August 28, 2009
Since everyone at the job site seems to have the 25' Stanley FatMax Tape Measure, it's not shocking that we somehow always end up with someone else's at the end of each day. We just saw that Stanley offering to personalize one for you so this sort of thing doesn't happen. The personalized tape costs about $32, which puts it at about $12 more than the one that we get at the local hardware store every six months, which is a pretty steep increase. In addition, the name looks like it's on the sticker part of the tape, which is exactly the part that we've usually destroyed by the end of the first week. Lately, we've had luck 'personalizing' our tape with a can of neon marking paint.
At Finlay Direct
August 10, 2009
The Black & Decker Power Monitor allows you to observe your home's electricity consumption in real time. To set it up, you just have to clamp a little sensor on to your electricity meter and do a quick calibration at the monitor and off you go.
The monitor keeps an ongoing projection of your monthly bill which means it actually tells you your usage in a dollar amount. There's also a feature that tells you the power consumption of individual appliances. According the Black & Decker, use of the Power Monitor can result in habit changes which can knock as much as 20% off your electricity bill.
Although we see the benefits of this device, we're pretty sure that it would drive us crazy in no time. By the end of the first month we would start assigning cost amounts to every household task that uses electricity. "Well, if I don't toast my bagel this morning, I'll be 12 cents ahead of my projected electricity bill." "Honey, do you really need to blow-dry your hair this morning, if you don't, we could save 19 cents?" "Maybe if we turned the TV off during commercials, we could save 6 dollars this year." There are some things we're better off not knowing.
We checked the Amazon reviews and although most are very positive, there is some incompatibility with certain types of electrical meters. Amazon has a chart of which ones are compatible and which aren't.
The Power Monitor costs about $100, which, if what they say is true, it's money that could be made back in no time.
August 3, 2009
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
July 17, 2009
If this one doesn't provoke the, "um...what the hell is that?" response, we don't know what will. This freaky measuring and marking tool is called The Modified Square and it looks like a traditional framing square that's been caught between dimensions. Once we got over the bizarre look of it and did a little research, it does seem like it could be a handy item for a carpenter.
The Modified Square website lists a large number of things that the tool can do, including; the "[ability] to square pipe and structural steel in wet dock. Due to the inability to use a level on water, provides pipefitters squaring in two moves." We have no idea what exactly this means, but we can understand, "great for notching out 2x4s and trusses, stair stringers, framing, layout of double corners."
The Modified Square costs about $25. For more information, check out the website.
At Modified Square
June 15, 2009
Last week we were lucky enough to go out to the Milwaukee Tools HQ to get a glimpse at some of the new releases they've got all geared up for this year. As one of our favorite tool companies, they didn't disappoint with the sheer variety and usefulness of their new tools and accessories.
A few of the highlights of what we saw were...
18-Volt Cordless Bandsaw - They're still putting the finishing touches on this one, but were nice enough to let us try it out and, honestly, it's the kind of tool that makes us wish we had taken up plumbing instead of carpentry. It's got a whole lot of power but it's light enough to easily work with both above your head and in tight spaces. Having an awareness of how people will be using it, Milwaukee has made the shoe retractable, so the tool is able to cut a pipe that's already attached to a wall. It's one of those tools that makes your chest swell a bit when you hold it. There will also be a corded version available and both will be hitting the market probably in October.
Shockwave Driver Bits - This is one of those ideas that, once you hear it, you wonder why it took so long for someone to think it up. Driver bits built specifically for impact drivers. Anyone who spends time on a job site these days (like we do), knows that impact drivers are taking over. That said, they really do a number on driver bits so Milwaukee has tailored this new line to withstand the abuse. In addition to other features, the new bits have a slight degree of flexibility in order to handle the added intensity of the impact driver.
Cordless Tubing Cutter - Much like their copper pipe cutter from last year, this one is a real niche tool. We tried it out and it had no problem slicing up pex and pvc. It has a great feel and possibly the power to do a little topiary sculpting as well.
Testing and Measurement Tools - This is a new area for Milwaukee, but judging from what we saw, they're going to quickly establish themselves in the market. Of the tools, the most interesting is the Sub-Scanner which is sort of like an amped up, battle-crazed stud finder. It can be used to find studs and pipes in walls and ceilings, as well as rebar in concrete. The cool thing about it is that it lets you know the exact depth of what it is you're finding, so if you only have one option for placing that pipe hanger, you'll know that only a 2" screw will work because of the rebar that's hidden in the wall.
Those are just some of the highlights and by no means a complete overview of what we saw. Milwaukee is also rolling out some nice 12-volt LED flashlights, a 12-volt power port, a very cool looking mini-radio, oh and about a thousand new grinders.
Follow the action over at Milwaukee Tools.
Milwaukee tools at Amazon.com
April 3, 2009
Striker, an innovative company that we've become fans of on the merits of their magnetic LED light and their folding utility knife has just released a mechanical carpenter's pencil. The pencil uses Dura-Lead, also a Striker product, that, according to them, is "10% thicker than the average carpenter pencil lead." Dura-Lead has little grooves on one side that are specific to the mechanism of the Striker Pencil.
The Pencil is a pretty simple affair; click the top to open up the jaws and release the lead, let go of the top to close the jaws and set the lead in place. In order to test out the pencil, we just put it in our pocket and brought it to the job site for a few weeks.
Unfortunately, during that time there wasn't much that impressed us about the Striker. We found that the stick of Dura-Lead kept breaking inside the shaft, which meant that we had to constantly struggle to get these little chunks of it to stay in the jaws of the pencil. The lead also wasn't that dark and it was difficult to get anything close to a precise mark out of it. Striker says that you can rub the lead on sandpaper in order to get a point, but we found ourselves missing the ability to whip out our utility knife for a quick on-the-go sharpening.
One thing that looks good about the pencil is that the Dura-Lead comes in a variety of colors (black, red, and white). We only tested out the black, but we could see the other colors coming in handy, particularly with a tricky bit of framing layout.
After using the Striker Pencil and the C.H. Hanson Super Pencil, we're becoming convinced that improving on the good old fashioned carpenter's pencil is a pointless exercise. How can you beat something works just fine and is literally given away at any decent hardware store? The only way we'd really recommend this pencil is if you were a buck or two shy of getting free shipping at Amazon, then it's probably worth checking out.
Striker Pencil at Amazon.com ($2.29)
Striker Pencil with Dura-Lead Combo Pack at Amazon.com ($3.49)
February 17, 2009
Roof framing is tough. Building anything beyond even the most basic of shed roofs can get very complicated very fast. There are quite a few measuring tools available to help out the roofer. The newest of which comes out of Australia and is the invention of a fellow named Derek Pater. It is called the Roofing Protractor and Pater was kind enough to send us one, all the way from another continent, so we could take a look at it.
Continue reading: "Roofing Protractor - Review"
October 3, 2008
Impressing us with a tape measure is a tall order. We're all but legally married to the Stanley Fat Max 25 footer. To us, it's the pinnacle of tape measures. All other tapes bow before it like serfs before King Conan. But every once in a while one of those serfs gets uppity and decides to challenge the king in hand to hand combat, and that's just what Husky has done with their new Tough Tape. So we grudgingly set down the Fax Max and picked up the Tough Tape for a few weeks and here's what we found.
Continue reading: "Husky Tough Tape - Review"
September 24, 2008
Naming something after yourself takes a little bit of nerve and a somewhat bloated sense of self-importance. Barring any family traditions, we even think it's odd to give a child a 'Jr.' name. Well now that all pales in comparison with this guy named Bob who has created a whole new measuring system, based solely around the unit now known as, you guessed it, a 'Bob.'
There is quite a bit of information on the Bobs Rule website explaining not only the problem with both the metric system and the standard U.S. system (feet and inches), but also the reasons why the Bob is better. The Bob is essentially 1/24th of an inch, which,
allow[s] us to take advantage of the largely forgotten 1/24" and elevate it to its rightful place as a core unit of measurement.
But the joke may be on us. Maybe the new measurement will catch on, not only with woodworkers, but with the rest of the world as well. You never know, someday we may be find ourselves asking a barkeep for 2 and a half Bobs of whiskey, with just a quarter Bob of water on top.
Drop us a line if any of you have gone as far as to get one of these rulers and used it. Lord knows we've all seen the ads in Fine Homebuilding.
July 2, 2008
It looks like Festool has a new tape measure that they're offering only while supplies last. And since it's a Festool, it has to be all reinvented and fancypants. But of course (because it's Festool), all of the innovations are smartly done. First, the tape is in both metric and imperial (which to us American users, gives us a nice reference point for our other Festool tools, which are all in metric). Second, the tape has a viewing window on the top of the body, which reads inside distances, so you can just back the tape up to an inside corner and look in the window to get your distance. No more adding some odd dimension like 3-3/16" to get the measurement. Third, the tape has a flip down tap that can be used to mark a radius.
Of course Festool had to show everyone up and reinvent the tape measure. The innovation in that company is seemingly without bounds. We hope they take on the hammer next.
The tape has a maximum distance of ten feet and costs $25. Like we said, it's a "while supplies last" deal, so if you want one, act fast.
At Jamestown Distributors