If you’ve read our gift guide before, you can skip this preamble. There’s nothing new here.
The Anarchist’s Gift Guide is a small attempt to focus on the little things – mostly inexpensive – that make life in the workshop a little easier. It’s stuff your kids can afford to give you for Christmas and that you will be glad to receive.
Most gift guides are utter s&$e. A company pays some boob to squawk that he LOVES a bunch of silicone-covered tools (which the company ordered too many of from China). The company hopes to ensnare your spouse when he or she Googles “gifts for woodworkers.”
Next, your spouse watches a video of boob-boy offering up chisels with a silicone glue brush on one end. “It tickles!” And then you receive a full set of those lovely tools on Christmas morning.
Our gift guide doesn’t give a crap about selling anything. We bought these items for ourselves, and we used them. We didn’t contact the manufacturers to tell them “Ooooh – you’re in the gift guide!” We don’t have affiliate links or make money on this guide. None. I do it only because… damn, I’ve forgotten why I do it. Just inertia, I guess.
If you have complaints about the gift guide, let us know and we’ll offer you a full refund for your gift guide subscription (and you can keep the sanding sponge and drilling chart). So without further grumpiness, I offer you our 2021 Anarchist’s Gift Guide.
Day 1: Merterks Green Laser
We use a laser level for a lot of things related to both woodworking and home improvement. I’ve burned through a lot of laser levels in my career. Most of the reasonably priced ones are so dim they are three Smurfs short of a village.
Then one day a fellow chairmaker suggested I try a green laser level (instead of classic red). I did, and it made a huge difference.
Our workshop is filled with daylight, so lasers have a hard time competing against the sun coming in from the huge east- and south-facing windows. But even in full sun on a July day, the green laser is easy to see – even for an old man like myself.
The laser we use is a Merterks, which we bought from Amazon. I looked all over town for one locally, but couldn’t find a decent green laser for less than $100. So you win this one, Amazon. (Yes, you can find this tool via sketchy retailers.) Other similar laser levels include this one, this one and this one. (The message here is to spend less than $50, get a green one and make sure the self-leveling mechanism locks.)
This laser on the Merterks is bright. So bright. Even from 20 feet away the light is crisp.
The Merterks has far more features than you need for chairmaking. But I haven’t found a simpler laser for less money. All in all, it’s more durable than other lasers I’ve used, and it comes with a protective carrying case, which will slide onto any belt and complete any outfit. So it’s a sartorial win.
Most of all, go green. You’ll never go back.
— Christopher Schwarz
Read other entries from The Anarchist’s Gift Guide here.