A tool is a tool is a tool. But add some bell or whistle to that tool, and it immediately becomes a must-have item. At least the marketing people must think so.
As David DeCristoforo noted in his blog (http://blog.woodshopnews.com/tbaw/?p=54), lasers are on the A-list of gimmicks to add to woodworking tools. Laser on a miter saw or circular saw – that can be useful. Laser on a hand saw, no thanks.
I occasionally have a difficult time drilling 90-degree holes with a cordless drill, so when I saw a new drill that had a built-in bubble level I jumped at it. It proved to be nearly worthless. For a bubble level in a drill to work like it’s supposed to, the workpiece must be perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical; sometimes it is, but most often it’s not. Besides, it’s generally better to be looking at the business end of the drill while drilling – you know, the end with the sharp thing that’s spinning – not at a bubble level mounted elsewhere on the tool. Might as well drill blindfolded.
On the other hand, the laser attachment I added to my drill press is waymo cool. Once adjusted it worked perfectly, and I find it a very handy thing to have. Gimmick to be sure, but I’m really glad I bought it.
So, my question to you is two-fold. What’s the most worthless gimmick you’ve ever seen added to a woodworking tool, and what’s the most useful one you’ve ever seen? No brand names, please, just the gimmicky idea itself.
Till next time,