September 9, 2015

Ryobi 18-Volt Drain Auger


The Ryobi 18 volt cordless platform is really pretty wild. Once you have a couple batteries and a charger, you can go bonkers on the bare tool purchases, like their new Drain Auger, set to be released later this month. While it may seem strange at first glance, after some further thought, this piece of gear makes a whole lot of sense. The specifics of the item are that it has a 25-foot cable, a power feed mechanism and can be effectively used on drains of up to 2-inches. It costs about $70 (bare tool).

That cost may sound steep but most plumbers I know (around the Boston area) have an hourly that is at least that and in most cases a decent amount more. If you have to deal with a drain clog, this tool will pay for itself fairly quickly.

I've got an old manual snake and it's a mess to deal with. It's the kind with the off-set Z handle, so wrapping it up and storing it is a chore. It sits in a milk crate somewhere in the back of the shop. I try not to think about it, even on the rare days that I come across it. But something like this Ryobi is a lot more user friendly. The electric ones in the style of the Ryobi (self feeding) are cheaper (which is nice), but they don't offer the quick plug and play of the cordless, like if you're trying to deal with an exterior line.

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

June 22, 2015

Milwaukee Tools 2015 New Product Symposium


Last week I was able to head off to Milwaukee Tools for their annual Product Symposium where they unleashed all of their latest and greatest tools and gear. There is a lot coming too. To get a sense of what I'm trying to get at, picture a giant red tidal wave with white lightning bolts shooting out of it (a toolnami, if you will). Hearing about each and every one of these new tools over the course of a single day was like being attacked by a grizzly bear made entirely of information. Honestly, towards the end, my mind was beaten down to the point where I felt like Brad Pitt from 12 Monkeys. Now here I am a few days later, trying to decipher my scribbled notes and jumbled memories.

Here's what I've got for you...

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

June 5, 2015

BernzOmatic Trigger Start Plumber Kit


If you've never soldered copper pipe, you should give it a try. It's really easy and when you're done, you feel like you've accomplished something cool (at least I do). The most important part is having all the right ingredients on hand, and that's what BernzOmatic's new Trigger Start Plumbing Torch Kit does. It's a one-stop purchase that includes a torch (with a trigger-start), an acid brush, some flux, and a small roll of solder, basically everything you need to get going. BernzOmatic was nice enough to get one in my hands so I could check it out.

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

October 14, 2010

MasterForce 18-Volt Bandsaw - Review


We've used bandsaws on a variety of job sites, but its always been on metal, so we sort of mentally anchored the tool to that material. Now, after having the MasterForce cordless bandsaw just kicking around the shop for about two months, we can say that the bandsaw is a far more versatile tool than we gave it credit for. In fact, it's sort of our new best friend.

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

September 20, 2010

Wheeler-Rex Mantis Band Saw

For some reason, when we first saw the picture, we thought the Wheeler-Rex Mantis was a little homeowner band saw that wouldn't look out of place sitting on a garage workbench. Then we saw the video and realized how big it is (it actually has attached wheels so it can be pulled around like luggage). As it turns out, it's a 110 lb, $2,500 piece of heavy-duty, industrial grade plumbing equipment.

It can handle up to 6" pipe and is available with a flat vise or a chain vise. The body can flip up and be used as a vertical band saw.

Check out the video:

At Underbid

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

July 26, 2010

Milwaukee 2010 Product Symposium


The reason we were so light on posts last week is that we were lucky enough to be at Milwaukee's annual Product Symposium. While there, we ate some great food, hung out with a solid group of our tool-writer pals, enjoyed a lot of great conversations with the Milwaukee crowd, and most importantly had the opportunity to get a look at this year's line of new tools.

The nitty-gritty of the event has been covered by a few of our fellow compatriots here and here, so we're going to stick to just a few thoughts on some of the new items that we saw...

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

April 9, 2010

Milwaukee M12 Cordless ProPEX Expansion Tool

milwaukee_pex.jpgWe like how Milwaukee seems intent on making a 12-volt tool for every single task that anyone has ever performed on a jobsite (we can't wait for the 12-volt Bobcat/Excavator combo kit!). Their latest, the ProPEX Expansion Tool is the most specialized yet.

What the tool does is expand the end of a piece of pex in order to utilize a particular fitting which is produced by a company called Uponor. A quick internet search turned up a manual expansion tool, a corded expansion tool, an air expansion tool, and a large clunky looking 18-volt expansion tool, all produced by Uponor. It's safe to say that none of these tools are as compact and nice looking as the Milwaukee.

For a little background, we found this at

The Uponor Wirsbo Expander system is perhaps the most widely used PEX system by professionals in the US. This system makes use of the ProPEX Expander Tool ProPEX Fittings, ProPEX Rings, and PEX-a tubing. If PEX-a tubing (AquaPEX) is not used the connections will fail. This system makes strong reliable connections that have never failed in the field. The only downsides to this system are the high up-front cost of the tool, the high price of fittings, and the fact that Wirsbo only wants professionals using the tools. Wirsbo has addressed the price of fittings by coming out with engineered plastic fittings that are more cost effective. Using the tool can be a little tricky at first, and Wirsbo prefers that only professional installers use their products.

There is no pricing information or release date available yet.

If you're curious what the process is like, here's a video of someone using a manual expansion tool. It's easy to assume that Milwaukee's tool will speed this process up quite a bit.

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

June 15, 2009

New Tools From Milwaukee


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...

Milwaukee_cordless_bandsaw.jpg18-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.

Milwaukee_shockwave.jpgShockwave 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.

Milwaukee_PVC_Cutter.jpgCordless 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

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

April 27, 2009

Ridgid LCDPak and MiniPak for the SeeSnake


Ridgid recently increased the capabilities of their SeeSnake with the release of two new monitors for the system. The big selling point on these two new items seems to be the fact that they can be powered by both standard AC or with Ridgid's 18-volt li-ion battery. This feature obviously translates into a much greater degree of portability and ease of use.

The LCDPak is the larger of the two new monitors. It's got a 10.4" color LCD display with 640x480 resolution and ten levels of light adjustment. The LCDPak can run for about five hours on two 18-volt batteries, but can also operate for a shorter time on one if need be.

The MiniPak is a smaller version and can also be run off of both power sources. It has a 5.7" color display and only takes one battery to get to the five hour mark.

Keep in mind that these monitors are part of the SeeSnake system and aren't necessarily sold with the SeeSnake camera hose. They are also high-powered pieces of digital equipment and are priced accordingly. As stand-alone items, the LCDPak and MiniPak retail for $2,600 and $2,000 respectively. It ain't cheap, but that's not to say it's not handy either (hellooo double negative). We've played around with both the Ridgid and Milwaukee hand held versions of the inspection camera and quickly saw how these larger models could be helpful. They're not really items for the homeowner, but someone in the trades could put them to good use.

MiniPak at Ohio Power Tools
LCDPak at Ohio Power Tools

Here's a video with more information on the LCDpak:

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

August 5, 2008

BernzOmatic Fat Boy Propane Cylinder

BernzOmatic_fat_boy.jpgBernzOmatic, a leader in torches and accessories, has just released a new propane tank called the Fat Boy. Not only does it have a shape different from standard tanks which allows it to hold an additional 20% more fuel, but it also has something called Green Key Technology, which makes the whole thing more environmentally friendly.

While the shorter and fatter tank will surely help when soldering in the web of pipes behind the hot water tank, it's the Green Key feature that makes this an interesting product. What it essentially does is allow you to completely empty the tank, making it recyclable. More recycling details are at here.

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

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