January 7, 2011

Milwaukee M12 Heated Jacket - Review

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Once you've conquered the massive 12-volt Pex expander market, there's really nowhere left to go but casual outerwear. And that's what Milwaukee has done. Their crushing domination of the 12-volt world is fully on display with the release of their new M12 Heated Jacket. It's almost like they're taunting the other companies at this point. Whether or not that's actually the case (it probably isn't), they nicely sent us one to check out.

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

January 4, 2011

Black & Decker Ratcheting ReadyWrench - Review

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There's been a lot of hay made lately about these multi-headed dog bone wrenches and many die-hard tool users seem to hail them as useless with such enthusiasm as to make us think the tool was some kind of genetic abomination like one of those seven-footed toads found near Chernobyl. The deal is that it's a double headed wrench with a rotating head at each end. The heads have four sides, each of which has a different sized socket on it. We've actually never handled one of these tools before, but Black and Decker was nice enough to send us their ratcheting ReadyWrench, (which adds a ratcheting feature to the mix), and for the past month we've used it for all kinds of things.

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

December 29, 2010

Cadex CP23.30 23 Gauge Pinner - Review

cadex30.JPGIt's a habit of ours to loudly announce to anyone who will listen that Cadex's 23 gauge pinner (the CPB23.50) is one of the best tools we've ever used. It's like the Fein MultiMaster of nail guns in that every aspect of it just reeks of quality. We recently heard that Cadex added another pinner, the CP23.30, to their line (their third pinner) and we were pretty excited when they sent one our way for a review.

cadex_30_w_35.JPGSo here's where the new gun fits into the Cadex pinner family tree (this gets a little confusing): The 23.50, the one that we love, has a pin capacity of up to 2" and it can also shoot slight-headed brads as well as pins. Cadex has another gun that can handle both pins and brads (the 23.35) but this one only has a fastener capacity of up to 1-3/16". This pinner and the aforementioned 23.50 also have a number of other features that set them over the top (muffler, blow gun, etc). The new gun, the one being reviewed here, the 23.30, shoots only pins and...well...that's about all the tool does. It's basically Cadex saying, "OK, how minimal can we go and still deliver quality at a good price." Literally, everything unnecessary has been removed from the tool. Even the trigger.

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Most pinners have a second safety trigger that nests under the main trigger. To operate, first pull the secondary trigger to release the safety and then you're free to pull the main trigger to shoot the nail. The 23.30 works slightly differently. Instead of a second trigger there is a little toggle piece that sits directly behind the trigger which prohibits it from being pulled. With a little tap of the forefinger, the stop on the toggle shifts to the side and frees up the trigger. Unlike the double trigger, the toggle does not automatically reset to the safety position, but another tap of the thumb puts it back in place.

There are other pinners out there that have this single trigger set-up, but this was the first time we had any hands on experience with it. We were initially skeptical due to safety reasons, but once we got used to it, we started to not even notice that we were flipping the safety toggle back into position when we were setting the gun down.

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The 23.30 has a pin capacity of 1/2" to 1-3/16" which is more than a lot of the $100 pinners out there, most of which only seem to go to the 1" mark. We had no problem shooting some 1-3/16" pins into oak. This new little Cadex is plenty powerful.

The bottom line here is that the Cadex 23.30 is another solid gun from Cadex. Does it have a muffler, a blowgun, or an adjustable exhaust? No. Does it have a case? No. Does it have a larger pin capability than most guns in its price range? Yes. Does it offer the essentials at Cadex-level quality? Yup. Do we recommend it? Absolutely.

At Amazon.com

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

December 22, 2010

Johnson Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser - Review

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After the Big Bosch Laser Bonanza that we had going on a little bit ago, we thought we'd never want to write another word about laser levels. But we got to talking to the folks at Johnson Level and Tool and they suggested that we test out their new Self-Leveling Cross Line Laser. We had a bunch of projects coming up that would be perfect testing grounds and we were really impressed with their Laser Level and Angle Locator so we happily agreed.

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

December 15, 2010

Campbell Hausfeld Home Improvement Project Kit (FP260097) - Review

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Campbell Hausfeld has started bundling little 1-gallon compressors with various tool sets, specific to particular DIY audiences. They've got a Home Decor kit well-suited for the artsy craftsies, a Home Maintenance kit which seems to center around drain cleaning and putty spreading, and finally, a Home Improvement kit, which is the one that interests us the most as it's created around carpentry tasks. Campbell Hausfeld was nice enough to box one up and send it our way so that we could check it out.

ch_hik_bag.JPGIncluded with the kit is the little compressor, a pneumatic brad/stapler, a pneumatic caulking gun, a few air hose attachments, and a pouch full of hand tools.

So what are the hand tools like? Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The rafter square looks like it would last about 22 second on a job site, but the pry bar looks as good as any we've seen. The utility knife is really basic; the level works fine, but is plastic; and the 5-in-1 looks good.

The brad gun has a nice feel to it and it's only the non-bumpered nose that bums us out. It's the kind of nose that's going to dent the workpiece no matter what you do. But other than that, it's a fine gun. It shoots both brad nails and crown staples.

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It was actually the caulking gun that we liked the most (and trust us, we were pretty doubtful). We put in a tube of cold Liquid Nail and it didn't have any problems getting some to squeeze out as if it were 90 degrees out.

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But let's cut to the chase here. This kit isn't about the subtleties of the tools, it isn't about how ergonomic the handles are, it's about value. It's about bang for the buck. And the bottom line here is that it's a lot of bang, for a-lot-less-than-what-you'd-expect buck. The CH Home Improvement Kit costs about $140 which is pretty nice for all of this in one box.

We think that really anyone would be happy with this kit. It would be good not only for the first time DIYer, but also the carpenter looking for a quick and easy set-up for punch list tasks (after throwing out the rafter square, of course). Or better yet, for the young carpenter who is looking to get some tools, but might not have the cash just yet to get the really aggressive stuff.

At the moment, there is no online availability for the kit, but if you're interested, call 1-888-CHPower (247 6937)

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

December 3, 2010

PowerSharp Chainsaw Sharpening System - Review

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Have you ever sharpened a chainsaw by hand?

It blows. It really does.

It's time consuming, tedious, and we always seem to end up with bloody knuckles by the time we're through. There's the alternative of bringing the chain to the hardware store and having them sharpen it, but who wants to deal with that? So now there is a third option: the PowerSharp Chainsaw Sharpening System. Its maker, Oregon was nice enough to send us a sample to try out. In order to test it, we first had to dull the chain, and to do that, we did horrible, horrible things to our chainsaw. Things that went against everything we believe...

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (7) | social bookmarking

November 29, 2010

Bosch GCM12SD 12-Inch Axial Glide Miter Saw - Review

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If there ever was a tool that sucked the oxygen out of the room, it's the Bosch Axial Glide Miter Saw. It's crazy, but everyone is talking about it. Even our non-tool friends are asking, 'hey have you seen that saw with the Bionicle arms?" Until recently, we had actually only seen it on paper. A number of frustrating experiences at the airport prohibited us from making our flights out to Bosch for the unveiling of the tool (we tried twice), so it was just a couple weeks ago, when Bosch nicely packed one up and sent it our way, that we got to see the tool in person and give it a good once over.

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

November 24, 2010

Porter-Cable 560 Quik Jig Pocket Hole Joinery System - Review

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Pocket hole jigs are an easy way to make a nice, tight, glue-free joint. It's basically a jig for pre-drilling the hole for a low-angled toe-screw and it's good for cabinet work, built-ins, saw jigs, all sorts of butt-joint stuff. There hasn't been a whole lot of innovation to the category since Kreg developed their Master Kit, which has since become the standard.

Well, Porter-Cable obviously wasn't satisfied with the current technology, so they've gone and developed something they call the 560 Quik Jig and after reading the initial press release, we did a round of high-fives when we got word that they agreed to box one up and sent it our way for reviewing purposes.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

November 8, 2010

Skil 3600-02 Flooring Saw - Review

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It's always nice when a tool company releases something that we've never seen before. And that's exactly what Skil has done with their unique flooring saw (unique, that is, until Ryobi recently released an identical tool, our thoughts on that one here).

The point of the flooring saw is that it tries to be a one-stop tool for your flooring needs. In order to do that it needs combines two functions; cross-cutting a la miter saw and ripping a la table saw. Because flooring material is relatively thin and rarely gets any thicker than 3/4", the design of the Flooring Saw can be a miniaturized affair. No need to slice up a 2x4 here.

Skil was nice enough to send a sample our way and for over a month we've been using it, and not just on flooring either. Read on...

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

October 26, 2010

Husqvarna 576 XP AutoTune Chainsaw - Review

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So what does a $1,000 chainsaw look like?

Um...this.

We're not kidding. This thing will set you back a grand. Well actually $909.95, but once you breach the $800 mark, who really cares? This is the Husqvarna 576 AutoTune Chainsaw. Is the engine block made of solid gold? Does it use liquefied silver for the chain lube? What gives? Why the sky-high sticker price?

When we first found out that Husqvarna was going to send us one of these saws to review, we danced around the shop in a very un-logger like fashion. We (obviously) like using tools, and we love using good tools, but when we get the chance to use an elite tool, it's a particular thrill. And at $1000, this one reeked of wonderful, pure, sugary elitism.

So what's the mystery of the Midas saw? We found out. Read on....

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

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