DIY Tools and Gear
Our favorite DIY tools, materials + gear.
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
A Woodworking Luxury
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
No-mess Paint Lid
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
Check out this Mess-Free House Painting Hack.
Remove Stripped Nuts and Bolts
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
A New Sawhorse, Fat on Features
—Mark Petersen, Associate Editor