September 9, 2010

Irwin GrooveLock Pliers - Review

irwin_groovelock_three.jpg

So as not to use the name of Irwin's competitor in the review, we'll use advanced subterfuge techniques which will ensure that you'll have no idea who we're talking about. You'll basically need a Navajo code-talker to figure it out.

Although they're technically called tongue and groove pliers or groove joint pliers, they're really only known as Channell*cks and if you consider yourself even remotely handy, you've got to have a pair. They're useful for their ability to grab, clamp, twist, pull, and grip just about anything. The unique opening and closing of the jaw lets a fairly small tool grip on to things that are up to 3 inches wide.

irwin_groovelock_jaw.jpgRecently, Irwin has made an alteration to the classic design. Their new version is called the GrooveLock and the jaw adjustment is now done, not by opening the jaws all the way and sliding the lower jaw up, but rather with a little release button at the hinge of the tool. Just press the button and slide the jaw. They sent us a few samples so that we could try them out.

To the user this new button method means a few things:

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

Campbell Hausfeld Tool Kits

ch_nailer_kit.jpgCampbell Hausfeld is releasing four new tool kits, all based around their mini-compressors and a fastener. In addition to these two items are a number of task appropriate hand tools.

The kits are (from the press release):

The Home Décor Kit (Model FP260096) is made up of a one gallon air compressor with décor kit and bonus air brush kit. This kit is designed to allow maximize production for a variety of projects that include, but are not limited to, wood crafts, fabric crafts, wall painting, ceramic painting, upholstery, wall art, crafts and window treatments. Suggested retail is $140.

This kit includes one gallon air compressor, storage bag and:

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August 31, 2010

Porter-Cable QUIKJIG Pocket Hole Joinery System

pc_quikjig.jpg pc_quikjig2.jpg

We've been a little surprised at Kreg's domination of the pocket hole marketplace. There are a few other models out there, but none from any of the big names and none which have gained a whole lot of traction with a wide audience (like the Kreg). We always assumed that there was some kind of patent thing going on, a la Fein. But here comes Porter-Cable with a really interesting looking system that looks like it should give the reigning champ a few good rounds in the ring.

In a nutshell (help, help, I'm in a nutshell!), pocket hole jigs create low angled, pre-drilled holes which allow for accurate and consistent 'toe-screwing.' That's really it. They're great for shelves, cabinet boxes, face-frames, etc. We've got the Kreg Master Kit and it really makes for a nice, tight (glue-free!) assembly. So on to the Porter-Cable...

One thing for certain is that, compared to the Kreg, this one looks com-pli-cated. It sort of looks like a cross between a microscope and a Pixar robot. But as it turns out, this added intensity is intended to make things easier. Unlike the Kreg, the Porter-Cable automatically sets the drilling angle based on the thickness of the wood. It's a clever idea and takes away the fussiness of having to deal with the knurled set screw of the Kreg. From the looks of it, the Porter-Cable is going to be quite a bit heavier (it's all metal...a good thing), but they were smart and made the foot plate 1-1/2" thick, so you can use a 2x4 to support your workpiece.

The QUIKJIG is going to be available later this year (September) and will have a retail of around $230. The price is definitely more than the Kreg (K3 Master Kit $140 at Amazon.com), but the 'auto-angle' aspect of the Porter-Cable might be enough to justify the added cost.

Press release after the jump...

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

August 26, 2010

Megapro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Screwdriver - Review

megapro.jpg

A while back we got an email from a reader who was so enthusiastic (or possibly coked up) over a tool that we felt compelled to contact the manufacturer for more information. The tool is the MegaPro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Screwdriver and this is what reader David had to say:

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

August 25, 2010

Milwaukee Fastback Flip Open Utility Knife - Review

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As part of their steadily growing line of hand tools, Milwaukee recently released two new utility knives, the light and lean Fastback and a larger, submarine-style slider. Since, for years, we've been in a pathetic and forever-failing pursuit of the perfect utility knife, we were thrilled when Milwaukee sent us a Fastback to try out. Would it meet our apparently 'too-high-for-the-industry' standards and be the knife of our dreams? Or would it prove once again that the perfect knife is one made of unicorn horns and dragon scales?

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (6) | social bookmarking

August 13, 2010

Stanley FaxMax Xtreme Reversible Nail Set

fatmax_nailset.jpgOur deal with nail sets is that we'll go and buy the standard Stanley 3-piece combo kit (you know, the red one the yellow one, and the gray one), and then after about two months, we can only find the gray one. We have no idea what the hell happens to the other two, but it's happened enough times that there's something a little strange about it. True, nail sets are small items. True, they often get passed from carpenter to painter and back to carpenter. But we've never lost anything with the frequency of our nail set.

We've thought about this quite a bit (way too much actually) and decided that maybe fate says we can only handle one nail set at a time and that we lose the others due to some kind of freaky, we're-on-the-island-from-Lost black cloud that lives in our peripheral vision. So possibly our answer may sit with the new FatMax Reversible Nail Set. This nice looking 2-in-1 item houses a 1/32" and 2/32" nail set (the sizes we keep losing), and it looks like changing sizes is as easy as pulling the set out, flipping it over, and setting it back in.

The reversible FatMax costs about $10, which is $2.50 more than the standard 3-piece kit. If we don't lose it in the first couple weeks, it's worth the extra dough.

At Amazon.com

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

Hyde 10-in-1 Multi-Tool

hyde_multitool.pngWe agree with our pal Mark Clement that the 5-in-1 (or 6-in-1) is one of the most useful tools that a guy can own. When we're on a site, ours spends a lot of time in our back pocket and does duty as a scraper, a pry bar, a chisel, a blade, a little hammer, and whatever else we need done. We also like that it looks like a Klingon weapon.

So we just stumbled across the Hyde 10-in-1, which has apparently been out for a couple years, and adds some functionality to the fantastic little tool. The big trick of the new 10-in-1 is that it comes with four screwdriver bits that can click into the rear of the handle. You're probably reading this thinking, 'who cares, I'll just use my regular screwdriver." But to a painter doing prep, this could be a real time saver, especially for removing switch plates and outlet covers.

It looks like there is some kind of on-board bit storage that flips out of the handle. Otherwise it's the same old 5-in-1.

The 10-in-1 costs $6, which is strange because Hyde's 6-in-1 goes for $8-$10. Huh?

At Amazon.com

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

August 12, 2010

Rockwell JawStand

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There is no question that the JawHorse has been a big success for Rockwell. We use ours in some fashion just about every day. It's been such a hit that earlier this year Ridgid even put a horse in the race with something called the SuperClamp. But if you've been paying close attention, you'd know that the original design came, not from Rockwell, but from an Australian company called Triton. Rockwell took a tool called the Triton SuperJaws, cleaned up the design and, with the release of a slew of innovative attachments (plywood jaws, log jaws, welding station, etc) transformed the clamping tool into a complete workstation system.

Well, if the concept worked for one tool, why not try it again? We just got word that Rockwell is going back to the Aussie well with the release of a new item called the Triton Multistand JawStand. Again, Rockwell has polished up the original design and added a number of nice looking features.

The general functionality of the JawStand sits somewhere between that of an out-feed stand, a sawhorse, and Juan, your apprentice who is always late for work and stands there and holds things for you.

There's a jaw on it, but as you can see from the image, it's more about stabilizing a door than crushing a watermelon (one of our favorite JawHorse pastimes). The top of the clamping area has some kind of glide material on it which allows for easy action as a table saw/miter saw out-feed. The stand can be adjusted in height from 25" to 41" and the top can pivot. To track these two movements, the stem of the tool has height measurements on it and the head has a built in level vial. The whole things folds up for easy transport and storage.

Just from looking at the image and reading the press release, this looks like a good tool to have around, especially if you're someone who spends a lot of time working alone. The only curiosity to us is that the clamp area has a maximum width of 1-1/4" which seems strange. You'd think that it would be able to at least hold a 2x4(UPDATE: The jaw actually opens to 1-3/4" and not 1-1/4" as the press release states. This makes much more sense).

The JawStand will be retailing for about $60. It's currently available at Sears and it will likely show up at Amazon.com and Rockwell Tools Direct.

The press release with more detailed info is after the jump.

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

August 3, 2010

Irwin GrooveLock Pliers

Irwin has just released two new jaw designs in their GrooveLock series. Prior to this, there was only the v-jaws version available (pictured, left). The new designs (straight jaws and smooth jaws) are alterations with the 'teeth' of the tool and nothing else.


groovelock1.jpg groovelock2.jpg groovelock3.jpg

So it all comes down to what it is you're going to be clamping. If it's regular old nuts, stick with the v-jaw. If it's something a little more delicate, something you can't mar, then look into the smooth jaws. If you're grabbing at an item with parallel edges, the straight jaws are the ticket.

There's actually more to these tools than the new variety to the business end. With the initial release of the v-jaws a couple years back, Irwin's GrooveLock system bypassed the normal adjustment aggravation associated with standard tongue and groove pliers and made a system where you just press a button and slide the jaw where you want it and lock it in place. According to Irwin, this process is twice as fast as the traditional method.

The new designs aren't at Amazon yet, but the v-jaws are here.

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

July 13, 2010

Johnson Glo-View Magnetic Torpedo Level - Review

johnson_glo_level_side.jpgLast week we reviewed Swason's new Lightning Level which turned out to be a pretty nice tool. Just press a button and the vials light up. That one is available in 24" and 48" lengths, which in our opinion are two of the three essential level sizes. But what about the third, the torpedo level? They're too small to house batteries and a torpedo level with LEDs seems a bit like overkill. So do these little levels stay sadly unlit?

Not so says Johnson Level and Tool with the release of their new Glo-View Torpedo Level. This one doesn't have any LEDs to light up the vials, but rather it...wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...glows! Whoa.

johnson_glo_level_dark.jpgLike most torpedoes, the Glo-View has three vials; a level, a plumb, and a 45 degree. It has an aluminum housing and one of the long sides has a v-groove to make it easier to hold it against a pipe. The other side has three magnets on it so you can stick it to a metal stud or whatever. We're not going to get into our thoughts on magnetized levels again, but if you're interested, we spent a paragraph on it here.

The glow feature is nice and subtle. In fact, if someone just handed you the level during the day, it's likely you wouldn't even realize the level had any special ability. The glowing things works like any glow-in-the-dark toy you had when you were little; hold it by the light and let it charge up, and then you've got enough glow-mojo (glojo?) to last you a little while, at least long enough to worm your way into the crawlspace and solder a few pipes.

johnson_glo_level_top.jpgjohnson_glo_level_bottom.jpg

The Glo-View Torpedo runs for just over $15, which puts it in right in the mid-range for torpedo levels, so it's not like you're paying an extra $30 for the glowing ability.

Johnson has incorporated their Glo-View into their line of box levels, so the feature is available 24", 48", 72", and 96" lengths as well. It's a good alternative to the Swanson LED levels if you're interested in having the vials lit, but you're still a little dodgy about having a level with a light switch on it.

At Grainger

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

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