June 22, 2015

Milwaukee Tools 2015 New Product Symposium


Last week I was able to head off to Milwaukee Tools for their annual Product Symposium where they unleashed all of their latest and greatest tools and gear. There is a lot coming too. To get a sense of what I'm trying to get at, picture a giant red tidal wave with white lightning bolts shooting out of it (a toolnami, if you will). Hearing about each and every one of these new tools over the course of a single day was like being attacked by a grizzly bear made entirely of information. Honestly, towards the end, my mind was beaten down to the point where I felt like Brad Pitt from 12 Monkeys. Now here I am a few days later, trying to decipher my scribbled notes and jumbled memories.

Here's what I've got for you...

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June 25, 2013


So we just randomly got in a conversation with the guy who runs and felt compelled to mention them on the site. They've got a huge selection of gear and oddly enough it seems like the one thing they don't carry are power tools, which is fine because there are plenty of other places to pick those up. Instead, Contractors-Solutions zeroes in on the other things, like workwear, generators, scaffolding, tool belts, material handling, and truck racks. They've got all the big names in those areas and were one of the first companies in the US to start carrying Blaklader work wear. We checked out some of their pants a while back and every chance we get, we yell from the rooftops about how great they are.

It's a pretty cool story about how Contractors-Solutions started. It began as an offshoot of the Kwikstand table saw stand. A builder named Scott Kahle saw an opening in the market (that opening is called, "most table saw stands are kinda lame") and designed a nice accessory with a built-in outfeed table. The tool was well-received, earning a Tools of the Trades "Editor's Choice Award." Wanting to make a go of the retail thing, Scott then started stocking products from other manufacturers to go along with his own. He decided (we think smartly) to offer unique and niche products, specific to the building trades, that you couldn't just get down at the local box store. So at this point, he's loaded up with a nice inventory of good quality gear. So go and support the guy, or at least check out his website.

Check them out over at

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May 21, 2013

ActivArmr Has A New Website


ActivArmr, the makers of my current favorite gloves (which I reviewed at Tools of the Trade here) have recently overhauled their website.

The new site is pretty slick and even has a Find-A-Glove feature to help narrow down your search. I've spent time with both the heavy laborer gloves and the carpenter gloves and I can't say enough about them. Unfortunately, the laborer gloves met an interesting demise (see here), but the carpenter gloves are still going strong.

At Amazon

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February 25, 2013

Muck Chore Cool Boots - Review


Right now my backyard looks like a meteor made entirely out of mud smashed into it. Over the past 2 months, I've had big excavators, little excavators, skid steers, concrete trucks, lumber delivery trucks, and everything else heavy and massive come through. To call it muddy is like saying Siberia is's a correct statement, but it only hints at the extreme nature of things. It's not cute, little splashy mud puddles, but rather the kind of thick muck that can trap a boot and makes walking nearly impossible because you put your foot down in one spot and by the time it's done slooshing down to solid footing, it's about two inches from where you started. It's a total mess.

So I was practically doing cartwheels when I was contacted by Muck Boots and they offered to send on a pair of their new Chore Cool Boots for me to review. Oh man, that was a good day around here. So that was about a month and a half ago and in that time, I've done all sorts of work back there in Degobah and here are my thoughts on the boots.

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August 29, 2012

Veto Pro Pac TP3 - Review


It is our opinion that Veto Pro Pac makes the best tool bags in the industry. Hands down. No question. They can handle any and all abuse, there are a wide variety of models available, and most importantly, they're designed for not only storage but organization. The unique vertical pockets means a lot of tools in a little space with all of them somehow remaining accessible. We've had one of their XLs (review here) for over a year and we have no idea what we would do without it (or how we survived before it).

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May 25, 2012

Ansell ActivArmr Gloves - Review


We've gotten enough of those massive vertical grain fir splinters (the ones that look more like large toothpicks) to be really in favor of gloves. For finish work, we'll sometimes bypass the hand protection, but with framing work, we've gotten to the point now where we feel naked if we don't have gloves on. It's slowly ingrained itself in our mind the same way safety glasses have. They're just part of the fabric now.

So we were pretty happy when Ansell sent us a pair of their ActivArmr Gloves to beat on. That was months and months ago (sorry Ansell and thanks for the patience), and we've worn them quite a bit and have come to our final conclusions on the gloves.

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August 22, 2011

3M TEKK Painter's Gloves - Review


Our go-to on painting gloves are those latex ones that you can get in a box of 100. They're great as far as keeping your hands clean, but it's pretty wasteful to be constantly throwing them away (once they come off the hands, they ain't going back on). Recently, we were staring down the barrel of a complex staining/dyeing/shellacking/poly-ing process and we wanted to use a glove that would be a little more durable in the long run. Then we remembered that a couple months ago 3M sent us a pair of their TEKK painter gloves. So we gave them a shot. Here's what we thought....

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June 14, 2011

Blaklader Bantam Pants with Utility Pockets - Review


For the past decade, I've been fully devoted to Carhartts. They're honestly all I wear. If it wasn't for my wedding day, right now I'd be logging in ten years of daily uninterrupted Carhartt wearing. But recently I've had some issues with the company and their pants (which I may post about in the near future) so I've had my ear to the ground for other workpants of note.

As if on cue, we were contacted by Blaklader, the manufacturer of some very interesting work clothing. They offered to send us a pair of their Bantam Work Pants, and intrigued by their unique designs, we happily agreed.

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March 25, 2011

Timberland PRO Helix Work Boot - Review


Work boots are sort of like pick-up trucks. In the same way that there are Ford people and Chevy people, there are Red Wing people and Chippewa people. We even know some Carolina people, and we've met a few Timberland people. Brand loyalty is strong with boots, as it should be. Your feet are getting pounded on all day, so when you find a boot that works, you're going to stick with it.

We used to be in the Chippewa camp until they discontinued our favorite boot and replaced it with a crappy one that drove us crazy for a number of reasons. Then almost two years ago we switched to the Red Wings 606, which we now see as the gold standard in working footwear. They're phenomenal and we see no reason to ever look at another boot as long as we live. So then, here comes Timberland asking if we would like to try out a pair of their new PRO Helix boots. Apparently, they've got a number of interesting features that set them apart from the pack. Even with our allegiance firmly with the Red Wing family, we thought we'd give the Timberlands a shot. Why not?

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March 21, 2011

Ergodyne N-Ferno 6900 Warming Vest - Review


If you're ever on the look-out for some high-concept work clothing, there's no where else to go other than Ergodyne. Melding science and gear, this company has a stunning selection of clothing and accessories that seem like they come straight from Dr. Bunson's Muppet Labs. Take, for example, their N-Ferno Warming Vest. This is a lightweight vest that can be inflated with Argon in order to increase its insulating properties. So yeah, it's pretty much like any old vest you can get at T.J. Maxx.

A while back they sent us one of these vests to use and test out. We've done quite a bit with it and we've now reached our conclusions...

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January 7, 2011

Milwaukee M12 Heated Jacket - Review


Once you've conquered the massive 12-volt Pex expander market, there's really nowhere left to go but casual outerwear. And that's what Milwaukee has done. Their crushing domination of the 12-volt world is fully on display with the release of their new M12 Heated Jacket. It's almost like they're taunting the other companies at this point. Whether or not that's actually the case (it probably isn't), they nicely sent us one to check out.

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December 16, 2010

Ergodyne N-Ferno 6900 Warming Vest


It's now to the point that whenever we're at a loss for something interesting to write about, we head over to the Ergodyne site and see what kind of unusual outerwear they've got going on. First, they rocked our socks with the Extreme Balaclava, then it was their Chill-It's Cooling Towel that raised our eyebrows. Well, we've gone to the well once again and we see that they've just released a warming vest that is inflated with Argon. How's that for 'out of the box?'

So they've got a vest that shares characteristics with an insulated window. Because Argon has low thermal conductivity, why the hell not put it in clothing? Ergodyne takes the idea even further and allows you to regulate the amount of gas in the vest via a little inflating control. Feel like you've got a little too much insulation? Release the valve. Then, when you need a little more oomph, take a small Argon canister (three come with the vest) and gas yourself up. It's kind of like wrapping yourself in a stylish life raft and heading off to work. Oh, and in case you're wondering, Argon isn't flammable. Wouldn't that be a trip...

But the thing with this item is that it all makes perfect sense. The reason why we chuckle at Ergodyne isn't because the ideas are silly, it's because they're so unusual.

The vest has a retail of about $230.

More information at Ergodyne

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November 9, 2010

Milwaukee M12 Cordless Heated Jacket Kit 2331


Never have snow angels been easier!

Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Milwaukee what will you think of next? You're handing out a lifetime worth of tools in exchange for permanent skin-scarring loyalty, your 12-volt line has about 15 times the number of tools as all of your competitors combined, and your new lines of hand tools and measuring devices are hitting the scene with stellar reviews. We know, why don't you get into apparel? Actually no, why don't get into heated apparel? Oh wait, it looks like you're doing that too.

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October 18, 2010

Ergodyne 6602 Chill-Its Cooling Towel

ergodyne_towel.jpgFor some reason, we only seem to talk about Ergodyne products when they're out of season. It was high summer when we told you about the unusual (and slightly creepy) Extreme Balaclava, and now here we are heading into winter and we're going to pass on the info on the Chill-Its Cooling Towel.

The deal is that he towel is made up of some astronaut material that can absorb water (and sweat) and keep you nice and cool. You 'activate' it by getting it wet and then because of it's mutant evaporative powers, it feels cooler than the ambient air. It's probably the only towel in the world that comes with an MSDS sheet.

But we probably wouldn't even be talking about this item if it weren't for the interesting bit we found on the Ergodyne website in the section marked, 'Applications.' Here is what is says,

Construction, Trades, Maintenance, Landscaping/Grounds, Assembly/Fabrication, Material Handling, Freight/Baggage, Warehousing/Distribution, Iron/Steel Fabrication, Olympic Diving

Wait...what? I'm sorry, could you repeat that last one?

One of these towels costs about $12 at

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