April 30, 2007
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April 30, 2007
We’ve been pretty impressed with Ridgid these days. Their recent release of the Fuego 6-1/2” Framing Saw busted open a whole new class of tools by combining well thought out features with a compact and lightweight design. Their 3-1/2” Round Head Framing Nailer also has a number of great features and although it isn’t as revolutionary as the Fuego, it’s a great addition to the current flock of framers and one that is definitely worth taking a look at.
When we took the gun out of the box we immediately noticed a few things. First, the balance of the tool is fantastic. Our experience is that most framing guns have about 80% of their weight in the head, so the tool wants to constantly tumble forward. But Ridgid’s gun evens out that ratio to more in the 60/40 range, probably due to the magnesium housing. The gun weighs over 8lbs, and there are lighter guns out there, but this one feels right in the hands and once we got to using it, we had no fatigue issues.
Continue reading: "Ridgid 3-1/2” Round Head Framing Nailer - Review"
April 26, 2007
Stihl has just made the chainsaw buying process a whole lot easier with their online chainsaw selector. Just answer the four questions and the selector narrows you down to a few suitable chainsaws. It takes about 30 seconds and even if your budget is more Poulan than Stihl, it can still be a help, if only to find what size and class is appropriate for your uses.
And while you're at the Stihl site check out this monster. Yikes.
April 25, 2007
Denali has released this fairly comprehensive tool kit geared for what looks like light-duty home use. The kit contains a good assortment of tools and just about anything you would need for basic tasks around the house. A big bonus with this kit is that it comes with a nylon bag, allowing room for new tools as you purchase them, as opposed to those terrible plastic form-fitting cases that only accept the tools it was made for.
This kit is also dirt cheap. All of these tools for under $40? We were suspicious of this (as well as the fact we can’t find any other info on Denali Tools – are they an Amazon imprint?), but we read all of the Amazon customer reviews and it looks like the tools are a good purchase. Of the 14 reviews, only one was really negative and the rest basically said, “nice kit, nice tools, nice price.”
Continue reading: "Denali 115-Piece Home Repair Tool Kit"
April 24, 2007
Fine Homebuilding’s Annual Houses issue showed up in the mailbox the other day and, as always, it’s a pretty fun read. Each year, this issue showcases a number of houses of various styles and somehow makes you believe that, with just a few changes, your house will take on the appearance of one of these masterpieces.
Among the profiled houses are a 540 sq. ft. cottage, a hurricane resistant beach house, and a hilltop contemporary with a lap pool that doubles as an emergency water supply. There is also an article that shows how both the single-level and multi-level retirement home can be successful.
Continue reading: "Fine Homebuilding No. 187 – Annual Houses Issue - Review"
DeWalt is giving away more stuff and this month it's a Heavy-Duty Jobsite Storage Chest. As always, all you have to do is go to the website and fill out a small entry form and you're registered to win. The random drawing will be held on or about May12th and entries are accepted until May 7th.
The storage chest looks like a good one. It has all the right pops and buzzes and retails for around $300.
Enter the sweepstakes here.
April 23, 2007
Our workshop used to belong to someone else, so when we moved in, we pretty much kept things as they were; the workbench is against the same wall and the lumber racks are in the same place. We made a few changes and built some shelves, but nothing too severe. Well, we just finished Sandor Nagyszalanczy’s Setting Up Shop and now we’ve got some work to do. This book has opened the door to such a large array of possibilities for our workshop that we don’t even know where to begin the renovations.
Nagyszalanczy makes that point that every shop should be different in order to match the working style of its owner. But even with this difference, there are a lot of universal considerations to take into account before rolling in the table saw and having at those oak boards. This book is about those universals, some big and some small, that all come together and create the functionality of a workspace.
Continue reading: "Setting Up Shop - Review"
April 20, 2007
We're fans of anything that makes a table saw safer and push sticks are at the top of that list. The ones that come with the saws, the long stick with the little bird mouth at the end of it, are nearly as dangerous as not using a push stick at all. Sure they can push something through the saw, but when the piece of wood starts to ride up on the blade, you're screwed. We always recommend to people that they throw those out and make their own out of a piece of 1/2" plywood, one that extends out over the top of the work piece. But after today, we might just suggest buying a Bench Dog Push-Loc.
Continue reading: "Bench Dog Push-Loc"
April 18, 2007
Ridgid has sent along one of their 3-1/2" Round Head Framing Nailers for us to take a look at, and at first glance, it looks like quite a nice tool. It’s got all of the standard framing gun features as well as some we’ve never seen before (magazine adjustment for larger diameter nails). We plan on giving this tool a real workout over the next week or so and if it’s anything near the quality of Ridgid’s Fuego, it should be able to take the abuse. Check back soon for the full review.
Worx has recently released a very interesting looking hammer drill/driver in their Revolver line of tools. The Revolver tools are all based on an intriguing ergonomic design that, according to the Worx website,
“…is a tribute to the fundamental principal of ergonomics. It is the first and only line of power tools that adapts themselves to fit people and their jobs, rather than the other way around.”
The primary feature of the Revolver tools is a rotating handle that adjusts to your needs depending on your angle of approach. If you’re working down low and are above the tool, you have the ability to shift the handle to the top of the tool, relieving stress on both your wrist and back. The same goes for if you are working overhead. The handle has an astounding 65 degrees of rotation to accommodate the user.
Continue reading: "Worx Blockbuster Hammer Drill/Driver"
April 17, 2007
If you're locked in a bitter battle with your neighbor over who has the prettiest lawn, you probably want to check out Black & Decker's new Grasshog 18-Volt Cordless String Trimmer. From the looks of it, the Grasshog is a convenient alternative to both gas and electric powered trimmers; no more 100' extension cord and no more of that brutal, "did I remember to add the gas stabilizer" feeling.
Powered by an 18-volt battery, Black & Decker's trimmer comes with a telescoping shaft to adjust to your height and an automatic line feed system. At seven pounds, it shouldn't be a problem swinging it around for a couple hours every two weeks. And when you're done trimming around trees and stone walls, with the push of a button, the Grasshog converts into an edger. Not bad for a tool that costs around $100.
Continue reading: "Black & Decker Grasshog 18-Volt Cordless String Trimmer"
April 16, 2007
Ryobi is asking that owners of their RT101 Router Table make sure that the throat plates securely snap into the opening. They have received three reports of them coming loose and two of these cases have involved injury. If your plates are loose, you are asked to contact Ryobi for a new set.
The RT101 Router Table were sold as part of a Ryobi combo kit (model numbers R161RTA and R162RTA).
For the full press release, go here.
We would probably use our belt sander more often if it wasn't the size, shape, and weight of a cinder block. Using it on a vertical surface is pretty much out of the question and even when it's flat on a board it's like controlling an untrained St. Bernard. But still, it's a great tool, if only it was smaller...
Enter Porter-Cable and their 371K Compact Belt Sander. This little guy looks to create an entirely new class of tool by merging the usefulness of a belt sander with the size and maneuverability of an orbital. It weighs only five pounds, which puts it at less than half of the weight of Porter-Cable's heavy-duty belt sander. Because the tool is so versatile and will likely be used places that a regular belt sander can't, the handle is designed to accommodate any number of grip positions.
Continue reading: "Porter-Cable 371K Compact Belt Sander"
April 15, 2007
Sears is advising owners of the Craftsman Circular Saw to remove the Craftsman logo sticker from the upper blade guard as it can become partially detached and interfere with the operation of the guard. The malfunction has resulted in at least one injury.
The recall involves a number of models available from November 2004 to February 2007. Sears has instructions on how to remove the sticker here.
For the full press release and model numbers, go here.
April 14, 2007
According to Reuters, since 1991 the number of annual nail gun injuries has increased about 200%. The actual number is now around 37,000 per year. Not good. The interesting thing about this increase is that the number of work-related nail gun injuries has stayed about the same. This indicates that the swell is due to all of you DIYers out there. The article states:
"This increase likely corresponds to an increase in availability during the 1990s of inexpensive pneumatic nail guns and air compressors (to power the nail guns) in home hardware stores; however, no sales data are available for confirmation," the CDC reported.
This may be so, but the responsibility to take your tools seriously lies with you. Nail guns are very dangerous and you’re a moron if you’re not wearing eye protection every single time you shoot one off. If you can blast a nail through engineered lumber, flesh and bone aren’t going to stand much of a chance. Please understand your tools and their safety features and each time you pick one up, stop for a second and think of all the damage it can do to you.
Read past the jump to see what can happen if you are not careful with a framing nailer.
Continue reading: "Nail Gun Injuries on the Rise"
April 13, 2007
Microplane has recently come out with an interesting and innovative idea; stainless steel sanding discs for an orbital sander. According to Microplane, the discs, which are available in coarse (40 grit), medium (80 grit) and fine (120 grit), remove wood five times faster and last seven times longer than regular sandpaper. It supposedly takes 35 regular sanding discs to measure up to one stainless steel disc.
The discs are just what you would assume they would be; Borg versions of the standard orbital discs. The back of each disc has eight little Velcro pads that are placed so as not to interfere with any of the dust collection holes (the discs are compatible with both five and eight hole orbitals). The sanding side of the discs have a number of little blade protrusions on them. The coarse grit disc resembles a bullet-riddled piece of metal, while the finer two grits take on the appearance of a flattened version of Microplane's great kitchen graters. The discs attach to the sander just like regular ones do.
Continue reading: "Microplane Stainless Steel Sanding Discs - Review"
April 12, 2007
This Old House Magazine is a consistent purchase. It’s like Maxim or Wired (minus the naked girls and keyboards) in that you can go cover to cover in one sitting, but you can always go back through and find something you missed, some little sidebar or review that’s tucked in the corner of a page. This issue falls in with that general idea and is crammed with information.
With Spring coming, most of the larger articles in this issue deal with the outside elements of the house. One lists out seven ways to upgrade the overall look of your house (use pavers and plants, upgrade your garage doors, etc), while another deals with how to clean a winter’s worth of grime off of your deck. Both articles are useful and worth reading.
Continue reading: "This Old House - April 2007 - Review"
April 11, 2007
If someone asked you to describe how your nail gun works, what would you say? Probably something along the lines of, “you see, there’s air that, like, comes in this hose and it’s under a lot of pressure and it, like, pushes the nail out, right?” Well, thanks to Tom Harris over at howstuffworks.com, those days of sounding like a boob are over. Harris is the author of a fascinating article called, How Nail Guns Work.
The article covers a wide variety of nail guns including pneumatic, electric, and combustion. For each type of gun, Harris gives an overall description of how it fires and then a step by step breakdown of what exactly happens when the trigger is pulled. Each description is accompanied by a cool little interactive schematic where you can fire the gun by clicking on the trigger. It’s pretty captivating, even if it does have that “children’s museum” feel to it.
It’s a good article and worth at least a few moments of your time. Read it here.
April 10, 2007
It looks to us like the rotary tool has finally caught on. We always thought that it was really only a matter of time before this tool got beyond wood carvers, engravers and other specialists. We use ours on almost a daily basis, for everything from drilling to sanding to cutting. It's so lightweight and compact that it can fit just about anywhere and because there are so many different bit options its versatility is off the charts.
Ryobi has recently gotten into the fray with what looks to be a very impressive set. Their 229 Piece Rotary Tool Kit has so many accessories and extra bits that it appears to be the pinnacle of one-stop shopping. It even comes with a telescoping stand and a 36" flex shaft. At 1.2 amps, it's up so some pretty heavy-duty work, and the case alone looks like a feat of organizational engineering.
Continue reading: "Ryobi 229 Piece Rotary Tool Kit"
April 9, 2007
We’ve been curious about the Quick Angle ever since we first saw it at the JLC Show in 2006. It’s a measuring tool, barely bigger than a bevel gauge, that is capable of a wide variety of tasks. According to the packaging, the Quick Angle can be used as a compass, a scribe, a drill press jig, and a saw guide. It can find angles, locate the center of a circle, and figure roof pitch. From the looks of it, it has the potential of replacing at least three tools in your tool bag (or at least, greatly reducing their usage). We’ll be testing it this week and will have a full review up soon.
Available at Quick Angle
April 6, 2007
One of the more interesting products we saw at this year’s JLC Live, was the Handi-Shim. We talked to the guys at the booth and they were pretty excited about their little multi-colored, reusable shims. In fact, they were nice enough to let us take a bag to test out. Well for about two weeks now, we’ve been using them for just about everything and we have to say that we’re very impressed. They are a quick, easy, and durable alternative to traditional shim shingles and because they are reusable, they make for an economic purchase as well.
The shims come in three sizes; 1/16” (red), 1/8” (white), and 1/4” (blue), and are 1-3/4” by 1-3/4” (we've also been notified that a fourth shim; green and measuring 1/32" is in the works). With such convenient sizes, just about any measurement can be achieved with a combination of these three. In addition, they are made so that you can easily snap each one into four smaller shims. This gave our bag of 30 the potential of being a bag of 120.
Continue reading: "Handi-Shims - Review"
April 4, 2007
We were pretty thrilled when Ridgid sent the Fuego along for us to test out. It’s a unique idea, and the first of its kind: the 6-1/2” framing saw. It’s lightweight, powerful, durable, and loaded with more features than James Bond’s Aston Martin.
We’ve been punishing this saw for about a week now. We’ve cut every piece every piece of wood that crossed our path. We measured the accuracy of the bevel gauge, the depth setting, and the kerf lines, and, yes, we dropped the thing. Not a casual, accidental, elbow knocks it off the workbench onto a pile of tarps drop. Nope. Ridgid said that the Fuego’s composite plate can withstand a fall of one story, so we heaved it up to a healthy height and gave it a full-on, nose to the earth, 9.8 meters per second squared, watch it go, drop.
Continue reading: "Ridgid Fuego 6-1/2" Framing Saw - Review"
If you’re looking for a quick 1/2 day project to do around the house, how about covering up that Lally column in the finished part of your basement? Instead of boxing it out with regular flat stock, which sounds to us like one of those 2 hour projects that ends up taking all month, a small company called Pole-Wrap has a faster, easier solution. Their product, Pole-Wrap (who knew?), is a flexible sheet of 1/2” red oak panels that, you guessed it, wrap around the Lally column, making it look not so much like a stripper’s pole and more like a piece of intentional architecture.
The installation looks pretty simple. Just cut the 8’ bundle to length, glue up the pole, fit the wrap around it, and tape it in place until the glue has time to set. After that, just install the cap and base and, aside from painting (or staining), you’re done.
Continue reading: "Pole-Wrap"
April 3, 2007
There are only a few options when it comes to finding a way to store your hand tools and have them easily transportable at the same time, and none of them are very good. We've had minimal success with the smaller sized doctor’s bag, but it was so tiny that it ended up overflowing and tools were always falling out when we picked it up. As an added bonus, our tools stayed in a jumbled pile and reaching for a wrench often took a few minutes of frustrating searching and untangling. So, recently, we switched over to the larger sized doctor’s bag, but even that has some critical problems. Now, we’ve got the room for our tools, but the bag divider doesn’t work. Essentially, we have the same problems we had with the smaller bag, except that now we’re not worried about leaving a Hansel and Gretel trail of hammers and screwdrivers everywhere we go.
We’ve also seen carpenters show up to the jobsite with their tools in ornate hand-made tool boxes. But not everyone wants to spent five weeks crafting a beautiful oak heirloom just so Mike, the summer help, can drop a Sawzall on it. Then, finally, there’s the dreaded five-gallon bucket with the bag insert. How pathetic is it when you see a woodworker carrying his beloved tools around in a plastic bucket? They’re tools, not Legos.
Continue reading: "Veto Pro Pac"
If you’ve ever owned an old house or even known someone who has, you know that the effort involved in keeping them going is huge. The process of fixing one thing usually leads to fixing something else and who even knows where to start when everything needs fixing in the first place? It's enough to make you jealous of Sisyphus and his boulder; at least he knew what was coming at the end of each day.
But old houses are filled with a personality and a feel that you simply can’t get with a new home and, for some, those characteristics far out-weigh the time and effort needed to keep these old warhorses afloat. But, there’s also no doubt that the process can be intimidating and, from time to time, overwhelming, even to the experienced builder. What should you tackle first? How will fixing this problem affect that other problem later on? Is that sagging old roof going to fall in on me while I’m sleeping? All these questions need answers, and thank the Lord for George Nash and his book, Renovating Old Houses, because he has all the answers.
Continue reading: "Renovating Old Houses – Review"
April 1, 2007
There is no doubt that the high point of our month was going to the JLC Live trade show in Providence, RI. We met a lot of great people and saw some really interesting tools, some of which we’re looking forward to reviewing in the upcoming days. And thanks to Skil, we got a chance to review their amazing Octo Sander, a tool that would be a nice addition to any workshop. Speaking of workshops, we found this guy, who used a pretty interesting method of redesigning his workshop. We also found a video of the safest table saw ever made (make sure to check this one out), as well as this very helpful Spring Home Maintenance Checklist.
This next month, we’re going to be reviewing Ridgid’s 6-1/2" Fuego Framing Saw, Microplane’s Stainless Steel Sanding Discs, a few books from Taunton press, and a whole lot more that we’re going to keep to ourselves for now.
March Tool of the Month
Skil's Octo Multi-Finishing Sander
Skil Octo Multi-Finishing Sander
Bosch Fine Cut Power Handsaw
Newborn 112D Caulking Gun with the Caulk Buddy
Plug Cutting Kit
Panasonic 15.6-Volt NiMH Cordless Drill
New and Interesting Tools
Paint Shaver Pro
Makita 18 Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Angle Grinder
Bostitch Strapshot Metal Connector
Johnson Magnetic Post Level
Microplane Stainless Steel Sanding Discs
Barbara K Power-Lite Cordless Drill
Hitachi 3.6 Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Screwdriver
Skil Octo Multi-Finishing Sander
Ridgid Fuego 6-1/2” Framing Saw
Starrett ProSite Miter Saw Protractor
Metabo BHE20 Compact SDS Rotary Hammer
Black & Decker 8" Automatic Adjustable Wrench
How to Design a Workshop
How to Make Your Front Entrance Safer
The Art of Pressure Washing
How to Use a Hammer
Books and Magazines
Fine Homebuilding No. 186, May 2007
Woodsmith - Vol. 29 / No. 170
Other Helpful Things We Found
Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
Home Depot Calculators
Metric Conversion Tables
The Glue Chart of the Gods
Sweepstakes (still active)
Ryobi Sweepstakes/Canadians Can't Add
Ridgid Power Trip Sweepstakes
DeWalt Cordless Finish Gun Sweepstakes - Only one day left to register
Morons With a Nail Gun
Safest Table Saw Ever?