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Stuff We Still Love: Pipe Wrench, Doweling Jig and Glue Gun

These three classic tools are as relevant today as when they first appeared on our pages decades ago.

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We’ve been perusing 70 years of tools in our Family Handyman archives and found three that reliably endured into the 21st century. These were considered “smart” tools way back when, and they’re still the best for their given tasks today. Watch Mike Berner discuss the tools in the video below, then read on for more background and details on where to find them.

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Internally Grateful for This Wrench

If you ever tried to back out an old pipe and had it break off at the threads, one of these internal pipe wrenches would have saved you from a panic attack. The design hasn’t changed much since it first appeared on our pages in 1970 because they got it right the first time.

Available in multiple sizes, you insert the cam action wrench into a pipe, and it grabs the pipe’s inside for tightening or loosening. Back in the 70’s a set of three would set you back about $11. I found a General Tools set of four for about $22 online.

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Just ‘Dowel It’

Since the 1950’s, doweling jigs have been the perfect wood joinery solution for novice to advanced woodworkers. Other simple, inexpensive joinery solutions such as biscuits and pocket screws have shown up on the scene, but a dowelling jig rivals them all for ease and affordability. When coupled with a set of dowel centers, a doweling jig gives no ground on versatility.

Dowl-It has been making this self-centering jig since 1949 and not much has changed. There are three versions of the two-inch capacity model, and three versions of the six-inch capacity model, all with six boring sizes. Prices range from $44 for the basic model up to $65 for a six-inch capacity with different sized bushings. 

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Hot Glue Guns — Not Just For The Hobbyist

A 1970 Family Handyman featured the first advertisement for an auto-feed electric glue gun. From that date forward, we’ve always felt hot glue guns are not just for hobbyists. Yes, they are ideal for quick repairs with all types of materials, but they have a multitude of other applications as well.

In the wood shop, they’re perfect for making templates or any initial assembly before nailing. They’ll quickly secure wiring in electronics, and you can put boxes together and apply labels easily for shipping.

This Ryobi 18 Volt One+ is the current favorite here at Family Handyman. It heats up instantly and goes right to whatever needs gluing without a power cord. It’s part of Ryobi’s expansive line of One+ tools. You can find it at The Home Depot for $30 (battery not included).

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Bill Bergmann
“Bungalow” Bill Bergmann is an associate editor at Family Handyman. He’s been a licensed contractor/builder for more than 20 years. For him, there’s nothing better than taking out a few walls to make people happier in their homes.