September 16, 2009

Striker Carbide Utility Score - Review

striker_carbide.jpgStriker is a pretty new tool company and so far they've released a number of items that we've been impressed with (mini LED light, utility knife) and one that we were less impressed with (mechanical carpenter's pencil). Lately, we've been testing out their new carbide utility score, which, aside from basically two parts (the flip out blade and the blade holder) is exactly the same as the utility knife.

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Because we were fans of the utility knife (it's going on six months as our go-to knife), it's no shocker that we liked the carbide score as well. The same large handle is there, as is the durability and easy flip action. So far we've diced up two bathrooms worth of cement board and it's been a great tool to have. Like the knife, it has a rasp on the side of the blade, so shaving off a whisker is not a problem. There's also a nice belt clip. The overall look of the thing is pretty cool and just about everyone on site who is under the age of 25 makes sure to tell us so.

It's a nice tool and way better than those el cheapos that are usually available at hardware stores. The Striker costs about $20, so if you're a pro, it's worth it to get a tool you'll be proud of.

At Amazon.com

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

August 24, 2009

Wagner Power Painter Plus and Wagner Project Sprayer - Review

wpp_w_ps_2.jpgWagner SprayTech has recently released a number of hand held paint sprayers and they were nice enough to send two of them our way for review purposes. That was months ago. Since that time, we've used every available excuse to not get around to reviewing the items...but they're going to be really messy....it's going to take a long time to figure out how to use them....there's going to be paint everywhere....it'll take three hours just to clean everything...and so on. About a week ago, we'd had enough procrastinating and carved out an afternoon to investigate the Power Painter Plus and the Project Sprayer. And at this point, we now feel we owe Wagner a huge apology for thinking that their little sprayers were going to be a hassle. They weren't. In fact they're pretty easy to deal with.

Both of the items have the same look and feel. Sort of like a screw gun with a big plastic udder hanging off it. The basics of operating them includes filling up the canister and, after plugging the sprayer in, pulling the trigger. That's really all there is to it. You can toggle between a vertical spray or a horizontal one by moving the nozzle to the appropriate position.

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Using the sprayers takes a little getting used to, but not as much as we had thought. We're not used to sprayers, so if you're in the same boat, we suggest getting a sheet of 1/4" ply wood and painting it until you feel confident with the sprayer. After about 20 minutes of this, we got good at laying down a nice, even spray.

Of the two models, the Power Painter Plus is the more feature-laden and thus has more versatility. In addition to the plastic canister, the Power Painter Plus also comes with a hose, which allows you to siphon paint right out of a can. This is good for a few reasons. One, you don't have to worry about continually refilling the canister during larger jobs and two, you're now free to tilt the sprayer up at something. While using the canister, from time to time, we would tilt the gun to paint the underside of something which would cause the paint level to go below the siphon and thus leave the gun literally spitting out paint, which was not good for the paint job. To ensure that this doesn't happen using the hose method, Wagner has supplied a little clip that holds the hose in the paint can, so it stays in place. There is also a backpack assembly, sold separately, so ladder work is possible with a larger volume of paint.

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It's worth noting that the Power Painter Plus also comes with a carrying case.

Setting up and using the guns is easy enough, but how about clean-up, the bane of any painting project? It's actually not too bad. The process involves pretty much taking the tool apart and making sure that every little piece gets 100% cleaned. The Power Painter Plus comes with a special canister cover that allows you to place all the small pieces in the canister and then connect a hose up to it in order to cycle water through. We tried it out, but discovered that two 5-gallon buckets were just as good for us. We tested the sprayers out with a latex paint, so clean-up was all done with soap and water. Oil paint, on the other hand, involves thinner which would likely complicate matters to the point where we would probably end up throwing everything away at the end of day one.

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So, in the end, are they worth it? Well, it depends on what you're painting and how much patience you have to handle things like the spraying learning curve and the clean-up process. If you're going to be doing some interior walls, you're insane to consider using a sprayer (check out Wagner's TurboRoll instead - our review here). But if you need to deal with things like shutters, lawn furniture, or a picket fence, then definitely consider one of these sprayers.

The Project Sprayer runs for $60 while the Power Painter plus will set you back $85.

Project Sprayer at Amazon.com
Power Painter Plus at Amazon.com

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

August 17, 2009

Craftsman 25cc Propane Trimmer Powered by Lehr - Review

craftsman_trimmer2.jpgLooking at things mathematically, our lawn might be one of the hardest in the world to mow. There are curved flower beds everywhere, terraced lawns, railroad tie retaining walls, granite retaining walls, and moss beds a plenty. There are also some horseshoe pits and some homemade benches that we made with a chainsaw a while back. Pretty much every possible obstacle to the easy-to-mow grid is out there somewhere. Since nothing is on a straight line and there's stuff everywhere, once we put the mower away, we're only half way done. It's now string trimmer time, or as we like to call it, "fight with the 2-stroke engine" time.

Craftsman is looking to put an end to some of this agony with their 25CC Propane Trimmer (powered by Lehr). It's exactly what it sounds like, a string trimmer that runs on propane as opposed to gas.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (10) | social bookmarking

August 7, 2009

Gator Drywall Sanding Head & Zip Sand Block - Review

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Over the years, we've learned that there are a few secrets to making nice drywall joints. The first is to not be shy with the joint compound; for a while we would try to use as little as possible which would leave us with a little ridge along the tape line which would easily telegraph through our usually rushed paint job. Since you want to blend in the joint with the wall, the more width on the compound joint, the better (duh). It also helps if you use a large knife when applying putty so your patch will be as even as possible. Along these lines is the second trick, which is to use a large sanding block. This way, the sanding is also even and smooth (again, duh).

Gator has just released a new Drywall Sanding Head that's great for this application. In addition to being a solid 4" by 10", the Gator sanding head is smaller than the paper that's made for it which softens the edge for sanding, which is nice and leads to a very smooth finish. The sanding head is also available with an adapter for a broom handle so you can hit the ceiling with no problem.

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Gator has also released a new sanding block that uses adhered sandpaper as opposed to putting the grit directly into the sponge. This leads to a longer lasting grit and less 'gumming up.' We were skeptical about rinsing out the new sponge, but we did it a number of times and it appeared to have no negative effect on the grit. It's also compatible with the Gator Sponge Holder (our review here). This is all good, but we found one major oversight in the design and that is the lack of a gritty surface on the sides of the sponge. We tend to use sponges to sand all kinds of uneven shapes and usually this includes utilizing the corners, faces, and sides, but here with only the two large sides of the item usable, this is quite a bit more difficult.

The sanding head is available on its own or as a part of a nice looking drywall sanding kit which is at Amazon.com

More information on both items at ZipSander.com

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

July 30, 2009

Campbell Hausfeld Angled Finish Nailer - Review

CH_nailer.jpgCampbell Hausfeld is out with a new line of pneumatics (www.chnailers.com/)that are specifically designed for the casual user. We recently got a chance to test out their new Angled Finish Nailer and check out all the interesting new features.

First off, we have to give CH some serious applause for including an instruction manual that's actually helpful. Like we said, this is a gun for the first time user and occasional DIYer and that's someone who is likely going to need a quick primer on compressors and guns. The instructions are nicely laid out, easily referenced, and very helpful to someone who's trying to understand how their first nail gun works. Thankfully, it has no resemblance to the generic 'manual' that comes with most other tools ('make sure to wear eye protection...etc")

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

July 27, 2009

Milwaukee M12 LED Worklight - Review

milwaukee_led_light.jpgMilwaukee recently entered the 12-volt fray with a work light and because it's an LED, according to Milwaukee, it's twice as bright as a regular incandescent bulb. The light has a good, solid, ready-for-the-job-site feel to it and it fits the hand just like a lightsaber would (our second Star Wars reference in a week!). It has a small magnet along the handle and the head pivots 90 degrees with seven hard stops along the way, making it very easy to direct the light. It also can stand up on the battery end, aiding the process as well.

And what a light it is. It's absolutely blinding and we're suspicious of the claim that it's twice as bright as a regular light. To us, it seems about ten times brighter. And not only is this thing bright, it's focused too. Even at 50' away the line between what is being lit and what isn't is very clearly defined. In fact, it reminds us of the spotlight from a 1960s prison movie or the cartoon intro to the Pink Panther movies. There's no gray area with this light, when it's on there's the area that looks like daylight and the area that is black.

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We had it at work for a while and in that setting it's ideal. The magnet lets it hang nicely from a metal stud or a pipe and the pivoting head does the rest. We had to cut a hole in the ceiling of a little curtain pocket where there was no way to fit us, our Fein, our ladder, and any sort of regular sized work light. So we took the Milwaukee and used the magnet to attach it to a metal junction box and easily completed our task. Without the tool, it would have been a real struggle.

milwaukee_led_optics.jpgWe also took it along for a few night time walks in the woods and there, if you can believe it, it was too bright. There was a good moon out so for the most part we relied on that but from time to time, we'd need to click the light on to find the path. The Milwaukee light would do such a number on our night vision that we would end up walking into things. It's sort of an odd circumstance, and not really one that many people are going to run into, so it's not a complaint, just an example of how bright this little guy is.

Oh, and we forgot to mention that it's very durable. We dropped it a few times and it never seemed fazed and when we were at Milwaukee HQ a while back a few guys were practically treating it like a soccer ball and it always kept on shining.

At almost 50 bucks (battery and charger not included) we're sure a lot of you are thinking "I can get a quality light for half that price. And you probably can, but it likely won't be as bright and it definitely won't be compatible with your other 12-volt Milwaukee tools.

At Amazon.com

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

July 24, 2009

Bosch DareDevil Spade Bits - Review

bosch_daredevil_kit.jpgBosch is known primarily for their tools, but lately they've really been making a name for themselves in the accessories market. Anyone who has used tools for a while knows that blades and bits are just as important as the tool that they're seated in. Tools are sort of a 'weakest link' scenario; a great drill with a dull bit is only going to be as good as the dull bit. We've been testing out the Bosch DareDevil Spade Bits and can now say that if you put one of these in a great drill, what you have is a relentless wood eradication system.

The primary difference between the DareDevil Spade bits and your standard spades bits is this little threaded nub up at the centering point. Once these threads catch (which they can't not do), the bit is actually pulled into the wood. This happens with so much aggressiveness that we practically felt in danger of dislocating our shoulder while drilling holes. The body of the spade is also contoured so that the shaved wood doesn't clog up the hole and bog down the bit. The pointed spurs are additionally designed to minimize blow-out (which is better than most spade bits, but still considerable). There's a lot going on with these little bits.

The bottom line is that the Bosch DareDevils absolutely devastate lumber and if you're looking for some real fireworks, put one in an impact driver. After a couple of minutes it'll look like there's a pileated woodpecker living in your workshop. We spent about 30 seconds on a pressure-treated 2x6 drilling maybe a half dozen random holes and, as you can see from the image, the results are serious.

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The only issue that we could find with these bits is that you can't just pull the drill out of a half-drilled hole, you actually have to put the drill in reverse. Once the centering threads catch and the connection to the wood is made, it's over. This is hardly a drawback, but just something we had to get used to.

If you're an electrician, carpenter, whatever really, we suggest checking out these bits. If you're a deck builder, just stop what you're doing and find some as fast as you can, and make sure to get the extension so putting holes in 4x6s won't be a problem.

Note that the DareDevil's are so badass they have their own website: http://boschdaredevil.com

At Amazon.com

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

July 21, 2009

Ezy Hang Door Lifter - Review

ezy_hang1.jpgOne of the classic carpentry tasks is hanging a door. From what we've seen pretty much everyone has their own way of doing it and while there is a lot of variety in approach, one fact remains a constant; the door needs to be lifted into place. And this is where the Ezy Hang Door Lifter comes into play.

The Easy Hang Door Lifter is in reality a very simple item and actually something that anyone with a stick welder, a drill press and a few scraps of metal could probably cobble together (minus the powder-coating). It consists of two connected feet, each with a lever and corresponding lift pad. To use it, just maneuver the door onto the pads, press on the levers with your feet, and watch the pads and the door elevate off the ground. When we hang a door by ourselves, we usually have a flatbar and some shims helping us along at this stage. It's do-able, but pretty clumsy and it takes a bit to get the door at exactly the correct height. This is where the Ezy Hang Door Lifter excels. Because there are two independent lift pads, it is extremely easy to adjust the door in the opening in order to mark out or line up your hinges.

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When not in use, the foot pedals of the Ezy Hang fold in and make the item compact enough to stick in the back of a truck or in a gang box or behind the mower in the garage.

The EZY Hang can handle any door up to 220lbs, which means that it can deal with just about any wooden door and most others. Once you get into metal acoustical doors, you're going to start having problems, but those likely come with the frame and hinges all set up already, so the precision lifting is less of an issue.

ezy_hang4.jpgezy_hang_6.jpg

And that's really all there is to say. While it's a very smart item, it's not a particularly complicated one; no LEDs, no laser sighting, no blade changing. Just a couple levers connected with some bar stock. So our review boils down to, "does it work?" The answer here is, "yup, sure does. Works great."

Being an Australian product, the Ezy Hang isn't in your local hardware store, or even the Home Depot or Lowes. If you're interested in ordering one, check out the website for more information (it looks like you'll have to email the inventor for pricing information and availability).

At Ezy Hang Door Lifter

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

July 9, 2009

Bosch R2-P2 Driver Bit - Review

Driver_Bits.jpgIn order to exist on our jobsite in any functional manner, we need to have on us, at all times, eight different driver bits. It's a total nightmare, but that's just the way it is. We have all sorts of screws for all sorts of different applications and during the course of a day, we're involved with just about every aspect of the site. We need a P2, P3, 5/16" nut drive, 3/8" nut drive, 1/4" nut drive, R1, R2, and the Timberlok Spider Bit. We used to carry them around in an Altoid tin, but now we just have them in a pocket. It's a complete pain in the ass to have to constantly switch out bits.

So anything that takes even one of these bits out of the equation is something we're going to love. Enter, the Bosch R2-P2 Driver bit. Very simply, it's a bit that can drive both P2 screws and R2 screws. If you're unfamiliar with the terminology, Ps are Philips bits and Rs are Robertson bits (aka: square drive).

We got our hands on one of these dual bits and used it quite a bit. We ended up losing it somewhere along the way, but in the time we had it, it held up great and it took some of the bit-searching agony out of our day. We lost it before we got a chance to work it to death with the impact driver, so we can't comment too much on the strength of the bit, but because Bosch makes it with something called S2M steel, it likely would have lasted longer than normal.

There's not a whole lot more to say about the driver bit other than that it worked and that for a brief shining moment, we had one bit where we now once again need two.

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We can't find these for purchase online, but they'll likely show up at Amazon.com and Ohio Power Tool.

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

July 7, 2009

Rockwell LogJaws (JawHorse Accessory) - Review

logjaws.jpgAt first glance, we thought the LogJaws were about the silliest thing we'd ever seen. We're huge fans of the JawHorse, and use it all the time, but who would really need to clamp a log at waist height? Definitely not us, and we heat with wood.

To use the LogJaws, you first have to invest in the Rockwell JawHorse, which we think is a good idea no matter who you are. So if you don't have one and you're interested, our review of that tool is here. But simply put, the JawHorse is a workstation centered around a large clamping jaw and Rockwell makes a number of add-ons for the unit, including these, the LogJaws.

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What the LogJaws do is give the JawHorse the ability to clamp a log or really any other oddly shaped item that's going to have problems in the parallel clamps that come standard with the JawHorse. The LogJaws sit higher than the regular clamps and have these mean looking teeth that are perfect for sinking into a nice chunk of rotted oak. The LogJaws attach very easily to the JawHorse, just a few screws and it's done. Maybe two minutes max.

We discovered quickly that the LogJaws really are great for clamping cut logs, branches and other bits of tree debris. But where exactly do you go from there? What sorts of things can you use it for? The JawHorse sits too high to use it for your utility, "need to fill the woodshed before the first snow" log cutting. We just don't think it's worth it to haul one end of a 100 lb log into the jaws just so you can cut 18" off of it and then have to reposition the whole thing. But if you're only going to be cutting smaller branches and kindling, then it'll work great. We actually see the LogJaws as more for the wood carving/woodworking crowd. And in fact, we used it to make some nice tree limb coasters (directions here).

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The LogJaws also have these little brackets that flip out and allow you to clamp your chainsaw bar so you can easily sharpen your chainsaw, saving valuable knuckle skin.

In a way, the LogJaws sum up the glory of the JawHorse; you can get the basic unit, which is extremely useful, and then you have the ability to customize it, in order to suit your niche needs. The LogJaws aren't for everybody, but if you're one of the people who it is for, you'll love it.

The LogJaws cost about $40 which puts them on the lower side of things when compared to most of the other JawHorse accessories.

As an aside, if you are a wood carver, we suggest checking out our reviews of the Arbortech wood carving tools, the Mini-Grinder and the Power Chisel.

At Amazon.com

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

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