All Reviews

February 26, 2015

Warhorse Makita Belt Sander

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Seems like every time I sit down to write a post about some tool of mine that has persevered through a long life of hard work and abuse, it's a Makita (check out my collection of old Makita circ saws here). This time, I'm giving a much needed call-out to my old Makita Belt Sander.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

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February 13, 2015

Hardcore Hammers Ultimate Survivalist Hatchet - Review

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A while back I reveled in reviewed the Hardcore Hammers Naturalist Hatchet. I loved it for it's....everything. Late last year, they sent along their newest hatchet, the Ultimate Survivalist for me to try out. And try out I did. Over and over and over. This new version polishes up some of the functionality of the older one and adds a few things. It also has a head that is nearly indestructible and holds an edge for a long time, which is really what you want if you're out in the middle of nowhere relying on your tools.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

February 10, 2015

Loftek Portable Floodlight - Review

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There's a special ball of rage deep in my belly that I reserve for halogen work lights. How a tool that is so irritating in all ways has become a job site standard ranks right up there with the Easter Island heads for total depth of mystery. They're bright, yes, but beyond that, pure torture. "Whoa, the housing is like a million degrees...what's that smell, oh, a burning moth...let it cool down for an hour before you change the bulb...make sure to wear gloves so you don't get any oil on the bulb...where's your screwdriver to open up the cage?...Oh those little ceramic bulb ends are pulverized in the sockets?...right, why don't you just pick up a new one the next time you're at the lumber yard."

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

January 23, 2015

Where I been....

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Since exactly none of you have been wondering why this site has slowly evolved into a ghost ship, I'll raise my hand, call on myself, and give an answer.

Most importantly, I've been wrapping up my renovation (yes, still...). I just looked at the first permit the other day (the renovation has two separate permits) and saw the issue date of November 2011. Yeah, that's a while ago. It's been a slog. I've been in full donkey mode for four years...building cabinets, framing, tiling, window restoration, flooring, painting, oh man, it's been a lot. Yesterday, I had the final electrical inspection and soon it will be time for the big kahuna building inspector to come through. If everything passes OK, I'll likely head to the nearest saloon for 2-4 months or maybe Tijuana. Once the "decompression" phase ends, I'm looking to get back to regular posting here at the site.

But along with the renovation, I have been keeping up with quite a bit of writing. A number of tool-ish reviews that I've done have been posted up at Tools of the Trade. If you're into tools, ToTT should really be one of your first stops. There is a lot of great coverage over there. Recently, I reviewed the new Makita 8-1/2-inch Compound Slider. It's a great little tool and if you want an easily portable slider, this should be one of the first saws you look at. I thought there were a couple small drawbacks, but they pale in comparison to all of the goodness that this tool brings to the table.

I also did a piece on my three favorite work gloves; one for general construction, one for demo and digging, and one for cold weather. When I first started in construction, I thought the fingerless framer gloves were totally silly, but over time I've completely bought into the concept. And now with all the use of touch screens, it's nice to not have to keep taking the gloves on and off all the time. The Kleins are a great representation of the design.

The StoneBreaker Rancher gloves deserve a special call out too. I have a hard time explaining to people how nice these gloves are. Most leather work gloves look like floppy Fozzie Bear hands, but the StoneBreakers are so form-fitting that they really fit like a...well....glove.

The RoboReel Air was another interesting item I reviewed for ToTT. It's a pneumatic hose with and electric recoil. It's all very similar to the RoboReel Electric that I covered here a while back. It's pricey for sure, but really handy to have.

Over at Fine Homebuilding I covered a similar item, the PneuPower Recoiler. It's also a retractable hose system, but this one is manual with a hand crank on the body of the tool.

If I were to choose between the two, it's tough to say which I'd go with. The Recoiler can get tangled up from time to time, but it's also less than half the price of the RoboReel and much easier to lug around. It also has 100' of hose while the RoboReel has 50. But still, the RoboReel winds up with the push of a button.

I've also been doing plenty of work over at TheSweethome.com. If you've never checked it out, I highly recommend doing so. It's a site that really strives to recommend the best gear that fits the needs of most normal people. They've got comprehensive articles on all kinds of homegoods from bath tissue to rice cookers to air conditioners (check the sister site TheWirecutter.com for digital gear like cameras, tvs, and computers). I've written a lot of the tool guides, such as...The Best Hammer, The Best Utility Knife, and The Best Adjustable Pliers and plenty of others. I've also done some yard gear like The Best Lawnmower and The Best Leaf Blower) and a few oddballs that ended up being completely fascinating to research...The Best Picture Hanger, The Best Duct Tape.


Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (4) | social bookmarking

November 4, 2014

Vampliers Pro - Review

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I have to admit that the name "Vampliers" was a little off-putting at first. It sort of sends the vibe of, "yeah, the tool doesn't have much going for it, so we gave it an interesting name." Turns out, that's not the case at all. The Vampliers are, in fact, a unique, useful and interesting variation of a set of linesman pliers. The fact that they're very well made only adds to the goodness.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

October 17, 2014

Powerstrike Framing Hammer - Review

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The Powerstrike Framing Hammer is easily the strangest hammer I've ever seen. With it's exposed welds, its nuts and bolts vibe, and the hollow metal handle, there is nothing about it that says "normal operating procedure." They sent me a couple to check out and I've been pounding on them for at least a month now. They're great too, maybe not perfect, but really nice.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 6, 2014

Irwin Vise-Grip Cutting Pliers - Review

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[I updated the piece with more info on the handles]

The other day Irwin sent over a sample of their new line of cutting pliers and man o man, are they nice. Really nice. They ain't cheap, but they're slick.

We first saw these a while back when Stu from ToolGuyd mentioned them, noting that they're manufactured by NWS. NWS is a German company and beyond the message board tool junkies, they don't have much presence in the US. Everything I've ever read about them has been positive but I've honestly never even held one of their tools until now. That apparently was a mistake.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

August 26, 2014

Hart Quick-Tatch Trowel System - Review

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I'm no pro tile guy, but in my recent/current/never-ending renovation I've tiled four bathroom floors, two tub surrounds, a shower, a kitchen backsplash, and 500 sq/ft of basement floor. So I've come to understand a a decent amount about tiling. Of all this accumulated knowledge, one of the most annoying things I've learned is that trowels are very, very difficult to store.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

August 19, 2014

Klein Coaxial Cable Cutter - Review

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Klein recently sent us a sample of their new Coaxial Cable Cutter and after taking it down to the basement and doing some serious slicing and dicing with our A/V wiring, we're pretty impressed with it, more than we were expecting to be.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

June 20, 2014

Holdsabit - Review

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On-board bit storage on a drill is like cheese on a cracker (and I'm not entirely sure what I mean when I say that). I think the point is that it's kind of essential, or at least, if it's not there then it feels like something is lacking. But the bar here is set pretty low; even the best drills only come with room for maybe one or two 1" bits. This is alright, but if you're really getting into a project, it sure would be nice to have a spot to stick a bit for pre-drilling or to have room for four or five additional bits (P1, P2, P3, R1, R2, T15, etc). So yeah, wait a minute, here comes something called the Holdsabit. It actually looks like a one of those backpacks that you put on a dog for camping, but instead of holding Alpo and whiskey, it holds bits.

Holdsabit was nice enough to send us a sample to test out and we've been playing with it for a while now and have come to our conclusions.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

February 12, 2014

Simple Scribe - Review

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We split our scribing needs between a set of dividers and whatever block of wood we have on hand. Honestly, unless we need to be precise to the 1/64th, we generally opt for a block of wood. This method may not carry with it the finesse of the dividers, but it provides a stable surface to hold the pencil against and it's very easy to keep the pencil tip in line with the scribed surface. Dividers are definitely more precise but if you accidentally shift the angle of your hand, things can go awry. The needle end can also get hung up on things from time to time and there's the potential for the adjustment to slip, especially if you're keeping them set for multiple scribes. On top of all this, they're delicate, so some caution has to be taken with their storage.

Well some smart dude recently took the wooden block idea and ramped it up to Ferrari status with something called the Simple Scribe. It's a very oddly-shaped tool that completely stabilizes the pencil and lets you choose between seven different scribe distances. About a month ago, they sent us one and while it may not fulfill 100% of our scribing needs, it handles most of them with ease. To the point where it has even secured a coveted spot in the toolbelt.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

January 16, 2014

Bostitch BTC400LB 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Drill/Driver

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Update: Bostitch just informed us that the pricing on the drill should be $150 and not the $80 that Amazon is selling it for. Who knows what's going on over at Amazon, but they just bumped the price down another $10 and added "only one left in stock," so go on and get while the Gettins good.

Sooo...Bostitch is into power tools now. At the moment, they've got a basic line-up; Standard carpenter gear, nothing too fancy. Jigsaws, recips, circ saws type things. No routers or anything specialized. We were curious about the line-up and the quality level, so Bostitch was nice enough to send us one of the 18-volt drills to check out (the flagship tool of just about every product line).

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (5) | social bookmarking

January 14, 2014

Klein Compact Ratcheting Modular Crimper - Review

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Klein has really been stepping up their game lately. It seems like every week we're getting a new press release announcing a new tool or accessory. Most of them are geared toward the electrician but some, like their great line of tool bags, go beyond that into general interest.

In the category of "electrician's only," they recently hit the scene with a new Compact Ratcheting Modular Crimper. They sent us one to check out.

In the past, about 8 years ago, I used a crimper, exactly once. So, I really don't have much business writing a review of one. To get a sense of the tool, I spoke to my brother-in-law who is a bit of a wiring fanatic. He's constantly rewiring his house by himself. He recently had some Verizon guys there to install some stuff and he ended up taking over and doing the work himself.

But back to the crimper. Klein describes it as:


  • All inclusive tool cuts, strips and crimps data and voice cables.

  • Cuts and strips CAT6, CAT5e, CAT3 and flat-satin voice cables.

  • Crimps 6 and 8 position modular connectors (RJ11, RJ12, RJ45)

  • Compact, ergonomic design for natural, single-hand operation.

  • About 40% smaller than other crimpers for easy storage.

  • Heavy-duty ratchet ensures complete termination.

  • Quick reference connector wiring diagrams provided on the tool and downloadable to your mobile device.

  • Direct lateral crimp action provides more even, precise contact termination across all pins.

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Here's what the Bro-in-Law had to say...

"I have a separate toolbox for doing the electrical stuff around the house; rewire / replace plugs, switches etc., add new outlets, put in new / replacement lights etc. If I can find a Klein tool to do the job, I'll buy it. They tend to be expensive but worth the cost in the long run due to their durability and reliability. Making data and phone cables can be a painful process with the wrong crimper tool... I have a non-Klein crimp tool made by IDEAL that has a bit of a problem cutting the wire prior to crimping. I like the quick reference connector wiring diagrams that can be downloaded because I just don't do enough cables to remember the wiring off the top of my head (someone doing it every day would probably not need this feature). And the idea of a smaller crimp tool is great because my box is already stuffed. Cool that it does all the CAT types."

So yeah, there you go...now you know at least a little about the tool...and my brother-in-law...

It's a little over $30 at Amazon

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 16, 2013

3M Patch Plus Primer - Review

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If you read this site with any regularity, it probably means that you're sick of listening to me complain about painting. I cry and moan about it a lot and now that I'm painting my entire house, I've ratcheted up the ire quite a bit in the last few months. Well, 3M's new Patch Plus Primer is designed to skip a step in painting. They asked if I wanted to try some out and of course I said "oh yeah!" I've been using it for a few weeks and here's what I think...

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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