that is guaranteed for life, such as Craftsman.
The last tool on my bench that I want to mention is my
magnifying lamp (Figure 18). When working on small parts
— especially SMD components — this lamp comes in very
handy. I picked it up from MCM Electronics for under $50
and it is very solid. I supplement this lamp with several 10X
loupes I keep handy and bought for $1.50 each.
I didn’t mention power tools because I keep those in
my garage and have a separate bench out there where I
cut and drill to keep dust outside the house when
possible. The two most important power tools I have are
my De Walt cordless drill and my Dremel. Both tools are
essential to my work, and both are used at least weekly
for some task. The cordless drill has both drill bits and taps
which allow me to thread holes into metal for screws.
My Dremel tool is often used to cut holes, screws, or
debur and polish panels.
Always wear proper eye protection when using power
tools, and even when soldering or trimming leads! Never
underestimate the damage a flying component lead or
molten solder could do to your eyes.
Did anyone notice the blue mat that covers my entire
bench? If you haven’t or didn’t know what it was, it is an
anti-static mat that is grounded at the corner of the bench.
This provides static protection when I am working on the
bench — especially since the weather here is always dry
and everything is carpeted. If you don’t have one of these,
you could use an anti-static wrist strap. Don’t
underestimate the importance of static precautions when
working with electronic components and devices either.
As often as I am asked what tools I use, I hope this
article not only answers those questions but also offers
some insight into my motivation for selecting some of the
tools and brands I use.
I think of myself as pretty particular about my tools.
Since I make my living using them, I do not loan them out.
However, I have been known to pass tools on that I no
longer use, but that are still viable. If you are the recipient
of such tools, then you know how I feel when I acquire
one from someone else. NV
November 2014 51
Special thanks to Amy at Tektronix and Tom at PanaVise.