February 22, 2011

Makita LCT208W 12-Volt Combo Kit (Driver and Circ Saw) - Review


UPDATE: The mini circ saw is now available as a stand alone, with two batteries and a charger. Makita's page is here and it's available at Amazon.com here.

Anyone who was on a jobsite in the 90s is probably familiar with the 9.6 volt circ saw that Makita used to manufacture. You know, the one with the long, skinny handle. Yeah, that one. Well, it's taken a while, but they've finally updated it for their new 12-volt platform (they've bundled it with one of their 12-volt drivers). They shipped us a kit to test out and for the past month, we've been driving it like a stolen car and here are our conclusions.

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

February 4, 2011

Johnson Tiling & Flooring Laser Level - Review


Tiling is all about layout and once you get used to spotting bad tile layout, public bathrooms become even worse places than they already are. How could someone leave a 3/4" wide tile at one corner and a 4" tile at the other? Auuugh...the horror.

So anyway, Johnson Level & Tool recently sent us a nifty little item called the Tiling and Flooring Laser Level. Unfortunately, we don't have any tiling jobs coming up, but we are in the process of laying out some wall to wall bookshelves and so we utilized the laser for that project.

The tool basically projects two lines at a right angle. The unit is marked with degrees (sort of like a rafter square) and it has standard and metric measurements along the short sides. These latter marks were nice because we could position the laser against an inside corner and check for square using the measurements as offsets (5-1/16"). It also projects the laser lines a solid 1-1/4" off the floor, so you don't have to worry about the lines getting blocked as you're laying down thick tile.


In a short time we've come to think that calling this a Tiling and Flooring laser sells it a bit short. We'd suggest maybe going with "Right Angle Layout Level" or something like that. This tool will no doubt be a help to anyone laying tile, but also to anyone marking out a 90 degree corner of anything, whether it's a stud wall or (like we were doing) a set of shelves. It was great to be able to finalize our corner location and know where both walls of shelving would end up. Without the laser, it would have been a pretty tedious process.

One thing that did bother us about the laser is that the battery case doesn't stay on all that well. On a bunch of occasions, we would grab the body of the laser and the little black lid would fly off. There is also no easy way to use the tool on the vertical, like for a tiling job in a shower or something similar.


If you're a DIYer embarking on a tile job and you've invested all this money in tile and supplies, the $40 spent on this tool will go a long way to ensure that the results will look good. Also if you do a lot of non-tile layout, you might want to consider this as well. It sure took time off of our project.

The Tiling and Flooring Laser Level comes with batteries and a case.

At Amazon.com

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

January 28, 2011

Ryobi Tek4 Cordless Inspection Scope - Review


In just a few short years, inspection scopes have gone from, "only the specialists have them" to "my mom's got like three of these things." Actually, that's not true, we're not there yet, but we're getting there. And with its big box store availability and nice price, the Ryobi Cordless Inspection Scope, powered by their 4-volt Tek4 battery gives a solid push in that direction. Ryobi sent us one to check out and after using it for about a month in a variety of settings, here we are writing the review...

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (6) | social bookmarking

January 26, 2011

Porter-Cable PC1500HG Heat Gun - Review


A heat gun is one of those tools that you're probably not going to carry around with you in your truck, but when you need one, man o man are they ever handy. Recently, Porter-Cable sent us their new model to test out and review. We only used it a few times in the fall, but now that it's winter we're finding all kinds of things to do with it. We also did a few head to head lab tests against our old Kawasaki heat gun (reviewed here). Read on to see what we thought...

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

January 24, 2011

i-Drill 2i-Drill Review


There's a new 12-volt platform on the block and it's from a company called i-Drill. They were nice enough to send us one of their new 2-Speed Drills to review.

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

January 21, 2011

Bagster - Review


An inevitable byproduct of tinkering around on your house is something known in English as 'trash.' Scraps of sheet rock, cut-offs, demo'd materials, etc. For the big jobs, you go and get a dumpster, for the small ones, you cut everything up into small pieces and use contractor bags. But what about those mid-sized projects like a big set of built-ins or relocating a wall? The answer used to be: "find a friend with a pickup truck who lives in a town with a lax dump policy," but now, the answer may very well be, 'get a Bagster." Waste Management, who runs the Bagster program, was nice enough to let us fill one up for a review and here's what we found...

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

January 19, 2011

Troy-Bilt Storm 3090 XP Snow Thrower - Review


We live up in the northeast and have had a lot of experience with snow blowers (we call them snow blowers not snow throwers, maybe it's a regional thing), but our all-time favorite machine was a 30" Troy-Bilt that we sold with our last house. The thing was a monster and if the driveway wasn't so steep and deadly and the snow blower a necessity of sale, we would have kept it forever.

Tool Snob's current HQ has a long driveway and a number of parking areas and last winter we used a snow blower that was donated by FiLoTS (Father in-law of Tool Snob). It was an old Toro (we think) and it's meant for clearing out small driveways and short walkways, not 300 feet of gravel driveway. While the machine was functional, it was also frustrating. Once you've tasted the high-life of the 30", it's tough to go back. Every time we started it up we would pine for our old Troy-Bilt.

So we were pretty excited when Troy-Bilt offered to let us try out their new 3090 XP Snow Thrower. As it turns out it's the updated version of our old stand-by. We've now had it through three big storms, each consisting of over 12" of snow, and we've spent a total of about 7 hours behind the machine. We've now come to our conclusions...

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

January 7, 2011

Milwaukee M12 Heated Jacket - Review


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


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.

cadex30_trigger.JPG cadex30_trigger_hand.JPG

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.

cadex30_in_action.JPG cadex30_nose.JPG

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 (2) | social bookmarking

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