March 9, 2010

Rockwell SoniShear - Review

sonishear.jpgNow that most of the big players have their oscillating tools on the shelves, the first phase of the oscillating extravaganza of '09 is coming to an end. At the moment, it looks like we've just entered phase two: accessories. This era will likely be marked by companies releasing all manner of accessory, each more creative (and strange) than the last. We recently checked out Fein's orbital sander attachment and we were very impressed. Today, we just finished up our testing of Rockwell's new SoniShear. The function of this attachment is to turn your SoniCrafter into a pair of shears. When Rockwell said they'd send us one, we really didn't know what to expect.

When we first saw it on youtube, we thought that attaching it to the SoniCrafter was going to be a hassle, like we had to take apart the head of the tool or something. As it turns out, that's not the case at all; it fits on just like any other attachment.

sonishear_attached.jpgsonishear_attached2.jpg

Once it was on, we started a cuttin'. We began with the terrible blister pack that it came in and the SoniShear zipped right through it at an impressive speed. Then we went to corrugated cardboard and had the same results. After that was a thin strip of poplar. Here, not so much. The SoniShear couldn't handle the 1/8" bulky wood. It wasn't from lack of trying either, we actually loosened the whole attachment while we were jamming the thing into the wood (note: no where does Rockwell say that the SoniShear is able to cut wood, we just wanted to push the accessory). So you can't cut wood, but how about aluminum flashing? The SoniShear had no problem here, but the bulk of the tool made things a little awkward, so we'd probably stick with tin snips in the future. We didn't get around to cutting carpet, but from what we saw, the SoniShear would have no difficulty with that material.

sonishear_mess.jpgThere's no question that it's easier on the hands then regular snips or shears. It's also no problem cutting curves. But with the accessory offset from the tool body, there are going to be times when the tool isn't going to fit where you want it. It's a minimal concern and shouldn't stop anyone from taking a closer look at the SoniShear.

It's inexpensive enough at $25 that it sort of falls into the, "eh, why not?" category. Unless you're lined up to remove a carpet, there's probably no reason to go running out to get one, but if you see one at the store and you've got some cash in your pocket, why not have it on hand in your arsenal? It'll definitely come in handy at some point.

And because the SoniShear wraps around the body of the tool, it is incompatible with the other brands of oscillating tools.

We also just noticed that Rockwell has cleaned up their website a bit, check it out here.

It'll be available at Amazon.com and Rockwell Tools

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

February 11, 2010

Rdigid 12-Volt Lithium-Ion JobMax

R99234_family-A.jpgUPDATE: our review of the Ridgid JobMax is posted up here.

...And the innovations keep a coming. This time it's Ridgid adding some heat to the 12-volt world. It looks like what they've done is made a universal lightsaber base with a number of attachment heads that dramatically alter the function of the tool. From what we can tell, the attachments they have now are:

  • Right Angle Impact Driver
  • Right Angle Drill
  • Ratchet Head
  • Oscillating Tool
  • AutoHammer
This is a cool idea making us think you'll be able to buy all of the parts separately, but at the moment it looks like there are only combo kits available.

There's not much definitive pricing info at the moment. The tools were released at the IBS show last month, and the Home Depot website is behind the curve. They have a graphic showing the JobMax tool available in a kit with Ridgid's 12-volt drill selling for $200 (which is a good price considering the drill alone is $140), but any purchase links they have are dead.

The Ridgid website mentions two different kits; one of them with the JobMax and the drilling/driving attachments and the other with the JobMax, the oscillating head, the AutoHammer head and the 12-volt drill.

Sorry about the dinky image, but it's all we could rustle up.

More info at Ridgid here and here.

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

January 5, 2010

Liberate Blades for the Fein, Bosch, and Dremel Oscillating Tools

liberate_blades.gifA while back, we reviewed some oscillating tool blades that were sold under the name of Yaeger Blades. Soon after the review, the company went dark, which caused us to get a lot of emails that went along the lines of, "WTF? Why can't I access their website?" As it turned out the fellows at Yaeger were in the process of redesigning their blades so as not to infringe on any patent issues with Fein.

We just got the email the other day that Yaeger Blades 2.0 is up and running. The new company is called Liberate Blades and you can access the website here. According to Liberate Blades,

The redesign allows for incremental angling of the saw blades just as the OEM blades do, which is not seen in any of the other aftermarket oscillating saw blades. Even though the connector opening is round the unique design allows the blades to lock into place no mater which machine they are being used with. Additional changes have been made to attach the blade to the connector which provide amazing consistency in the manufacturing process, which equates to a better product for customers.

The new blades are compatible with the Fein, Bosch, and Dremel tools. The cost is $10-12 per blade, which is a good savings when compared to the $15 or so that the Fein blades are sold for (assuming the quality is exactly the same). Liberate blades are also available in a 10 blade variety pack for $105.

At Liberate Blades

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

December 15, 2009

Oscillating Tool Accessories: What Fits What?

Now that the market is swamped with oscillating tools, there is a lot of talk about what brand's accessories are interchangeable with what brand's tools. Over the weekend, we went out to the shop and spent about an hour trying different accessories with different models and we came up with this chart (click to see it enlarged):

oscillating_accessories.jpg

A few things about our notation:

1. Y: Yes, the accessory fits in the locking system of the tool.
2. N: No, the accessory does not fit on the tool in any functional way.
3. NL: The accessory fits on the tool, but it does not lock into that particular tool's locking system. On some brands (Dremel, Bosch), this locking system is a pattern of 'nubs' that the accessory fits around, and on others (Fein, Craftsman) the tool has a shape that the accessory conforms to. Because of the oscillating motion of these tools, we really don't recommend using any of the accessories that don't lock into the tool. Not only can they come loose easier, but it's likely you're placing a great deal of pressure against the face of the nubs or other locking system giving them additional wear.
4. WA: With adapter. The Bosch tool comes with an adapter that sits over the nubs and creates a bumpy surface for the accessory to rest against. Even with the adapter, the other accessories are still not locked into the tool, so the situation is functional, but not ideal.
5. The Proxxon, because it is built for such light duty, has no locking system and thus all but the Craftsman and Rockwell accessories, with their large holes, were deemed acceptable.
6. The Fein is the only one with a quick change chuck system and should NOT be used with any accessories other than those made by Fein, Rockwell, or Craftsman. The other accessories may fit on the spindle, but if they sit on the face of the locking system and can cause damage to the quick change system.
7. If anyone has any information on the Harbor Freight oscillating tool or any of the other brands not included, drop a comment and at some point, we'll update the chart accordingly.

oscillating_accessories2.jpgOf the tools, the ones that cross-pollinated easiest were the Fein and the Craftsman who, for all intents and purposes, share a locking system. The Rockwell accessories also fit the pattern successfully.

We've reviewed all of the tools mentioned and you can check out our thoughts at the following pages:

Fein MultiMaster
Rockwell SoniCrafter
Bosch PS50
Dremel Multi-Max
Craftsman Nextec Oscillating Tool
Proxxon Delta Sander

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

December 14, 2009

Fein Orbital Sanding Attachment for the MultiMaster - Review

Fein_sanding.jpgFein had told us they were sending out a new accessory that they had just released, but when we saw that it was an orbital sander attachment we began to wonder about the move. Was this one of those times when a company just releases something just to release it? Was Fein in the process of jumping the shark? Multi-tools are a bit problematic; there's a certain tipping point where the disparity between the job that the multi-function tool does vs. the job that the traditionally purposed tool does gets so great that it renders the multi-tool somewhat pathetic. To put it in the terms of the situation at hand, if the Fein orbital attachment isn't anywhere near as good as an orbital sander, then what the hell good is it at all? Orbitals are basic tools and they really haven't changed much over the years because they're great at what they do. Now here comes Fein with a matching accessory? the train wreck potential here was huge. These were the thoughts we had when we packed up the attachment and brought it to work where we had just been tasked with a large sanding project.

Once we got the Fein up and running with the attachment, it really didn't take long for those thoughts to disappear. Using it head to head against our new Ridgid orbital, we could hardly tell any difference. We spent all day switching between the two tools struggling to discover some problem with the Fein, but we really couldn't. The orbital attachment is fully compatible with the tool's dust collection system, so it even matched the orbital on that front.

Fein_sanding_front.jpgfein_sanding_back.jpg

We then brought it back to the shop and did a more scientific test to compare the two tools. We found a board with a 2-3/4" stripe painted on it and marked out 2 12" lengths of it. We outfitted both tools with 80 grit paper (the Fein with the included paper and the Ridgid with a piece of Norton paper) and then timed how long it took each tool to sand off the paint. The Fein got through to bare wood in 21 seconds and the Ridgid did the same in 15 seconds; faster, but not by all that much. After the test, we put a piece of 180 on the Fein to see how smooth we could get the board, thinking that regardless of the grit, the oscillating motion would always leave marks on the wood. The Fein had to have an Achilles heel, right? Nope, after a few moments with the 180 grit, the piece of wood was smooth as Tool Snob Jr's rear end.

Fein_sanding_w_r.jpgSo where does this leave us? Are those six seconds from the timed test crucial? Depends what you're doing. If you're setting up for a full eight hours of sanding, it probably is. But if you're taking on a small or even medium-sized project, it's pretty insignificant. The end result here is that your Fein can now double as an orbital sander. If you're a carpenter, it means one less tool that you have to lug around and if you're a DIYer, it's one less tool you have to own. Fein's multi-purpose tool just gained another purpose.

The only real drawback to this attachment is that it doesn't easily fit into the MultiMaster case. It's hardly worth mentioning, and we're really only saying it because we don't think we've ever said anything negative about the Fein MultiMaster or any of their accessories so we thought we'd give it a shot. So that's us sticking it to Fein: "we have to take the accessory off the tool in order to fit it in the case." Pretty sad on our part.

The orbital sanding attachment costs about $32 and comes with six sheets of sandpaper (2 each of 60, 80, 180 grit). It should be available where other Fein accessories are sold. We can't find it anywhere online, so it might be too new.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | 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

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

February 19, 2009

Yaeger Aftermarket Blades for the Fein MultiMaster - Review

Yaeger_blades.jpgUPDATE: Yaeger Blades is now Liberate Blades. More info here.

The Achilles heel of the Fein MultiMaster (our review here) is, without question, price. The full set-up of the tool, a handful of blades, and the dust collection system is going to run you close to $400. Although the MultiMaster is one of our favorite tools and we think that the cost is worth it, given what the tool is capable of, we're bargain hunters just like anyone else. Which is where the Yaeger Aftermarket Blades come in.

ArrowContinue reading: "Yaeger Aftermarket Blades for the Fein MultiMaster - Review"

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (14) | social bookmarking

January 29, 2009

Secco 916 Oscillating Tool - Part 2...A Tale of Woe

caution_sign.jpgLast week we told you about the Secco 916 Oscillating Tool. At the time, we were a little suspicious of it because it was only being sold on ebay and there was absolutely no information available on the manufacturer. In the post, we asked if anyone had any experience with the tool.

The other day, we received the following comment from a reader. You can read it in the comment section of the original post, but we thought it was worthy of its own article. It seems that the Secco might not pass the sniff test after all. (Update: we just received another comment on the tool, this one mostly positive. Read that one here. Second one down.)

As RkyMtnRon reports....

Hi:
You asked for feedback on the Secco 916, so I've got some.

Bought one on Ebay on Jan. 2, 2009, for $157.50 (plus shipping).

They are misrepresenting this unit! The description clearly states that it can use the Fein Multi-master blades. Not true!

Their blades have a circular center hole and a pattern of smaller holes that fit onto a circular array of raised pins on the blade arbor, allowing the blade angle to be changed.

There is no "adapter" disk to allow the use of the "star" hole on the Fein blades.

I challenged the seller about their claim and they hedged and said "Ya well, just tighten down the blade bolt and they'll work". Well, I tried that and a Fein blade just spun around in a heart beat!

There also does not seem to be any other blades available for this unit, other than the ones in the kit. No "bi-metal" blades at all, or recessed hub "flush-cut", circular blades.

Specialty Diamond Products does not even have any replacement blades for this unit on their web site!

One other interesting fact. My sales slip that came with the unit has an address in Santa Barbara, CA, that I looked up on Mapquest and found to be in the middle of a residential area, so some dude is selling these out of his home!

Currently, I'm trying to return my unit and plan to contact Ebay to report this misrepresentation.

I would urge anyone considering this unit to forget about it!

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (13) | social bookmarking

January 22, 2009

Secco 916 Oscillating Tool

secco916.jpgUpdate: We got some feedback from someone who purchased a Secco 916. Sounds like things might not be on the level. Details here.

A number of heads up readers have pointed out this item to us. It's yet another entry into the oscillating tool bonanza that started as soon as Fein's patent wore out. This one is made by a company called Secco and is sold by Specialty Diamond Products exclusively on ebay.

There's not a whole lot more we can say. The info over at ebay is boilerplate and the tool comes with a nice, but standard, set of bits and blades. This isn't to say that it's a bad tool in anyway, but the only place it is being sold and the only mention we can find of the manufacturer is on ebay. This tool could be great, but there's simply no way to know until you buy it. We couldn't find any reviews, buyer feedback, nothing.

The 916 has a "buy it now" price of $199, which puts it way up there at the price of the most basic Fein kit. The fully loaded 72-piece Rockwell SoniCrafter, which we love, is only $180. The Secco 916 Oscillating Tool also does not have a starting bid price, but rather, a "make offer" option, leading us to believe that they'll happily take less than $199. The question is then, how much less?

If anyone has picked up one of these tools, let us know. We're curious how it measures up against the other oscillating tools.

At ebay (we don't know how long this link will work, but if it's broken a search of "Secco 916" at ebay should turn get you there.)

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (9) | social bookmarking

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