November 3, 2009

Ryobi 12-Volt Auto Hammer

ryobi_auto_hammer.jpgLast week, ToolGuyd had a nice find with the new Ryobi 12-Volt Auto Hammer. By the numbers, the tool is nearly identical to the Craftsman version: 3,600 hits per minute, magnetic head, both under 2lbs. Also, like the Craftsman, the Ryobi comes with only one battery and a canvas carrying case).

We tested out the Craftsman and had some success with it, even though it's not going to replace your traditional hammer. Our Tool Snob review is here, and we also wrote about it for Popular Mechanics, even going to far as to smash our thumb with it.

Oh yeah, one difference between the tools is that the Ryobi is $89, making it $10 cheaper than the Craftsman.

Ryobi 12-Volt Auto Hammer at Home Depot

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

October 15, 2009

Craftsman 12-Volt Nextec Multi-Tool - Review

craftsman_mt_hero.jpgAnd why shouldn't Craftsman make an oscillating tool? Everyone else is doing it; Dremel, Bosch, Chicago Electric, Proxxon, even the creepy guy down the street has one half made in his garage. But is there really anything that Craftsman can do to improve on the tool in this quickly saturated market? Well, they were nice enough to send on one of their new 12-volt Nextec Oscillating Tools so that we could take a look and find out for ourselves.

ArrowContinue reading: "Craftsman 12-Volt Nextec Multi-Tool - Review"

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

October 13, 2009

Milwaukee M12 3/8" Right Angle Drill/Driver

milwaukee_Right_Angle.jpgWe're quite enamored with our Hitachi 12-volt Right Angle Impact Driver (in fact, we had to use it yesterday), so we're happy that Milwaukee is expanding their already impressive 12-volt system with a new right angle drill/driver. It looks like a very useful tool and with a 3-3/4" head length, it should fit in some awkward spaces with no problem. It's also got a little LED and 12 clutch settings.

We also noticed that it only comes with one battery, which is too bad for anyone who hasn't bought into the Milwaukee M12 line. It makes sense though, as it's unlikely that the tool will ever get a full day's workout. But still, any cordless tool that only comes with a single battery makes us feel like we're somehow getting short-changed.

We also want to applaud Milwaukee on their press release. We read a lot of these things and most of them are filled with all sorts of business market share talk. But instead of going down that route, Milwaukee lays out the tool with this dead-on quote:


"A right angle drill driver is similar to jumper cables for a car," says Paul Fry, Director of M12™ for Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation. "Many people do not realize they need one until they are in a tight space and need help."

it looks like this guy's going to cost in the arena of $140-$150, which we think is an entirely reasonable price.

At Ohio Power Tools

Read the entire press release after the jump.

ArrowContinue reading: "Milwaukee M12 3/8" Right Angle Drill/Driver"

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

September 18, 2009

Bosch 18-Volt Litheon Impactor - Review

bosch_impact.jpgBosch recently added an 18-volt impact gun to their Litheon line and we've had our hands on one for about three months now. We skipped any staged testing protocols (i.e. how many 3" lag screws can it drive) and just brought it to work. So for the last 14 weeks we have treated this tool in such a way that we now understand what red-headed step-children have to go through. Instead of carrying the gun down a ladder, we threw it. Instead of packing it up in its case, we lobbed it in the back of the truck, instead of putting it under a tarp, we left it out in the rain. If this thing is going to be a job site gun, it's got to survive basic training. So on to our thoughts...

bosch_impact_base.jpgFirst, the Bosch comes with a few practical features, but thankfully, nothing audacious or gimmicky. It's got an LED, a nice little bit holder at the base of the handle and a belt clip that can be placed on either side of the handle (with just the removal of one screw), depending on the task at hand, or whether you're a righty or a lefty. The belt clip is nice, but it's one of those things that will hop off your hip going down a ladder or crouching over. It's handy for a quick holster, but nowhere near as secure as a Prazi Monster Hook, so we would still recommend picking up one of those or something like it.

And as for day-to-day functionality, the Bosch Impactor is really a top-notch gun. It laughed at our rough treatment and easily and consistently drove 6" Timberlok screws into wet 4x6s. It's shorter and stubbier than our old Makita, and it feels better in the hands.

bosch_impact_nose.jpgOur one gripe with the tool is that the nose of the gun has a protective rubber sheath on it, which is great and prevents surface marring in tight spots, but the piece is removable and somewhat loosely fit. On more than one occasion, the piece would come slightly loose and snag on something (one time even causing the gun to hop off our hip and fall onto a finished floor). Why not just make the piece permanent? This might sound like nit-picking, but with Bosch so close to making a perfect impact driver, this loose flap of rubber really bothered us.

Bosch_impact_case.jpgAnd as always, Bosch provides a great case with the tool, capable of holding extra batteries and bits and with enough room left over for a few hand tools as well.

We also had the opportunity to check out the difference between the Bosch slim pack and fat pack Litheon batteries. Obviously, the fat pack are going to be stronger (they were) and last longer (they did), but it all comes at the cost of a heavier unit (and a more expensive one). Both batteries held charges for quite some time, but the fat pack were tremendous on this front. Sometimes we would go a few days on one battery. Keep in mind, we weren't doing production work, but still, under the same load, we would have had to hit up the Makita charger at least three or four times. The way we see it, there is really no way you'll ever find yourself in a situation where you're standing around holding a dead battery, waiting impatiently for the other one to charge.

bosch_impact_hand.jpgBosch_impact_w_makita.jpg

The bottom line here is that this is a fantastic tool. It's durable and powerful, and to be honest, this tool integrated itself so well into our life that we forgot we were reviewing it. If Bosch keeps the battery line alive, this is a tool that you could potentially have for a long, long time. But this kind of quality doesn't come cheap. The Bosch Impactor costs anywhere from $250 to $380 depending on the package you get. You can get the gun with either 2 fat pack batteries or two slim pack batteries. Our opinion on this is that if you're going to be working the gun pretty hard, the fat pack are worth it, but if you're an electrician or someone who won't be using it full time or for particularly strenuous tasks, the slim packs should do you fine.

Bosch Litheon Impactor with 2 Slim Pack Batteries at Amazon.com
Bosch Litheon Impactor with 2 Fat Pack Batteries at Amazon.com

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

September 10, 2009

Tools We Keep in the Truck

There are very few tools we keep in the truck at all times. The small space behind the seat is prized real estate and not to be wasted on redundant tools that are easy to come by on a job site. Instead, we reserve this spot for those special tools, the ones that can do things no other tool can. The ones that, when you need them, you need them. Over the past few months, we've narrowed down our repertoire to a select few. They are as follows:

hitachi_rt_ang.jpgHitachi 12-Volt Right-Angle Impact Driver (our review here): This tool is worth it's weight in gold, which, oddly enough, isn't all that much because it's so light and compact. It has a clearance that is so small it can fit anywhere and while it's powerful enough to drop a 2" screw in a 2x4, where this tool shines is with the small fussy tasks, like working up in a shade pocket or behind a fan coil unit.

Thumbnail image for fein_multimaster.jpgFein MultiMaster (our review here): With the expiration of Fein's oscillating tool patent, the market has been flooded with other models by everyone from Craftsman to Bosch to Dremel to Rockwell. But the funny thing is that even though there are now a ton of oscillating tools on the market, the Fein still has no real competition. This isn't to belittle the others, we've tested out the majority of the new tools and they're fine, it's just that the MultiMaster is nearly a work of art. Once you hold one, you'll know what we're talking about.

Hackzall.jpgMilwaukee Hackzall (our review here): Of the tools on the list, this is the one that has elicited the greatest response from the rest of the site. It has been affectionately dubbed, "the turkey carver" and it's constantly getting borrowed by carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and anyone else who needs to make a quick, no-hassle cut. The only downside to the tool is that it comes with the single worst case in tool history.

Thumbnail image for m12_pp_w_phone2.jpgMilwaukee 12-volt Power Port and Flashlight (our reviews here and here): This is sort of the emergency kit and hangs out under the passenger seat next to the first-aid bag. It's always good to have a flashlight on hand and the Power Port is good for a quick cell phone charge here and there (the truck stops charging when the engine is off).

...and those are the ones we keep close at hand. Granted, we've been in the finish phase of the job, so these are all detail oriented tools, good for the small fussy stuff. It's likely they'll get cycled out during the framing of the next job, but for now they're there, constantly getting us out of trouble.

HItachi Right Angle Impact Driver at Tool Barn
Fein MultiMaster at Amazon.com
Milwaukee Hackzall at Amazon.com
Milwaukee Power Port at Amazon.com
Milwaukee Flashlight at Amazon.com

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

September 8, 2009

Rockwell LithiumTech 18-Volt Combo Kit

rockwell_18v_combo.jpgEarlier this year (much earlier...the spring, actually), Rockwell hopped into the lithium ion market with the release of a drill/driver and an impact gun. From what we can make out from the product description and price, these are in that mid range between the hard-core contractor tools and the more inexpensive, strickly-homeowner tools. In other words, there's some durability for an affordable price, sort of a Porter-Cable/Ryobi vibe.

For their lithium line, Rockwell seemed to have snagged Ryobi's colors, which is a bit strange. So if you prefer a darker color palette, they have a Ni-Cd line available called ComPak which looks like it's also worth checking out. Both lines fall under Rockwell's insane 'free replacement batteries for life' program.

At Amazon.com

Read the Lithium Tech press release after the jump..

ArrowContinue reading: "Rockwell LithiumTech 18-Volt Combo Kit"

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 Amazon.com
Milwaukee M12 M-Spector at Ohio Power Tool and Amazon.com

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

August 4, 2009

Ryobi P580K 18-Volt 4" Wet/Dry Tile Saw

Ryobi_wet_dry_tile.jpgIf you're like us, you saw this image and thought, "sweet, finally a circular saw that comes with its own roll of toilet paper!" But unfortunately, tool technology isn't that advanced yet. What you're looking at is the latest in Ryobi's 18-volt li-ion line, a wet/dry tile saw. The roll of toilet paper is a water bottle that you fill and *boom* wet saw capabilities.

The tool has a on/off toggle for the water but in all other respects it appears to function like the 18-volt circular saw that Ryobi has had on the market for a couple years.

This one looks really useful to us. Having that kind of portability with the built-in water dispenser just seems like a tile/stone guy's fantasy. Just think of what this thing could do with a blue stone walkway or a slate floor...

The saw costs about $200 and that's for the saw, one battery, the blade, and a charger.

At Home Depot

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

August 3, 2009

Ryobi TEK4

ryobi_tek4.jpg

It looks like Ryobi has a new 4-volt battery on the market and a number of interesting tools to go with it. Rather than looking at the 4-volt battery system as a smaller version of the 18 and 12-volts, they're looking from the bottom up, treating it as more of a pumped up AA battery. This thinking results in some unique tools that have uses beyond home improvement.

A handful of these new tools are measuring devices, an area that both Bosch and Milwaukee have recently moved into as well. With their new system, Ryobi has an infrared thermometer, a distance measure, and a multimeter. They also have a plumb/cross laser lever, a LED flashlight, and a portable power source, which is similar to the Milwaukee 12-volt Power Port that we're big fans of.

In the 'things we've never seen before' category, Ryobi is offering a 4-volt camera, noise suppression headphones, a motion sensor with an alarm, and a digitally keyed lock.

It's all very interesting and with Ryobi's placement at the giant orange store, this is likely to be a winner of a line. Hopefully, Ryobi's ability to serve up a quality tool at a great price will avoid these items from becoming VPX'd.

More information on Tek4 at Ryobi
TEK4 Tools at Home Depot

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

July 6, 2009

Milwaukee M12 Power Port - Review

m12_powerPort_w_phone.jpgWe used to own a Jeep Cherokee which had its ups and downs, but would always charge our cell phone even with the engine off and the keys out of the ignition. Now we drive around in a Tacoma which is great but the truck kills the outlets as soon as the engine is off. We're pretty good at keeping our phone charged either at home or during the commute, but sometimes (like the other day) we forget and arrive at the site with the battery not fully charged. The point of this story is to relay how we became fully dependent on the M12 Power Port the other day. If we didn't happen to have it on us, we would have been completely screwed.

m12_pp_end.jpgm12_pp_in_hand.jpg

The M12 Power Port is a simple affair, about the size of a bulky remote control. It has an indicator light to let you know if the battery still has some juice and a little flip down door to protect both the USB port and the DC port from dust and dirt when it's not in use. To use the item, just plug in your cell phone, iPod, whatever and the 12-volt battery starts transferring the charge.

But back to our story. It was one of those end of day "how come the condenser stopped working?" things where we had to call the HVAC guys and the electricians multiple times and do all sorts of coordination and troubleshooting. During the first call the phone went dead. After a quick hustle to the truck to get the Power Port, we were back in action and resolved the situation. If we hadn't had the Power Port on hand things would have gotten ugly.

m12_pp_w_phone2.jpgSo what does this all mean? Well, the M12 Power Port is not going to be your full time charger. Why would it? You would constantly need to charge a battery in order to charge a battery. But what it is is a nice insurance policy, a safety net. The price is right too. If you already have a Milwaukee M12 tool with batteries and charger, the Power Port is only going to set you back about $25, which isn't a whole lot for something that you'll use in an emergency. It would probably be nice on a camping trip too, but we're going to keep ours in the glove box.

At Amazon.com (tool only)

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

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