools do you find work great from somewhere that is usually the worst for quality?

I could go on for days about tools...
The most useful tools I've ever owned was a pick set. It was like $15 @ Sears. I use those picks all the time. They are like a multi-tool. You never know how handy they are until you have them with you.
IMAGE(http://s.sears.com/is/image/Sears/00947077000?hei=600&wid=600&op_sharpen=1&qlt=90,0&resMode=sharp&op_usm=0.9,0.5,0,0)
I have a Husky mechanics tool set that I really like. I spent less than I would have on Craftsman and I got the same warranty and quality. Cordless impacts are an amazing tool. I have a Bosch and I use quite frequently.
With power tools remember that not all tools are created equally. Home Depots quality will generally be < Grainger or Acme Tools or some other "contractor grade" tool shop.

the guy at the Starbucks downstairs, my sister's ex boyfriend, and the former Detroit mayor.

I have a set of Craftsman tools that were passed down to me from my dad, who got them from someone else, so these tools are probably fifty years old. They've held up well considering their age. I don't think they were originally purchased as a set, and I haven't counted the pieces, but I haven't found anything that I couldn't tackled with this set. Well, maybe not take a steering wheel off a car.

My favorite tool at the moment is something that's actually nothing new or interesting. It's a Dremel electric screwdriver. It came with a cordless Dremel tool that I really don't use all that often. There's nothing special about it, but it is useful.

Harbor Freight is a great source for a super cheap set of picks like the ones Elewis mentions. That's the kind of stuff it's really hard to screw up and there's no point paying for a name label.

I have a bitchin' Steel City drill press (6" quill travel!). I thought they used to make Craftsman tools but decided to release under their own name.

Other stuff I love:
Jet tablesaw
Jet mini lathe (12"x20")
Bosch jigsaw
Bosch router, plunge and fixed base
Miller 251 MIG welder
Ridgid wood planer
Grizzly jointer
Ridgid 18v cordless drill

Wish list:
Plasma cutter
Better wood bandsaw than the one I picked up off craigslist

LiquidMantis wrote:

Harbor Freight is a great source for a super cheap set of picks like the ones Elewis mentions. That's the kind of stuff it's really hard to screw up and there's no point paying for a name label.

I hesitate to agree. I've heard the same claims made about screwdrivers, until I tried a cheap one that was made from such bad metal that the head rounded itself off instead of the screw.

I have a couple of tool sets lying around the house. One is pretty much the standard handyman's set of tools. Screwdrivers, a hammer, some sockets and the like, plus a halfway decent Black & Decker cordless drill. Not the best I've ever used, but it gets the job done. After that, I have a set of Stanley sockets/wrenches. That's pretty much the sum total of my tools.

On the list of things I'd like to have, first and foremost is a 10" mitre saw. I could do nearly all of the little projects around the house I want with that thing. Beyond that, a drill press would be nice, along with things like a table saw, circular saw and a drill press. The only issue with all of this is that I do like quality things that will last, yet don't have anywhere near the money to put up for it

LiquidMantis wrote:

I have a bitchin' Steel City drill press (6" quill travel!). I thought they used to make Craftsman tools but decided to release under their own name.

I only know what the guys at woodcraft told me, which is they were an offshoot from a couple of companies.

Picks are something I really need to get my hand on. I've wanted some about a thousand times in the last 2 months.

Oh and my Steel City table was is a 3HP model (220v power only) w/ table extension so it's 80" overall from side to side. It's great for layout and working with sheets of 4x8.

IMAGE(http://images.absoluteastronomy.com/images/encyclopediaimages/l/lo/lockpicks.jpg)

Quintin Stone is a tool.

Paleocon wrote:

IMAGE(http://images.absoluteastronomy.com/images/encyclopediaimages/l/lo/lockpicks.jpg)

Definitely a fun set of tools - and I've actually used mine for real - twice. (Both times were locks where the keys had been lost - easy cheap stuff.)

Paleocon wrote:

IMAGE(http://images.absoluteastronomy.com/images/encyclopediaimages/l/lo/lockpicks.jpg)

Could you send those to my buddy Zevran? That A-hole can't pick a lock to save his life.

Talking about Harbor Freight, I have a wet tile saw from there that I've used to do several projects at my house, and have loaned it out to a friend to do a few projects. Can't beat it for the price and performance. It's a really well made tool, and I highly recommend it if you're going to be doing any tile work.

IMAGE(http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/photos/95300-95399/95385.gif)

IMAGE(http://cache.gizmodo.com/assets/resources/2007/04/sonic_screwdriver_hand.jpg)

On a serious note, I tend to buy when I need.

For around the house, you need a good drill and driver. Cordless is nice. A full set of drill bits.

You need a framing and a tack hammer-big one and little one.

Adjustable wrenches-or a full crescent and socket set.
A large pipe wrench(monkey wrench).

And a full set of Hex wrenches.

Of all the things I have in the garage, it is rare anything other than these get used. And more often, the exotic stuff gets lost so I need to re-buy anyway.

Spellcheck!

Spend money where it makes sense. If you're going to be using a tool for years to come, it's worth spending some cash to get something that's a pleasure to use and built to last. If you're going to use a tool rarely or once, get the cheapo version. Cordless drill: Worth spending money on. Tub drain dumbbell wrench: Hello Harbor Freight.

Just stay away from anything Black & Decker. There's a reason they generally sell for the lowest price in any given category. I've owned several pieces of their hardware over the years, and all of them either died quickly or didn't work for crap in the first place.

Meanwhile, the corded drill that I inherited from my grandfather is still going strong even after much use/abuse. It's actually J.C. Penny branded, which means it has be pretty elderly at this point. I'll be using it until it dies or I do.

We need a new cordless drill. Suggestions?

Quintin_Stone wrote:

We need a new cordless drill. Suggestions?

I'm a big fan of Dewalt, Porter Cable is also good. With either I would go no lower than 18volt, but I'm a typical American male bigger is better right?!?

For cordless tool batteries what makes for good battery charging hygein? Ours tend to get weaker over time and hold less of a charge. I've heard that letting the power drain completely is Bad and damages the battery. Is that true?

On a less serious note, I only trust two tools, screwdrivers, one of which I made in 7th grade.
IMAGE(http://lh6.ggpht.com/_sEBhAGuygFg/SwtsanOUj7I/AAAAAAAABQg/1mXBJ48v03Q/s400/screwdrivers.jpg)

Tigerbill wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

We need a new cordless drill. Suggestions?

With either I would go no lower than 18volt, but I'm a typical American male bigger is better right?!?

I just bought a new house so I've been spending way more time than I should be at Lowes and Home Depot. One of the first things I wanted was some decent tools to do stuff around the house and I wanted cordless. DeWalt and some of the other big names make some really nice tools, but they also tend to be crazy expensive. They're mostly contractor grade so if you want to drop the coin you really can't go wrong. I was on a budget and just needed something for basic home use so I ended up picking up this Ryobi 18v 4 piece set and have to say I've been enjoying using them. I've used the driver almost non-stop hanging up shades, blinds, ceiling fans, pictures, etc. It's got 2 modes for driving or drilling and the trigger pressure controls the rate of the spin which is nice. Part of the basement is unfinished and one of the little rooms will make an excellent gaming computer/man-cave room so I bought a stack of 2x4's and have been busy with the circular saw as I do the framing. The circular saw is a bit smaller than I expected, but the blade is just big enough to cut the 2x4's. I haven't had a chance to try the reciprocating saw just yet. And the flashlight.. well, it's a flashlight.

For the framing, since I had to drill into the concrete for the tapcon anchors, I also ended up getting the Ryobi hammer drill as well which uses the same battery. Drills into the concrete like butter. They have a whole suite of cordless tools that all use the same batteries

Tamren wrote:

For cordless tool batteries what makes for good battery charging hygein? Ours tend to get weaker over time and hold less of a charge. I've heard that letting the power drain completely is Bad and damages the battery. Is that true?

Interesting, I always heard you were supposed to completely drain batteries before charging them. Anyway, this set uses Lithium Ion batteries (and many of the newer cordless tools do) which is a pretty interesting battery. It doesn't start getting slower and slower as the power drains, somehow it maintains full strength right until it dies. It's a little odd to have your drill or saw just suddenly stop, but in a way it's nice to not have the cutting or drilling speed start to get slooooow as the battery goes. Because of that many of the larger batteries come with a button you can press that will give you a charge indicator so you can see when it's getting low. As far as I'm aware you can pop these on the charger at anytime without worrying about draining it first. The downside is these batteries are pretty expensive if you want to buy extras. The larger batteries go for around $90/each. Though, I've been fine just using the one the set came with. Only time it sucks is when I have the tools spread all over the house and have to go hunting for the one that has the battery so I can use it in the tool I need at that time.

-edit-
Oh, and one other nifty toy I picked up was this Gator Grip socket head. I had this bulky 30 piece socket kit that I used to lug around and this one little socket head replaced the entire kit.

IMAGE(http://www.thummer.com/blog/uploaded_images/GatorGrip-723201.jpg)

The little pins push in so it will basically fit any size or shape bolt or screw. No more messing around trying out multiple sockets until you finally find one that fits.

Interesting, how durable are the pins?

Quintin_Stone wrote:

We need a new cordless drill. Suggestions?

I got a Ryobi 5 piece cordless tool set, which comes with a drill. I've used it consistantly in the past couple months since I moved into my new house and so far I've been pleased. Haven't used it for any heavy duty drilling though.

I forgot to mention the hammerdrill part; they are definitely worth it if you plan on working with concrete or masonry.

Tamren wrote:

Interesting, how durable are the pins?

Haven't given it a whole lot of use yet, but it seems pretty durable. It may have a little trouble if the bolt head is too small to push in the pins and grip it. There's a few different sizes to help with that though. It was like $15 at WalMart so I figured what the heck. I read something where they gave it to a skeptical mechanic who thought he would break it within a few days and it apparently impressed him. The only thing that didn't work too well was when he tried it on an impact gun. The other downside is despite the size of the thing the pins only push in about 1/2 inch, so for a protruding bolt that you really need to apply some torque a regular old deep socket may be better. I guess a good portion of the size is to house the springs inside it.

Vega wrote:
Tamren wrote:

For cordless tool batteries what makes for good battery charging hygein? Ours tend to get weaker over time and hold less of a charge. I've heard that letting the power drain completely is Bad and damages the battery. Is that true?

Interesting, I always heard you were supposed to completely drain batteries before charging them. Anyway, this set uses Lithium Ion batteries (and many of the newer cordless tools do) which is a pretty interesting battery.

Actually it depends. The older batteries, Nickel-based and the like, need to be completely drained every now and then. You can even take a battery that has lost a lot of its charge and recondition it by charging it and discharging it several times.

Lithium batteries, however, don't like being discharged. Quality can vary a lot, but in general you can think of them as having a finite number of discharges in them. It is best to try to recharge them by the time they get to 20% full or so. This is a big reason why phones always get so insistent and annoying about needing to be recharged, even though they (mine at least) can keep going for a long time after they start warning you.

Another downside to Lithium batteries is that they don't hold their charge as well as Nickel. Storing a lithium batter at full juice will significantly drain it (not only its temporary capacity, but its permanent capacity) Wikipedia says that they will be sapped at around 20% a year.

It's best to store them with around a 40% charge, if you are really concerned about it (zombie preparedness perhaps?) refrigerating them in storage will also let them last longer.

Yonder wrote:
Vega wrote:
Tamren wrote:

For cordless tool batteries what makes for good battery charging hygein? Ours tend to get weaker over time and hold less of a charge. I've heard that letting the power drain completely is Bad and damages the battery. Is that true?

Interesting, I always heard you were supposed to completely drain batteries before charging them. Anyway, this set uses Lithium Ion batteries (and many of the newer cordless tools do) which is a pretty interesting battery.

Storing a lithium batter at full juice will significantly drain it (not only its temporary capacity, but its permanent capacity)

So then it's bad to just leave the Lithium Ion batteries sitting in their charger until I need them?

Quintin_Stone wrote:

We need a new cordless drill. Suggestions?

I'm a big fan of Milwaukee in the drill department. I got a 14.4V to replace a dying Skil 18V (I know, I know), and it just blows the previous drill out of the water. And I've used a Milwaukee hammer drill before; relative to other drills, this one practically pulled you through concrete, and you were just along for the ride. A bit on the expensive side, but very high-quality stuff. I've had better luck with Ryobi for sanders than anything else; their drills haven't really impressed me.

Vega wrote:
Yonder wrote:
Vega wrote:
Tamren wrote:

For cordless tool batteries what makes for good battery charging hygein? Ours tend to get weaker over time and hold less of a charge. I've heard that letting the power drain completely is Bad and damages the battery. Is that true?

Interesting, I always heard you were supposed to completely drain batteries before charging them. Anyway, this set uses Lithium Ion batteries (and many of the newer cordless tools do) which is a pretty interesting battery.

Storing a lithium batter at full juice will significantly drain it (not only its temporary capacity, but its permanent capacity)

So then it's bad to just leave the Lithium Ion batteries sitting in their charger until I need them?

That depends on how often you need them, and how much notice you have before you need them. It's significant in the long term (20% a year, depending greatly on temp) but in the short term you won't notice. If you need the item every few weeks, you don't have a chance to fully charge it again when you need it, or you don't really need the battery to be at full capacity anyways (you don't use it for long periods, or have a second battery you can swap between) then it probably isn't worth the hassle to worry about it too much.