September 24, 2009

Black & Decker MSW100 Ready Wrench

b&d_ready_wrench.jpgOur socket set is a mess. It's fine when it's sitting in our shop and we're the only ones using it, but the instant it enters the construction site, pieces start disappearing. It's like there are ratchet-eating elves living under the excavator or something. And oddly enough, it's always the most common sizes that vanish, so it doesn't take long for the kit to be rendered practically useless.

Black & Decker has come up with a new tool that might help the situation. The Ready Wrench is an interesting looking item that's sort of one-stop shopping for the 16 most popular socket sizes. Each end of the tool has a rotating piece with 4 different socket sizes. It looks like they get to the 16 number by including both SAE and the similar metric size, which actually aren't identical, so there's likely a little slop in 1/2 of the sizes.

This looks like a potentially handy tool. Probably more of a space-saver than anything else, or something for the DIYer who has no need for a complete wrench set. It reminds us of the space-age HK1 Adjustable Wrench that we reviewed way back in February. While the HK1 has a wider range of sizes (it's fully adjustable), the B&D looks easier to use on the fly.

The Ready Wrench costs about $30, which could be worth it if the tool has some durability to it.


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

September 16, 2009

Striker Carbide Utility Score - Review

striker_carbide.jpgStriker is a pretty new tool company and so far they've released a number of items that we've been impressed with (mini LED light, utility knife) and one that we were less impressed with (mechanical carpenter's pencil). Lately, we've been testing out their new carbide utility score, which, aside from basically two parts (the flip out blade and the blade holder) is exactly the same as the utility knife.


Because we were fans of the utility knife (it's going on six months as our go-to knife), it's no shocker that we liked the carbide score as well. The same large handle is there, as is the durability and easy flip action. So far we've diced up two bathrooms worth of cement board and it's been a great tool to have. Like the knife, it has a rasp on the side of the blade, so shaving off a whisker is not a problem. There's also a nice belt clip. The overall look of the thing is pretty cool and just about everyone on site who is under the age of 25 makes sure to tell us so.

It's a nice tool and way better than those el cheapos that are usually available at hardware stores. The Striker costs about $20, so if you're a pro, it's worth it to get a tool you'll be proud of.


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

September 11, 2009


Reader David sent us this video of the Rotate-A-Blade saying that the tool is like a Stanley knife on steroids. He's pretty much right on. The first minute of the video is pretty boring and we almost clicked away, but then the blade goes into the perpendicular position and BOOM you've got a scraper. Pretty innovative design.

This video seems to be the only information available on the knife. According to youtube, the guy who posted it up (PROTOTYPER1), put up a similar one two years ago. Maybe the product is finally coming to market.

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

September 3, 2009

Ridgid Explorer vs Milwaukee M12 M-Spector AV

ex-v-m12.jpgJay over at CopTool has just posted up a nice review of of the two most popular inspection cameras on the market, the Ridgid Explorer and the Milwaukee M-Spector. The upshot of his review is that the Ridgid Explorer seems to have the better selection of features, but that it costs almost three hundred dollars more. But this isn't to say that the Milwaukee is a bad tool at all, because it's not. It has it's own set of advantages such as battery compatibility with other M12 tools, a longer battery life and a built-in microphone.

Check out CopTools review here.

(Image gratuitously snagged from CopTool)

Ridgid Explorer at Ohio Power Tool and
Milwaukee M12 M-Spector at Ohio Power Tool and

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

August 13, 2009

Stanley Fubar 30" Forcible Entry Tool

stanley_forcible_entry.jpgWith a name that only appeals to firemen and career criminals, Stanley's 30" Forcible Entry Tool is one of the newer additions to their stud bending, nail ripping, sheetrock destroying Fubar line.

Along with the standard nail-pullers, 2x jaws, and demo hammer, the Forcible Entry Tool comes with a few features specific to emergency responders. It's got a hydrant wrench, a gas shut-off wrench, as well as heat-resistant grips.

It all sounds good to us and it costs about $150, which is a hefty amount of dough (about the same as we paid for the boots that we're currently obsessed with). If you like the idea, but want something a little smaller, check out the Channellock Rescue Tool.

Because it's such a specialty item, it's only available at select retailers. The list is at Stanley.

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

July 21, 2009

Ezy Hang Door Lifter - Review

ezy_hang1.jpgOne of the classic carpentry tasks is hanging a door. From what we've seen pretty much everyone has their own way of doing it and while there is a lot of variety in approach, one fact remains a constant; the door needs to be lifted into place. And this is where the Ezy Hang Door Lifter comes into play.

The Easy Hang Door Lifter is in reality a very simple item and actually something that anyone with a stick welder, a drill press and a few scraps of metal could probably cobble together (minus the powder-coating). It consists of two connected feet, each with a lever and corresponding lift pad. To use it, just maneuver the door onto the pads, press on the levers with your feet, and watch the pads and the door elevate off the ground. When we hang a door by ourselves, we usually have a flatbar and some shims helping us along at this stage. It's do-able, but pretty clumsy and it takes a bit to get the door at exactly the correct height. This is where the Ezy Hang Door Lifter excels. Because there are two independent lift pads, it is extremely easy to adjust the door in the opening in order to mark out or line up your hinges.


When not in use, the foot pedals of the Ezy Hang fold in and make the item compact enough to stick in the back of a truck or in a gang box or behind the mower in the garage.

The EZY Hang can handle any door up to 220lbs, which means that it can deal with just about any wooden door and most others. Once you get into metal acoustical doors, you're going to start having problems, but those likely come with the frame and hinges all set up already, so the precision lifting is less of an issue.


And that's really all there is to say. While it's a very smart item, it's not a particularly complicated one; no LEDs, no laser sighting, no blade changing. Just a couple levers connected with some bar stock. So our review boils down to, "does it work?" The answer here is, "yup, sure does. Works great."

Being an Australian product, the Ezy Hang isn't in your local hardware store, or even the Home Depot or Lowes. If you're interested in ordering one, check out the website for more information (it looks like you'll have to email the inventor for pricing information and availability).

At Ezy Hang Door Lifter

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

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.


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.


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.


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

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