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Preview: Best Boat Building Tools, Part 1 – Small Handheld Power Tools

November 11, 2011

Inside the Brooklin Boat Yard, master builder Eric Blake talks boat building tools and what he considers to be the wooden boat building industry’s “standard” small handheld power tools. Through hard use, some manufacturers’ boat building tools have proven better than others, and Eric talks honestly about his favorite brands in each tool type. A real money saving video if you are looking to buy just one power tool of each type and want to get it right the first time.

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– We’ve brought you today to the Brooklin Boat Yard. One of the most incredible boat building shops of custom boats and restorations on the planet. Do you want to know what are some of the best power tools to buy? If you’re walking the power tool aisle all the manufacturers make a full line of tools. We’re gonna take you inside and show you what are the best tools from each manufacturer, what are some good stationary power tools and what are some big kind of burly sawdust chipping machines. What’ll we like to use and what do you see in most boatyards around the country. This isn’t the only yard that thinks these tools rock. Every shop that I have ever worked in when you go to the tool rack for a corded drill, something that you’re cutting through a stainless plate, you just want a rugged drill, a big hole saw maybe. Every shop has a Milwaukee hole shooter like this. It’s just a rugged, you know, big half inch chuck. Nothing fancy about it. You see this is a 10 year old drill. It gets used every day at the boatyard. They’re virtually indestructible and that’s why you find them in every shop around the country. Nice handle that screws in the side for really hanging onto a big hole saw or something like that. Just a great bomb proof drill. The only jigsaw that I would ever buy is a Bosch. Why? Because they’ve been the jigsaw choice in every boatyard I’ve ever worked in. There are two different styles of jigsaws that Bosch makes and a lot of manufacturers make. One is called a barrel grip and basically the switch is on the side and you’re holding the barrel. This is good for getting in tight spaces, maybe between drawers or something if you’re trying to cut something out. But the old standby Bosch D handle jigsaw, is a workhorse. It doesn’t have a lot of fancy gadgets for, you know, there isn’t levers to throw to tilt the base or anything. You actually have to use an Allen key. But the blade is a quick removal. There’s nothing fancy about it, there’re not lights, there’s no bells or whistles but it has been the industry standard ever since I’ve entered the industry. It’s just that they make great jigsaws. Little skill saws. This little Porter Cable, we call them trim saws. Eight times out of 10 whenever you see anyone around the yard using a skill saw they’re using one of these. They’re very thin kerf blades and they cut up to, you can cut through a two by four with them so they’re not for, you know, heavy kind of work and so forth. But cutting veneer, cutting a Okoume plywood and so forth they’re very thin kerf, very tiny cut and again just a really indestructible little tool. This is, you see these all over the boatyard. A bigger version, again made by Porter Cable, you know, a slightly bigger version here and I really like this saw, you can really see the blade well. A lot of skill saws on the market, I can’t stand them and that they’re so shrouded and probably by industry standards, you can’t see the blade when you’re holding the skill saw. And this is a saw that is actually very safe and easy to use and a great blade exposure and just a good solid little saw. Power planes. My first power plane I ever got I was jack planning this thing endlessly and my father came to visit. He’s a house builder, he said don’t you have a power plane, I said no, you know, I’ve got these old hand planes and he said oh my goodness. That year for my birthday what do I get in the mail but I get a nice new power plane. Makes quick work of shaping any wood. A lot of times if I’ve got something to rough something off, just to quickly rough something off that you can twist and kind of shape. A little three inch power plane like this is great. Again, Makita, every shop I’ve ever worked in has big and little Makita power planes. It just seems like they make a bomb proof power plane. Again, there’s nothing fancy about them, they’re just a good, solid tool that stand up and last to a lot of abuse. Heat gun is a nice thing to have around a boatyard. You know, whether you’re trying to heat up some metal parts that may be a little seized or stripping paint, maybe you’re trying to soften up some apoxie and so forth. All I’ve ever used are these Milwaukee heat guns. I mean I’ve got a little Wagner one at the house and a little kind of hardware store brand heat gun. These things really put out some serious heat and they have two, there’s a high and low heat on these things and they’re just they’re $75, $80 industrial heat gun that really kick out some heat. We use them all the time, great little heat gun. I find cordless drills especially are very much personal preference. There are very different sizes and balances. You really wanna feel them, feel the weight of them. Different voltages, you know. A lot of guys around the shop run a 14 volt drill and that it’s not a 12 volt which is kind of the bottom of the range and it’s not a 24 volt which is a big honkin’ battery. A predominant cordless drill around the Brooklin Boat Yard is a Dewalt. Everyone seems to use them. A lot of manufacturers have been coming out with lithium ion batteries, a much smaller battery pack. And therefore a much lighter tool. Milwaukee, Makita, it really is personal preference. A lot of these new drills are coming out with a little light, a little LED light when you pull the trigger and it seems like a silly thing but it really comes in handy when you’re down, you know, you don’t have such good light, you can kind of pull the trigger, the light comes on, you get your bearings and so forth. Two very good drills. This is just your standard kind of half inch chuck drill. Takes up to a half inch drill bit. With different settings for a clutch. This is a hammer drill which basically once you apply pressure on a big bit you can drive a big wooper screw with a battery drill like this. A lot of torque in something like this and people are starting to use these more and more. A long lifespan for driving big screws and so forth. I really hope you enjoyed spending some time with us here at the Brooklin Boat Yard this afternoon. Looking at some of these power tools. Later on we’re gonna dig into more of these and do some demonstrations, show you how a lot of these tools work and as new tools come to the industry that we like, we’ll throw them out there at ya. Hope this is helpful the next time you’re shopping at the tool store for a new power tool.



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