Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to start figuring out what the woodworker on your list really wants. That’s not always easy, especially if you’re not experienced in the craft yourself. As you’ve probably noticed, most woodworker’s have strongly held opinions about what counts as worthwhile woodworking equipment, but they don’t always make clear what it is exactly that separates the good from the acceptable from the outright undesirable.
We'd like to help you get started, and that's why each year we put together our Holiday Gift Guide, where you'll find something for woodworkers of all skill levels and interests. But if you’re still puzzling over the myriad of woodworking gift possibilities, here are a few tips and best bets in various price ranges, beginning with the modest “stocking-stuffer”.
(Editor's note: please notice the date of this posting - sale prices mentioned may no longer be in effect.)
Gifts Under $10
In the “gifts under $10” range, you could hardly go wrong with a pocket sized diamond sharpening stone that comes with its own leather pouch. The 1" x 3" fine-grit stone is perfect for touching up the edge on everything from router bits to kitchen knives. It makes a great jobsite companion, and would be especially appreciated by a woodworker/outdoorsman type. A patented process produces these diamond matrix stones and insures that the sharpening surface will stay flat, very sharp and ready for use for years.
If you have a cabinetmaker who’s set up for spray finishing on your list, we can’t think of a better stocking stuffer than a couple of Sure Hook 360 tool-less cabinet door hangers. This Rockler exclusive has been a huge success since the day it hit the market, and consistently wins glowing customer reviews, like this one from professional remodeler Bill Nunez:
"One of my roles as a remodeling contractor is cabinet builder, and I've forever been trying to figure out how to fabricate something like this to allow me to spray both sides of a door without leaving marks or making holes in the workpiece. These are a dream come true.
There's nothing I'd change about them based on my first use yesterday to spray 30 doors...To whoever figured out how to make these things affordably, thank you, thank you, thank you!"
(Right now, the Sure Hook is more affordable than ever. You can pick up a starter set of three without pushing past the $10 mark.)
$10 - $20
The Four Foot T-Track Kit is once again our top pick in the $10 – $20 range. Here an understanding of the woodworker’s mentality may be required. The T-Track Kit may strike the uninitiated as an un-giftlike box of miscellaneous hardware, but to the average woodworker, it’s a treasure trove of future shop-built jigs and fixtures. We could go into detail on diverse uses woodworker’s everywhere find for this stuff, but we couldn’t give you a better idea of how much they like it than you’ll get from the T-Track Kit’s 77 customer reviews.
Also in the $20-or-less category, we’d like to suggest any of three Crown Tools angle measuring devices. All woodworkers need to measure and mark angles on a regular basis, and with a Crown Try Square, Try-Miter Square or T-Bevel, they’ll do it in classic style. With solid brass rub plates, handsome rosewood handles, hardened steel blades and unsurpassed accuracy, these woodworking standards make common angle-measuring and marking operations a pleasure to perform.
The All-In-One Clamp Guide is great place to start in the $20 to $50 gift range. This popular tool is something that just about any woodworker can use, but woodworkers with limited shop space and tool collections tend to be the clamp guide’s biggest fans. It gives them an easy, accurate way to achieve professional-quality cutting and routing results on larger materials - without having to own an industrial-sized shop. Craig Maynard sums up the benefits in his review of the 50” All-In-One:
“This all in one clamping guide is the best guide that I have ever used with a circular saw or router. With the 50" Clamp and a circular saw I can now cut a sheet of plywood perfectly straight and square. When using the clamp with a router I can put an edge on a board straight enough without any flaws that can be joined together. This clamp is one of the best tools I have invested in.”
$50 - $100 Gift Ideas
If the woodworker in your life is dropping hints about dovetail joinery equipment, have we got a deal for you. A great value at the regular price, Rockler Complete Dovetail Jig comes with everything you need (except a router and wood) to start making perfect dovetails. You get the jig, two templates, the necessary guide bushing, the three router bit you need for both half-blind and through dovetails and a detailed set of instructions. In other words, you can start cutting dovetails as soon as you take it out of the box. Best of all, with the price knocked down by a third, it’s an honored special guest in our $50 to $100 gift price range, and our top pick for the category.
When you think of really great woodworking gifts, the term “extension cord” may not spring immediately to mind. But in truth, anyone who’s spent a few too many clean-ups engaging several yards of electric cord in much the same way they would a giant python will love a cord management system that actually works. Again, our customer reviews bear this out. Here are a few thoughts on our 12 Gauge Electric Cable Reel from Mark, in Anaheim Hills, CA:
“I purchased this item for my garage. Got weary of always yanking out extension cords and then coiling them for storage after a chore. What a great feature of just reeling-in your extension cord! After my first purchase...promptly went out and bought another for work!”
A long time favorite and a gift of truly universal appeal, this extra-heavy gauge, 30’ self retracting time and hassle saver earns its usual spot as a top pick for a gift priced around $60.
Gifts for $100 or More
Once you pass the $100 mark, the sky’s the limit. But you don’t have to lug home a 700 lb. table saw to make a woodworker very, very happy. In keeping with the sense of frugality that seems likely to prevail this holiday season, we’ll stay close to the lower limit in our suggestions for the $100 plus category, beginning with our top pick: the Pack Rack Clamp and Tool Storage System.
Priced around $150, the Pack Rack neatly solves an extremely common woodshop problem: the lack of orderly and convenient clamp storage. With this robust rolling storage system, your woodworker will be able to keep a variety of the most useful woodworking clamps - along with glue, rags, dowels, biscuits, and other clamping related equipment – organized and close at hand. Every woodworker uses clamps – lots of them. In a small shop especially, a storage solution that keeps them all together and out of the way when not in use is truly something to get excited about.
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include at lest one power tool. Here’s one we think will be a big hit this season and won’t set you back too terribly much. The new Cordless Max Multi-X Tool from Bosch is a great choice for a carpenter a DIYer or just about any woodworker. This multipurpose tool performs a variety of handy functions. Built like a detail sander, the Multi-X can also be outfitted with attachments that saw, scrape and rasp in tight quarters where other power tools can go. But unlike other popular multi tools, the Multi-X is cordless and powered by the latest in lithium-ion battery technology – an interesting added convenience, we think. All in all, it’s a great tool, reasonably priced and an excellent value for the money.
Don’t see the perfect gift here? You’ll find lots more in our Holiday Gift Guide. Or, if you’re shopping for a bargain, check out the 200 plus items in the Rockler Outlet. As always, you’ll find everything a woodworker could possibly want – and this season, some especially great deals – at Rockler.