Tool 1: Super-simple sharpener
Like most woodworkers,
Dave Munkittrick relies on
sharp chisels and planes for
his livelihood. He has a large
collection of sharpening tools,
but his favorite sharpening
device is the WorkSharp system
shown here, which sharpens
chisels and plane blades
quickly with no mess. The
best part is that you don’t
need any practice to get a
The WS 2000 shown costs
$100 at home centers and
Dave Says, “I used to put off
it was such a hassle.
With this machine,
sharpening is a quick
task, not a project.”
Meet a Pro! Dave Munkittrick, Woodworker
Dave gave up his career
as a commercial pilot to
become a woodworker.
He's been building cabinets
and furniture for 20 years.
Tool 2: Costas's mini-cutter
Costas has a ton of cool
specialty tools for appliance
repairs, but his
Dremel tool is the one that
often gets him out of
binds. Costas fits his
Dremel with an abrasive
cutoff wheel to remove the
heads from stuck sheet
metal screws, cut through
Costas says, “This little
out of some
Meet a Pro! Costas Stavrou, Appliance Repair
Costas worked in his dad's
appliance shop in Cyprus
before starting his appliance
repair business in the
been at it for
Tool 3: Time-saving triangle
When Jeff Timm installs paver patios and driveways, he focuses on top-quality workmanship
in the most efficient way possible. This giant triangle is perfect because it
allows him to quickly and accurately chalk square layout lines. He could do the
same thing using the 3-4-5 triangle method, but this is faster. Just align the chalk
line with the edge of the triangle and snap the line. The triangle folds to take up
less room in the truck.
The Asquare folding triangle is available online for about $60. Search for “asquare
folding triangle.” One source is contractortools.com.
Meet a Pro! Jeff Timm, Landscaper
When Jeff isn't installing
stone and brick
doing home projects
like building a two-story
Tool 4: Jeff's boot saver
Jeff is hard on boots. Unfortunately, the dirt, gravel,
stones and pavers chew up the toe box before the rest of
the boot wears out. But he found a solution. He coats the
toes of his boots with Boot Guard, and it really works.
With a $12 investment, you can save your favorite $100
work boots from premature death. Look for Boot Guard
at a shoe store or order online at kgsbootguard.com.
Tool 5: Do-everything electrical tester
Al Hildenbrand has several
favorite tools, but the one
dearest to his heart and the
workhorse of his stable is the
Greenlee GT-95 electrical
tester. It’s durable and easy to
use. The feature that sold Al
was the ability to test for a hot
wire without the need for a
known ground. You simply
hold the tester in your hand
and touch one probe to the
wire you want to test. Push
the test button to see if the
wire is hot. The GT-95 also
features a GFCI tester, a non-contact
voltage tester and a continuity tester in addition to a digital and LED display
for reading voltage.
The GT-95 costs about $80 online, but it’s the only tester you’re likely to need.
And it’ll last a lifetime.
Meet a Pro! Al Hildenbrand, Master Electrician
Al is an electrical engineer
who, after a brief stint
behind the desk, decided
he'd rather be wiring than
computing. So he became
a master electrician and
has been wiring ever since.
Tool 6: No-scratch duster
Bill Nunn says, “Tack rags are good,
but you need to
vacuum to get a
really smooth finish.”
Bill vacuums everything before he
paints it. He thinks the brushes that
come with shop vacuums are too
stiff, though. “They can scratch the
surface and don’t pick up fine
dust.” That’s why he replaced the
dusting brush on his shop vacuum
with a horsehair brush, which he
got for $8 at a vacuum cleaner
shop. Take your hose and wand
along with you to find a brush that
fits. No vacuum cleaner shop near
you? Search online for “horsehair
vacuum cleaner brush.”
Meet a Pro! Bill Nunn, Painter
Bill owns a painting
company that specializes
in top-quality, hand-painted
finishes. He's been
painting for more than 35
Tool 7: Bill's secret to super-smooth finishes
Bill has two favorite tools for helping
him achieve a flawless finish.
One is this handy cone filter
stand Bill picked up at a paint
store many years ago. The other is
mesh socks, available at paint
stores and home centers, to strain
latex paint before using it.
Buy a strainer stand like this for
$10.50 at mcfeelys.com. Enter
“PST-0639” in the search box.
Tool 8: Terry's magic dirt drill
If you’ve ever had to run a wire or pipe under a sidewalk
or driveway, you know there aren’t many easy options.
But Terry discovered this unique tool that solves the
problem. Terry says, “The Borit tool saved
me and my customers
the expense and mess
of trenching through
gardens and busting
You can buy the tool online ($200 to $265) and
see a video of the Borit in action at borit.com.
Meet a Pro! Terry Boylan, Plumber
Before retiring to build,
tinker and help us out as a
Field Editor, Terry worked
as a master plumber for
more than 25 years.
Tool 9: Kirk's helping hand
When you use a router table or shaper to produce a decorative edge, it’s critical to
simultaneously press the board down and into the fence while you’re pushing it forward.
Kirk discovered that Board Buddies are perfect for this task. The rollers are
shaped to push in and down, and are available in three versions: clockwise, counterclockwise
and freewheeling. If you want to provide anti-kickback safety as well,
choose a one-way roller.
If you can’t find Board Buddies at a local woodworking store, look for
them online. One source is rockler.com. A set of two costs about $57; the
optional aluminum mounting track is $25.
Meet a Pro! Kirk Erickson, Woodworker
Kirk caught the carpentry
bug as a remodeler and
now applies his skills to
furniture-making and theatrical
set building. He has
a woodworking shop where
he builds furniture and
Tool 10: Les's quick cutter
Plumbers spend a lot of time cutting copper
pipe, so it’s not surprising that one of
Les’s favorite tools is a tubing cutter, but not
just any tubing cutter. The one Les likes
doesn’t require any adjusting—you just slip
it over the copper tube and spin it to cut.
You can buy the Kopex tubing
cutter shown here for $20 at
toolsdirect.com. Enter “ASP 7028”
in the search box. You’ll find similar
tubing cutters at some home
centers and hardware stores.
Keep in mind that you’ll have
to buy a separate cutter for
each size tubing.
Les says, “I’ve tried other
tubing cutters, but
they just don’t last.”
Meet a Pro! Les Zell, Master Plumber
Les has been a master
plumber for 25 years and
runs his own plumbing
business. His passion is
Tool 11: Diamond hole saw
Diamond hole saws are no secret to tile setters like Dean Sorem. But what’s
surprising is that you can buy one at home centers for as little
as $20. Diamond grits embedded in the perimeter of the
hole saw cut through tough materials like stone and porcelain
tile, making short work of what used to be a difficult
task. The 1/4-in. hole saw is really handy if you need to
drill mounting holes in tile for grab bars or other fixtures.
The bit we purchased included a guide and a bottom seal
that allows you to contain a pool of water around the bit to
keep it cool and eliminate dust.
Meet a Pro! Dean Sorem, Tile Setter
Dean graduated with a geology major,
became a remodeling
contractor, and discovered
he liked tile setting.
setting tile for
Back to Top
Tool 12: Dean's do-everything tool
This hooked knife is intended for linoleum and vinyl
flooring work, but Dean likes it for a host of other
tasks. He uses the sharp point to lift misplaced or
ill-fitting tiles, and to score backer board. He
also uses the knife to clean thin-set from
between tiles before grouting, but for this he
prefers one that’s used and dull. And at $5 a
pop for these handy knives, you really can’t
go wrong keeping a few in your toolbox.
Dean says, “I picked up the use of a
lino knife from working
alongside a seasoned