Tuesday Tool of the Week

I find myself over in this corner of the garage quite a bit looking on the tool shelf for tools to work on our small boats. Each week we'll highlight a tool and discuss its use.

From Small Boat Restoration 2013

We also have a pegboard with Sunfish parts and storage for small hand tools like screw drivers, crescent wrenches, vise grips, small hammer, clamps and channel lock pliers.

From Small Boat Restoration

2015 Edit: We built a 16x20 Carriage House, more space for tools to hide!

WARNING: We can be seriously or fatally injured working with some of these tools. Please before you start a project, read the manual and wear the appropriate safety gear. Electrical shock is a severe hazard in boatyards, so increase your awareness of shock hazards, and take steps to eliminate or reduce risk. Another good idea is to seek training from someone who has experience. Most important, take your time and have fun. To paraphrase Kenneth Grahame from Wind In the Willows, "There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about with boats.

Here is a list of the tools we use:

14 Jan 2013: The scratch awl is a long, pointed spike used to prick patterns, or scribe a line on wood with the grain. It makes a nice hole and then you connect the dots for straight lines or fair in a curve with a batten. Not to be confused with the screech owl, which keeps us up at night and stalks our cat.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

12 May 20: 1) A lightweight bucket used to move water from inside a boat back to its natural habitat. 2) A venturi drain system found in Sunfish sailboat cockpits. 3) A porous material used to absorb liquids. Usually found in the bucket, the cockpit of a Sunfish sailboat or the lazarette of an O'Day Day Sailer II. See also Sponge.


Breaker bar
10 Jun 2014: A breaker bar is a long non-ratcheting bar that is used with socket wrench style sockets. Breaker bars are used to 'break loose' very tight fasteners because their additional length allows the same amount of force to generate significantly more torque than a standard socket wrench.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014 - Jun 2014


-Fox tail and dust pan
31 Dec 2013: Foxtail and dustpan combo comes in handy to sweep up a small area, easier to maneuver than a full size broom, and takes up minimum space.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

04 Feb 2014: A bucket is useful to carry several tools to and from the work site, to bail out rainwater and for wash downs. Also can be used as ice bucket for favorite beverage.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

22 Oct 2013: A small 6 inch car buffer comes in handy for applying and removing fiberglass restorer and wax.

From Small Boat Restoration

Caulk gun
24 Dec 2013: The caulk gun is useful for dispensing marine adhesives and sealants. I used mine for years before I learned that there is a tip cutter built into the handle Once finished, you can put a screw into the tip end to seal it back up, that will save some sealants for later use.

From SBR 2013

Caulking hammer and irons

-Bar clamp
07 Jan 19: Bar clamps are handy for holding pieces together while adhesives dry or to hold a work piece while sawing, routing, sanding etc...We have several different lengths, ranging from 6 inches to 4 feet. We did not run out and buy 20 different clamps one day, we have a accumulated them over several years. Most of the bar clamps we bought from our local ACE Hardware.

We have given our bar clamps names of family and friends, so they are with us in spirit when we work on our boats.

We picked up some nice bar clamps at a local auction, 4 footers with crank handles. Used them to hold pressure on some edge glued cypress for BARBASHELA's seats.

03 Dec 2013: Spring clamps are useful to hold pressure on the deck, rudder and daggerboard repairs while sealants and adhesives dry. We acquired about 50 spring clamps from our friend Howie, he used them when he worked at Alcort from 1960-1978, then for 10 more years doing warranty work for AMF. They have seen quite a few Sunfish deck seams! ANd they continue to work today.

From SBR 2013

11 Sep 2013: A cordless power drill can be used to drill holes for hardware or remove and insert screws. Most jobs on the Sunfish are small enough that the battery(ies) will last, saving us from hauling around power cords. Our latest cordless drill came in a Porter Cable set that also included jigsaw, circular saw, reciprocating saw and work light attachments, they all share the same battery pack and all have been used for boat or trailer restorations.

From Small Boat Restoration 2013


Drill Press
Coming soon

29 Oct 2013: Half round 4-in-one hand rasp and file is useful for daggerboard trunk repairs. The tool combines a medium and fine rasp and file in one tool, 8" long, curved on one side, flat on the other. The curved and flat sides match up well with the contours of the trunk. Use double tooth file for rapid material removal and single tooth file for fine shaping.

From Small Boat Restoration 2013

Folgers coffee can
19 Nov 2013: A pointer from Captain Jack, a Folger's coffee can is essential to hold hardware while it is removed from the boat. The new plastic ones are easier on the gelcoat too :)

From SBR 2013



-Ball Peen

11 Mar 2014: A hammer is useful to tap rudder spring pins in and out of place. It also can be used to shape deck edge trim and drive in the small metal pins that hold mast caps.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

Impact Driver
28 May 20: We bough a new impact driver recently, the De WALT 20V DCD777, and are writing a review for Small Boats Magazine July 2020 Issue. We have a Kobalt 24V driver and like it, the DeWalt is an excellent tool also. We used it recently and drove 25 pounds of 3 inch Grip Rite deck screws, building Skipper's Gun Deck and Boardwalk. A lot less stripped screws than using a regular drill, it uses more torque to drive large fasteners at thousands of impacts per minute.

08 Apr 2014: The putty knife is useful to scrape old sealant off of the hull, and can be used to split the seam on pre 1988 boats ("flat tops"). Also useful to apply epoxy putty and fairing compound.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

15 Apr 2014: Splitting a deck/ hull seam, used hammer to tap putty knife down the seam.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

10 Dec 2013: Tuesday Tool Of The Week: X-ACTO knives are useful to cut line and remove failed sealant and adhesive. Tip: Put 2 wraps of 1 inch blue tape around line before cutting, then cut through tape. That helps reduce fraying of the new ends.

From Small Boat Restoration

08 Jan 2014:
-Wooden mallet is good for hitting things....and for setting grommets.....

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

-Barry King Mallet
Coming soon

Moaning Chair
13 May 2014: The "Moaning Chair" is an essential tool to have, the place where you sit and ponder what you have either just screwed up or are about to screw up with all of your other tools. Moaning chairs come in all shapes and sizes and can be found next to favorite beverages.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

Multi piece tool kit
17 Jun 2014: Multi piece tool kit is useful for trailer work, deck hardware and inspection ports. The items that get used the most are ratchet, wrenches, screwdriver and pliers. That Craftsman kit was passed along from my Uncle and has seen years of service.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -

Paint and Prep
25 Feb 2014: Tuesday ToolOf The Week: A paint brush is used to apply paint. A good 3 inch trim brush works for tipping paint, smaller brushes work for touch up and stripes.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

-Plastic Spreader
28 Jan 2014: The spreader can be used to mix epoxy putty and spread the putty onto surfaces for fairing. Also can be used to work epoxy or polyester resin into fiberglass cloth and squeeze out excess. They come in various sizes and can be cut to fit.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

18 Feb 2014: The paint roller is an application tool used to apply paint rapidly and effectively. It has a roller frame with handle and a replaceable cover. A 3/16 inch nap mohair cover is good for the hull, available at local Marine stores or online.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-


-Stir stick
21 Jan 2014: The stir stick is used to stir paint, mix epoxy, can be made into shims. It also can be cut down to size so we can can apply epoxy putty into tight spaces like daggerboard wells and mast tubes. Best of all, they are usually free!

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-


-Channel lock
12 Nov 2013: Channel Lock brand is known for its blue handled, slip joint pliers. They adjust to several sizes and are useful to grip hardware or tighten bailer nuts.

From Small Boat Restoration 2013


-Vise Grip
12 Nov 2013: Vise grip pliers (to right of blue handled pliers) are adjustable and lock into place. Useful to hold nuts while tightening bolts

From Small Boat Restoration 2013

Polish wheel

Random orbital sander
17 Sep 2013: This 5 inch random orbital sander is used to remove old paint, cracked gelcoat and smooth out epoxy putty. The discs attach with a hook and loop system and your local hardware store offers discs in grits ranging from 80 up to 400 and above. For fast material removal I use 80 grit and for gelcoat wax prep I use 400. The sander has a small bag to collect dust but you can also hook it up to your shop vac.

From Small Boat Restoration

From Small Boat Restoration

04 Mar 2014: Tip: Keep the receipt, they have a one year replacement guarantee, and I have been through two sanders now, working on the third.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

13 Jun 20:
We bought a DeWALT 20V Brushless 5 Inch Random Orbital Sander to see if we liked sanding without the cord. It works great, very powerful with the 4ah or 5ah battery, it ran for a long time, but we need to find an adapter to hook our shop vac to the dust port.

Rivet gun
08 OCT 2013: Rivet guns are used to install "blind" rivets for deck trim, coaming and the boom blocks. The gun draws a shaft (mandrell) into the rivet barrel to expand it and hold the rivet tight in a predrilled hole. Once the mandrel is pulled to a certain tension it snaps off at the top of the rivet. Here is my one handed riveting video.

From Small Boat Restoration

From Small Boat Restoration

From Small Boat Restoration

Rivet nut setter
25 Mar 2014: The rivet nut setter anvil threads into a machine screw rivetnut, then rivnut is inserted into a deck hole. Squeezing the handle pulls the anvil, which compresses the rivnut barrel and causes it to expand inside the hole, That action wedges and clamps the rivnut into place. Anvil is then unscrewed from the rivnut, and a machine screw is used to attach the splashguard (on older boats).

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

-Dust mask
-Ear plugs

27 May 2014: Personal Protection Equipment is essential to save your eyes and ears. With these glasses I was able to tie the earplugs to the ear pieces, that keeps them readily accessible.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -


11 Feb 2014: The chisel rasp is used to shape and smooth wooden parts as well as rough shaping of epoxy putty.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-



05 Nov 2013: The jigsaw is used to cut curves and almost straight lines :) It comes in handy for cutting the hole for an inspection port, using a blade with 14 teeth per inch (TPI) or greater for a smooth cut. Tip: If your deck is in nice shape, tape over it before cutting to prevent scratches from jigsaw footplate. Or put blue tape on the foot of the jigsaw.

From Small Boat Restoration 2013

Here is the cutout for a rudder conversion for 1960-1971 Sunfish:

From Small Boat Restoration

Jigsaw used to cut out handrail for Super Sailfish MKII:

From Small Boat Restoration 2013

15 Jan 19 Update: We use our jigsaw a lot to butcher boat bits, bought this DeWALT around 2008. We were having our porch rebuilt in Texas and that is the brand that the pro crew used. Francisco said the DeWalt tools had served him well through the years, heavy duty enough for the job but not too pricey. We used this one to cut out all the planks and transom face on the Penobscot, strongback molds, frames, trim BARBASHELA planks, brackets for a shelf project, and it has cut all of the decorative ends on 2x4 rafters on a variety of Sunfish Shacks, pergolas, dock cover, etc...A versatile tool.

03 Jun 20:

DeWALT 20V Brushless Jig Saw: Skipper insisted that we buy a new jig saw to go with our DeWALT 20V batteries, so we picked up the DeWALT DCS334B brushless model. We have been wanting a cordless jig saw for a while, ever since we noticed that the cord is always getting in the way and the cord also likes to find the gap on the edge of the plywood where the cut was made, and always snags there. Maybe I could learn better cord management, but for me it was time to try the cordless model. If you are interested in one, be sure to get the brushless model, the motor uses less power which means more torque for the tool and less draw on the battery for longer run times.

First cut was the repair patch for our 1953 Alcort Sunfish ZIP. The LED light was great and the dust blower was even better, I can't believe we went this long without one. It is amazing how much easier and safer it is to cut when we can see the line and not have to brush off sawdust. And there was no cord to get caught and jiggle the cut line. The nylon shoe is nice and the bevel angles are easy to adjust.


01 Feb 19:An oscillating multitool comes in handy for cutting and sanding in tight spaces. There are several different blade attachments to work on wood, metal or tile. We use ours to clean out seams, sand and cut plank scarfs. Read our full article on Small Boats Monthly.

One tip is to use a metal blade even when cutting wood, in case there is a metal fastener hidden inside.

A good companion to the multitool is a sharpener, this wheel from Rigid Carbide lets us refresh worn and damaged blades and get several more uses out of them.


22 Apr 2014: The spiral saw is a high speed, circular cutting tool designed to make plunge and free-hand cuts in a variety of materials. I did this cut for a bailer hole freehand but you can also buy a circle guide attachment for a larger hole, like the hole for the inspection port.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

24 Jun 2014: A table saw is a circular saw housed in a table, the saw can be adjusted up and down or angled. A bench top saw like the one pictures can handle most small jobs, is lightweight and can be stored easily. Longer materials can be cut by placing an out feed table behind the saw.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -

-Glass and Tile
29 Apr 2014: Stanley glass and tile blade scraper is handy to remove old adhesive and flaky paint jobs. Also old tape stripes.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

06 May 2014: Stanley Glass and Tile Scraper has a fully retractable blade for storage, 3-position slider (closed, open, blade change), ergonomic handle design – comfortable for extended use, no-slip grip, high-visibility yellow for easy location and thick, durable blade resists bending/breaking.
It works great removing old stripes and adhesives, the wider blade helps prevent gelcoat gouges. And the high visibility yellow has come in handy a few times

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-


Phillips screw head

From Small Boat Restoration

24 Sep 2013: Screwdriver(s) are used to tighten and remove screws on the boat, good idea to have one at the ramp. There are two types, a "standard" screwdriver that has a flat blade and a "Phillips" that has a crosshead blade. Most of the newer deck and rudder hardware uses Phillips screws, the bronze gooseneck and and possible gudgeon require a flat blade. On Zip, a 1953 Sunfish, all of the original bronze screws were slotted.
From Small Boat Restoration

Standard screw head

From Small Boat Restoration

20 May 2014: The Standard screwdriver has a flat blade and is used to remove/ install screws on older boats. Larger standard screwdrivers used for drain plug and gooseneck screws.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -

-Standard Big
01 Apr 14: BIG screwdriver works best to loosen and tighten deck mounted metal drain plug.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

Yankee Driver
18 Mar 14:
Yankee Driver is a spiral driver used to drill holes and rotate screws, it predates electric drills. A Yankee Driver is featured in several ALCORT publications, used to assemble kits and factory boats.

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

From SBR 3: Jan 2014-

01 Oct 2013: Scissors can be used to cut rope into line for halyards, sheets and bridles, daggerboard retainers, etc...Put a wrap of tape around the line first to reduce fraying, cut and then seal ends with heat and line whip. And don't run with scissors...and don't use the Skipper's good Ginghers...

From Small Boat Restoration

12 May 20: A lightweight porous material used to absorb liquids. Usually found in a bucket, the cockpit of a Sunfish sailboat or the lazarette of an O'Day Day Sailer II. See also Bailer.

Tape measure
17 Dec 2013: Tape measures come in handy when making wood parts. Also when buying spars and masts make sure to measure, they should be 13' 9" and 10', so a 16 foot tape come in handy.

From SBR 2013

-100 foot Closed Reel Steel Tape
22 Jan 19: The 100 foot closed reel steel tape features a classic vinyl clad steel case design. It has a rugged rewind mechanism for single user convenience and nylon rollers at case opening to reduce blade wear and for sustained field use. Blades are produced with high visibility, easy-to-read graduations of .125 inches (1/8), and a folding hook ring. The 1/8th inch graduation is great for taking lines from boats and creating a Table of Offsets in Feet-Inches-Eighths, example 3 feet, 4 1/8th inches would read 3-4-6. The feature I like about this tape is that cumulative feet are marked along the tape, so instead of seeing 962 inches we read 80 feet, 2 inches. We picked this one up at auction.


Tool box


26 Nov 2013: Shop vac is used to vacuum leftover Sunfish bits and can be attached to sander to reduce dust. Also can be changed to a wet vac to get water out of a hull.

From Small Boat Restoration

08 Jul 14: The tool wagon comes in handy for moving tools and the water jug to remote work sites. Sides can be taken off to move lumber, this wagon carted around 2x6x16 pressure treated lumber for the small boat dock.

From SBR 4: Jun 2014 -



12 May 20:
Automotive: The Right Tool for the Job (Ref: http://www.swapmeetdave.com/Humor/Workshop/Definitions.htm)

"Peter Egan of Road & TrackThese hilarious automotive tool definitions have been floating around on the Internet for some time now with no credit to the author. Sensitive to such things because people have plagiarized and out-and-out stolen stuff that I've written, I decided to track down the author. Much to my surprise and pleasure, it was none other than Peter Egan, one of my all-time favorite automotive writers. This piece originally appeared in Road & Track, April 1996 in Peter's column, Side Glances. The original column has a half-page introduction and some additional definitions, so I recommend you try to obtain that issue of R&T. It was also reprinted in the book, Side Glances, Vol. 2, 1992-1997 by Peter Egan, published by Brooklands Books Ltd., a wonderfuil collection of 66 or Peter's columns.

Hammer: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive car parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

Mechanic's Knife: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing convertible tops or tonneau covers.

Electric Hand Drill: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling rollbar mounting holes in the floor of a sports car just above the brake line that goes to the rear axle.

Hacksaw: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

Vise-Grips: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

Oxyacetelene Torch: Used almost entirely for lighting those stale garage cigarettes you keep hidden in the back of the Whitworth socket drawer (What wife would think to look in there?) because you can never remember to buy lighter fluid for the Zippo lighter you got from the PX at Fort Campbell

Zippo Lighter: See oxyacetelene torch.

Whitworth Sockets: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for hiding six-month old Salems from the sort of person who would throw them away for no good reason.

Drill Press: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against the Rolling Stones poster over the bench grinder.

Wire Wheel: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar callouses in about the time it takes you to say, "Django Reinhardt".

Hydraulic Floor Jack: Used for lowering a Mustang to the ground after you have installed a set of Ford Motorsports lowered road springs, trappng the jack handle firmly under the front air dam.

Eight-Foot Long Douglas Fir 2X4: Used for levering a car upward off a hydraulic jack.

Tweezers: A tool for removing wood splinters.

Phone: Tool for calling your neighbor Chris to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

Snap-On Gasket Scraper: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.

E-Z Out Bolt and Stud Extractor: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.

Timing Light: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup on crankshaft pulleys.

Two-Ton Hydraulic Engine Hoist: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and hydraulic clutch lines you may have forgotten to disconnect.

Craftsman 1/2 x 16-inch Screwdriver: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.

Battery Electrolyte Tester: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.

Aviation Metal Snips: See Hacksaw.

Trouble Light: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

Phillips Screwdriver: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.

Air Compressor: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty suspension bolts last tightened 40 years ago by someone in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and rounds them off.

Grease Gun: A messy tool for checking to see if your zerk fittings are still plugged with rust."

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