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I’ve been gagging a lot lately on some of the woodworking “gift guides” out there. About 90 percent of the stuff in them is just silly, cheap stuff that you really don’t need.

I can say this because I’m a “gift guide” victim. One year my wife took the kids to a woodworking store to get me some gifts. Not knowing what I needed, she consulted the store’s “gift guide,” which is why I still have a bag of #0 biscuits (I don’t have a plate joiner) and a special biscuit attachment for a glue bottle (which I also don’t have).

I also got a metric ruler.

So this year, I want to cut you a break. Print out this blog entry and leave it on the fridge. For the next week or so I’m going to be featuring stuff that you honestly need. Not expensive stuff. But stuff that will make life easier. Here’s Day 1:

Rockler 50-piece HSS Drill Bit Set
If you don’t get this for ChrisKwanzaKa, buy it for yourself. It is one of the most useful things in my tool chest. For just $20, you get 50 of the bits that you break all the time. These are the small sizes – 1/16” up to 1/8” – that you use for hardware installation.

All woodworkers – even James Krenov – break installation bits at the end of a project, throwing us all into a fit of cursing and cat-petting and board-gazing.

For just $20 you will not run out of those critical bits for a long time.

I bought this set a year ago and have taken it all over the world. My students have been using these bits for making pilot holes for cut nails and screws. And you know what? These bits are really, really fantastic. Sharp. Durable. Nothing like the crap at home centers. I expected to be out of 1/16” bits within 12 months, and I think the students have broken only two.

The 50 bits come in a handy plastic case. Normally I hate little plastic cases for tools, but this one is compact and just right.

Thank you Rockler, for putting together a set of bits we really need.

The set can be ordered from Rockler here.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. And just in case you are new to this blog, no one pays me to promote tools. All the tools in my chest are mine, purchased at full retail. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and affiliated websites.

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Showing 8 comments
  • altiplano

    Hey! No knocking metric, would love to find some quality metric stuff not cluttered with 1/64th’s on 3/4 of it.

  • Steve_OH

    I must be doing something wrong. I think the last drill bit that I’ve broken was a 3/16″, and I only broke that one because I dropped the cordless drill it happened to be in onto a concrete floor.

    I did munge up the pointy end of a 3/32″ brad-point bit when I drilled it into the side of a screw that I forgot was there…


  • GTBurbank

    At the risk of being accused of being a shill for PWW or LAP, I would have to say the best woodworking gift is the gift of knowledge, in the form of books, videos, or classes (both online and flesh&blood). And seriously, folks, gift certificates for these really are the best form of gifts, allowing the receiver to choose their own area of study.

  • Bernard Naish

    You can easily make this screwdriver yourself. Handles can be turned or hex handles planed down and fitted with a ferrule. You can also buy all sorts of handles.

    Either magnetic or pull back lock hex screwdriver holders are available from most tool suppliers. Simply drill a hole in your handle and use epoxy resin to hold the holder in place. I like to shellac the handles but then again I have a compulsive disorder about tools

  • Phil Spencer

    You should try the metric ruler chris, a lot better than the archaic Imperial system

  • tropicalww

    Could you remind me who makes the screwdriver shown in the picture again?

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