Oct 182013

Tim and I would probably not agree on our favorite tools as Tim always seemed to favor noisy power tools whereas I tend toward quiet ones. I realize that chop saws, table saws, power drills, routers, palm sanders, etc. have their place. But, a good hand tool is a thing of beauty and often of very intelligent design, has a long history and is pleasure to work with or hold in your hand.

I made a list of some of my favorite tools of the past year and why they were important to me:

Gimlet set: Usually comes in a set of four. It’s a hand drill for making a pilot hole or gaining purchase for a cup hook or hanging a picture. I read somewhere that in Colonial times entire houses were built using the gimlet. When you are making a single hole it’s a lot easier to get the gimlet than to get out the power drill.

Jaw Horse: I’ve used this so many times in the past year. It really grips stuff so you can clamp it, glue up, saw it, carve it, sand it or do what ever. Comes with attachment that will hold logs as well as one for full sheets of plywood.

Steam juicer: Live juices are no doubt healthier than cooked and canned juices but when you have lots of apples or berries to deal with a steam juicer is a pretty handy tool which allows you to make some juice and also creates pulp that can be used for jams and jellies. It’s more fun and tastier to use a cider press but I think you need a pick up truck load of apples to make the cider press worthwhile. We like pressing cider but the clean up is tedious and it’s usually cold when you do the pressing and cleaning up is a cold, wet job. The steam juicer can be efficiently used for small batches, is done inside on the stove top and is easy to clean up. We made quite a few quarts of apple juice plus lots of apple butter using the steam juicer.

Aeropress coffee maker: Makes one cup of coffee at a time. You need to grind some beans and heat some water. Takes about a minute and the coffee is consistently the same with each cup. It’s small, travels well and is inexpensive. Makes a better cup of coffee than a French press or Eva Solo coffee maker.

Narrow collinear hoe: Bought one after a tour of the Loganita gardens where they used this hoe to “floss” between and around plants. It’s a brilliant tool which can be used with surgical precision. Perfect for the anally retentive gardener. I have two. One has a three and a half inch blade. The other has a seven inch blade. Both are narrow with long handles allowing your to hoe without bending. Both use a scraping motion like a hula hoe. But, they work better than a hula hoe. I do sharpen them from time to time.

Two wheeled wheelbarrow: Don’t know why anyone uses a wheel barrow with single wheels. The argument is that you can’t maneuver it into tiny spaces. I rarely have a problem navigating mine with two wheels down garden paths or in between rows. Whatever disadvantage exists is offset by the fact that they never tip over and you can move them with only one hand. One of my most important tools.

Silky pruning saw: When it’s too much trouble to get the chain saw out and put on all the protective gear just grab your Silky saw and start sawing. Amazingly efficient on limbs up to six to eight inches. Great for pruning any size limb. Couldn’t be without this tool. I have a spare blade on hand to replace my saw if it ever wears out.

Post puller: Just a big lever but invaluable if you have to pull any metal posts that you’ve use for fencing. Had to redo our orchard fences which meant pulling 48 posts. Thirty dollars well-spent. I’ve pulled narrow diameter wood posts well (like the ones you use to stake trees).

Kuhn Rikon knives: Amazing knives. Colorful. Inexpensive.

Carving Chisels: I’ve got some nice carving tools but I’ve found this really cheap ($17) set from Harbor Freight to be very useful for a variety of tasks. They are so cheap I bought two and don’t have to worry about them like you do with expensive chisels.

I’m always interested in learning about other people’s favorite tools.

Chime in please.


  6 Responses to “Tim The Tool Man”

  1. Yes!!!!!!!!!! on the aeropress, though you can make up to 4 single-shot coffees with it. Easy clean, fast, astonishingly good design.

    Post puller – absolutely essential for those of us who keep pounding t-posts etc into the ground, let them iron-bind with the soil & then need to move them 😉

    carving gauges, sharpening stones etc: I’m developing quite a set, even learning how to sharpen properly and use them much more efficiently.

    Favorite power tool: Our small Kubota tractor/mower/tiller/hauler/digger etc

  2. Wynne, how about a Country Living workshop on how to use those sharpening stones and gauges?

  3. I’ll take the saw, (I am in immediate need of one) the wheel barrow (mine has had it) and I wish I could try out the steamer. Would love to make juice from the apple tree in our yard. How does it work on grapes? Also think you may have just solved by Christmas gift giving problem with the man. He is always getting me out to hold something he needs to cut or glue.


  4. @ Susan. I haven’t tried it yet but it is supposed to work on grapes and berries. Make sure you get the Rockwell jaw horse. There is another brand that doesn’t work as well. Got that one by mistake and had to return it.

  5. I’d guess I might be ready to show & tell re: sharpening w/stones … after I get good enough to be reliable myself. Probably another month, after I get back from a carving class I’m taking Nov 9-16.

    Better yet, put out a call on NextDoor. Bet there are lots of folks with years of experience with *way* more expertise than I have.


  6. Truly marvelous 5-min video on making a rocking chair with handtools. Pretty neat. Now here’s a real transition skill! Boggles my mind.


 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>