July 15, 2009

FastCap Pocket Chisel

fastcap_pocket_chisel.jpgTo the working carpenter, Chisels are as essential as Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Maybe even more so. Obviously they're great tools with about a hundred uses (a thousand if you don't mind destroying the edge), but with all of the different tasks they can perform, their length as well as the sharp edge make them difficult in a tool belt.

FastCap has a potential solution to the problem called the Pocket Chisel. Like the name implies, it's a folding chisel that can fit in a pocket. It operates like the pliers function on a Leatherman with the handles folding back over the blade in order to protect it when not in use.

A carpenter friend of ours has one and won't stop talking about it. According to him, it's really lightweight and when the handles are folded back, it can take a hammer hit, just like any chisel. And it can be easily tucked into a tool belt when not in use.

The Pocket Chisel is available in the standard variety of sizes for prices ranging from $15-$20. It's a little more expensive than a standard Marple chisel, but if we were buying a Pocket Chisel, we'd probably only get one, as opposed to the whole set. In our eyes, these aren't going to replace our chisels, but one of them is going to be nice to have on hand.

At Amazon.com

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

June 2, 2009

Newborn U-Lite Caulk Gun - Review

Newborn_ulite.jpgNewborn, makers of many fine caulking guns (we have a nice old one that we use all the time) have recently released a new gun with an interesting design, one which makes it look as if half of the gun missing. This illusion is due to the fact that Newborn has managed to remove the forward portion of the gun; the half circle which supports the front of the caulk tube as well as the arms that support it. But what holds the tube in now, you say? Well, at the base of the tube, the plunger end, there is a circular ring of plastic 'fish scales' which angle back towards the handle and grip the inside flange of the tube. The design is such that the more pressure is applied to the plunger, the stronger the hold becomes. It's a pretty smart idea.

The main benefit of the redesign is that it lessens the real estate the the gun consumes, but not by all that much. In the storage position with the plunger in, the gun is barely smaller than a standard gun. Other perks include a quick snap-in/pop out loading process of the caulking tube, the ability to easily twist the tube around to get the beveled cut end into corners, as well as a non-dripping tube when the gun is at rest.


According to Newborn, the gun has a force ratio of 10:1 which is the same as any homeowner-level caulking gun, but much less than the really nice ones that carpenters and the other pros are going to be using. The fact that this isn't a job site gun is backed up by the plastic construction of the U-Lite. If this thing gets stepped on, it's all over. So the bottom line is that the U-Lite is going to have no problem with light-duty around the house tasks, but it's going to run into some difficulty with a half frozen tube of PL Premium on a job site. We're not saying that it's a bad gun at all, just that it has limitations.

So with all this in mind, we have to give props for the concept. Like we said, it's an innovative change and one that works well under light-duty circumstances. And it only costs about $10.

At Amazon.com

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

May 29, 2009

C.H. Hanson Precision Ball Level


After a slew of interesting and successful releases last year, C.H. Hanson pretty much went dark. Now, with the release of their Precision Ball Level, we can assume that those missing months were spent deep in their mountain fortress experimenting with the design of the level. After seeing what they did to the utility knife, the measuring square, the chalk line, and the pencil, we're not surprised that they took on one of the most basic and old-fashioned of all tools.


chhanson_ball_level_2.jpgWhat they've done here is replaced the common vial and bubble with a black and white ball, creating something like you'd see in the cockpit of a plane. It looks like the ball is weighted and free floating in a liquid, so the horizontal line is always at level and the vertical line always at plumb. What this change does is add a whole new dimension to the tool. Now, instead of simply seeing if your cabinet is out of level, you can see to what degree or what pitch. This means that the level can now be used during roof construction and other situations where you might need framing at odd angles. Also, the black and white ball takes some of the guess work out of reading the level. No more, "well the bubble looks centered...kinda....sorta...."

We're curious to see how this ranks against our tried and true Stabilas. From what we've experienced Hanson makes some very durable tools and to be a level worthy of a job site, long-term durability is key. We also wonder how accurate the level is if the level itself isn't plumb, but the edge of it is against a plumb surface. For example, checking across the corner of a door jamb. If the level has any meat to it right where is connects with the ball, this could cause a problem.

The Ball Level will be sold for about $50 for what looks like a 2' length. The Stabila 2' goes for about $60.

More information at C.H. Hanson

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

May 21, 2009

Swanson Lil' Savage

swanson_lil_savage.jpgIf this was a circular saw or a demo bar, maybe we'd give a pass to the Lil' Savage, but it's a torpedo level so we feel the need to call it out as one of the worst tool names we've heard in years. Even if Swanson had called it the 'Little Savage,' it might not have been worth mentioning, but the horrific use of the 'Lil,' (a designation meant for cookies and children's toys) sets a new bar for ridiculous. "Dude, I've got to check this jamb for plumb, pass me the Lil' Savage."

But beyond the fact that the name brings to mind an image of a rabid, battle-crazed Smurf, the Lil' Savage looks like a pretty useful item for the carpenter or serious DIYer. The top has a v-groove to make it easy to hold against a pipe (or an outside corner), there are four vials (30, 45, 90, 0 degrees), four magnets for use with metal studs, and even some kind of clamp for taking readings off bent pipes. Swanson makes some nice tools, their measuring square is probably the best out there, so we're sure this is a quality tool. It just needs a new name.

At Amazon.com

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

May 6, 2009

Rapid Warrior Combo Knife

rapid_warrior.jpgRapid Tools likes to give their knives somewhat aggressive names. First there was the Shark and now there's the Warrior (stay tuned for their next release, the Armageddon). Like the multi-function Shark, the Warrior is designed to do much more than the standard utility knife. This is done with its ability to not only accept standard utility blades, but to take recip saw blades as well. With this feature, your knife can now be transformed into a mini-hacksaw, a drywall knife, or even a little branch pruner.

We like the looks of this tool quite a bit. With all of the items competing for space in our tool bag, anything that can take the place of more than one item looks like a potential winner. And we would happily get rid of our old drywall knife too. We hardly ever use it, but feel the need to keep it around for those rare occasions when it's essential.

The Warrior will be available with both fixed and folding bodies. Included with it will be five serrated utility blades, a drywall saw blade, an 8" saw blade, and a 6" hacksaw blade. The whole package will retail for about $20. It's not a bad price when you consider the astronomical price of recip saw blades.

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

April 23, 2009

Nail Jack Purchase of Irwin Factory Falls Through

Thumbnail image for nailjack.jpgWe just got wind of the bad news that Nail Jack's attempt to purchase the Nebraskan tool factory that Iriwn left behind upon moving manufacturing to China is not going to happen. It looks like it came down to a money issue. According to a story in the Omaha World Herald, Michael Foley, co-founder of Nail Jack finally reached the breaking point on how much money to put into the purchase, forfeiting the $70,000 he already put down. Ouch.

The story is here and we have to warn you that it's not very cheerful. But if you're looking for something positive to read, you should check out our review of the Nail Jack (here).

As always, we'd like to thank Tool Crib for keeping us up on this story and for introducing us to the Nail Jack. Their latest post on the factory purchase is here.

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

April 22, 2009

Goldblatt Blade Runner Drywall Cutting Tool

goldblatt_drywall.jpgOver the years, there hasn't been much innovation in the area of cutting drywall. The standard utility knife works fine even if it does have a few drawbacks. But now there's something called the Goldblatt Blade Runner on the market which looks like it might offer some advantages over the traditional "score, flip, snap, and score" method of cutting sheetrock and blue board.

The Blade Runner's big draw is that it cuts both sides of the sheet at the same time, eliminating the need for the second cut, which in our experience is usually results in a ragged paper-shredded line.

The Blade Runner is actually two pieces, each of which looks sort of like a computer mouse. When not cutting, they are separated by two legs which retract when they come in contact with a piece of sheetrock. At this point, the two halves stay aligned with powerful magnets, ensuring that the top and bottom piece are cutting the same spot. Because the drywall is being scored at exactly the same spot on both side, the cut doesn't need to be all that deep. Essentially, just the paper needs cutting, the rest will break off with a quick snap.

This looks like a nice idea, particularly after watching how it handles curves and arcs (video below). If this tool is what they say it is, we don't see any reason why it wouldn't speed things up considerably, which is funny to think about seeing as the Irish sheetrockers, at least up here in the Northeast, already work at a pace that threatens to collapse time. With the Goldblatt Blade Runner in hand, they might cause some serious problems.

The Goldblatt Blade Runner costs about $90.

At Amazon.com

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

April 15, 2009

Pipe Knife - Review

pipeknife.jpgOriginally designed for the auto glass industry, the Pipe Knife is simply a long handled utility knife. There are a number of different sizes, ranging from 24" all the way down to 9". While it's not something that you want to hand off to your five -year-old, over the course of a few weeks, we found it to be a handy item to have in the tool bag. Definitely good for more than just replacing windshields.

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

April 14, 2009

Gator Micro Zip Sander - Review

Minizip.jpgAli Industries is at it again with their little bath toy sanders. We've already reviewed the Zip Sander and the Sponge Holder and how it's the Micro Zip Sander's turn.

The Micro Zip is exactly what it sounds like: the Zip Sander's 'mini-me.' Where the Zip Sander sat in the palm, the Micro Zip is sort of a three-fingered operation. As with the other sanders, this one is made of foam and sits very comfortably in the hands.

The Micro Zip is a helpful little item when it comes to the fussy little inside corners, odd edges, or areas where there is very little clearance, such as the floor underneath our baseboard heaters. In this last case, the Micro Zip boldly went where no oscillating tool could go and successfully assisted with our current flooring project. There's no question that the Micro Zip was easier on our hands that the old-fashioned method of the block wrapped with sandpaper, but because of the way that the hand sits on the sander, it was also easier to apply pressure. We wouldn't say that the Micro Zip Sander is an absolutely necessary tool, but it is one that makes sanding a little easier.


There's really not a whole lot more we can say. It works well, it's sort of silly looking, and it doesn't cost all that much. There you go.

The Micro Zip project pack which comes with 30 sheets of color coded sandpaper costs about $10.

At Amazon.com

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

April 13, 2009

Nail Jack & Nail Hunter - Review

nailjack.jpgWe consider nail pulling to be one of the deepest hells of construction, and that's why we're pretty interested when a new tool comes along that might make the process a little easier. Enter the Nail Jack and the Nail Hunter, both from Nail Jack Tools. Can these funky looking pliers give a little relief in the nail removal department? We tested them pretty extensively in order to find out.

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

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