Sometimes simple, low-cost tools have an impact on the shop far beyond their size or investment. Here's a look a three handy items.

Sanding shapes

There are a lot of high-tech, high-cost solutions for profile sanding, but Style-Line Corp. Intl. has a simpler idea. Soft-Sanders are shaped foam blocks designed for manual sanding, using adhesive-backed abrasives or non-adhesive wet/dry sandpaper. In our tests we found the flexible foam conformed well to a variety of shapes and surfaces with no gouging. They were comfortable and easy to use. The sanding blocks come packaged in a set of six varying shapes and densities. For details,  visit  www.style-linecorp.com.

Small sharpening

Diamond Machining Technology is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, so it's a good time to take a look at one of its simple, but ingenious sharpening solutions. The Diafold diamond whetstone folds up like a butterfly knife, offering a small and portable diamond whetstone at the ready.

I've found it handiest for quick dressing of pocket knives, but DMT also suggests using it to dress router bits between sharpenings. The tool is available in a variety of grit sizes from extra course to extra fine. For details, visit  www.dmtsharp.com.

Seeing better

I've saved perhaps the most useful tool for last. None of us seem to be able to escape the effects of aging, especially when it comes to eyes. Having recently resigned myself to using reading glasses for close-up work, I was frustrated trying to use reading glasses and safety glasses. Then I found OPTX 20/20 lenses. These are flexible magnifying lenses that adhere to the inside of your safety glasses with water. They are available in all the standard reading glass diopter sizes, are easy to install and can be repositioned for best results. I got mine from  www.stickonlenses.net, but they are available from a wide selection of venders, including many opticians.

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