DIY Tools and Gear
Our favorite DIY tools, materials + gear.
1 / 7
Your own little factory
I had a blast playing with this Dremel Idea Builder 3D printer. The learning curve was relatively low—you need to be computer literate but you don't need to be a software engineer. Here's how it works: The raw material is a filament pulled off a spool and fed into a hot extruder. The extruder moves around laying down layer upon layer of tiny plastic thread. You can either create your own 3D image to build (plenty of free software for that), or go online and download one of the gazillion shapes other people have created and shared. The image then needs to be reformatted in the free Dremel software and saved on a memory stick or an SD card. All that's left is to plug the memory stick into the printer, follow the directions on the touch screen, and watch this modern marvel go to work. The printer can be plugged into a computer or operated over Wi-Fi as well. Everyone asks, "What practical objects can be created with a 3D printer?" But I think 3D printing is as much about learning, creating and having fun as it is about practicality. My first attempts were a monogrammed Christmas ornament for my granddaughter, a big fat letter "M" for my son (his university emblem) and this cool pencil holder for me. The spools come in many different colors and cost about $30 apiece. One spool would create about five or six of these pencil holders. A shape this size takes about 13 hours to print. This 3D40 model is available for $1,299 at online retailers or by calling Dremel at (844) 800-3736. -Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
2 / 7
A Woodworking Luxury
I use a router for most of my woodworking projects. I leave my monster 3-hp router in the router table for the big stuff and prefer to grab a compact trim router for freehand routing. I recently bought a Ridgid 18-volt Brushless Compact Router to "possibly" replace my corded model. I knew I would love not having to worry about shredding a cord or having it get hung up on a corner. But I was a little concerned that a cordless router would be top-heavy or lacking in power—I saved my receipt just in case. It turns out my worries were unfounded: The router felt balanced and comfortable in my hand, and I noticed no measurable difference in power. Setting the bit height and dialing in the depth were easy and intuitive. The on-off switch took a little getting used to, but that wasn't a deal breaker. And never having had a router with an LED light before, I found it a bonus to be able to see what I was cutting. It even has variable speed! The Ridgid 18-volt Brushless Compact Router costs $130 without the battery (the 5.0 Ah battery works best) at The Home Depot. -Andrew Zoellner, Digital Content Editor
3 / 7
No-mess Paint Lid
Painting is not my favorite chore. I'm a fan of any product that can make the job cleaner, faster and less frustrating. That's why I love this paint can lid from Shur-line. It has a spout, so there's no spilling or splashing when you pour paint into a roller pan, and the paint doesn't ooze out all over the front of the can. And never again will I have to clean out the rim before replacing the lid—hallelujah! The spout folds down, so I can still stack my cans, and the nonstick surface means latex paint drips or runs just peel right off. Reuse one for each paint job or buy enough of them to permanently replace all your steel lids. If you go that route, be sure to transfer the paint color information from the lid to the can itself. The Shur-line paint can lid costs about $3 at home centers. —Travis Larson, Senior Editor
4 / 7
Remove Stripped Nuts and Bolts
I discovered a new way to remove nuts and bolts that I've rounded over beyond all recognition. I reach for a Kobalt Steel Grip socket. Steel Grip sockets have little fingers, or cams, inside that will grab onto the most mangled surface. And the harder you turn the socket, the tighter they lock into place. The fingers also grab onto a nut or bolt like a magnet, which is perfect for getting bolts started in hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. When I change the oil on my truck, I use one to prevent my oil drain plug from dropping down into a slimy pool of dirty oil. These sockets don't like impact drivers (I wrecked one that way), so they won't replace your standard set of sockets, but $15 for an eight-piece set is a small price to pay if it gets you out of even one jam. The Kobalt Steel Grip sockets are available at Lowe's. —Josh Risberg, Lead Carpenter See more Tips for Loosening Nuts, Bolts and Screws.
5 / 7
A New Sawhorse, Fat on Features
When I was a siding installer, my crew used to pull out and pack up at least six sawhorses every day. The metal folding sawhorses we used worked OK, but they were finger pinchers, the feet were weak and tended to fold over under heavy loads, and the legs flopped out when you hauled the sawhorses around. This new pony from DeWalt doesn't have any of those problems. The feet are tough and have slip-resistant pads. The legs fold out easily and lock into place. And unlike other folding sawhorses, the DeWalt features a top with a V-groove for cutting pipes. The pad at the end prevents boards from slipping while you cut them to length, and the top metal bar works great for clamping. But what I like best is that you can strap two together and carry them as one. Each DWST1115 sawhorse is rated at 1,000 lbs. and costs about $40 at some home centers and hardware stores. —Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
6 / 7
An Innovative Multi-tool
This new Gerber Center-Drive multi-tool has a straight knife, a serrated knife and a bunch of other cool gadgets. But there are two features that make this multi-tool stand out: the pliers is spring loaded ... nice! And the driver folds and locks into place at the center axis of the tool instead of being offset like it is with most multi-tool drivers. That makes turning a bolt or screw a lot less awkward. There are Phillips and flathead bits onboard (one of each), and 12 other handy bits that stow away in the sheath. You can buy a Gerber Center-Drive multi-tool online or at sporting goods shops for $100.
7 / 7
Protect Your Projects
The Rockler Silicone Project Mat is the perfect surface for gluing small projects. Excess glue drains into the little grooves instead of pooling and getting smeared all over. When you're done, the dried glue just peels right off. The silicone also holds your board or project in place while you sand or rout it. And it's super soft, so it won't scuff finished parts. Buy this mat now.
Originally Published: August 03, 2017