Someday, someone is going to invent a battery-powered scratch awl.
I know this is true because I have seen toolmakers go to ridiculous extremes to sell us something new. A laser on a jigsaw. A battery-powered tape measure. A chisel with rasp-like teeth on its shank. Rulers that don’t begin at zero.
But the silliest woodworking tool I’ve seen so far is the Black & Decker AutoClamp. It’s a cordless C-clamp. It runs on AA batteries. Well, it used to run on AA batteries. The batteries that came with the clamp leaked and now it’s an ex-clamp.
The magazine’s staff bought me one for my birthday, and though I haven’t used it much in the shop, I have delighted in playing with it in my office. You would be hard-pressed to make this thing press hard.
Though there is a safety-release button to disengage the clamp in emergencies (or when the batteries run out), it’s difficult to imagine hurting yourself with this. When I clamp my hand with the $30 AutoClamp it feels about as firm as a handshake.
The company says you get 350 pounds of pressure. It didn’t feel that way.
Now I hate to pick on Black & Decker too much. The company makes a lot of important tools affordable for the beginner. My first corded drill was a Black & Decker and it lasted me 10 years.
So what’s the silliest woodworking tool you’ve encountered? Leave a comment below. You just might save someone from making a serious mistake.
– Christopher Schwarz