If you read our recent review of Milwaukee's 11-in-1 Screwdriver and thought, "more, more MORE! I NEED MORE MULTI-SCREWDRIVER ACTION!" Then, calm down, the My T Driver is here. According to Melco, the My T Driver does the work of 24 screwdrivers and delivers 5 times the torque of a standard screwdriver. The extra mojo comes from the stems that flip out of the handle and allow you to use the tool sort of like a basin wrench. We think it's a nice idea and hopefully, the screwdriver can hold up to the additional strain.
The My T Driver costs $19 and comes with a small case and a little flashlight. Oh, it also has a ratcheting setting.
With the release of the 11-in-1 screwdriver, Milwaukee has put itself in direct competition with the fantastic Klein 10-in-1. We know what you're thinking, "the Milwaukee has to be better...it's one louder." Well, not exactly. As it turns out, the new tool is so specified towards electricians and HVAC guys that its eleven functions don't really apply to everyone.
Starting with driver tips, the Milwaukee has a #1 Philips; a #2 Philips; a 1/4" slotted; a 3/16" slotted; a 1/4", 5/16", and 3/8" nut driver; a #1 ECX bit, and finally a #2 ECX bit. If you don't know what an ECX bit is (we didn't), it's a combination of a Philips and a slotted that comes off looking like a Robertson bit with a slotted bit stuck through it. It's a new design that Milwaukee has come up with that works in those strange 'Philips or slotted" screws that are commonly seen on electrical devices (outlets, breaker panels, etc).
Aside from the screwdriver tips, the Milwaukee has two other tricks, both centered around the electrical trade or specifically, wiring. First, there is a little wire stripper in the handle. It's really just a little groove with a blade tucked down in it. At first, we snorted at this, thinking that Milwaukee was trying a little too hard to get to the magic number of 11, but then we rolled a piece of 12 gauge wire in the groove and the sheath just came right off.
The second non-tip feature of the screwdriver is a little hole in the stem that you can use to bend a wire. Now, these two features might not be too practical if you're wiring an entire house, but in a pinch, this screwdriver is certainly capable of replacing your pliers.
About three weeks ago, we started carrying this tool around and we really haven't let it out of our sight since. At first we thought the handle was too smooth and we missed the more knobbly Klein, but a few days later we were used to it and thought of it no more. Because we're carpenters, we have yet to use the ECX bits and really miss the torx bits that are on the Klein, which actually can double as Allen wrenches when working with little set screws (perfect for door hardware). If we were electricians though, we'd be fully enamored with the Milwaukee and probably a little bit misty-eyed that they finally made a screwdriver tailored so specifically to our needs that all the dumb carpenters in the world can't even use a bunch of its features.
This one is for the real mountain men out there. Not the, "look at me, I just unclogged my sink drain" DIYers, but the hardcore, "I built my house with no power tools" crowd. The shingle froe is an old colonial tool used for, among other things, making shingles. The sharp edge of the blade (the long side that faces away from the handle) gets pounded into a log, and then the handle gets leveraged down to pop off a sheet of wood. The tool can also be used in some woodworking situations, but we prefer to think of it as a Grizzly Adams item.
This particular one has got the Peavey name (American made) so it's got to be high quality. If you've ever used a Peavey log roller, you know what we're talking about.
We've used a number of hidden deck fasteners and have gotten some mixed results. We've had some good experiences (Eb-Ty) and some not-so-good experiences (Tiger Claw). Even the successful Eb-Tys were labor intensive with us having to biscuit out for each and every fastener. The results were great, but the process was tedious.
So Kreg, masters of all that is jiggy, are entering the ring with their new Deck Jig and at a glance it looks like a fast, efficient way of doing things (on the one condition that you have 2 drills). Like every other product that Kreg sells, the Deck Jig boils down to a method of drilling and setting a screw at a specific angle. In this case, it assists with toe-screwing a deck board to a joist.
The jig is set up like other Kreg jigs with the special drill bit and the adjustable depth collar. There are three drilling holes, one for screwing straight on and the other two for angled screwing, like when two boards meet on a joist. The kit also comes with little board spacers, to ensure your deck boards are nice and parallel.
The one thing that worries us about this whole thing is that the jig uses a specialized drill bit (replacements are about $14). So if you're making your deck out of ipe (which is becoming more and more popular), there could be an added expense of additional drill bits. Spending a day drilling through a species of wood that has the same fire rating as steel doesn't bode well for the longevity of the bit. But then again, cutting biscuit slots in it is no treat either.
So where do you go after you completely dominate the 12-volt market? Hand tools, apparently. Milwaukee has just announced the first four tools in a new line of non-powered, non-voltage tools. And, as always with Milwaukee, they are geared for tradesman.
The first tools announced are two utility knives, a drywall keyhole saw, and a 11-in-1 screwdriver. Of these, the one that interests us the most is the 11-in-1. It seems that in the past few weeks there has been an explosion of the Klein 10-in-1 at the jobsite. All of a sudden, everyone's getting one (and telling everyone else to get one). So at least in our area, Milwaukee seems to be hitting the market at the right time.
For more information on these tools, check out Milwaukee's hand tool page here.
Well, you can either get the Leatherman Skeletool or the, um, Li'l Guppie. While it doesn't exactly have the most badass name, it does look pretty useful. Its got a knife, screwdrivers, an LED, and an adjustable wrench. Oh, and of course it has a bottle opener. There's also a carabiner which makes it ideal for clicking it onto a backpack or a belt loop.
So if you're looking for something other than the traditional looking multi-tool, the Guppie might fit the bill. Just make sure to tell everyone it's called the Piranha or maybe the Japanese Fighting Fish.
If you look in any carpenter's tool bag, there's likely to be something in there made by Channellock. The reason for this popularity is that most people are in the know that the company is one of the premier manufacturers of gripping, grabbing, and holding hand tools. We have a few of their tools kicking around; one in the tool bag, two or three in the shop, and (we think) one under the passenger seat of the truck. They're reliable and durable and that's really all we ask for out of a hand tool. So when Channellock sent us their new 6.5" V-Jaw pliers, we figured there was a good chance that we were going to like them. And, not surprisingly, we did.
What Channellock has done is miniaturized their popular V-Jaw pliers to make it easier to handle smaller round stock; things like 1/2" copper and small diameter PVC. That's all fine and it does work nicely for those uses (it's a perfect fit for 1/2" stock actually), but coming from a carpenter's perspective, and not a plumber's, we also found other good uses for it. In the past couple weeks, the 6.5" pliers helped us pull nails, fish a hard-to-get wire from a wall, and handle a sharp metal edge on a chimney liner. It wasn't long before we moved its status up to one of the coveted exterior pockets on our tool bag.
In our opinion, everyone needs at least one pair of pliers (and honestly, three or four extras don't hurt). For your first set, get the regular, big old kind that everybody has, but if you find yourself having a hard time with smaller materials or you just want some variety in your tool chest, the 6.5" Channellocks should be at the top of your list.
They're also made in America (Meadeville, PA) which is nice.
The little pliers cost around $13, a fine price for a high quality hand tool like this.
We just checked out the Artillery Tools website and saw that it has gotten a much needed facelift. The new site is a lot easier to navigate and has a nice product page, making it easy to build your own destruction bar. They also sell pre-assembled bars or complete sets.
If you're in the market for a high-quality demo bar, we recommend looking at the Artillery. It's a small company built solely on the enthusiasm and determination of founder/inventor Joe Skach. If you call to place an order, it's likely Joe will be the one answering the phone.
We just noticed that Stiletto, the makers of some oddly expensive hammers, has found a way to add on an additional $14.99 to the price of their tools with a personalized engraving service. To be honest, the engraving price strikes us as more than reasonable and as long as you're sacrificing your child's college education to purchase a hammer, you might as well make sure no one steals it.
You can personalize a brand new hammer, or get the work done on a Stiletto that you already have.
Black & Decker has released a number of energy saving and monitoring products as part of their Energy Series. We've already covered the Thermal Leak Detector and the Power Monitor so now we're moving on to the last of the line, the Black & Decker AutoSwitch.
The AutoSwitch is a unit that you place over an existing light switch which converts it to a motion sensor light. The unit has a switch, so there's still a manual override and you also have the ability to set it to a sensitivity of 1, 5, 15, or 30 minutes.
If you're the type who comes home from vacation and realizes that you left every light in the house on for over two weeks, then it might be a product worth looking into.
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