April 3, 2009

Striker Mechanical Carpenter's Pencil - Review

striker_pencil.jpgStriker, an innovative company that we've become fans of on the merits of their magnetic LED light and their folding utility knife has just released a mechanical carpenter's pencil. The pencil uses Dura-Lead, also a Striker product, that, according to them, is "10% thicker than the average carpenter pencil lead." Dura-Lead has little grooves on one side that are specific to the mechanism of the Striker Pencil.

striker_pencil_drawing.jpgThe Pencil is a pretty simple affair; click the top to open up the jaws and release the lead, let go of the top to close the jaws and set the lead in place. In order to test out the pencil, we just put it in our pocket and brought it to the job site for a few weeks.

Unfortunately, during that time there wasn't much that impressed us about the Striker. We found that the stick of Dura-Lead kept breaking inside the shaft, which meant that we had to constantly struggle to get these little chunks of it to stay in the jaws of the pencil. The lead also wasn't that dark and it was difficult to get anything close to a precise mark out of it. Striker says that you can rub the lead on sandpaper in order to get a point, but we found ourselves missing the ability to whip out our utility knife for a quick on-the-go sharpening.

striker_pencil_lead.jpgOne thing that looks good about the pencil is that the Dura-Lead comes in a variety of colors (black, red, and white). We only tested out the black, but we could see the other colors coming in handy, particularly with a tricky bit of framing layout.

After using the Striker Pencil and the C.H. Hanson Super Pencil, we're becoming convinced that improving on the good old fashioned carpenter's pencil is a pointless exercise. How can you beat something works just fine and is literally given away at any decent hardware store? The only way we'd really recommend this pencil is if you were a buck or two shy of getting free shipping at Amazon, then it's probably worth checking out.

Striker Pencil at Amazon.com ($2.29)
Striker Pencil with Dura-Lead Combo Pack at Amazon.com ($3.49)

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

March 27, 2009

Striker Folding Multi-Blade - Review

striker_knife_open.jpgStriker, the company who makes the little magnetic LED that saved our rears during the power outage, has recently released a little folding utility knife that has a number of nice features to it. And even though Jude over at Toologics did a very nice review of the Striker Folding Multi-Knife, we thought we'd add our own two cents.

striker_knife_closed.jpgTo us, the utility knife is one of the most essential tools in our repertoire; we keep one on us at all times and during the course of the day we're constantly using it, whether it's sharpening a pencil or cutting out a line of caulk or slicing open the plastic wrap around a new window. So for our testing of the Striker knife, we simply put the thing in our pocket and kept it there for a few weeks. Here's what we found.

We quickly discovered, as Jude did, that the handle of the knife is nice and big. Not too big for a pocket, but big enough to get a good grip on it and to feel in control when using the knife. The body of the Striker also has a belt clip which might be good for some people, but since we carry our knife in our pocket it just caught on things and got in the way. The folding action of the knife is nice and after three or four tries we got so we could both open and close it quickly and easily with one hand.

Striker has also added a nice little file up by the blade that can easily shave off that last 1/8" of drywall when necessary. This is a nice touch and using the rasp is much easier and cleaner than trying to shave the edge with the blade. The underside of the rasp can also be used as a saw for cleaning up things like the corners of an outlet box cut-out. There is also a reinforced piece of metal at the base of the knife that can be used for tapping in a nail or punching out a cut piece of drywall.

striker_knife_storage.jpgAnother nice thing about the Striker is the fact that it is a folding knife with blade storage. For around the house use, this doesn't really mean much, but on a construction site, it means everything in the world. We use our knife all day long and go through blades like tissue paper, so it's always advantageous to have an extra one on hand instead of having to stop what we're doing and spend 20 minutes digging through the JoBox looking for the extra blades.

The bottom line here is that this is a very useful knife with a number of 'drywall-oriented' features, but unlike the Husky 5-in-1 drywall knife that we reviewed way back when, the additional features don't interfere with it being a great day-to-day knife as well.

The Striker Folding Multi-Blade costs about $13, which is on the high side of the more expensive utility knives. We think the Striker is a solid enough tool to warrant the price.

At Amazon.com

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

February 27, 2009

Hitachi 10.8-Volt Right Angle Impact Driver - Review

hitachi_rt_ang.jpgProbably the most interesting tool in Hitachi's new 10.8-volt lineup is their new right angle impact driver. We're pretty sure that this is the first right angle impact driver in any of the new micro lines of tools, which is why we were interested in checking it out and seeing how it holds up to both it's larger cousin, as well as finding out what kind of niche it can carve for itself in the world of tool functionality.

First, like Hitachi's mini-reciprocating saw, the ergonomics are off the charts. Again, the crazy Spiderman design, which we've been critical of in the past, gives it all the right bulges in all the right places (well, we never thought we'd ever write that sentence), making it a very easy tool to hold and maneuver into tight spots, which you'll likely be doing with the right angle feature.

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

February 23, 2009

AltusLumen PAD-L Flashlight - Review

Pad_in_hand.jpgThe AltusLumen PAD-L Flashlight is one that is built with the company's ecologically-friendly mission fully in mind. AltusLumen states that it is the first "sustainable portable LED," that "the main housing is made of recycled and recyclable aluminum and polycarbonate," and finally that the light "is over 75% recyclable at the end of its useful life." This is all fine and good, but if the flashlight doesn't work that well, we're not really going to need to know what parts of it we can recycle, because we simply won't be buying the thing in the first place. That said, when we tested out the AltusLumen it was to see just that: is this a light worth buying? Does it work? Is there anything that sets it above the thousands of other flashlights on the market?

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

February 19, 2009

Yaeger Aftermarket Blades for the Fein MultiMaster - Review

Yaeger_blades.jpgUPDATE: Yaeger Blades is now Liberate Blades. More info here.

The Achilles heel of the Fein MultiMaster (our review here) is, without question, price. The full set-up of the tool, a handful of blades, and the dust collection system is going to run you close to $400. Although the MultiMaster is one of our favorite tools and we think that the cost is worth it, given what the tool is capable of, we're bargain hunters just like anyone else. Which is where the Yaeger Aftermarket Blades come in.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (14) | social bookmarking

February 18, 2009

Fine Woodworking - April 2009

fine_woodworking_april09.jpgWay back when we started the site, we used to review all of the woodworking/construction magazines we got. It was sort of a tedious affair and after we solicited your opinion on the matter, we discovered that you enjoyed reading them about as much as we enjoyed writing them. But still, when we get something we're impressed with, we like to let you know about it. And this month's Fine Woodworking is just such an issue.

A lot of the content of Fine Woodworking lands way above our heads. We don't have the time to spend a day tuning up a block plane or the patience to make a massive table saw jig for just one cut (for a piece of furniture that we don't have the skill to make). But this latest issue, while filled with a lot of expert-level ideas and procedures, also has a number of great articles for anyone interested in tinkering around in the garage or basement shop.

The issue includes...

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

February 17, 2009

Roofing Protractor - Review

Roofing_protractor.jpgRoof framing is tough. Building anything beyond even the most basic of shed roofs can get very complicated very fast. There are quite a few measuring tools available to help out the roofer. The newest of which comes out of Australia and is the invention of a fellow named Derek Pater. It is called the Roofing Protractor and Pater was kind enough to send us one, all the way from another continent, so we could take a look at it.

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

February 16, 2009

Expedition Tools HK1 Hydrokinetic Wrench - Review

hk1.jpg

The HK1 Hydrokinetic Wrench is one of the more innovative items we've come across in quite a while. It's one of those tools where it seems like the manufacturer rethought the whole concept from the ground up. In it's most simple terms, the HK1 is an adjustable box-end wrench. But when you think through the idea a bit deeper, this little guy is capable of replacing a good chunk of your metric wrench set (7 to 19mm) as well as your SAE set (1/4 to 3/4").

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

February 13, 2009

Bosch Edge Reciprocating Saw Blade - Review

Bosch_edge.jpg

We think of recip saw blades the same way we think about tissues; one, two, if you're lucky three uses and it's in the trash. Or rather, they should be in the trash, but if you're like us, you've got a tool case filled with bent, toothless, stripped-out blades that you're convinced you can get just one more go out of (note: tissues, we throw out; recip saw blades, we tend to keep around).

Bosch has recently released a new blade called the Edge, specifically made for heavy metal cutting. According to the company, the Edge's teeth stay sharper longer, the blade is more resistant to heat, it cuts 20% faster, and it has a thicker body to make straighter cuts. We got a sample of the toughest of the three different Edge blades and were happy to put it to the test against its competitors.

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

February 3, 2009

Spout Popper - Review

spout_pop1.jpgIt's our policy to review everything that gets sent our way; big, small, new, old, normal, or strange, it doesn't matter. Once we get an item, we test it out and try to have something posted up about it within a couple weeks depending on the complexity of the item. We're pretty consistent on this, but every once in a while something slips through the cracks and, thus far, the most egregious of these 'slippings' has been the Spout Popper. We got the Spout Popper over a year ago and since then, we've tested it out plenty, but for some reason, we never gave it an official review (although we did a posting on it before it arrived, here). Well we're happy to say to all you caulking tube fanatics out there, that we've finally gotten around to it and here, with no more delay, is a review of the famed Spout Popper....

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

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