This 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.
We'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.
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.
About 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.
Earlier 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.
While 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.
Remember how Luke would put R2-D2 in the X-Wing and the little robot would essentially take over all the heavy lifting? Luke would sort of pretend to fly, but we all knew it was R2 that was making all the important decisions. That's sort of what the SawGear does to you and your miter saw. The tool, which made its big debut at this year's AWFS in Vegas, looks like it wants to take over all the measuring and marking, leaving you with only the brainless task of making the cut.
The tool is essentially three parts, a little computer unit, a rail, and a small carriage with a stop that runs along the rail. The SawGear attaches to your miter saw stand, and then after what looks like a quick and easy calibration, you just punch in the measurement that you want to cut and watch the carriage zip over to that distance and create a stop for your lumber.
The SawGear is smart enough to cut miters (no word on bevels though), and it can work in fraction or decimals. It can also evade a squadron of TIE fighters and lob rockets successfully into the Death Star's thermal exhaust port.
Over at the SawGear website they're saying that the tool can cut job completion times by 25%, which is quite a claim. Can it really eliminate one day of a week long project? If this is true, or even if they're exaggerating and the number is something like 10%, it's still a huge dollar amount that you carpenters out there could be potentially saving.
It's a cool idea and we're interested to see how it does in the marketplace. The $3000 price tag is going to scare away most homeowners, so it's up to the carpenters to make or break this one. Like we said, it'll be interesting. It seems to us that the majority of carpenters are tradition-bound and are likely to be suspicious of something that will take away their ability to mark out incredibly over-sized crows feet. But we did hear that a number of units were already sold at the AWFS, which speaks to how impressive this tool must be in person. At most trade shows, we'll happily lay down a hundred bucks (mostly at the bar), but to be inspired enough to drop a few grand, that must be a pretty impressive tool.
Purchase, videos and a ton more information over at SawGear
One 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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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