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The Tool You Use The Most, Hand Or Power.

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Gibson Victory, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Gibson Victory

    Gibson Victory Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2019
    Maybe this topic has been covered elsewhere, If so I obviously stand to be corrected. So I am putting this out there to anyone who has ever built from scratch, assembled from purchased parts, done a fair amount or repairs etc. What is the ONE tool you could not live without. Please just pick ONE, and give it some thought, like if your shop or garage caught on fire, or if someone broke in and “appropriated” everything. What would be the first thing you would replace?
  2. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Sand paper.

    Sanding is never finished.
    Jason Hollar, Remyd, Durham52 and 8 others like this.
  3. rudy4444


    Mar 13, 2012
    Central Illinois
    For me, absolutely, hands-down, beyond the shadow of a doubt (...drum roll please...) The Wagner Safe-T-Planer or at least the import knock-off of the same. I actually have a small collection of the originals, extra replacement cutters, and the aforementioned import knock-off.
  4. Gibson Victory

    Gibson Victory Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2019
    Great reply’s , Keep them coming! Forgot that I could actually respond to my own topic (that’s what happens if you let old guys join this thing) I would say hands down it would be my Bandsaw. Craftsman 12 in. I do believe, newer than the King-Sealy era, but not the latest or greatest. The old gal and I have done some pretty crazy things. Works very well. Bought it off a guy that was trying to get some type of manufacturing thing going. The saw was not assembled correctly, no wonder they were having problems. Yikes!
  5. Gibson Victory

    Gibson Victory Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2019
    AMEN! On the Sandpaper! I remember when all you could get for “wood” was Garnet Paper. Things have come a long way over the years. I believe from time to time I keep the Norton Abrasive Company in business!
  6. chinjazz

    chinjazz Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Atlantic Beach, FL
    I think I use straight edges the most. From small machinist square to longer aluminum/rules for neck relief/straightness... If those are categorized as tools :)
    rojo412 and Gibson Victory like this.
  7. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Yep, sandpaper.
    I am a woodwright by trade, I have a shop full of tools both hand and power.

    Gibson Victory likes this.
  8. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Commercial User

    Feb 4, 2011
    Fillmore, CA
    Professional Luthier
    Files. I couldn't operate my shop without them. In the woodworking side, I do more shaping and smoothing of wood with files than with sandpaper. In the machine shop, the lathes and mills chop away most of the metal, but almost every part still gets final cleanup with hand files.
    Gibson Victory likes this.
  9. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Power: I feel like the ROUTER is so vital. Whether it's mounted to a table, put into a jig, or just by hand, it's always something I'm reaching for and I don't know if I could do what I need to do without one (or 2).

    Hand: Definitely a tie between sanding and straight edges.
    I have a slew of hand-made sanding blocks of various sizes to flatten and shape things. Can't trust the RO to make something perfectly flat.
    And straight lines are so important, so there's always some kind of ruler or square nearby.
    dwizum and Gibson Victory like this.
  10. Gibson Victory

    Gibson Victory Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2019
    Loved the reply on the Straight Edge! Yep it’s a tool and a great one! Tomorrow I am going to check out my tool stash and see if I still have one of my old “General Brand” 12 in rulers which has some really fine graduations on it. Don’t even know if they make them anymore. Back in 62’-63’ I used it to make my first Bass Fretboard. Long division on pencil and paper to determine fret spacing etc. This was “Rotary” dial phone days. Lucky I am still alive.
    lucas303 likes this.
  11. Gibson Victory

    Gibson Victory Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2019
    A double Amen on the files reply for sure! However if the garage was on fire, I still think I would roll my Bandsaw out first, followed by my Oscillating Spindle Sander, then go back for the files. Wait, maybe I should just put out the fire in the first place, and save a bunch of work! Just kidding, GREAT REPLYS! KEEP THEM COMING!
  12. I'd have a hard time picking one tool, but files and card scraper are at the top on the non-powered side. Powered I'd have to go with a router. Those are hard choices though as I use other tools frequently, I guess those are the ones that I enjoy using too.
    Gibson Victory likes this.
  13. dwizum


    Dec 21, 2018
    Unquestionably the router, in terms of power tools. A router is such a jack-of-all trades. So many uses:

    - make templates
    - shape bodies and other parts to a template - either finishing a rough cut to the template, or even just rough cutting the part straight to a finished shape
    - make jigs useful with any power or hand tool, including making jigs to use with the router itself
    - route control cavities, pickup cavities, etc
    - do joinery (dovetails, straight mortise and tenons, etc) with templates and jigs
    - true up joints
    - thickness stock in a planing jig
    - joint stock in a planing jig
    - truss rod channels! Even ones with curved bottoms and blind stops!
    - binding channels!
    - roundovers, bevels, and other shapes
    - radius a fingerboard
    - cut fret slots (probably not the best tool for the job, but possible)
    - rough profile a carved top body
    - add cool little carved details, like PRS-style knob recesses
    - cut nut slots for an acoustic bridge
    - shape and profile an acoustic bridge

    Some of these things are not ideal with a router, but definitely possible, and I don't think any other power tool even comes anywhere close in terms of versatility. You could buy rough lumber and make an entire bass with no power tools except a router, and a few hand tools (straightedge, files and rasps, hand drill, saws).
  14. Lizooki


    Feb 24, 2008
    Pencils and sanding blocks.
    You can never have enough of either.
    To that end I guess I'll have to add the combo/belt sander.
    Drill press gets a lot of love also.

    The problem is, there are several things I use a specific tool for.
    Example: I use four different squares, but each one is used for a different purpose.
    And one is rarely used.( big t-square)
  15. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    I’d have to say router for power tools. I recently got a new PC router, just the fixed base, I’ve never owned a plunge base router. I hadn’t realized just how bad my old Craftsman had gotten (runout, worn bearings, vibration, etc. ) until I got the PC. Smooth and relatively quiet by comparison. I can’t say I have a favorite hand tool, I have all the basics, and a few special tools for fretwork. I only recently “discovered” card scrapers, still trying to master getting a consistent hooked edge on it. The one tool I really need now is a decent set of nut files, they seem outrageously overpriced, but it is what it is......
  16. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    My welder. Second would be my chop saw.
  17. dvs20


    Mar 11, 2007
    mantua, OH
    10mm socket.... If I could find it
    Gilmourisgod, nice_hat, wraub and 3 others like this.
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    the most basic tool I have to have is the screw driver
  19. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I'm getting thrown by the difference between the questions posed in the thread title and the first post.
    1. The tool you use the most hand or power?
    2. What is the one tool you could not live without?

    The answer to the first question would be my files hands down. I use files to shape so many things, from jigs and templates to joinery to final shaping. I could even force that down to a single file if made to. :D

    The answer to the second question would be a router. It makes so many thing easier and faster that I might not even bother to make guitars if I couldn't access one (I'd make do with a hand router). I'm getting old and don't have tons of available time on my hands, so being able to use a router is essential or I'd practically never finish an instrument. There are just so many operations in which you can use one. :)
  20. Beej


    Feb 10, 2007
    Victoria, BC
    I bet you I have a dozen 10mm sockets...and can't find a single g'damned one... :smug:
    David Jayne, Gibson Victory and wraub like this.

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