Tools of
The Eccentric Workshop

a brief look into the toolbox

wood • metal • leather • electronics


I didn't buy all of these tools at once - or even over a few years - I've been slowly collecting and upgrading tools for over 20 years. This partial list shows a snapshot in the collection process that has taken many years.

I spend a fair amount of time researching and reading reviews prior to purchasing tools to ensure I get the best value I can and get something meeting my expectations. I buy the best tools I need with their shortcomings taken into account.

Remember, better tools makes good work easier and faster but don't ensure it. Only a poor craftsman blames his tools.


I started off with the classic Weller soldering gun - too large to do much of anything but still occasionally useful. I upgraded a few years later to a cheap Radioshack soldering kit with a 35 watt iron - a great improvement. A few years later, I again upgraded; this time to a Pro'sKit iron as part of a tool kit required for a college course. Again, a few years later, I upgraded to a used Hakko 936 soldering station - I finally was in the world of temperature controlled stations. This setup served me well until I came across a great deal on my current Hakko FM-203 station. The FM-203 allowed me to get into cartridge irons and use Hakko FM-2023 hot tweezers, both of which open up entirely new techniques.

Around the same time as the Hakko 936, I entered into the world of hot air rework stations for surface mount work with the Hakko 850 - a used monster of a hot air station that could get too hot to hold and was capable of going high enough to burn through just about anything. I upgraded to the Quick 861DW around the same time as the FM-203. The Quick is a digital station with three presets, better air and heat control and is enjoyable to use. Combined with an AmScope Microscope, these tools allow for board level diagnostic and repair through microsoldering. In conjunction with an infrared reflow oven, short production runs can be quickly and affordably completed.

You can find an article about more of the tools I use or recommend on the blog.

In addition to these tools, I also have a comprehensive set of diagnostic tools: 

Hakko FM-203 Soldering Station

This is a dual port soldering station capable of running two hand pieces at the same time including irons, tweezers, and desoldering tools.

AmScope Microscope

Working under a microscope presents some challenges but overall makes things much easier - it is surprising how well you can work when you are able to see.

Quick 861DW
Hot Air Station

This is a hot air station used for surface mount soldering and rework. This station has proven itself to be a great value for the price.


Good tweezers make all the difference when working with small components.  


After moving, I don't have the same metalworking setup as I did before but I have the basics covered.

Lincoln Precision TIG 225

This 230 amp stick and TIG welder has served me well for nearly 10 years and is what I learned TIG welding on.

Plasma Cutter

I bought into one the cheap eBay plasma cutters years ago before they got popular and the prices went way up. I have a Riland Cut40d but it is the same as all of the other 40-50 amp Chinese machines. It has worked great for years and cuts up to 3/4" steel.


Angle grinders are essentials and I have two - one holds a grinding disc or cut off wheel and the other always has a flap disc on it. Get some and try - they will change the way you work.


My wood tools are getting more use as I construct wooden planes, signs, small furniture pieces, and other stage decor.

In addition to the tools highlighted below:

10" Craftsman Bandsaw

I picked this bandsaw up used a few years ago and used it for a bit then moved it across the country with me. It is old, it vibrates, it doesn't have a good table, and it has no fence. But, it still works pretty well and cuts everything I've needed. Some day I'll upgrade to a nice 14" bandsaw.

Makita Random Orbit Sander

Nearly every wood item I make gets touched by this sander at some point. It is the easiest and most efficient way to prepare a piece for finish. Combined with Rhynogrip sandpaper from Lehigh Valley Abrasives, this sander is used for finishing on most and rough shaping on some pieces.

Hand Tools

Various hand tools such as rasps (flat and round Stanley Surforms), files, chisels, and planes are used on most projects. I use antique Stanley hand planes, a number 4 and a 60 1/2.