I use a Homak 27" Pro Series 2 drawer slide top cart. I chose it for its size; it needed to fit in a specific place on the truck and be light enough to load and unload myself. I knew whatever cart I purchased, I would be tricking it out to fit my needs. This particular cart is lighter duty than I would like, so I added a solid base in the lower shelf and changed out the casters to blue polyurethane full-swivel wheels suitable for use in hospital environments. They are quiet, non-marring, and more resistant to picking up grease than hard plastic wheels.
I outfitted the drawers with Kaizen foam (a type of shadow board material from FastCap) so each tool fits into a recessed spot all its own. This makes it easier to find tools and I immediately know when one is missing – which is not the case with a tool bag.
I further customized the cart by installing vertical dividers in the lower shelf and attaching a charging station to the side of one. Here you can see the chargers for 18- and 12-volt batteries. This location also contains a phone charger. The cart contains a power strip that can be plugged in on site or in the back of the truck.
The last thing I did was attach flat aluminum bar (1/8” x 2”) to three sides of the cart so I could hang things with belt clips from it – in this case a cordless impact and drill/driver and a coffee cup holder from Iron Dog Tool Gear. Iron Dog makes a number of bags and tool holders that can be clipped onto a tool belt or carrier (or the bars on my cart). I seldom wear bulky tool belts but do like the holders. You’ll see a variety of Iron Dog holders in other photos of the cart. I like them because they can be removed and relocated at will.
I use a hickory handle trim hammer because I prefer the feel of wood handles over fiberglass. Now that I specialize in installation work, I rarely pick up a regular hammer – at least not as often as I did doing general carpentry. In my work it’s important to have a rubber-headed mallet for tapping or hitting finish material that would be damaged by a regular hammer. Both tools are hung from Iron Dog hammer hangers, which have slots for pencils or nail sets.
Tradesmen often refer to diagonal cutters as “dikes”, a name derived from Diagonal CutterS (DICS). The end nippers and diagonal pliers (FlushCut model) shown here are from FastCap. I like them because they cut perfectly flush. They can be used to pull nails or trim nails and edge banding flush to the surface so nothing sticks out.
This extremely handy sanding block uses a standard 3x21 belt sanding belt. Unlike a homemade wood block, the paper stays taut. This tool is great for easing edges, prepping the edges of flake board to receive peel-and-stick edge banding, and anything else that requires you to leave a very crisp edge.
I have purchased a number of stud finders over the years and have found that spending more does not make it easier to find studs, so I stick with the basics, an inexpensive Zircon dielectric finder for wood studs and a rare earth magnet for metal studs. I like the idea of having a radar scanner but could not bring myself to spend $800 for the one from Bosch. DeWalt just announced a $300 wall scanner and that has me interested – not just for finding studs but to avoid hitting pipes and wires hidden inside walls.
There is no better universal adhesive than cyanoacrylate (CA) glue. I use it to preassemble corners in crown molding, fasten small molding returns, and fix loose laminate on cabinets and counters. People are always asking me if I can glue something back together and 90% of the time I’m able to do it with CA adhesive. There are many brands to choose from. I use FastCap’s 2p-10 because I like the carriers and tip accessories. Apply the adhesive, spray on the activator, stick the pieces together, an in 10 seconds you’ll have a strong permanent bond.
I own two Starrett angle finders, one analog and the other digital. They lessen the margin of error and are great for transferring and bisecting angles.
You’ve got to have one of these so when you are working around electrical wiring. This one is from GB (Gardner Bender)
My cordless tools are from Makita and Bosch, but I keep Bosch on the cart because I really like their cordless jigsaw. It’s light, well-balanced, cuts straight, and has a built-in LED light. I also carry their cordless impact driver and drill/driver. My Makita cordless (good tools priced right) live in my job box.
This 12-volt oscillating multi-tool from Bosch is good for the quick clip or trim but does not have the runtime for larger jobs. For those I’ll use a corded model. You can’t beat the power of a Fein; I’ve been using one for 15 years. I keep that tool in the cart and a Rockwell in the job box (for my guys to use and as a loaner). I’m partial to Imperial brand blades; they’re durable, reasonably priced, and fit most machines.
The Porter cable 2.5 x 14" belt sander (model 371K) is extremely useful for scribing. I can connect my dust collector to it, and use it one-handed. It has the perfect amount of torque for edge scribing. I keep 60 grit paper on mine.
I saw this little 909 brand handheld electric planer (power block plane) one day and had to have it. It’s the only planer I have seen that is small enough to fit in the palm of my hand. If I need to scribe off more than an eighth of an inch I will use this planer to get close and then finish with another tool. I believe this tool is out of production but I have two extra sets of knives to hold me over. If I need to plane anything substantial, I will use my Bosch or Festool power planer.
This is a great all around scriber with an articulating arm that allows you to scribe in locations where other scribes won’t reach. It has a retractable pin point that allows it to be used as dividers or a compass. The flat back allows you to do a more accurate scribe than can be accomplished with other tools. The built-in pencil sharpener is handy – though it doesn’t work particularly well.
This scriber uses a blade instead of a pencil and works great on finishes a pencil won’t mark or for breaking through the finish or veneer to prevent chipping during the cut. The body is precision machined from aluminum and has a replaceable plastic non-marring cap on it to prevent it from damaging delicate surfaces. The quality of the machining on the Thingamejig is simply amazing – though I have to admit, not many carpenters will pay the $80 it costs to get one of these tools.
On those jobs where it’s okay to play music it’s great to have Jawbone’s Jambox. What I like is how it connects through Bluetooth to your iPhone or other player. It also has a built in mic, so it’s perfect for making open conference calls.
I use FastCap’s BabeBots to dispense wood glue and solvents such as lacquer thinner and denatured alcohol - which I use to remove pencil marks and adhesives from various surfaces. BabeBots are the smaller version of the GluBot. These no-spill drip-proof bottles can dispense glue (or whatever) without being tipped and when you stop squeezing them the material they contain is sucked back in. They take a bit of getting used to, but once you do, there is no going back to other dispensing bottles. What’s more, there are all kinds of tips and accessories that can be used with them.
It’s important to me to have a big assortment of screws on hand because I want to be able to deal with any situation that comes up without having to go to the hardware store. I usually keep screws in Sortainers but need to carry a larger variety in my cart so I purchased this inexpensive Keter brand cantilevering box at the local super store.
I keep a Festool 720936 countersink bit with stop in my cart. Yes, it is a $65 countersink, but it is worth every penny. No other bit cuts as cleanly and the depth is easy adjustable with the bearing type collar. The collar even has a hole in it to allow dust to fall out while it is spinning. I use Milwaukee’s 21-piece Thunderbolt drill bit set and 35-piece Shockwave driving set too. They are reasonably priced and the quality is good. I’m always replacing drill bits and drill tips, so I keep stock of them in the truck. For tight spaces I use the Milwaukee right angle drill attachment (MW-8510).
I'm really not crazy about any particular caulk gun; I like the no-drip style and it has to have a poker stick. I store my caulk gun on the cart in the Caulked-and-Ready holder. The holder has a bottom so if the gun leaks it won’t drip onto the floor. There are openings on either side so you can clean the bottom out.
My cart usually contains FastCap’s Upper Hand, a pump jack that adjusts from 28” to 60” in length. When used with the MagMount accessory it can double as a laser pole. For larger installs, I use a T-Jak, an adjustable pole designed to support cabinets.
The cart stores in the back of my box truck. To keep cart from rolling around, I had custom brackets made that use long slide bolts to hold it against a built-in cabinet. When the cart is mounted it is plugged into the truck’s inverter so the batteries on it charge on the way to and from the jobsite.