The most recent special edition of the Make: Newsletter asked readers: What is your favorite tool? We got some fantastic responses, many with photographs, from makers all over the world. These are just a few of them. Thanks to all our newsletter subscribers, to everyone who responded, and especially to those of you who sent pictures, links, and stories.
Got a favorite tool of your own to share? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modified Benchmade pocketknife - Paul Shemeta, Diggit Garden Tools
"I carved a bottle opener on the back edge, and quite by accident turned it into a one-handed opener. When you unclip it from your pocket, the hook catches on the edge seam, opening the blade. It also closes with one hand using the unlock button. Expensive but worth every penny."
Leatherman Squirt "Warranty Voider," Maker Shed - Kent Barnes
"I may sound like I am preaching to the choir, but when Leatherman appeared, the early models were all so big. The Voider fits on my key chain. I think a great tool is one you love so much you carry it with you every day, and use it almost every day too."
Leatherman Sidekick - Brandon Peele, artisan, EVR1
"The smallest / lightest / most pocket-contoured of the full-function Leathermans, and the only one light enough for the pocket. Carry it with me everywhere and use it everyday. Great for basic repairs, leather and wood working. Highly recommended.
Tracer, probe, and punchdown tool - John Ervin
"Either my tone generator and probe or my punchdown tool. The tone generator is an old Progressive Electronics (they are probably made by a different company now) Tracer 2 and the probe (or inductive amplifier, if you prefer) is a 200EP. The punch down tool is a Fluke D814."
Modified Vise-Grips locking pliers - Bruce Gray, sculptor, brucegray.com
"If you've ever tried holding ball bearings in pliers before, you know it is a huge hassle; most of the time the bearing goes shooting across the room. I welded a couple of nuts on to some Vise-Grips, and now they very easily pick up and hold spheres. I made 2 sizes. I use them all the time."
Cross-peen hammer - Curt Welch, Ayr Hill Forge
"I have thousands of tools and love them all, but I'd have to say my
favorite is my 3.3lb Swedish pattern cross-peen hammer! Hey, I'm a blacksmith these days, what do you expect? I bought this hammer a few years back from John Elliott of Blacksmith Supply, LLC."
Montezuma "Portable" Toolbox - Jonathan Spira, Three Lions Garage
"These toolboxes are marvels of clever engineering and design. Though there ain't nothin' 'portable' about this bad boy when it's fully loaded. It weighs 87 pounds before you add a single socket! Its capacity exceeded even my ridiculously extensive selection of tools."
Shop-built hydraulic press - Kurt Mottweiler, Mottweiler Studio
"A pneumatic cylinder from the shop part collection serves the return stroke function typically provided by springs in this design.
I originally intended the cylinder to also provide a faster coarse movement on the up stroke but limitations in the bottle jack cause issues."
Shop-built vacuum degasser - Kurt Mottweiler, Mottweiler Studio
"For working with silicones, urethanes and other casting materials. Integrated vacuum pump operated by embedded controller. Mixed mold and casting materials with introduced air bubbles are placed into this machine to remove gas from the mixture before making a pour."
Shop-built rotocasting machine - Kurt Mottweiler, Mottweiler Studio
"Built exclusively with materials at hand; steel from other tool or machine projects, a control box from the electrical salvage, motor controller and motors from earlier camera design projects, aluminum tubing and connectors from a large cage build for my African Grey parrot..."
Aciera milling machine - Kurt Mottweiler, Mottweiler Studio
"I stand here next to the Aciera F3 - a wonder of Swiss engineering designed with a small working envelope ideal for the typical range of work I do. It has a different operator layout from the typical Bridgeport style milling machines."