January 27, 2011

Hardcore Hammers

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There's usually not a whole lot to say about a new hammer, but the Hardcore Hammer has a pretty inventive twist to it. It's a framing hammer with a slightly recessed striking surface. The waffle pattern is still there, but it's just on the recessed part, the outer rim is smooth. According to the manufacturer, this move serves a couple purposes:

1. It protects the waffle head from damage.
2. If you manage to smash your thumb, it's only going to get 70% pulverized as opposed to 95% pulverized.
3. No more waffle print on your workpiece.

A Hardcore hammer will set you back about $80, which certainly is a lot of money, but it's actually just about right for the high-end framing hammer market, and actually a whole lot cheaper than some Stiletto models.

There's more info, including some cool images and how to purchase one at HardcoreHammers.com

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

January 25, 2011

Johnson Level EcoTech Series Bamboo Bricklayer's Level

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If you've never dealt with bamboo on your own property, you probably hear the word and your mind goes to a tranquil image of a meditative panda bear quietly crunching away at the stalky plant. If, on the other hand, you've had the misfortune of actually having to contend with bamboo, the word probably causes you to see red and start to uncontrollably shake. Bamboo is a total nightmare to deal with. It makes mint look mild in its invasiveness, and it can grow up to two feet in a day.

So anyway, the folks over at Johnson Level have found a nice way to utilize this pest of a plant. They've started making levels out of it. Makes sense too, once you discover that bamboo has the tensile strength of steel. Who knew?

These new levels (there is currently a 2' and a 4') also have stainless steel edges and end caps. If you're looking for more information, the press release is after the jump.

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

January 4, 2011

Black & Decker Ratcheting ReadyWrench - Review

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There's been a lot of hay made lately about these multi-headed dog bone wrenches and many die-hard tool users seem to hail them as useless with such enthusiasm as to make us think the tool was some kind of genetic abomination like one of those seven-footed toads found near Chernobyl. The deal is that it's a double headed wrench with a rotating head at each end. The heads have four sides, each of which has a different sized socket on it. We've actually never handled one of these tools before, but Black and Decker was nice enough to send us their ratcheting ReadyWrench, (which adds a ratcheting feature to the mix), and for the past month we've used it for all kinds of things.

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

December 15, 2010

Campbell Hausfeld Home Improvement Project Kit (FP260097) - Review

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Campbell Hausfeld has started bundling little 1-gallon compressors with various tool sets, specific to particular DIY audiences. They've got a Home Decor kit well-suited for the artsy craftsies, a Home Maintenance kit which seems to center around drain cleaning and putty spreading, and finally, a Home Improvement kit, which is the one that interests us the most as it's created around carpentry tasks. Campbell Hausfeld was nice enough to box one up and send it our way so that we could check it out.

ch_hik_bag.JPGIncluded with the kit is the little compressor, a pneumatic brad/stapler, a pneumatic caulking gun, a few air hose attachments, and a pouch full of hand tools.

So what are the hand tools like? Well, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The rafter square looks like it would last about 22 second on a job site, but the pry bar looks as good as any we've seen. The utility knife is really basic; the level works fine, but is plastic; and the 5-in-1 looks good.

The brad gun has a nice feel to it and it's only the non-bumpered nose that bums us out. It's the kind of nose that's going to dent the workpiece no matter what you do. But other than that, it's a fine gun. It shoots both brad nails and crown staples.

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It was actually the caulking gun that we liked the most (and trust us, we were pretty doubtful). We put in a tube of cold Liquid Nail and it didn't have any problems getting some to squeeze out as if it were 90 degrees out.

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But let's cut to the chase here. This kit isn't about the subtleties of the tools, it isn't about how ergonomic the handles are, it's about value. It's about bang for the buck. And the bottom line here is that it's a lot of bang, for a-lot-less-than-what-you'd-expect buck. The CH Home Improvement Kit costs about $140 which is pretty nice for all of this in one box.

We think that really anyone would be happy with this kit. It would be good not only for the first time DIYer, but also the carpenter looking for a quick and easy set-up for punch list tasks (after throwing out the rafter square, of course). Or better yet, for the young carpenter who is looking to get some tools, but might not have the cash just yet to get the really aggressive stuff.

At the moment, there is no online availability for the kit, but if you're interested, call 1-888-CHPower (247 6937)

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

December 10, 2010

StreamWorks LightTools

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Hand tools coming equipped with LEDs...

Is it stupid?

Our first snap judgment was 'yup,' but now that we've thought about it, we're not so sure.

We have two points to make on the subject:

1. We thought LEDs in power tools were dumb the first time we saw them. Um...yeah...we were wrong that time....

2. Our MegaPro ratcheting screwdriver (reviewed here), came with a little light that attaches to the stem of the tool. Again, we rolled our eyes when we looked at it, but these past few months, we've used that goofy little thing at least 100 times. It's nice not having to haul out and set up a work light (with an extension cord) if you only need to see the head of a screw or the angle of a nut.

Maybe hand tools with lights on them will become the standard. That seems to be the situation that StreamWorks is hoping for. It doesn't look like the company is selling the tools as much as they're selling the technology. StreamWorks appears to be a development company in search of a buyer. This looks like the kind of thing that Milwaukee might incorporate into their tools, or maybe Irwin or Channellock. Or maybe none of the above. Maybe it is a silly idea.

More information at LightTools

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

December 2, 2010

The Return of Husky Tools (sort of...)

husky.pngWe noted with sadness a while back that the Husky website had been taken down and replaced with an automatic redirect to Home Depot's front page (it has since been updated to a Husky micro-store within the HD template). It had been obvious for quite some time that Husky had become a house brand for Home Depot, but still we wished that they had kept some kind of website up, if only to create the illusion of independence.

So we perked up a little at the news that Husky once again has an online presence, at least in a kinda, sorta, kinda sorta way. Huskytoolnews.com highlights 12 new tools and tool sets from Husky, complete with videos. The site doesn't look or act like a company website, but more like the digital version of one of those massive Husky Home Depot displays that we see during the holidays, complete with screwdriver sets, Stubby kits, and wrench sets.

We actually still have most of our original Stubby Set and, for the price, we think that the Husky sets are a real steal. Not to mention that they're "guaranteed forever."

More information at HuskyToolsNews.com

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

November 24, 2010

Porter-Cable 560 Quik Jig Pocket Hole Joinery System - Review

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Pocket hole jigs are an easy way to make a nice, tight, glue-free joint. It's basically a jig for pre-drilling the hole for a low-angled toe-screw and it's good for cabinet work, built-ins, saw jigs, all sorts of butt-joint stuff. There hasn't been a whole lot of innovation to the category since Kreg developed their Master Kit, which has since become the standard.

Well, Porter-Cable obviously wasn't satisfied with the current technology, so they've gone and developed something they call the 560 Quik Jig and after reading the initial press release, we did a round of high-fives when we got word that they agreed to box one up and sent it our way for reviewing purposes.

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

November 17, 2010

General Tools Lighted Inspection Mirror

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With all the la-de-da over inspection cameras like the Ridgid and Milwaukee, it's easy to forget about the usefulness of a good old pivoting mirror. Sure, they can't wind through a wall, but they can get around a corner or up above a pipe in a cramped joist bay.

So to bring the antiquated technology one step closer to post-wheel civilized man, General Tools has added two LEDs to the end of the mirror. It's a great feature, and if you've ever used an inspection mirror, you probably think so too. Getting a flashlight and a mirror up into whatever awful space it is you're trying to investigate is terrible work. Then you've got to angle the light just right, oh no a little to the left, now, back to the right a bit. Forget it.

$15 at General Tools

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

November 16, 2010

Spring Tools 32R02-1 Combination Center Punch and 2/32-Inch Nail Set

spring_tools_nail_set.jpgWe were at the hardware store the other day and saw a display of these things. The only thing odd was that the display was entirely empty. The guys behind the counter said they've never seen anything sell so fast and that contractors were buying them hand over fist. So there's either a massive curiosity factor here or one guy got one and it worked great and then everyone else on the site suddenly needed one and then each of those guys told two of their friends and then...empty display.

Regardless of how it got so popular, it looks like an interesting item and for under $10, probably something worth having in the tool box. The premise is 3rd grade simple, instead of hitting the end to set the nail head, just pull the spring-loaded back half of the tool and let go. There's an Amazon review that says it takes a few hits with hardwoods.

If you're looking for other innovations in the mystical world of nail sets, check out Stanley's Reversible one here.

Spring Tools Center Punch and Nail Set at Amazon.com

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

October 28, 2010

Wiha Inomic Insulated Combo Pliers

wiha_ergonomic.jpgWhen we first saw these, we thought, "aww, that's cute, something for the weak-handed, light-duty DIY crowd." But it turns out that these things are like $40 and they're insulated to 1000 volts. So, yeah, maybe not the right tool for your mom.

Designed to take some of the stress off your wrist, the funky shape of these pliers definitely cause a double take. We scanned the Amazon reviews and there's a guy who says that there's too much flex in the handle (causing the pliers to be unable to cut 12/2 wire). If the handles are plastic, and it looks like they are, that seems likely.

At Amazon.com

There are some other models here.

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

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