A tool is a tool is a tool. But add some bell or whistle to that tool, and it immediately becomes a must-have item. At least the marketing people must think so.
As David DeCristoforo noted in his blog (http://blog.woodshopnews.com/tbaw/?p=54), lasers are on the A-list of gimmicks to add to woodworking tools. Laser on a miter saw or circular saw that can be useful. Laser on a hand saw, no thanks.
I occasionally have a difficult time drilling 90-degree holes with a cordless drill, so when I saw a new drill that had a built-in bubble level I jumped at it. It proved to be nearly worthless. For a bubble level in a drill to work like its supposed to, the workpiece must be perfectly horizontal or perfectly vertical; sometimes it is, but most often its not. Besides, its generally better to be looking at the business end of the drill while drilling you know, the end with the sharp thing thats spinning not at a bubble level mounted elsewhere on the tool. Might as well drill blindfolded.
On the other hand, the laser attachment I added to my drill press is waymo cool. Once adjusted it worked perfectly, and I find it a very handy thing to have. Gimmick to be sure, but Im really glad I bought it.
So, my question to you is two-fold. Whats the most worthless gimmick youve ever seen added to a woodworking tool, and whats the most useful one youve ever seen? No brand names, please, just the gimmicky idea itself.
Till next time,