January 3, 2012

Metal bender and electric drill
Photo by Jim Ruen
I can’t wait to put my metal bender (top) and electric drill (bottom) to work in my shop.

Christmas has come and gone, leaving behind (in my case) new tools for the shop. Of course, it helps that I dog-eared the tool catalogs for my wife. That way she has a number of possible gifts across a wide range of prices.

This year, I identified a number of items that would be helpful as I set up my shop, and she came through for me. Chief among them was an attachment for my electric drill. Called an Orbiter, it will allow me drill holes at a right angle to my drill’s chuck.

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I can’t wait to try it out on wall studs, making holes for electric cable runs. It should make wiring my “shop in progress” a lot easier. Setting screws in small spaces should be easier, as well.

A second tool I received this year was a metal bender. It consists of a V-block and a breaking edge. Rare-earth magnets in each hold them in place against vise jaws or other metal surfaces. Use the V-block alone, and it turns the vise into a secure clamp for holding rods or pipes. Put a rod against one jaw and a piece of steel strap against the V-block, and you can create a U-shape. Slip both pieces over the jaws of the vise and slowly bring them together to make a bend of up to a 90 degrees in any piece of mild steel up to a thickness of 1/8-in. It will also do a dandy job crimping tubing. The bender will let me make the small bits of hardware often needed for handyman projects.

The Orbiter and the metal bender are the type of tools that really appeal to me. Each adds to the versatility of an existing tool, neither was that expensive (less than $30 each), and neither will take up much space in my compact shop. I couldn’t ask for better gifts if I tried.

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