… and I don’t buy a single Dremel accessory 😦 . That was not by choice, mind you – Dremel tools are not widespread here, so I’ll have to purchase all my accessories and attachments online. And then pay for the shipping.. Sigh…
On a more positive note, I did come back home with some very useful things. One of them I alluded to in my previous post – a new fret saw, together with a bunch of saw blades. When I originally mentioned my father-in-law’s fret saw, I made it sound like an antique tool, way past its time, and that was indeed the impression I had – “No one uses these things anymore! I’ll be lucky to find one anywhere.” Well, not only are fret saws still being sold, they’ve been significantly improved since my teenage days. The improvements mainly concern the blades – instead of being very thin but still flat pieces of metal, they are now twisted into spirals. What this means is that you are now essentially cutting with a thick wire that is bristling with teeth in all directions, which is a very cool thing. Let’s say you are cutting in a straight line and now need to make a sharp turn. No need for tedious up-down-up-down in one spot while you slowly rotate the saw. Now, you simply stop cutting forward and start cutting sideways! Brilliant!! That said, pushing the saw forward rather than sideways or backwards still tends to give the best results, but with the wire you can simply rotate the saw in place and keep going, it won’t twist and break. Another point to make is that the new “twisted wire” blades are just a hair thicker than the old-fashioned flat ones, so the traditional blades still win when the cut must be as thin as possible. If you are aware of this, though, it should never be an issue. ~€11 for the saw and 24 blades.
Up next is another saw – a jigsaw. Also of the hand-powered variety, kind of like this one from Amazon. An electric one would have been nice, no doubt, but at less than €10 there was no contest. This is the tool I’ll be using for making straight long cuts in wood and plywood. After struggling with making such cuts with the Dremel, this saw is a godsend.
In the number 3 position we have a pair of 5.5cm (~2.6″) screw-down C-clamps, not even as fancy as these. Despite their simplistic nature, they’ve already come in quite handy: I used both of them to clamp together the X-mas tree shapes of my pen rack while I was shaping them and cutting out the holes for the dowels. They are too small, however, to do much else than hold two-three thin flat pieces together. I’m currently starting to work on the miniature café set for Des, where I’ll be gluing together the room and some furniture therein, and already wishing for something larger and more versatile like this.
The fourth piece was a drill bit to replace my Dremel 150, which broke recently while drilling through plywood. Instead of another general-purpose bit, I found one that was made specifically for drilling through wood. It’s shape is almost exactly like those of the 631-01 brad point drill bits offered by Dremel, with a sharp leading point that is designed to quickly dig in and keep the bit centered. One point of concern was that the bit and its shank are 3.0mm in diameter, while the standard shank size for most Dremel accessories is 3.2mm (1/8″), and that is also the size of the collet included with the tool. Nevertheless, the collet appears to grip the bit very firmly, although I have yet to try it in action.
Last but very definitely not least – I present my new workbench! It may not look like much to those with tool sheds and garage workshops, but for someone like me who up til now has been working on the dining room table, this is a huge deal. The bench is essentially a version of this one: it folds almost flat, which is a big plus in an apartment, and has a built-in vise. The surface of the bench is imprinted with a ruler and a protractor, though not a grid, which would have been even more useful. Four rubber stoppers can fit into the holes on the tabletop, allowing the vise to accommodate objects of various sizes and shapes. The bench feels quite sturdy and has performed well so far, despite being a €20 no-name product. At the moment, the only feature that I wish it had is height adjustment. It’s been very comfortable for sawing with the jigsaw while standing up, but I need to sit down or crouch to work with the fret saw or the Dremel.
Here, then, is a shot of my current set-up to wrap this up: