May 5, 2010

Ridgid JobMax Vs. the World

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Yesterday, we noticed that our latest Popular Mechanics article has been posted up. In this one we put the Ridgid JobMax head to head to head to head to head to head against the all of the tools that it can transform into. We were pretty surprised with the results.

Check out the article here. Also check out the Tool Snob review of the JobMax here.

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

April 28, 2010

Ridgid 12-Volt Lithium-Ion JobMax Combo Kits - Review

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By far the most interesting tool we've seen this year is the Ridgid JobMax. The principle here is pretty simple: create a universal power handle, stoked by a 12-volt drill, and then create any number of interchangeable heads that can click on to it. The end result is an entire JoBox worth of tools that's capable of fitting into a ShuBox. Ridgid has released two different JobMax kits, each with a different selections of heads and they were nice enough to send some samples our way so that we could check them out. We've had them for over a month now and we've used them at work and in the shop. We've used them for big things and little things, complicated things and easy things. And we've finally come to our verdict...

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (7) | social bookmarking

April 21, 2010

Rockwell 12-Volt H3 Multi-Function Hammer Drill - Review

rockwell_h3_hero.jpgWell 12-volt mania is in full swing and if a 12-volt rotary hammer doesn't convince you of that fact, we don't know what will. There are tools that are no-brainers for the whole 12-volt thing, (flashlights, multi-meters, mini drill/drivers) and then there are tools that strike us as, well, totally incompatible with the little batteries. A rotary hammer...that one falls into the second category. We did quite a double take when we first heard that Rockwell was releasing just that tool and we were happy when they sent one our way so that we could take a look.

Actually, it first needs to be clarified that, regardless of what name they want to use, Rockwell's new H3 is not a hammer drill. It's a rotary hammer. There's a big difference and it's a little strange that Rockwell went with the misnomer. Inside the H3, the impact is created through the compression of a cylinder of air, not the metal on metal mechanism of a hammer drill. Hammer drills have a better name recognition, which must be what Rockwell is thinking, although we're of the opinion that they'd be better off calling it a rotary hammer and broadcasting the fact that they managed to down-size the rotary hammer to such an extent that the tools weighs about three pounds.

rockwell_h3_in_hand.jpg

But there's more to the tool than just the rotary hammer. The H3, by virtue of two different chucks, (both of which click into the SDS chuck of the tool), can also function as a drill and a driver. The tool's chuck acts just like any other SDS with the pull-back sleeve, so changing between functions is very easy. When drilling or driving, a switch on the side of the tool, toggles the motor out of rotary hammer mode and leaves you with a standard 12-volt drill.

We did some extensive testing of the H3 (a good portion of it recounted in our Popular Mechanics article on the tool) and we were surprised at how powerful the tool was. Testing it against a standard 18-volt hammer drill (again, over at the PM article), the tool was very comfortable to use and showed that it could keep up with the larger 18-volt tool in the area of power. The one drawback of the tool is how quickly the battery gets drained when it's in rotary hammer mode. On one battery, we were able to drill 9 1/2" holes on concrete, and on another battery, we drove 11 1-3/4" tapcons. These are impressive numbers for such a small tool, but when compared to the larger tool (with the larger battery), they're lacking.

rockwell_h3_controls.jpg rockwell_h3_chucks.jpg

As a 12-volt driver, the H3 is pretty standard and doesn't have anywhere near the power of the uber-strong Bosch PS21. It's not weak, but it just sits among the pack and not in the lead. It's also a lot heavier and bulkier than the other drivers on the market, obviously because of the added mojo for the rotary hammer. The weight is mostly up in the front of the tool, making it a bit awkward when compared to the other 12-volt drills, but that's the price you pay for having the ability to blast a hole in concrete.

The H3 costs about $180, which is a fair price for all the action that you can get out of it. We're not sure when the H3 is being released, but it should be available soon. There's no info at the Rockwell website just yet.

At Amazon.com


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

April 12, 2010

Makita 14.4-Volt Drill: 2006-2010 - R.I.P.

makita_rip.jpgThe Makita died this past weekend. Friday, it worked. Sunday, nada. It was a good drill but since we got it on the eve of the big lithium-ion explosion, it always seemed a little heavy and clunky to us. It was durable though...3-1/2 years in our hands is no treat for any tool (and in it's latter days, we were particularly rough with it). There's no doubt that while we had it, it earned its keep.

But now, we're not sure as to where to go from here. Where do you guys stand? What are some of your favorite drills? Drop a comment and let us know.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (13) | social bookmarking

April 9, 2010

Milwaukee M12 Cordless ProPEX Expansion Tool

milwaukee_pex.jpgWe like how Milwaukee seems intent on making a 12-volt tool for every single task that anyone has ever performed on a jobsite (we can't wait for the 12-volt Bobcat/Excavator combo kit!). Their latest, the ProPEX Expansion Tool is the most specialized yet.

What the tool does is expand the end of a piece of pex in order to utilize a particular fitting which is produced by a company called Uponor. A quick internet search turned up a manual expansion tool, a corded expansion tool, an air expansion tool, and a large clunky looking 18-volt expansion tool, all produced by Uponor. It's safe to say that none of these tools are as compact and nice looking as the Milwaukee.

For a little background, we found this at PexSupply.com:

The Uponor Wirsbo Expander system is perhaps the most widely used PEX system by professionals in the US. This system makes use of the ProPEX Expander Tool ProPEX Fittings, ProPEX Rings, and PEX-a tubing. If PEX-a tubing (AquaPEX) is not used the connections will fail. This system makes strong reliable connections that have never failed in the field. The only downsides to this system are the high up-front cost of the tool, the high price of fittings, and the fact that Wirsbo only wants professionals using the tools. Wirsbo has addressed the price of fittings by coming out with engineered plastic fittings that are more cost effective. Using the tool can be a little tricky at first, and Wirsbo prefers that only professional installers use their products.

There is no pricing information or release date available yet.

If you're curious what the process is like, here's a video of someone using a manual expansion tool. It's easy to assume that Milwaukee's tool will speed this process up quite a bit.

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

April 6, 2010

Bosch PS21 Pocket Driver - Review

bosch_ps21.jpgWhen we first heard that Bosch was releasing another 12-volt driver, we sort of drifted off to sleep. We dreamed of a world where tool companies stopped releasing like-tool after like-tool with only minimal upgrades between versions. Then we actually saw the new tool and became convinced that this time the guys at Bosch had really gone around the bend to la-la land. There's no way around the fact that the tool looks pretty silly at first glance (it's the stubby nose that takes the cake). Thankfully though, Bosch sent us one to try out and boy did that put an end to our snooty little preconceived notions.

Our constant caveat with 12-volt drivers is that they're good, but we always want them to be more powerful. We've never understood how 14.4 drills feel closer in power to 18-volt drills than 12-volt drills feel to 14-volt drills. Still, they're handy, so we usually keep a 12-volt on us at all times, for those hard to reach areas or for light duty punch work tasks.

bosch_ps21_w_ps20.jpg bosch_ps21_w_others.jpg

But back to the Bosch PS21. First off, the power out of this little tool is incredible. Not to mention that it's smaller than the competition. We were stunned when it had no problem sinking a 6" Timberlok screw into a 2x6. We tried out a few of the other 12-volt drivers we have around (including the older Bosch PS20) and the results were pathetic in comparison, they could hardly even sink the screw half way. We then used the PS21 as our primary tool building a workbench and it had no problem dealing with 3" screws. Sure, it's not as fast at a 14.4-volt, but it's getting there.

The reason for this is that Bosch has rebuilt the tool from the ground up and this new design gives you 265-in-lbs of torque, more than double that of the older PS20. The new tools also has an LED, a 2-speed drive train and a 21 position clutch. It sits very comfortably in the hand and it's only just over 5-1/2" in length.

bosch_ps21_in_hand.jpg bosch_ps21_toggle.jpg

The bottom line here is that this tool is a real triumph. Not only is it small but it reaches a level of power that we had given up on as far as 12-volt drivers are concerned. It's a giant step in the right direction for Bosch and their 12-volt line. But now, they need to follow it up and start expanding the available tools. The 12-volt drill we tend to carry around is the Milwaukee because in one bag (with one charger), we have our driver, a flashlight, a right angle drill, the Hackzall, the power port and a stereo. It's a tough sell to ask us to add another bag and battery charger to our already crammed truck box. We'll do it for this tool, because it's so impressive, but it would be nice to be able to throw a few other items in the Bosch bag.

The PS21 sells for anything from $130 (Ohio Power Tool) to $145 (Amazon).

At OPT and Amazon.com

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

March 26, 2010

Ryobi Cordless Chainsaw

ryobi_chainsaw.jpgDo cordless chainsaws strike anyone else as a bad idea?

Chainsaws are right up there with table saws on the, "what's more dangerous than a coked-up rottweiler" scale. We actually like that 2-stroke engines can be such a pain in the ass. It's sort of like a built-in deterrent. First you need gas, then you need oil, then you need a handful of dixie cups in order to get the ratio right. The best part is that once you've devoted an entire shelf in your garage to your chainsaw and you've done everything the way it's supposed to be done, there's still about a 20% chance that the saw won't even start. All of this hassle means that chainsaws stay in the hands of those who are really willing to put the effort into tool and engine care. Additionally, the extended preparation time allows for a moment to think about the dangers of chainsaw kickback.

But these days, all you have to do is click your battery off your drill and into your Ryobi chainsaw and ta-da, you're all ready to go with the pull of a trigger

We're sure that the safety precautions are good and all, but it just seems waaaay too easy to get waaaay too dangerous. But hey, table saws only need an outlet and a flip of a switch.

At Home Depot

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

March 2, 2010

Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool - Review

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It's funny, but each time Dremel releases a new rotary tool, we think to ourselves, "man, this is the best Dremel evah!" Then they release another one and we think, "Whoa, now this is the best Dremel the world has ever seen!" And on and on. Last year they released their new corded 4000 series tool and we loved it for it's strength and all around 'Dremely vibe.' Well, now they've released the cordless 8200 which seems to be a companion to the 4000. We were happy that they let us check out a pre-release sample. Oddly enough, we got it in our hands, played around with it for a bit and thought, "Hot damn! Now this might be the greatest Dremel we've ever used!"

dremel_8200_battery.jpgThe 8200 operates in a range of 5,000 to 30,000 rpm with the adjustment made with a slider on the back of the tool. Above the slider is a battery fuel gauge so you can keep an eye on how much juice you've got left. It's a feature that we think should be standard in li-Ion tools and it's nice to see Dremel getting on board with it.

Because we're carpenters and not hobbyists, we would have liked to see this tool come with two batteries instead of just one. Were that the case, the 8200 would be fully jobsite ready, but the extra battery would also tack on at least $50 to the price and it would be something that isn't used by a lot of the people who buy Dremels and use them sporadically in the garage workspace and won't mind the 1-hour charger.

(Update: We're dopes. Dremel does indeed offer an 8200 with two batteries. It's the 8200 2/28 and it will be retailing for $140. It also includes a cutting guide, a right angle attachment and 28 accessories. Sounds ideal to us. A thank you to Dremel for pointing out our error.)

dremel_8200_w4000.jpg

In general, the cordless aspect of this tool is fantastic. It makes the use and set-up of it that much easier. And it's powerful too. According to Dremel, the 8200 has a speed of cut that is twice as fast as the leading cordless rotary tool. We didn't verify this, but we did use the tool to cut metal, plastic, and stone and thought it was right up there with the 4000.

dremel_8200_case.jpgThe one thing we're not fond of with the tool is the case. Because the tool we got was an advance copy, the case we got may or may not be the one that is being sold with the tool. We have no reason to think that the production case will be different, but you never know. As our friends at Milwaukee are aware, we can get really hung up on tool cases. The blow-molded jobbies that some companies use drive us crazy, and while the Dremel case does have plenty of room for accessories, there is also this panel piece that creates an odd space for loose accessories to hide behind. And getting them out is like getting a pick out of a guitar. Dremel accessories are very tiny and some of them break down into even tinier pieces, so why make a case like this? No comprende.

But that's just our hangup and all of you who read that last paragraph with glazed over eyes can just walk away knowing that Dremel has made yet another great rotary tool.

it's also worth noting the we received a marketing sample, so the 100% finished "in the store" product may (or may not) have a look that is slightly more polished.

The 8200 isn't available until April, but when it is, it will sell for $100 to $140 depending on the accessory package that comes with it. It's not there now, but it will likely be at Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (5) | social bookmarking

February 22, 2010

DeWalt DCS370 18-Volt Cordless Bandsaw

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DeWalt just hit the scene with a cordless bandsaw and when compared to other models out there, it's a lighter tool, but the trade-off is less cutting depth.

Milwaukee's new cordless band saw cuts at a depth of 3-1/4" and weighs 10.25 lbs and Makita's cuts at 4-3/4" and weighs 14.1 lbs. According the the DeWalt press release, their new tool cuts to a much smaller 2-1/2" and weighs 'less than 10 pounds,' which in press release talk usually means something in the range of 9.7 to 9.9 lbs. We're actually not too confident comparing these weights anyway. Makita's site calls out that their 14 lbs is with the tool and battery while the Milwaukee just lists their number as 'tool weight.' There's no indication how DeWalt is weighing theirs.

Regardless of all that, the DeWalt does have a smaller cut depth, and because of this, it's likely on the lighter side of things. If you're an electrician or HVAC guy and you want a compact cordless bandsaw to compliment the big corded one in the van, it would be worth it to go to Home Depot and take a look at this one.

There's no word on pricing yet, but the Milwaukee goes for about $400 and the Makita $450, so we'd like to think that the DeWalt will be in the $300-$400 range.

The press release is after the jump.

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

February 12, 2010

Rockwell 12-Volt H3 Multi-Function Hammer Drill

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Rockwell seems to be maintaining its position as the company to watch with their new H3 Multi-Function Hammer Drill. According to the company, this 3lb tool is capable of drilling 1/4" holes in concrete. The fact that it's a mini SDS hammer drill is only part of the appeal though. Rockwell was smart enough to make it an all-in-one by including a 3-jaw chuck and a 1/4" bit holder.

With those adapters comes the ability to switch the tool from hammer mode to straight drilling mode. The tool is powered by a 12-volt li-ion battery that is part of Rockwell's 'Free Batteries for Life" program (no, really, it's true, free for life), and the charger comes with a USB port so it can also power up a cell phone or an iPod if you need it in a pinch.

We're constantly wishing we had an SDS/3-Jaw adapter for our rotary hammers because it would mean that in some circumstances we wouldn't even have to unpack the drill. But here, in the smaller package, it makes that much more sense. If this tool is as good as it looks on paper, it should join the JawHorse in Rockwell winner's circle.

The tool has a look similar to Metabo's BHE20 Rotary Hammer, which must be what Rockwell is getting at when they refer to the H3 as 'Euro-Styled.'

This looks like a great tool and it will be sold in the spring for around $180 at Rockwell and Amazon.com

The press release is after the jump if you're interested.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

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