July 10, 2007

Ridgid Lithium-Ion 18-Volt Compact Drill - Review

drill_top.jpgBecause Lithium Ion batteries are so much lighter and more powerful than standard batteries, tool companies have a lot more leeway as far as design is concerned. The problem is that most of them are still intoxicated by the technology, focusing on creating the "lightest ever" or the "most powerful ever" tools. The small little screwdriver-style drills are handy and the 36-volt tools are total overkill, but what about that middle range? What about having a nice, reliable, no-frills, 18 Volt drill? If you feel the same way, look no further than Ridgid's new 18-Volt Compact Li-Ion Drill.

The drill is very light, 4.5 lbs. to be exact. It's interesting, but when compared directly to the Makita 14.4, which is about 4.6 lbs, the Ridgid feels much lighter. We figure that this has something to do with the fact that two thirds of the weight is no longer in the battery and the balance is much more even. The Ridgid feels solid in the hands and once we put it to work, we were not let down at all.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (24) | social bookmarking

June 27, 2007

C.H. Hanson Pivot Square - Review

closed.jpgC.H. Hanson, a company known for their high-quality layout and marking tools, has begun rolling out a new line of innovative tools they call the Signature Series. Kicking off this collection is their new Pivot Square, an all-in-one roof and stair layout tool.

At first glance, the Pivot Square looks like a traditional measuring square with a few level vials built-in. But upon closer inspection there are plenty of differences. First, it's larger, with the sides measuring 8" as opposed to 7". Secondly, and more significantly, there is a portion of the square that pivots out and can be locked in position, much like a bevel gauge. But, unlike a $4.99 bevel gauge, the pivot square tells you the degree as well as the roof pitch of the captured angle. Also, the hypotenuse has a ruler on it, as opposed to a degree finder.

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

June 19, 2007

Home Depot Tape Measure Gift Cards – Review

home_depot-Gift.jpgIn the race to provide the most over-the-top gift card (Best Buy apparently has one that plays videos), Home Depot now offers one with a built-in level and tape measure. Yep, built right into the gift card. It sounds strange, we know, but it’s actually pretty cool.

They were good enough to send us one to look at and to be honest, we were expecting something pretty cheesy. But when it got here, we have to admit to being impressed with the little thing. We’re not saying that it’s going to be replacing your Stanley Fat Max tape measure, but it will definitely find its way into your kitchen junk drawer and come in handy at some point when you’re trying to hang a picture.

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

May 31, 2007

Husky 45-Piece Stubby Set - Review

stubby_set.jpgHusky has recently come out with a 45-piece set of little truncated tools, lovingly named the Stubby Set. They were nice enough to send us one and it didn’t take long before we realized that, although it‘s small and has a humiliating name, it’s a really great collection of useful tools.

The contents of the Stubby Set include a ratcheting screwdriver, a dual-drive ratchet (able to accept 1/4” sockets on one side and 3/8” sockets on the other) and an adjustable wrench. For accessories and bits, the Stubby Set comes with:

  • 10 driver bits
  • 13 SAE sockets (5/32” to 3/4”)
  • 14 metric sockets (4mm to 17)
  • Adapter for using the 3/8” ratchet with 1/4" sockets
  • Extension bar
  • Adapter for using the 1/4" sockets with the screwdriver
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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (7) | social bookmarking

May 30, 2007

Ryobi HT230 229-Piece Rotary Tool Kit - Review

set.jpg
Rotary tools are on the rise and we couldn’t be happier about it. We’ve been using them for a while now and are constantly blown away by how versatile they are. Depending on the bit, you can sand, grind, drill, cut, and polish, and they are capable of handling wood, metal, and just about every other material under the sun. To do good work, you have to be detail-oriented, and rotary tools are just the thing for that last pass on a job to make every last detail perfect. Cut-out tools, like the Roto-Zip, are extremely handy and useful, but to deal with projects that need more finesse than power, you need one of the little hand-held models. And Ryobi has just entered the fray with their 229-Piece Rotary Tool Kit.

Just opening the box, we were stunned. We’d seen the picture, but seeing it in person is still impressive. Ryobi has crammed 229 pieces into a medium-sized plastic case. Everything is laid out in an easy to see way and bits and attachments are grouped with like items, making the case itself is a feat of spatial engineering.

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

May 28, 2007

Husky Heavy-Duty X-Sawhorse - Review

xbench_1.jpgOur pals at Husky recently sent us one of their Heavy-Duty X-Sawhorses to check out. It’s a small, portable, lightweight, collapsible table that is good for a variety of tasks, not the least of which was being the MVP of our Memorial Day cookout.

The sawhorse unfolds from a central pivot and, when set-up, looks like a giant X. There is a little top that sets into it creating a table. When folded up, the top piece easily snaps onto the center bar, creating a something that is very easy to store, measuring only 31” square by 3” thick.

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

May 23, 2007

Porter-Cable 371K Compact Belt Sander - Review

371k_1.jpgWe were pretty intrigued when we first heard about Porter-Cable's 371K Compact Belt Sander. Could it be true that we could have the power of a belt sander but with the size of an orbital? Does this mean no more aching arms after stints of operating our large, way-too-powerful belt sander? Well, that's the intent behind the 371K, but the question is, did Porter-Cable succeed?

The 371K is certainly compact, weighing in at around the 5 lb mark. Considering that Porter-Cable's two larger belt sanders weigh 10 lbs and 14 lbs, the 371K is a huge advancement in this area. Because of its small dimensions, the 371K does not have any traditional handle to speak of, only a removable front pommel and a padded area that wraps around the sides and top for gripping. This style of handle (non-handle, really) makes it very easy to switch around your grip on the tool, and, because of the likelihood that it's going to be used in some tight spaces, this becomes an innovative and essential feature.

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

May 22, 2007

The Quick Angle – Review

quick_angle_2.jpgIt’s hard to summarize the Quick Angle in just a couple of words. We’ve thought about it and the best we can do is to describe it as the Swiss Army Knife of the measuring world. We first saw the tool at last year’s JLC show and then again at this year’s show and both times we were impressed with, not only its versatility, but also the amount of thought that must have gone into its design. It's part bevel gauge, part measuring square, part compass, and part Stephen Hawking.

The tool is a little larger than your standard bevel gauge and folds out with a third, central arm, which is where all the mathematical magic takes place. Each side of the arm is loaded with numbers and lines that may or may not come into play depending on which of the million and one functions you’re currently using the tool for. The arm also has a little mechanism that allows you lock the angle in place, so there are no worries of things shifting while you’re getting down off that ladder.

The Quick Angle can (are you ready for this?):

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

April 30, 2007

Ridgid 3-1/2” Round Head Framing Nailer - Review

Ridgid_framer.jpgWe’ve been pretty impressed with Ridgid these days. Their recent release of the Fuego 6-1/2” Framing Saw busted open a whole new class of tools by combining well thought out features with a compact and lightweight design. Their 3-1/2” Round Head Framing Nailer also has a number of great features and although it isn’t as revolutionary as the Fuego, it’s a great addition to the current flock of framers and one that is definitely worth taking a look at.

When we took the gun out of the box we immediately noticed a few things. First, the balance of the tool is fantastic. Our experience is that most framing guns have about 80% of their weight in the head, so the tool wants to constantly tumble forward. But Ridgid’s gun evens out that ratio to more in the 60/40 range, probably due to the magnesium housing. The gun weighs over 8lbs, and there are lighter guns out there, but this one feels right in the hands and once we got to using it, we had no fatigue issues.

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

April 23, 2007

Setting Up Shop - Review

setting_up_shop.jpgOur workshop used to belong to someone else, so when we moved in, we pretty much kept things as they were; the workbench is against the same wall and the lumber racks are in the same place. We made a few changes and built some shelves, but nothing too severe. Well, we just finished Sandor Nagyszalanczy’s Setting Up Shop and now we’ve got some work to do. This book has opened the door to such a large array of possibilities for our workshop that we don’t even know where to begin the renovations.

Nagyszalanczy makes that point that every shop should be different in order to match the working style of its owner. But even with this difference, there are a lot of universal considerations to take into account before rolling in the table saw and having at those oak boards. This book is about those universals, some big and some small, that all come together and create the functionality of a workspace.

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

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