Father's Day Gift for Maker Dad (Wood/Metalworking tools)
May 31, 2015 2:43 PM   Subscribe

I want to get a Father's Day gift for my dad. He makes stuff. I'm looking for a tool that 1) is for making stuff out of atoms, not bits, 2) is sui generis, supremely better than competing stuff and 3) not something that a woodworker and machinist with 4+ decades of experience already has in his shop.

I'm looking for "Where was this tool all my life?" suggestions, for a guy that isn't into the digital stuff. Last year I got him a ClampT ite wire clamp tool, which was pretty well-received. Budget is around US$100.00, with some stretch. (If you know something cheaper, post it -- multiple small gifts are an option.)

Current ideas are Knipex cutters and a Bosch laser measure. Do better.
posted by sourcequench to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We got a laser measure and it's both useful and fun. How far is that thing? ZAP now you know. Does he already have digital calipers?
posted by moonmilk at 2:49 PM on May 31, 2015

Response by poster: Digital calipers? This guy has vernier calipers, up to 16", and prides himself on being able to read them quicker than I can get the digital ones turned on. Also micrometers, dial gauges, etc.

Thanks, though.
posted by sourcequench at 2:56 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: Have a browse through the Lee Valley site, maybe? They both design their own, and curate a good selection of high-quality, odd, and old school tools.
posted by bethnull at 3:51 PM on May 31, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Some larger diameter stainless steel wire for his ClampTite.
A Steam Bending Kit.
Scroll down at this link for Tricks and Secrets of Old-Time Machinists.
Since he likes building from the atom up, how about an unusual raw material he may be able to transform with his current wood and metal working equipment? I'm working with some Teflon and Polycarbonate rods which were fairly reasonably priced.
posted by tronec at 3:55 PM on May 31, 2015

How much are you looking to spend?

Two very cool tools that I've recently had a chance to play with are the ShopBot Buddy (or the smaller desktop version), and an Epilog laser cutter. Neither are cheap, but both do things that are basically impossible, or at least very difficult, with more traditional tools. Having access to one (or both) is a real game-changer in terms of the projects you can do.

The ShopBot systems are significantly less expensive than an Epilog, FWIW.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:16 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: Is he into hand tools? Has he ever tried Japanese woodworking tools? These have become popular among Western woodworkers over the last couple of decades, so his tool collection might pre-date them. Japanese handsaws cut on the pull stroke, so the blades can be thinner, and they are typically made of harder steel than Western saws. Japanese chisels are usually laminated, with hard (but brittle) steel for the edge, backed by softer iron for resiliency. You can easily go off the deep end with tools made by famous swordmakers and the like, but a good, professional quality chisel or saw can be had for around $100.
posted by mr vino at 5:09 PM on May 31, 2015

Appreciated in my household.
posted by bq at 5:27 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: How about something like the Bridge City Tools Kerfmaker?
posted by straw at 6:13 PM on May 31, 2015

Best answer: My inlaws got me a Gluebot for xmas and it's awesome.
posted by Poldo at 8:10 PM on May 31, 2015

My Dad who sounds similar to your Dad, REALLY loves his Japanese hand saws, as suggested by mr vino. Alas, he already has them. But chisels....
posted by sarajane at 4:54 AM on June 1, 2015

Best answer: In a similar Japanese-hand-tool vein, traditional Japanese mitre squares are very neat, not terribly expensive, and different enough from Western ones that they'd be a new addition to the shop. But they are just as functional, and useful for regular Western-style cabinetry as well as Japanese joinery work.

Also, it was pointed out to me that the Shapeoko is a lot more reasonably priced than the ShopBot. I don't know much about it, just something to consider.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2015

Response by poster: Ended up getting him the Bosch laser measure and a "Bridgeport Serial #1" T-shirt from the American Precision Museum. (He's got a small 1980s-vintage Bridgeport milling machine in his home shop.)

Thanks to all who replied. I'm going to be using a number of those answers for future gift-giving occasions for my dad (as well as purchasing some of them for my own use).
posted by sourcequench at 12:53 PM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

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