May 7, 2010

Tanos Systainer - Review

systainer_1.jpgIf 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 ( 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...

systainer_4.jpgThe 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.

systainer_3.jpgBut 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.

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

April 26, 2010

Ridgid SuperClamp Portable Work Station

superclamp.jpgThe 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)

At Home Depot

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

April 13, 2010

Kerry-All Pouch


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.

At Kerry Woodworking

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

March 29, 2010

Shopsmith Mark V

shopsmith.gifThis last weekend we were wrapping up a visit with the Bro-In-Law and he said, "oh, wait, I've got to show you the Shopsmith!" We were then ushered into the garage and it was there that we saw the magnificent vision that is the Shopsmith. Advertised on their website as 'the five most needed tools - all in the space of a bicycle' the Shopsmith is a phenomenal item for the home woodshop.

The Shopsmith is a revelation of multi-unit engineering (if there even is such a thing). With more shifting parts than Optimus Prime, the tool can quickly assume the form of whichever tool you need next. It's: a table saw, a lathe, a disc sander, a horizontal drill, and a drill press. It's also cool as hell. The one we saw was an older model (it had a band saw too) and it had that great look of an industrial farm tool from the 1950s.

The unit turns on with a nice old-fashioned toggle switch and there's a dial that allows you to change the power to the motor. The dial is marked with the names of the tools, so you know where to set it depending on the use.

To buy the basic package off the shelves it's about $3000, but this is the kind of thing that you can probably scavenge for about half that.

Here's a video of a guy selling his on ebay:

More information at

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

March 22, 2010

JawHorse Vs. WorkMate

JawhorsevsWorkmate.jpgMy latest article is up over at Popular Science. In the article, I tested the upstart Rockwell JawHorse head-to-head against the tried-and-true Black & Decker Workmate.

If you're interested, check it out here.

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

Grizzly 4-1/2" Angle Grinder Stand

angle_grinder_stand.jpgWe've always said that Angle Grinders are not only one of our favorite tools, but that they're vastly under used and under appreciated.

So it's nice to see this contraption in this year's Grizzly catalog. While it looks somewhat unstable and potentially dangerous, it does utilize the angle grinder so it's fine in our book. It seems that all you have to make a mini metal chop saw is attach your angle grinder (using the threaded hole for the side handle) to this base and away you go. We checked out the reviews over at Amazon and they both said that the tool is pretty good but the clamp to hold the workpiece is completely useless.

It's a cool idea though.

The stand costs $25 and is available at Grizzly and

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

March 15, 2010

ToolRider GSR Suspension Rig - Review


There are two main factions in the tool belt world; the leathers and the nylons. It's sort of like the carpenter version of the Sharks and the Jets. Us? We usually dodge the question by opting for the simple nail pouch with a separate hammer loop. Our quasi-supervisory role at work doesn't allow us to spend too many days fully tooled up. But on those days when we're forced to do it, we go for the old leather belt that we have. In our opinion, there's something about them that just feels more...well...authentic. But we don't have anything against the nylon belts, it's just that we've never really found one that we've been all that into. They seem a little too modern and futuristic for us.

But we're open-minded folks so we jumped at the chance to review the the nylon ToolRider GSR Suspension Rig when Rooster (also makers of McGuire-Nicholas rigs) offered to send one on.

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

November 17, 2009

DoorJak Installation Cart

doorjak_50.gifAbout three months back we were tasked with hanging a 360 lb acoustical door and there wasn't a single aspect about the project that could be deemed as 'easy.' Slinging around an immense, heavy slab in a finished space was terrifying. It wasn't an experience that we're interested in repeating.

Which is why our ears pricked up a bit at the DoorJak 50 Installation Cart. It's essentially a specialized dolly that has the ability to raise and lower the load. This means that instead of four people spending five hours hanging the door, it would be more like one person spending three hours hanging the door. In that context, the $675+ price tag is more than reasonable (a larger model goes for nearly $3000).

For more information and purchase details go to DoorJak

If this is way out of your league, but you're still interested in some mechanical advantage with your door hanging, see our review of the EZY Hang Door Lifter.

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

November 11, 2009

The Ceiling Saver

ceiling_saver.jpgEarlier in the week we were doing the spider crawl up in the floorless attic, trying to spread some insulation around and also trying to keep our feet and knees on the joists, hoping and praying that we wouldn't slip and put a foot through the plaster and lath ceiling of Tool Snob Jr's bedroom.

Then, a day later we saw in the latest issue of JLC, something called the Ceiling Saver. What it is is a folding platform that sits over 2' oc joist bays. It looks like it gives you plenty of room to sit on as well as magnetic areas to keep tools and screws in one place. It can support 250 lbs so you fattys and linebackers are out of luck.

It would be nice in our situation because the attic hatch is only about 18" x18", so getting any substantial amount of plywood up there is out of the question.

It costs about $70.

At and MCM

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

August 5, 2009

Xtend & Climb Telescoping Ladder

xtend_climb.jpgWhile we were flipping through the latest Extreme How-To (a magazine that we love and would recommend to anyone), we noticed an ad for the Xtend & Climb Telescoping ladder. Having lived in some very cramped apartments, we're particularly sensitive to those of you with zero storage and thought that this product was worth a mention.

The Xtend & Climb is a compact ladder that is capable of extending, step by step, into a much larger ladder. Sort of like an extension ladder that starts at about 3' and can make it, depending on the model, up to 15-1/2'.

There are a number of different models that have different safety ratings and extend to varying heights. They do have job site ready models with a ANSI rating of 1A, which means that they can handle up to 300 lbs of your twinkie-eating ass.

This kind of ladder would be good for anyone from the apartment dweller to the homeowner to the traveling handy-man. With the kind of durability and storage capabilities that the Xtend & Climb has, it could be useful to actually anyone who is in the market for a ladder.

As far as price goes, it looks like a wash. The Xtend & Climb 780P, which is comparable to a standard 16' extension ladder sells at Amazon for $249.99. The Werner 16' Extension Ladder with the same safety rating goes $249.25, so unless you're really into penny pinching, it's the exact the same price.

Xtend & Climb Ladders at

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

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