Full disclosure: The following gift ideas are 100-percent unsponsored. I bought all these tools myself and would buy them all again – that’s why they are on this list.
First on my list for 2014 is a tool you don’t see much in woodshops, but you should. It’s called a “lead holder” by artists and architects and it basically what a normal mechanical pencil would look like if you were hit by a shrink ray.
A lead holder grasps a long stick of lead that you can sharpen or carve to any shape. The lead is robust and difficult to break. And it leaves a bold mark even if you use little downward pressure.
A student in Germany turned me on to these marking devices about four years ago and I use them constantly to mark lumber throughout all phases of a project – from crosscutting rough stock to circling areas of tear-out that need to be removed before finishing.
Unlike a carpenter’s pencil, this thing is almost unbreakable and never needs to be carved back. And it’s easier to use than a lumber crayon.
After burning through a few different kinds I did a lot of research and bought this one from Art Alternatives. It is shockingly well made for an $8 item. Mine has been all over the world, dropped, kicked and accidentally thrown across the floor. And it still works.
The lead holder comes with extra lead and a metal case (which I now use to store coping saw blades).
— Christopher Schwarz