Compact Routers

DeWalt's DWP6111 weighs 4.6 pounds and has a 1-1/4 hp motor.

The tool we chose, the DeWalt DWP611 Compact Trim Router, has a 7-amp, 1-1/4-hp motor with variable speed of 16,000 to 27,000 rpm. The clear plastic base and two built-in LED lights make it easy to see the bit and the edge of the piece being worked. The 4″-wide base provides a stable platform, and 1/4″-shank bits are easy to change with multiple spindle-lock detents and a single wrench. The motor has a soft-start feature and an automatic electronic control to keep bit speed constant. The router has a depth adjustment that has a range of 1-1/2” and a clamping mechanism to lock the vertical position with a quick flick of a lever. The 8’ power cord is long enough to move around our work area. There are standard 1-3/8” template guide inserts and a vacuum-hose attachment available for use with the router.

Versa Vise

The swivel base adapter gives the vise additional ranges of motion.

The jaws of the vise open to 4-7/8″ and have smooth, flat faces 3-1/2″ wide and 2-1/4″ high. With that wide area of contact and the absence of knurling common to other vises, the jaws don’t mar wood or metal. On the body of the vise, behind the fixed jaw, there is a 13/4″-square anvil surface. I do light work on it and leave the heavy hitting for some big slabs of steel that can take no end of abuse. The vise sits on a base equipped with three legs and a 1-1/2″-diameter post and can swivel freely around it. There are two matching holes in the vise, one on the bottom to hold it in a normal upright orientation and the other on the side for holding for a horizontal orientation.

A High-Thrust Caulk Gun

The high-thrust gun is well suited for use with thick caulks and adhesives and with mixing tips for two-part epoxies. With our previous caulk gun, I could barely force resin and hardener through a mixing tip, and at times I had to use both hands to squeeze the trigger and cradle the gun in the crook of my elbow to get a dribble of mixed epoxy to appear—very disheartening when we were looking at dispensing four tubes of epoxy.

Pocket Chainsaws

The LivWild saw has teeth on every link and highly visible straps.

Back in the ’60s, I used twisted-wire pocket saws, and they were fine for backpacking when I only needed wood for campfires and to do some whittling, but they didn’t last long before they broke. I now use chain-style saws, and the latest version, the Camping Pocket Chainsaw from LivWild, works great. It has a 28″ chain with 37 teeth, the same kind used on gas- and electric-powered chainsaws. Every link is a cutting tooth, with adjacent teeth facing in opposite directions. The handles are bright orange 1″ webbing, lessening the likelihood that the saw would inadvertently get left behind.


The Resp-O-Rator, an odd-looking device with twin snorkels connected to disposable dust filters, isn’t compromised by a beard. The mouthpiece goes between lips and teeth, and the attached clip clamps your nostrils shut. To assemble it, a quick push and twist attaches the 4-1/8″-diameter filters to the tubes, and it’s ready to put on by removing one of the tubes from the mouthpiece, wrapping it around your neck, and reconnecting it.

Portable Running Lights

The lights come with either suction cups, as seen here, or with clamps.

Small-boat cruisers rarely travel at night intentionally, but sometimes we get caught out late or we need a predawn start to catch a favorable tide, like I did while rounding British Columbia’s Cape Caution last year. Between sunset and sunrise, we need navigation lights to comply with Coast Guard regulations and to ensure we are seen by other boaters. As our boats rarely have a built-in power supply, portable, battery-powered lights are a good solution.

Oscillating Multi-tools

The DeWalt multi-tool has a quick-release device for a tool-less change of blades and a variable speed trigger switch.

When we went shopping for a multi-tool we did our research and settled on DeWalt’s DWE315. It has a system that allows fast blade changes, without having to use a tool. We switch blades frequently when we work on seams and planks, and having to use a tool to change blades slows the work down and risks losing the fastening screw and washer. The DeWalt comes with a universal adapter, meaning we can use the full array of blades available, no matter which of the half-dozen fitting attachment configurations  might have. We like the long 10′ cord and the LED work light on the tool. The DeWalt has a variable-speed control trigger—rather than a switch as on some other models—and continuous-on trigger lock. The powerful 3-amp motor has been up to all the jobs we’ve done with the tool.

Bernzomatic’s TS 8000

The yellow trigger turns the gas on and ignites it. The trigger can be locked in the off position by turning it clockwise and locked in the on position be depressing the silver-colored button above it. The black knob on the opposite side controls the flow rate of the fuel.

The TS 8000 has some very nice features that are a great improvement over my ordinary propane torches. A finger trigger starts the gas flowing and ignites it with a piezo-electric spark. Releasing the trigger stops the flow of gas, extinguishing the flame. That’s safer and less wasteful than a propane torch, which has a valve to control the flow of gas. The TS 8000 has a valve for adjusting the rate of flow, but you don’t need to turn it to light or extinguish the flame. The trigger has a safety lock to prevent the torch from being turned on either inadvertently or by curious young hands. The trigger also has a “run-lock” button to keep the torch operating without having to keep your finger on the trigger. The cast-aluminum body of the torch provides a comfortable grip that’s more secure than holding a gas cylinder.

Trailer Guide Posts

Guide posts are L-shaped and available in different widths and heights. Most are 40″ to 60″ high. They are simple to install—just attach them to the trailer frame with brackets and bolts provided, and set them between the uprights a distance about 2″ wider than the widest beam of the boat. Posts come in galvanized steel or aluminum; for bigger boats, steel is better able to sustain larger side loads.

A 1″ x 30″ belt sander

I’d done a bit of research before buying the 1×30 belt sander at one of the local Harbor Freight stores, so I wasn’t dismayed when I first turned it on and discovered it had a lot of vibration. The drive wheel was, as I expected, the main culprit; I’d seen some YouTube product reviews about that very problem. So I put a sharp beveled cutting edge on the end of a flat file as a quick stand-in for a lathe tool and ran the sander without a belt or the table in place. A horizontal ledge on the frame served as a tool rest while I carefully worked the wheel to true, which took care of the vibration.

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