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.
When 3-in-1 sent us one of their No-Rust Shields to test out they had no idea that we would put it in an unwinnable situation, a situation so brutal that there was absolutely no chance for success. We felt that the one way to test this little tool was to break its spirit, totally demoralize it, and then punch it in the face. If you're not familiar with it, the No-Rust Shield is a little gizmo that you put in your tool box or your gang box or your tackle box (or wherever) and it prevents rust from building up on the metal in that space. It's meant for normal day-to-day levels of moisture, not the 98% humidity that we subjected it to. So, we essentially knew that the item was doomed from the start, but we thought the manner in which it let out its dying breath would be indicative of its quality as a tool.
According to 3-In-1, the No-Rust Shield (NRS) works by (we're not joking here) sending out "metal-seeking vapor phase corrosion inhibitors" which form a layer of protection around whatever metal it is that you're trying to protect. Sort of like midi-chlorians of the tool world.
For our test, we took two Ziploc bags and put about 1/2 cup of water in each. We then put a handful of nails in each bag and in one bag we placed the No-Rust Shield (NRS). We closed up the bags and positioned them in a way that neither the nails or the NRS was exposed to direct water. That was about two months ago.
We watched the test diligently for about two weeks. At that point, the control nails were fully engaged with rust and the NRS nails were just starting to show signs of falling victim themselves. We had big plans of taking a ton of photos of the progression, but it was at that point that (honesty alert) we completely forgot about our test. And then we were driving home from work the other day and, "isn't there something I should be remembering now....oh yeah." So we revisited the corner of the shop with the bags and at first glance, it looked like the NRS had completely succumbed to the rust and the game was up, but upon closer inspection, there were still patches of untouched metal on the NRS nails. Very interesting. We pulled the nails out and took some photos.
The water was now rusty in both bags, so we filtered it out and dried the results. We took some photos of that too. So, as you can see, there is a difference in the results. The NRS works. Not under impossible conditions, but it does work. If our results were translated into a box of nails or a box of router bits, we're convinced that the items would stay rust free. Or at least rust free for the 90 days that the NRS lasts for. Thankfully, the NRS also has a strip that turns red to indicate that when it's time to get a new one.
Honestly, our test was barbaric to the No-Rust Shield. We created a situation that is so unlikely and so brutal that it would really never be a real-life situation. If you're someone who is going to take the time and effort to purchase a No-Rust Shield, you're not going to be the type to store your tools in a bucket of water. But even with the punishing test, the No-Rust Shield displayed its effectiveness by putting up a good fight, even if it ultimately shared the fate of Tennyson's Light Brigade.
The No-Rust Shield goes for about $5 and is available at Amazon.com
We were doing some Christmas shopping at Sears the other day and noticed a new line of hand tools from Craftsman called evolv. It looks like it has replaced the Companion line of tools as their inexpensive line of (mostly) hand tools.
As far as we're concerned, this line is all about two things; packaging and price. The packaging has this eco-vibe to it, marked by the raw cardboard backer boards for the tools. We half expected to see a notice on the packaging saying that the tools were BPA free and that the indigenous third-world workers that put them together were paid via some sort of fair trade agreement. The color scheme is a nice gray with a green that seems to mimic Ryobi's li-ion line. Overall, there's a harmless 'Starbucks/Putamayo' quality to the presentation that's undeniably appealing. There's even some mysterious pronunciation symbol under the 'e' in 'evolve.'
As for price, these things are extremely economical, which is great for us. Over the years we've come to regard most hand tools as disposable, one step up from drill bits and recip saw blades. We'll buy a nice, expensive screwdriver set and soon one of them is lost at the site, one's lost in the garage, one is lost in the basement and a few others are just plain old lost. We've long since stopped wasting our money on pricey hand tools. We've got our nice hammer, but that's about it. So, at some point we might be at Sears and if we're sick of trying to remember where we last used our #2 Philips screwdriver, we might toss the evolve set in the shopping basket (ten screwdrivers for $15).
The line also has wrenches, pliers, socket sets, multi-tools, a number of full tool sets, and even a 3.6-volt screwdriver.
Raise your hand if you're completely lacking in any and all ability to hang a picture on a wall. Good. Now, if your arm is in the air, you're one of the people who has helped put the Hang and Level Picture Hanging Tool in the Amazon top 100 sellers in home improvement (#59 as of this writing).
The Hang and Level is a tool that facilitates the "so where do I put the hanger?" question of the picture hanging process. What you do is hook the picture to the tool, position it where you want it, remove the picture, and then press a litle button into the wall which leaves a mark right where you want to place the nail/hanger. It also has two built-in level vials for fine tuning.
The Under the Roof website tells us that their picture hanging tool has been mentioned in the New York Times and that it was awarded Outstanding Product at the '09 Hardware Show. We're sure the that tool is functional and in a way it's clever, but do people really need it? We just moved into a new place and over the past few weeks we've hung more pictures than the curator at the Louvre, and all we use is a tape measure, a pencil, and a little simple math. Works pretty well for us.
So we don't know. Maybe we're wrong, maybe this is the best idea since the cordless drill. Maybe everybody needs one. Or maybe we're all relying so much on gizmos, gadgets and technology that we can no longer do even the simplest tasks without assistance.
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