We're total junkies for the Rockwell JawHorse. In the past couple years it's become the single tool that we use all the time for everything. Since we first got hooked, it's been on every gift guide that we've put together and we don't see any reason why it won't be on every one we do from here on out. Essentially, we're not going to let up until every house in the country has one.
So it's no surprise that we got all numb in the head when we heard that Rockwell was releasing another clamping stand, this one smaller and more compact than the JawHorse. From the looks of it, we took the JawStand as a calmer, gentler brother to the larger tool; a version of the JawHorse that you'd introduce to your parents, as opposed to having it sit out in the car with the engine running. Rockwell agreed to send us one to check out and for almost two months, we've been using it (a lot). It's pretty cool, but....
We've been a little surprised at Kreg's domination of the pocket hole marketplace. There are a few other models out there, but none from any of the big names and none which have gained a whole lot of traction with a wide audience (like the Kreg). We always assumed that there was some kind of patent thing going on, a la Fein. But here comes Porter-Cable with a really interesting looking system that looks like it should give the reigning champ a few good rounds in the ring.
In a nutshell (help, help, I'm in a nutshell!), pocket hole jigs create low angled, pre-drilled holes which allow for accurate and consistent 'toe-screwing.' That's really it. They're great for shelves, cabinet boxes, face-frames, etc. We've got the Kreg Master Kit and it really makes for a nice, tight (glue-free!) assembly. So on to the Porter-Cable...
One thing for certain is that, compared to the Kreg, this one looks com-pli-cated. It sort of looks like a cross between a microscope and a Pixar robot. But as it turns out, this added intensity is intended to make things easier. Unlike the Kreg, the Porter-Cable automatically sets the drilling angle based on the thickness of the wood. It's a clever idea and takes away the fussiness of having to deal with the knurled set screw of the Kreg. From the looks of it, the Porter-Cable is going to be quite a bit heavier (it's all metal...a good thing), but they were smart and made the foot plate 1-1/2" thick, so you can use a 2x4 to support your workpiece.
The QUIKJIG is going to be available later this year (September) and will have a retail of around $230. The price is definitely more than the Kreg (K3 Master Kit $140 at Amazon.com), but the 'auto-angle' aspect of the Porter-Cable might be enough to justify the added cost.
UNITS (Unique, No-Hassle, Individual, Transportable, Storage), a S.C.-based company similar to PODS, has just introduced the use of UNITS-moving robots. While these robots are no match for Husqvarna's Demolition Robot, they're still pretty cool.
The remote control UNITS movers are ideal for placing the storage boxes on little city streets, in tight driveways, or any other place where a full-sized truck is going to have some problems.
It's wild to watch this thing in action. It's like those little forklifts that come with lumber trucks, minus the fat, grumpy driver.
To get more information on UNITS, including locations, check out their website: unitsstorage.com. The press release on the arrival of our UNITS-moving robot masters is after the jump.
There is no question that the JawHorse has been a big success for Rockwell. We use ours in some fashion just about every day. It's been such a hit that earlier this year Ridgid even put a horse in the race with something called the SuperClamp. But if you've been paying close attention, you'd know that the original design came, not from Rockwell, but from an Australian company called Triton. Rockwell took a tool called the Triton SuperJaws, cleaned up the design and, with the release of a slew of innovative attachments (plywood jaws, log jaws, welding station, etc) transformed the clamping tool into a complete workstation system.
Well, if the concept worked for one tool, why not try it again? We just got word that Rockwell is going back to the Aussie well with the release of a new item called the Triton Multistand JawStand. Again, Rockwell has polished up the original design and added a number of nice looking features.
The general functionality of the JawStand sits somewhere between that of an out-feed stand, a sawhorse, and Juan, your apprentice who is always late for work and stands there and holds things for you.
There's a jaw on it, but as you can see from the image, it's more about stabilizing a door than crushing a watermelon (one of our favorite JawHorse pastimes). The top of the clamping area has some kind of glide material on it which allows for easy action as a table saw/miter saw out-feed. The stand can be adjusted in height from 25" to 41" and the top can pivot. To track these two movements, the stem of the tool has height measurements on it and the head has a built in level vial. The whole things folds up for easy transport and storage.
Just from looking at the image and reading the press release, this looks like a good tool to have around, especially if you're someone who spends a lot of time working alone. The only curiosity to us is that the clamp area has a maximum width of 1-1/4" which seems strange. You'd think that it would be able to at least hold a 2x4(UPDATE: The jaw actually opens to 1-3/4" and not 1-1/4" as the press release states. This makes much more sense).
In our last shop we had two large power strips that we lived and died by. We had never had a power strip before and sort of looked down our noses at them. Not sure why. Anyhoo, we very quickly realized the benefits. Say you're deep into some project the requires a Dremel, an orbital sander, a jigsaw, and a table saw. You can set up a cat's cradle of extension cords and splitters and spend your time plugging and unplugging, or you have all the tool plugged directly into the workbench mounted power strip.
We also found that the power strip made it much easier to organize our tools while we were using them; if the Dremel is plugged in to the right of the orbital, when we put it down, we place it to the right of the orbital. It's not brain surgery, but it's just one of those little things that makes life a whisker easier.
We haven't equipped the new shop with any power strips yet, but when we do, we're going to consider the Snap-On. The main reason is that it's red and not that hideous office-park gray color like most other power strips. Secondly, we've never had any issue with any other Snap-On tools, so we wouldn't expect anything different from this one.
The Snap-On has a 15 amp breaker, a 6 foot cord, and it comes with mounting hardware.
Well, we just posted up a review of the DeWalt Magnetic ToughCase and now we're giving five of them away (with the generous assistance of DeWalt). We can attest that the little storage units are indeed 'tough' 'cases' and the magnets are a pretty cool touch. For our complete thoughts on the matter our review is here. If you'd rather skip the review and get to the part where you get free stuff read on...
So in order to enter you have to leave a comment at this post that completes the sentence, "I want a DeWalt ToughCase because..." We're going to pick the four entries that we like the best and the last winner will be chosen by a random drawing. Try to keep your answers specific to the ToughCase (i.e. "I want a DeWalt ToughCase because I'm totally awesome" isn't going to fly). We'll be judging on creativity, spunk, and pizazz.
We'll choose our winners in a week, so entries need to be in by next Monday night, May 17th. Good luck.
When DeWalt sent us a sample of their new ToughCase, we thought, "oh yeah Toughguy, we'll show you how tough you are." We started thinking of ways to condense a year's worth of abuse in about 45 minutes.
But first, about the item. The little case is well built and has the nice clasp that DeWalt uses on their tool boxes. The main features of the box are the magnets on the lid that allow you to open the box and stick it to something metal (a metal stud, a piece of duct work, etc.) and work out of it like a feeding trough (in fact, the ToughCase would make an excellent birdfeeder - if you had a metal tree to hang it off of). In a smart move, DeWalt added little o-rings around the magnets so the case won't slide once it's stuck to something, but also to prevent any magnet to metal marring if you need to shift the case around. It's a clever little idea and one that certainly comes in handy from time to time. There are also little hooks on the back of the case so if there's no metal around, you can hang it off something.
We tested the ToughCase's durability a number of ways. First, we just sort of threw it around the driveway, then we kicked it a few times, then finally during lunchbreak the other day, we challenged the painters to a game of ToughCase soccer. Although we lost 2-1 (the painters are Brazilian, soccer's in their blood), the case showed its resilience. It got some corner dings and scrapes, but the functionality was perfectly intact.
So it's a tough little case, but there's one little glitch in it. It's sort of unavoidable, but the magnets that work so well on the outside of the case also work on the inside of the case. This means that the case is opened up, there are always a few drill bits or driver bits stuck on the inside of the lid. It's not a deal breaker by any means, but knocking them off each time we accessed the case was a bit annoying. But following the 'make lemonade' theory of life, we utilized these magnets a few times in situations when we were constantly switching between two bits. Instead of dropping it back in the box to get lost among its friends, we just stuck it against the lid for the next time we needed it. It's a nice little unintended feature of the box and one that offsets having to constantly knock bits off the inside of the lid.
It looks like you'll be able to get the ToughCase in three versions; just the case, with a set of driver bits, or with a set of impact-ready accessories. Just the case will be about $12, the driver bits $20, and the impact gear $35.
If you know Festool, you probably know the Tanos Systainer. They're the funky gray boxes that the uber-expensive tools are stored in. The Systainer isn't easily available on its own, but now the guys at Tool Nut have become only the third distributor in the western hemisphere to offer these little boxes. We got in a conversation with them one day and they offered to send a sample on for us to review and we happily agreed. We then checked their very slick website (Systainerworld.com) and almost had a heart attack when we realized that a $75 tool box was about to show up on the doorstep.
In reality, we should be the last people on earth to review this product. We're beyond cheap when it comes to tool storage. We have a few 5-gallon buckets loaded with hand tools out in the shop and we even keep a few tools nicely stored in coffee cans (no joke, we're pathetic). So what do we think about a $75 tool case? We naturally think it's pretty insane. But once we wrapped our head around the Systainer system we realized that it's so insane that it just might make perfect sense...
The Systainers are a collection of different sized containers that are all compatible with one another. The smaller ones fit into the larger ones, the medium ones click onto the big ones, and so on. It's like Duplo for middle-aged men. They can easily stack and the latches give a hard connection from one box to the next. The whole thing is very smart. There are also a number of 'inserts' and foam pads available for the different boxes. Some specifically for certain tools and others that are more generic.
So we got our Systainer, which came with a Fein MultiMaster molded insert and we immediately filled it up with non-Fein junk and tossed it in the back of the truck where it bounced around for a few weeks. While its a nice box, it's really not made for what we put it through. The walls of the molded insert don't connect up with the underside of the lid, so when it's treated like a hacky-sack things can migrate from compartment to compartment, and because of it's rectangular shape and the handle being on the top, it takes up an unusual piece of back seat real estate, particularly when stacked next to other standard tool cases.
But we realized that we were making the mistake of treating it just like any other $5 Home Depot tool box. We were thinking too small, which is easy to do if you only have one of these things. If you have two or more, now you're starting to get somewhere and you can really start reaping the benefits of these boxes. The Systainer is all about modularity so having a single case is like having one mitten. We've actually seen this theory in action a few years ago when a flooring guy pulled a hand cart out of his van and rolled about 1/2 dozen Systainers into the job. The whole thing took like nine seconds an he had all of his tool ready to go.
We contacted Tool Nut and asked them who they thought could benefit from the Systainer systems and they sent back an enthusiastic email with the following:
It's used in Europe to transport organs (insulated accessory). Used in military for efficient and simple transportation. Used by Emergency response teams in Europe for quick and easy choice in an emergency situation by color coding the latches or Systainer themselves as well as linking together specific Systainers that might be color coded and include their rescue dive gear, etc. Used for packaging and transportation - they make 100% efficient use of a pallet in shipping. Imagine investing in Systainers for your packaging and transportation. In Europe they are not even palletized in most scenarios, just used as a shipping container and then RETURNED to the shipper. You buy your shipping material once. Imagine the return on investment and savings?
So there are definitely times, places, and situations where the Systainer is the tool box to go with. If you're just looking for a place to stash your RotoZip so it doesn't get dusty, stick with the el cheapo cases, but if you're motoring around in a Ford Transit, this system is going to save you a lot of hassle.
At Systainerworld. Like we said, the website is very nice, so even if you're only half interested, it's worth checking out.
The Rockwell JawHorse might be the most important item we have in the shop (we actually have two of them). Each time we're out there on a project, we're constantly shifting them around, using them to clamp things, prop things, hold things, and support things. Like one of our pals once said, "having one JawHorse is like having a helper. Having two JawHorses is like having five helpers." We're constantly amazed at just how useful the tool is.
So now, there's another option on the market, the Ridgid SuperClamp. The SuperClamp more closely resembles the Triton SuperJaws (the original clamping workstation), but as far as functionality goes, it's likely a wash between the three items.
Our guess is that aside from the aesthetic differences, there's probably not much that separates the two tools. Rockwell has made a number of attachments available (log jaws, plywood jaws, miter saw station, etc), which Ridgid hasn't done. But since Ridgid just released the tool, we expect to start seeing attachment pieces pretty soon.
The SuperClamp costs $159 which puts it a few sheckles below the JawHorse ($179)
Our first thought after seeing the Kerry Bag was, "A bag for plywood? Ha-ha, boy that's dumb. You've got to be joking!" Then, about three hours later, we were at the lumber yard, loading up a few sheets of 1/2" CDX in the pouring rain, having second thoughts about the matter and wondering exactly who the dumb one was. Using ratchet straps to hold down a tarp is only going to get you so far.
So maybe there's something to it, and maybe not just for truck owners. The durable bags might also be useful for general shop storage as well.
From the video, it looks like getting the first sheet in is a real bear (even harder if you don't have a full-sized truck bed), but after that it seems fine. If we had one of these things, we'd just keep a sheet of 1/8" luan in it at all times to solve that problem.
Actually there are a number of Kerry Bags, for all sorts of common construction (and non-construction items, from cement bag pallets to the mattress pouch.
The plywood pouch costs about $60, which sounds like a lot, but it's less than the cost of two "ruined-by-rain" sheets of 3/4" birch ply.
Ralph A: This would have come in handy the last time I read more Richard K: Trying to replace the old interior door between my garage read more Kevin: me too. I'm my own worst enemy, as much as read more jeff_williams: I'm totally with you. Loathe painting, especially ceilings. Good to read more Jack Elliott: I have had my master bathrolm apart for the better read more