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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tools, oh the joy

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I imagine most model railroaders like tools. One of the reasons for having a model railroad, is to use those little jewels. One of the lessons I learned from my Dad was to buy good tools. They never let you down.

So, I thought it might be interesting to share my experiences with tools for the layout. To start it off, I will share three things I have learned or discovered as highly useful during my layout benchwork phase:

1 - The Black and Decker dust buster battery powered vacuum is my most used tool, next to my electric drill. $35 at Walmart By the way, it keeps my wife much happier with the condition of my train room. (I had to buy her one for the kitchen too.)

2 - I have read that cutting 3/4 ply with a sabre saw is cake, well never in my life was it. My old Cheap, Skill 35 special beat me to death cuting anything and it was never straight or square, in any direction! So, last week, at HD, I looked over their selection an decided to try a Bosch 1587AVS and WOW! Where has this saw been all my life! And, it cam with a free orbital sander too boot, about $140. Cutting 3/4 is like cutting on a band saw. Nice, smooth, no flopping around.

3 - Been using dremels and die grinders for 30 years, could not live without them, wore a couple of dremels out and use my big Makita for bigger jobs. Then I saw the new Dremel Lithium ION Cordless, put a chuck on it and it is a very useful tool, especially when nailing track, I can easily pre-drill holes to push nails into even the most subborn hardwood. Just like your old dremel, but with no Cord! HD 70 bucks. This is a very handy tool!

4 - I am a bit of a tool nut, so when I was told about Xuron nippers, I purchased a new pair right then. I received the obligatory "these are for cutting rail ONLY" speech. OK, I said. Well, these 'dikes' are about as sharp and precision set of side cutters I've ever owned, so it only took a few days for me to abandon my other dikes. (For that one person on the planet who does not know, dikes is slang for diagonal side cutting pliers.)

Remembering the admonition to only use on rail, I started wondering if these were actually kinda cheap pliers that would quickly dull and loose their effectiness at cutting rail. So, I bought a second set and put them in the tool box over a year ago as a 'spare' to be used when the first pair became sloppy at cutting rail. Well, the new pair is still in the package. Brand spankin new!

I use my Xuron rail nippers for everything BUT cutting spring steel and if I think it might be like spring steel I don't use them, meaning I don't cut nails, screws or the like. But I have cut a few thousand pieces of wire, flash, pulled rail nails, even clipped my toenails, ((just kidding)! ;;)

So, I shared some of my new tool choices and discoveries with you, how about sharing yours with us? You can do that by adding a comment to this entry!


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