This year when people ask me what they should get their woodworking family and friends for the holidays, my first answer is always a board of hardwood. But if they have a tool in mind, things get harder to suggest. Below are items I recommend because they work for most types of woodworking and if they already have one, then having another is welcome.
1) Sloyd Woodworking Knife – On the advice of Robin Wood, I picked up a sloyd knife from Frost (Mora) in Sweden. Originally I’d gotten it to learn spoon carving but I find it in my hand for all sorts of woodworking. Need to break a the edge on a curved corner with a nice bevel that blends in with the straights? How about engraving your initials? Shmutz in the corner of a joint? This thing fits lots of grips and has a laminate blade that flexes just right and is easily sharpened yet holds a razor edge well. $20.
2) Small Magnetic Adjustable Head Flashlight — If you have a wood turner in your life this will be one of those forehead-smacking revelations that will improve their results. In bowl turning, box turning or any situation where you are hollowing, seeing inside your work is difficult. This type of light will stick to your tool rest, lathe rails or whatnot and has the ability to snake into your work, shining a raking light right where you need it to pick up that cut. $8.
3) Small Natural Bristle Brush for your Rasps – Rasps are expensive. So why prematurely dull them by cleaning them with a wire brush? A natural bristle brush works just as well without dulling. I picked up mine from Tools for Working Wood. $4
4) A Mini Edge-Rounding Plane from Lee Valley – There is nothing unique about this plane in design or construction. But it works, holds its edge and is a convenient luxury to have on hand every time you want to break an edge. $30.
5) Thick Blade Spear Point Marking Knife – There are lots of marking knives out there but the one that ends up in my hand more than all others is a thick bladed one that’s been used and sharpened so much that all evidence of its manufacturer is gone. This thing is in my hand more than any other tool I own so don’t feel guilty about splurging. It’ll be appreciated for decades. $30-$100.
If you have a suggestion for a gift, post it in the comments!