Often, I find myself inventing tools. Not original tools, per sé, but some combination of existing tools and other items allowing me to perform routine tasks efficiently. Here’s an account of one such attempt that worked well.
I like traditional auger gimlets, because I like the idea of drilling small pilot holes by hand, especially in tight spots where a power drill just won’t fit, or where the pilot needs to be drilled carefully. I’ve never owned a set of gimlets, but I’ve often used a hand spinner or multi-bit screw driver with 1/4″ hex-shank bits to accomplish the same thing. However, these tools often don’t hold hex shanks very tightly, so the bits tend to wobble during use.
Not too long ago, though, I discovered this very nice pin vise by Robert Schroder. What’s great about it is that it has a small key-less chuck with three jaws, so it can tightly hold both hex- and round-shank drill bits. No more wobble! I was suddenly the proud possessor of the modern equivalent of a gimlet set.
However, a complication arose in how to keep a small set of bits handy. Most of my drill bits are in plastic boxes — fine for storage, but not for keeping on one’s person. Sure, I can always carry the one or two or three I think I’ll need in my shirt pocket, and … arghh!
But relief finally came when I discovered that Occidental Leather had just created a driver/bit wallet that stores up to six bits, and folds nicely flat. Is it ponderous to store a few drill bits and drivers in a small, black leather wallet? Of course it is. (Though perhaps not nearly as ponderous as to write about it). But I’d found the ideal carrier, and also invented an heirloom quality tool (sort of) in the process.
The pin vise and wallet fit nicely together, side-by-side, in my Occidental Leather pocket caddy, where they tend to spend most of their time. Furthermore, keeping one or two driver bits handy often makes carrying larger screw drivers unnecessary.
So, I’ve found my Schroder pin vise, together with a small set of bits and drivers, really convenient to have on hand when doing simple jobs, or smaller scale, precision work. They don’t take much room, are a bit more versatile than a traditional gimlet set, and are a lot easier to carry around than a power drill (did I mention no electricity is required to use them? ).
In forthcoming posts, I’ll write more about traditional hand tools, and their modern equivalents, that I find convenient, effective, and fun to use, like braces, hand planes, Yankee screw drivers, and such. So stay tuned!