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Instructables has a short post on a quick way to make your own bicycle lockring, or head race, pliers that I find quite elegant in its simplicity. You take an inexpensive pair of water-pump (a.k.a., channellocks, or tongue-and-groove) pliers. Then file or grind away most of the teeth except the front ones, and, voilà, you’re good to go — and at a much lower cost than for a dedicated spanner or lockring pliers that can be $30 to $50 or more.

It seems like these might also work well on those electrical box connector nuts when pounding on them with a screwdriver doesn’t seem to do the trick.

DIY Lockring Pliers [Instructables]
Hozan Head Race Pliers Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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I’ve seen 2 references (Brian’s Blog & Cool Tools) recently about using paracord to wrap tool handles, so it must be significant. Peter Atwood has both a video and a short web tutorial showing his wrapping method. The picture above is from Brian’s Blog showing the Atwood-method wrap on a mini pry bar (the Pocket Widgy® from County Comm).

Given that you can get 50′ of paracord for around $3 and that its 550-lb. tensile strength is useful in many other areas, this looks like a neat application for it. Maybe paracord should join duct tape and vise grips as another universal solution?

Paracord Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Paracord Street Pricing [Google Products]

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About a year ago, I made this valve spring compressor for Ecotec motors as a way of saving myself about $300. 3/32″ steel plates form the frame, with a 1/2″-13 bolt handling the compressing duties and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plates in the jaw to prevent damage to the head. It’s missing the dowel pin which hinges the lower arm at the moment (probably hiding somewhere in my engine tools drawer), but it works pretty well when it’s together. Like anything made by an amateur, it’s imperfect, but functions well enough.

This basic concept can be adapted for just about any engine, but there are a few tricks. Unless you have extremely strong hands, the compressor needs a way to hold itself at the proper angle, which is a feature I overlooked. The result is that I sometimes let this thing slip, and a 280 lbf/in spring makes an $800 cylinder head jump a few inches off the table. Good thing I don’t need to go that deep into engines often. You could also solve the issue by putting the upper hinge in line with the compressing screw, which would kill the tendency to rotate. Since this only used about $15 in materials, I may produce a more polished version in the future.

Street Pricing [Google Products]

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This is a man with his priorities in order.  Reader goblirschrolf doesn’t buy a mini-crane which could make his life easier because, screw that, he can build one.  Then he can break in his homebrew crane by clearing a little bit of timber, as pictured above.

Will you be seeing Goblirschrolf brand cranes at the local big box next year?  Most likely not — but you can see his place all cleaned up because his truck-mounted crane moved literally tons of wood so he didn’t have to.

Now my question is, Did he go all the way?  Is that bad boy motorized or hand-cranked?

Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]


This makes a great DIY project for a Toolmonger, but cutting the angles can be a problem. After reading this post on the All-In-One Clamp, and this post on the MilesCraft Saw Guide, I still had no solution for how to cut long, straight lines that’re at odd angles to the edge of a board. A table saw with the guide set at an angle will do the trick, but here’s a way to manage it if your shop hasn’t grown that big yet.

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Ultra-Cheap Router Lift

Instructables user Vestus took one look at the high price of commercially-available router lifts and decided he could build his own a lot cheaper. Bustin’ out his shrewd Dealmongering skills he snagged an already-inexpensive Harbor Freight plunge router on sale for $40 and a router base plate on Amazon for another $40. After scrounging around the local hardware stores for a few other components, he assembled his router lift — complete with 1-3/4 HP router — for under $100.

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Look around Sean’s wood shop and you’ll find dozens of items made from scrap wood. His motto: “Why buy s#!$ when you can make it from scrap?” Of course, Sean’s definition of “scrap” varies a bit from most people’s, which is why you’ll see him, for example, moving furniture on a solid-oak furniture dolly.

So how could we not send long-time TM reader and photo pool member jdwires a pair of gloves for posting this kick-ass wooden mallet he made from “scrap” maple he had “laying around the shop.” That’s just be wrong.

So thanks for the inspiration, and enjoy your (free) gloves.

Toolmonger’s Photo Pool [Flickr]


TM reader and photo pool member Vince posted these great photos of a finger joint jig he built himself from plans he found for free online.  It’s made of MDF, maple, and pine, and looks like it’ll do a great job.

My father had a store-bought model that was metal.  It was much smaller, but it was ex-pen-sive.  As in mugging expensive.

Has anyone else made a custom tool lately, either because you just couldn’t find exactly what you wanted or because you just didn’t have the cash to buy it?  Let us know in comments, or better yet, join our Flickr photo pool and post pictures.  We’ll be watching!

Toolmonger’s Photo Pool [Flickr]
Lynn Sabin’s Basic Box Joint Jig [Leeway Workshop]


TM reader NickNaylo posted this great pic of his brake drum forge to TM’s photo pool, providing once and for all that you don’t need major cash to try your hand at blacksmithing.  He says he assembled this little rig for a whopping $75 in parts — including a scavenged squirrel cage fan, some pipe fittings, and, of course, a brake drum.

It even looks like he’s rigged up a dimmer to control the speed of the fan — handy for controlling fire temp to avoid simply burning your workpiece into nothingness.

Toolmonger’s Photo Pool [Flickr]


Alan Dunwell How 2 make finger planes

Luthiers — builders of guitars, violins, and such — are by definition very accurate woodworkers.  So who better to write a “how to” article on making your own finger plane?  Alan Dunwell, owner and operator of Dunwell Guitar which manufactures bespoke guitars and specializes in one-off double tops, wrote an interesting little article on building finger planes — tiny “micro planes” used for intricate detail work.  Look closely at the picture above; some aren’t much bigger than a quarter.

Making Finger Planes by Alan Dunwell [Dunwell Guitar]