September 10, 2009

Tools We Keep in the Truck

There are very few tools we keep in the truck at all times. The small space behind the seat is prized real estate and not to be wasted on redundant tools that are easy to come by on a job site. Instead, we reserve this spot for those special tools, the ones that can do things no other tool can. The ones that, when you need them, you need them. Over the past few months, we've narrowed down our repertoire to a select few. They are as follows:

hitachi_rt_ang.jpgHitachi 12-Volt Right-Angle Impact Driver (our review here): This tool is worth it's weight in gold, which, oddly enough, isn't all that much because it's so light and compact. It has a clearance that is so small it can fit anywhere and while it's powerful enough to drop a 2" screw in a 2x4, where this tool shines is with the small fussy tasks, like working up in a shade pocket or behind a fan coil unit.

Thumbnail image for fein_multimaster.jpgFein MultiMaster (our review here): With the expiration of Fein's oscillating tool patent, the market has been flooded with other models by everyone from Craftsman to Bosch to Dremel to Rockwell. But the funny thing is that even though there are now a ton of oscillating tools on the market, the Fein still has no real competition. This isn't to belittle the others, we've tested out the majority of the new tools and they're fine, it's just that the MultiMaster is nearly a work of art. Once you hold one, you'll know what we're talking about.

Hackzall.jpgMilwaukee Hackzall (our review here): Of the tools on the list, this is the one that has elicited the greatest response from the rest of the site. It has been affectionately dubbed, "the turkey carver" and it's constantly getting borrowed by carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and anyone else who needs to make a quick, no-hassle cut. The only downside to the tool is that it comes with the single worst case in tool history.

Thumbnail image for m12_pp_w_phone2.jpgMilwaukee 12-volt Power Port and Flashlight (our reviews here and here): This is sort of the emergency kit and hangs out under the passenger seat next to the first-aid bag. It's always good to have a flashlight on hand and the Power Port is good for a quick cell phone charge here and there (the truck stops charging when the engine is off).

...and those are the ones we keep close at hand. Granted, we've been in the finish phase of the job, so these are all detail oriented tools, good for the small fussy stuff. It's likely they'll get cycled out during the framing of the next job, but for now they're there, constantly getting us out of trouble.

HItachi Right Angle Impact Driver at Tool Barn
Fein MultiMaster at
Milwaukee Hackzall at
Milwaukee Power Port at
Milwaukee Flashlight at

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September 8, 2009

Rockwell LithiumTech 18-Volt Combo Kit

rockwell_18v_combo.jpgEarlier this year (much earlier...the spring, actually), Rockwell hopped into the lithium ion market with the release of a drill/driver and an impact gun. From what we can make out from the product description and price, these are in that mid range between the hard-core contractor tools and the more inexpensive, strickly-homeowner tools. In other words, there's some durability for an affordable price, sort of a Porter-Cable/Ryobi vibe.

For their lithium line, Rockwell seemed to have snagged Ryobi's colors, which is a bit strange. So if you prefer a darker color palette, they have a Ni-Cd line available called ComPak which looks like it's also worth checking out. Both lines fall under Rockwell's insane 'free replacement batteries for life' program.


Read the Lithium Tech press release after the jump..

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September 3, 2009

Ridgid Explorer vs Milwaukee M12 M-Spector AV

ex-v-m12.jpgJay over at CopTool has just posted up a nice review of of the two most popular inspection cameras on the market, the Ridgid Explorer and the Milwaukee M-Spector. The upshot of his review is that the Ridgid Explorer seems to have the better selection of features, but that it costs almost three hundred dollars more. But this isn't to say that the Milwaukee is a bad tool at all, because it's not. It has it's own set of advantages such as battery compatibility with other M12 tools, a longer battery life and a built-in microphone.

Check out CopTools review here.

(Image gratuitously snagged from CopTool)

Ridgid Explorer at Ohio Power Tool and
Milwaukee M12 M-Spector at Ohio Power Tool and

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

August 4, 2009

Ryobi P580K 18-Volt 4" Wet/Dry Tile Saw

Ryobi_wet_dry_tile.jpgIf you're like us, you saw this image and thought, "sweet, finally a circular saw that comes with its own roll of toilet paper!" But unfortunately, tool technology isn't that advanced yet. What you're looking at is the latest in Ryobi's 18-volt li-ion line, a wet/dry tile saw. The roll of toilet paper is a water bottle that you fill and *boom* wet saw capabilities.

The tool has a on/off toggle for the water but in all other respects it appears to function like the 18-volt circular saw that Ryobi has had on the market for a couple years.

This one looks really useful to us. Having that kind of portability with the built-in water dispenser just seems like a tile/stone guy's fantasy. Just think of what this thing could do with a blue stone walkway or a slate floor...

The saw costs about $200 and that's for the saw, one battery, the blade, and a charger.

At Home Depot

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August 3, 2009

Ryobi TEK4


It looks like Ryobi has a new 4-volt battery on the market and a number of interesting tools to go with it. Rather than looking at the 4-volt battery system as a smaller version of the 18 and 12-volts, they're looking from the bottom up, treating it as more of a pumped up AA battery. This thinking results in some unique tools that have uses beyond home improvement.

A handful of these new tools are measuring devices, an area that both Bosch and Milwaukee have recently moved into as well. With their new system, Ryobi has an infrared thermometer, a distance measure, and a multimeter. They also have a plumb/cross laser lever, a LED flashlight, and a portable power source, which is similar to the Milwaukee 12-volt Power Port that we're big fans of.

In the 'things we've never seen before' category, Ryobi is offering a 4-volt camera, noise suppression headphones, a motion sensor with an alarm, and a digitally keyed lock.

It's all very interesting and with Ryobi's placement at the giant orange store, this is likely to be a winner of a line. Hopefully, Ryobi's ability to serve up a quality tool at a great price will avoid these items from becoming VPX'd.

More information on Tek4 at Ryobi
TEK4 Tools at Home Depot

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

July 6, 2009

Milwaukee M12 Power Port - Review

m12_powerPort_w_phone.jpgWe used to own a Jeep Cherokee which had its ups and downs, but would always charge our cell phone even with the engine off and the keys out of the ignition. Now we drive around in a Tacoma which is great but the truck kills the outlets as soon as the engine is off. We're pretty good at keeping our phone charged either at home or during the commute, but sometimes (like the other day) we forget and arrive at the site with the battery not fully charged. The point of this story is to relay how we became fully dependent on the M12 Power Port the other day. If we didn't happen to have it on us, we would have been completely screwed.


The M12 Power Port is a simple affair, about the size of a bulky remote control. It has an indicator light to let you know if the battery still has some juice and a little flip down door to protect both the USB port and the DC port from dust and dirt when it's not in use. To use the item, just plug in your cell phone, iPod, whatever and the 12-volt battery starts transferring the charge.

But back to our story. It was one of those end of day "how come the condenser stopped working?" things where we had to call the HVAC guys and the electricians multiple times and do all sorts of coordination and troubleshooting. During the first call the phone went dead. After a quick hustle to the truck to get the Power Port, we were back in action and resolved the situation. If we hadn't had the Power Port on hand things would have gotten ugly.

m12_pp_w_phone2.jpgSo what does this all mean? Well, the M12 Power Port is not going to be your full time charger. Why would it? You would constantly need to charge a battery in order to charge a battery. But what it is is a nice insurance policy, a safety net. The price is right too. If you already have a Milwaukee M12 tool with batteries and charger, the Power Port is only going to set you back about $25, which isn't a whole lot for something that you'll use in an emergency. It would probably be nice on a camping trip too, but we're going to keep ours in the glove box.

At (tool only)

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June 23, 2009

Bosch SPS10-2 4-Volt Pocket Screwdriver - Review

Bosch_4_volt.jpgBosch has been one of the leaders in the 12-volt li-ion market and it seems that now they're branching off into the even smaller 4-volt category. We have no idea if they're going to get into tools other than their Pocket Screwdriver, and for the purpose of this review, we don't really care. We're here to review the SPS10-2 and that's what we're going to do.

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June 15, 2009

New Tools From Milwaukee


Last week we were lucky enough to go out to the Milwaukee Tools HQ to get a glimpse at some of the new releases they've got all geared up for this year. As one of our favorite tool companies, they didn't disappoint with the sheer variety and usefulness of their new tools and accessories.

A few of the highlights of what we saw were...

Milwaukee_cordless_bandsaw.jpg18-Volt Cordless Bandsaw - They're still putting the finishing touches on this one, but were nice enough to let us try it out and, honestly, it's the kind of tool that makes us wish we had taken up plumbing instead of carpentry. It's got a whole lot of power but it's light enough to easily work with both above your head and in tight spaces. Having an awareness of how people will be using it, Milwaukee has made the shoe retractable, so the tool is able to cut a pipe that's already attached to a wall. It's one of those tools that makes your chest swell a bit when you hold it. There will also be a corded version available and both will be hitting the market probably in October.

Milwaukee_shockwave.jpgShockwave Driver Bits - This is one of those ideas that, once you hear it, you wonder why it took so long for someone to think it up. Driver bits built specifically for impact drivers. Anyone who spends time on a job site these days (like we do), knows that impact drivers are taking over. That said, they really do a number on driver bits so Milwaukee has tailored this new line to withstand the abuse. In addition to other features, the new bits have a slight degree of flexibility in order to handle the added intensity of the impact driver.

Milwaukee_PVC_Cutter.jpgCordless Tubing Cutter - Much like their copper pipe cutter from last year, this one is a real niche tool. We tried it out and it had no problem slicing up pex and pvc. It has a great feel and possibly the power to do a little topiary sculpting as well.

Testing and Measurement Tools - This is a new area for Milwaukee, but judging from what we saw, they're going to quickly establish themselves in the market. Of the tools, the most interesting is the Sub-Scanner which is sort of like an amped up, battle-crazed stud finder. It can be used to find studs and pipes in walls and ceilings, as well as rebar in concrete. The cool thing about it is that it lets you know the exact depth of what it is you're finding, so if you only have one option for placing that pipe hanger, you'll know that only a 2" screw will work because of the rebar that's hidden in the wall.

Those are just some of the highlights and by no means a complete overview of what we saw. Milwaukee is also rolling out some nice 12-volt LED flashlights, a 12-volt power port, a very cool looking mini-radio, oh and about a thousand new grinders.

Follow the action over at Milwaukee Tools.

Milwaukee tools at

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

June 8, 2009

Skil 18-Volt Lithium-Ion 4-Piece Combo Kit

Thumbnail image for Skil_4_piece_combo.jpgSkil recently released a 4-piece Li-Ion combo kit and in addition were nice enough to let us test one out. The kit includes 2 batteries, a drill/driver, a circular saw, a reciprocating saw, and a charger. All put together it can be packed comfortably into the carrying bag. For the review, we're going to look at each tool separately and then close with some general thoughts on the kit as a whole.

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

June 3, 2009

New Porter-Cable 18-Volt Tools Now Available in Stores

pc_impact_driver.jpgIn late March, we told you about Porter-Cable's seven new 18-volt cordless tools. It looks like they're now finally available in stores. Just in time for Father's Day.

It looks like the best place to find these tools is at Lowes, but from what we understand they will be sold at other retailers as well.

There is more information at the website:

Porter Cable tools at Lowes

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

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