October 27, 2010

Post Level Square

Post_level_square_1.jpg post_level_square2.jpg

Say you take two rafter squares and you attach them with a hinge...

We were made aware of this odd little multi-tasker by reader David (who is also the inventor). The Post Level Square a combination of a rafter square and a post level and it looks like it could be pretty useful, particularly if you've got a deck that needs to be built. From what we can tell of the pictures, when it's in rafter square mode, it stays closed with magnets and functions just like a rafter square and when it's opened up, you just wrap it around a post.

Because the post level is such a specific tool with a single use, it's nice to have its functionality wrapped into something more universal so you're not buying something just to have it sit around. But because it's plastic, the Swanson-dedicated pros might steer clear of this one. For the DIY crowd though, the dual tool functionality is a good idea.

No word yet on pricing or availability.

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

October 14, 2010

Bosch Announces Partnership with Perceptron

perceptron.jpg

Looks like it won't be long before we start seeing Bosch inspection cameras. Big Blue just yesterday announced a partnership with Perceptron, a company specifically dedicated to optical devices and apparently the makers of the first inspection camera.

As we started digging through the Perceptron website, we began to get all worked up in a tizzy up over this. We can't even understand the purpose of easily 2/3rds of their products, so thinking of ways that all this crazy technology could be distilled down to the contractor world gave us that euphoric nitrous balloon feeling. Could Bosch be completely blowing the doors off the inspection world? And then we stumbled across this...

The first commercial [visual inspection] product, the Ridgid® SeeSnake® micro™ inspection camera, was launched in 2007 through a partnership with Ridge Tool Company. The SeeSnake® micro™ allows users to easily perform visual inspections in hard to reach areas.

and then this,

Perceptron introduced its second major product for Ridge Tool, the Ridgid® microEXPLORER™ Digital Inspection Camera, in July 2008. The microEXPLORER™ takes inspection to the next level with it's ability to capture still images or record videos for diagnosing and solving difficult problems. In October 2008, CBU released the second generation of the SeeSnake® micro™.

There's also information on Perceptron partnering with Snap-On for inspection devices targeting the mechanic. So there is the possibility that the partnership will be similar to Ridgid's and may only be about an inspection camera and little else.

We'll see though. We hope we're wrong. We want to see fireworks.

Press release after the jump...

ArrowContinue reading: "Bosch Announces Partnership with Perceptron"

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

October 12, 2010

Fluke Football Sweepstakes

fluke_football.jpg

Since thermal imaging and college football go hand in hand, Fluke, one of the big names in the test and measurement category has announced their Big Game Sweepstakes with the winner getting two tickets and airfare to watch the Big Game in Arlington Texas in February 2011. We're not into college football, so we couldn't tell you the significance of The Big Game, other than to say that it's big. As in capital 'B' Big.

To enter, you need to go to this page and simply investigate one of the products. Once you're on a product page, you can click through to enter.

It looks like the point of the sweepstakes is to merely get the word out about Fluke. It's a smart move too, seeing as Milwaukee is hard-charging in the test and measurement category and they've got some massive brand recognition.

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

September 3, 2010

Craftsman Accutrac Laser Measuring Tool

sears_accutrac.jpgOne time we were at a fishing derby that was held at a golf course. The ponds were stocked with fish and everyone just stood around them with their lines in the water (excitement level: zero). So every time someone would catch a fish, all the other people around that pond would rush over to that area and cast their lines at the spot where the fish was caught. It was pretty strange to watch.

Anyway, that, in a nutshell is sort of how we view the tool industry (or, really any industry for that matter). The tool companies are the fishermen, the bait is the product, and you all are the fishys. Let's explain further; there's Bob the fisherman who baits his line with a nice, big worm (a.k.a. shiny new product). He throws it out there where it floats for a bit (on the shelves at Home Depot). Then along comes the fish (you) la-de-da-ing along and you're attracted to the product, you sniff around it, and decide it's worthy, and you take a bite (drop some cash for it). The fisherman is ecstatic and pulls you in (possibly gaining a long term product buyer). Now, at this point, the other fisherman look over and say to themselves, "what the hell did that guy just do? Whatever it is, we've got to do the same thing!" So they run over the same spot and find a similar worm and toss their lines in, hoping to get a similar fish.

ArrowContinue reading: "Craftsman Accutrac Laser Measuring Tool"

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

July 19, 2010

Starrett Full Line Catalog #32

starrett_catalog.jpgIf you're like us, there's a whole lot you're completely in the dark on. And because of that fact, it means that, like us, you probably only think of Starrett as "that company that makes those really nice combo squares." They don't do anything else, do they?

Well, as it turns out, they do. In fact they do enough to result in a densely crammed 566 page catalog (and we mean densely). Starrett just released their latest Full Line Catalog and sent us one to peruse and the amount of tools and equipment in it is head-spinning. Judging from the catalog, Starrett is a company determined to measure, or have the ability to measure, everything on the planet (including the rate at which a head spins).

The catalog has everything from electronic gauge amplifiers (p. 215) to micrometer depth gauges (p.66) to gauge blocks (p.355-401), and thank heavens, they also have a selection of optical comparators (p.419-428). If you're not ready for it, it's all a bit overwhelming.

And all the way back on page 245 is our combination square. It's funny but previous to seeing the catalog, we thought the combo square was the highest achievement of the company, but now it seems almost like an afterthought and even a little out of place when compared to the massive torrent of machinist measuring devices and electronic micro-gauges. There is also another section in the back devoted to jobsite and workshop tools (pages 429 to 466) that has things like rafter squares, levels, and tape measures of every variety you could ever imagine.

The catalog is available online and if you have the time, it's worth flipping through. There's no doubt you'll be impressed.

Visit the Starrett site here or go directly to the catalog here.

Starrett tools at Amazon.com

The press release on the catalog release, if you're interested, is after the jump.

ArrowContinue reading: "Starrett Full Line Catalog #32"

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

June 30, 2010

Bosch Vs. DeWalt

Bosch_vs_DeWalt.jpg

There are a lot of ways to measure tool companies against one another; length of warranty, availability of parts, number of tools in their cordless lines, etc. But we think one of the more important ways is by the quality of pen that they give out at their annual press events. We recently acquired a DeWalt pen at such an event and put it head to head against our Bosch pen we got at an event in the summer of '09.

Ergonomics
The Bosch pen has these three rubberized nubs at the tip, presumably for the thumb and first two fingers. While writing with the pen, our fingers didn't always land comfortably on the nubs making for grip that felt slightly 'off.'. In contrast, DeWalt has encircled the entire lower half of the pen with a rubberized area (save these little yellow hash marks) and has smartly placed a divot on the top side where the first finger lands.
Advantage: DeWalt

bosch_vs_dewalt_bosch.jpg bosch_vs_dewalt_dewalt.jpg

Aesthetics
Bosch opted for more of a modern shape, giving their pen tapered ends. The body of the pen is metallic blue with a silver nose and a silver central ring. The pocket clip transitions once again to silver with a graceful angle and curved return back over the pen body. It's a sharp looking pen, one that smells of elegance. The DeWalt pen has less of a rear taper (hardly any at all actually) and the yellow DeWalt color is a tad loud. In addition, the pocket clip sits on the pen in an unremarkable and quite pedestrian fashion.
Advantage: Bosch

Usability
To reveal the tip of the Bosch pen, you have to give the body a quarter twist. It's a silent operation and very smooth. The DeWalt is more old-fashioned with the rear click button. It's a loud click, but it's a solid, satisfying sound.
Advantage: Bosch (if you're sneaking up on someone)
DeWalt (if you're trying to alert someone that you're choking)

bosch_vs_dewalt_both.jpg

Ink Quality
We traded off pens while completing pages 1390 to 1456 of our memoir and we discovered that the Bosch is a smoother ride. This is caused by the release of a consistent and very, very slightly excessive amount of ink. The downside of this is that we noticed some 'blobbing.' The DeWalt glide is a bit stiffer, but the ink lines, while a tad lighter, are more even. Both pens are black, which is good because blue ink would have led to immediate disqualification.
Advantage: DeWalt

Bottom Line
These are both fine pens, each with some good points and some not as good points. We are of the opinion that there's room in the world for both pens. The Bosch is the one that we would bring to the client meeting; it's sleek, professional looking, and the amount of ink dispensed lets us write faster and makes it easier to transcribe the wild demands of the client. The DeWalt, on the other hand, goes in the truck. It's what we fill out our construction log book with. It's bright yellow, so we won't lose it, and when we're stressed out because the stone stair treads were just delivered and they don't fit the metal pans, we can just sit and furiously click the pen while we figure out what to do.

Update: We just got word that Milwaukee is currently developing a 12-volt fountain pen for release in August of 2012.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (3) | social bookmarking

May 20, 2010

Kreg KMA2900 Multi-Mark Multi-Purpose Marking and Measuring Tool

kreg_multi_mark.jpgIt seems like the new thing for tool companies is to crush as much functionality as possible in as small a package as possible. If this is the new standard for what a good tool is, Kreg has a struck gold with the Multi-Mark Measuring and marking tool.

It's a bevel gauge...no it's a try square...no wait...it's a combo square...or maybe a torpedo level...or possibly a carpenter's ruler? Actually, it's a bit of all these things and it actually looks incredibly handy. It's also only $20, which seems like a steal.

When you boil it down to the basics, the Multi-Mark is a bevel gauge with a ruler for a blade. The try square ability comes when the blade sets into a groove which positions it 90 degrees to the handle.The long edges of the body also have a 3/16" rabbet, making it perfect for positioning door and window reveals.

All of this makes the Multi-Mark a one stop casing tool. Never having actually seen one or used one, we can't be 100% sure, but from afar, this one looks like a real winner.

And like we said $20 seems like a deal for this interesting little item.

At Amazon.com

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

April 5, 2010

Measuring, Marking, & Layout: A Builder's Guide - Review

measuring_jpgRecently, Taunton Press sent us a few books to check out. One, Insulate and Weatherize, we reviewed here and now we've gotten to the second book, Measuring, Marking, & Layout: A Builder's Guide by John Carroll.

The book is sort of like having some old and experienced carpenter at your disposal (minus the coffee breath). It takes you through foundation work to floor, ceiling, and wall framing, to roofs and stairs, and then finally masonry. At each stop there is a thorough explanation of all of the layout considerations as well as extremely helpful drawings and diagrams. The book has a lot of math, particularly the roofing chapter, but in many cases, Carroll gives alternate (and more simple) methods on how to solve particular problems, which is nice if your math skills, like ours stopped developing sometime shortly after the third grade. All in all, it's a nice split between the principals of layout and the nitty-gritty hand's on stuff.

Luckily for the reader, Carroll gives "measuring, marking, and layout" a wide definition, so there is a lot of general building information included as well (things like how to straighten floor joists).

The book is successful and if you're a serious DIYer who wants to take it to the next level, this is a good place to start. For an established contractor, it's not only a good reference to have around, but there's so much information packed into the book, that there's bound to be something in here you haven't thought of.

At Amazon.com

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

November 5, 2009

Black & Decker TLD100 Thermal Leak Detector

BD_thermal_leak_detector.jpgNow that we've moved to a drafty old house, we have the dream of getting our hands on one of those thermal imaging tools in order to have the nauseating experience of actually watching all the heat escape from our windows, floorboards, and walls. Unfortunately, even the most basic models are in the $1,500 range. But, interestingly enough, we saw that Black & Decker has another tool in their Energy Saver line called the Thermal Leak Detector (read our thoughts on their Power Monitor here)

Obviously B&D's $50 tool is going to be pretty rudimentary when compared to the ultra-pimped out professional models that come with tv screens, but still the smaller tool might be a good option for someone interested in doing some investigating into their house. In a way, the Thermal Leak Detector is just a laser thermometer that knows enough to give you an over/under. To operate it, you set a base temperature and then, as you shine the light around the room, it lets you know when there is a deviation from that temp. So when you're taking a reading from your wall (70 degrees) the light is one color and as you move it over your window casing (20 below zero), it changes to another color. You can also set the number of deviation from one to five to ten degrees, so the light doesn't change at every slight temperature change.

Like we said the Thermal Leak Detector is about $50 and it available in select stores.

At Amazon.com

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

October 28, 2009

DeWalt DW030P Distance Measurer - Review

dw030p.jpgLaser beams. First they came for our levels and now it's our tape measures. Like some invasion of little red dots, lasers are being incorporated more and more into today's job sites. And with anything that is 'being incorporated more and more into today's job sites," it's not surprising that DeWalt is right there. The big yellow company has just released a new laser measuring tool, the DW030P and they were nice enough to let us test one out.

The DW030P is about the size of a point and click camera and the most basic function of it is to measure distance. To do this, just point the laser at an object and press the distance button and you get a static reading of how far that object is from the back edge of the tool. There is also a 'unit' button so you can choose how you would like the measurement to be displayed (meters, feet and inches, or just inches). If you hold down the distance button for three seconds, the DW030P goes into tracking mode and now displays the laser measurement as it moves. If that alone were the capabilities of the DW030P it would be pretty interesting, but there's actually quite a bit more.

dw030P_on.jpgThe DW030P also has an area button and a volume button. To use these, just click the appropriate button and start recording distances. After two distances with the area button, you get the total area in whatever unit you have it set on, and likewise with the volume button after three measurements.

On top of all this, the DW030P can add and subtract distances from one another. Just click a distance, then hit the '+' or '-' button and click another distance. You can do this as much as you like and the DW030P keeps a running tally.

dw030p_front.jpgSo that's what it does, but the question is, "is what it does actually useful?" Well, yes and no, but mostly yes. At first, the DW030P frustrated us because we were trying to use it like a tape measure, which is really impractical. You're not going to use this tool casing out a window or laying out 16"oc studs on a plate. First, it's not really designed for that, and secondly, even though it measures to the accuracy of 1/16th of an inch, any good carpenter keeps a little over/under going in his head with each cut. The DW030P can't indicate if a perfect cut is actually 3'-2 3/8" shy, it'll just tell you, 3'-2 3/8". It does help with inside corners though, giving accurate measurements without trying to read a bent tape measure.

But, the daily grind of carpentry aside, this tool did turn out to be an incredible time saver in a number of other departments. Doing a quick take off on materials, for example. The area button gave us an exact measurement of a number of walls, allowing us to figure exactly how much blueboard was needed to cover them. It was also a dream for doing a quick as-built of some soon-to-be-buried conduit. What is normally a two man job with the 200' tape measure, turned into a five minute click, click, click. And really with any measurement that involved a length more than that of our standard 25' tape measure, we called on the DW030P (it has a range of about 100')

dw030_case.jpgThere were a few things about the tool that we didn't like. First, the distance is measured from the back of the tool, right? So we're not sure why the back end of the tool isn't at right angles to the sides, or why there isn't a mark showing the exact point of the center line (where the laser projects from) on the rear edge. For a tool that can measure to the 1/16th of an inch.....We would have liked to have been able to put the tool on its side and be confident that the laser line is parallel to the surface the tool is on.

Also, DeWalt gives a nice instruction manual with the Distance Measurer, but for some reason, they've made it the size of their other manuals, which is about five times the size of the carrying case for the tool. This kind of items deserves a quick reference guide. There's plenty of room in the case and we wished they would have enclosed one.

But these complaints aren't that big of a deal and so they shouldn't get in your way of considering this tool. Like we said, there were a number of job site situations where the DW030P was a real time saver. We also just bought a house and found it to be helpful in that process as well. Would the table fit in this room? click...click...nope. Is the real estate agent lying about the square footage of the finished basement? click...click...yup. Also this tool would be very useful to a niche market like realtors or interior designers. No more slinging a tape measure over someone's furniture in order to get the dimensions of a room.

So all in all, we grew to appreciate the DW030 and what it did for us. We just first had to get over the fact that it isn't trying to replace the tape measure.

$130 at ToolUp and FAO

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

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