Power Tools

June 22, 2015

Milwaukee Tools 2015 New Product Symposium

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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 8, 2015

Ridgid R4040S 8-inch Tile Saw - Review

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Here's a piece of advice: if you're a DIY tile guy...even if you only do a tile project once or twice every few years, you would be doing yourself a massive favor by tossing that little table top tile saw that you have in the garage and investing in a larger model with a sliding tray. The cost difference might sounds like a lot ($100 vs $500), but the ease-of-use and quality of the finished product between the two are miles apart. If you're just installing one bathroom floor and you're never tiling again, fine, get a table top. But if you're doing anything more than that, seriously, seriously consider getting a bigger saw. It makes all the difference in the world and it will save you loads of aggravation.

I'm speaking from experience here. During the full gut/remodel/addition of my house (aka: the Lost Years), I tiled three bathroom floors, two tub surrounds, a shower, and over 550 square feet of basement floor. For the first bathroom and a half, I had an old Masterforce that immediately died on me, so I ran out and replaced it with a Ryobi table top because it was the cheapest thing that looked half way decent. Around that time, Ridgid offered to send on their 8-inch Tile Saw ($500) for testing. Since I still had a boat-load of tiling left to do, I said, "Hells yeah, I'll give that thing a whirl." Turns out it was one of the best decisions I made during the entire renovation. The difference between a real tile saw and those little DIY ones is like night and day. After having used the 8-inch, I can never go back to a smaller one again. It's like learning to walk after crawling.

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

February 26, 2015

Warhorse Makita Belt Sander

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Seems like every time I sit down to write a post about some tool of mine that has persevered through a long life of hard work and abuse, it's a Makita (check out my collection of old Makita circ saws here). This time, I'm giving a much needed call-out to my old Makita Belt Sander.

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

January 22, 2014

Bosch CSW41 Worm Drive

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File this under: "things we saw a comin'."

So last year Skil released their MAG77LT worm drive which was some great news (our review here). Our experience with the saw was a really positive one. It's a fantastic tool and very worthy of the Skil worm drive label.

It's no secret that Bosch owns Skil and that in certain areas there is some "technological cross-pollination" between the brands. So based on the success of the MAG77LT, it was really just a matter of time before we saw the same saw (or at least one that is very similar) painted blue.

And here it is! The Bosch CSW41 Worm Drive! It looks prettttty similar. There are probably a few little differences here and there, but it doesn't really matter, if it's even "mostly" like the Skil, it's a great tool.

$219 at Amazon

Full press release after the jump:

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

January 7, 2014

Bosch CM8S 8-1/2" Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw

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Well, this is something worth writing about. Bosch has just announced an 8-1/2" miter saw and it looks pretty slick.

We've always been advocates of 10" miter saws over their HGH-addled 12" siblings. 12" saws are just too big to lug around and the additional size is rarely needed under normal circumstances (we just fully gutted the house and added an addition, and I don't think a 12" saw was ever used at all). Sure there are times when it's handy, but do they really off-set the added hassle of the larger tools? We tend to think not. So we're 10" guys through and through. Our current favorite is the Hitachi because the motor is so smooth and the tool is so light (the onboard laser is total junk, but we don't really care about that).

So in that context, this 8-inch tool is pretty interesting. It's only 37 pounds, which is a big plus, and it appears to have some good long rails on it because it can cross cut up to 12-1/4". So for most day-to day operations, this thing has it covered. Sure, you can't timberframe with it or do some mega crown, but if you're just framing and busting out some normal trim, this could be your guy.

If you're a full time carpenter, this looks like an ideal secondary saw. Just drop it off for the punch list and move your 10 or 12" over to the next job.

Bosch is off-loading these for about $470, which is about right, maybe a shade on the high side. But we've had a lot of experience with Bosch miter saws and overall think they're really nice tools.

At Amazon

Ye olde press release is after the jump:

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

December 2, 2013

Rockwell 4-1/2 Inch Circular Saw - Review

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Rockwell has just hit the scene with a little circular saw. 4-1/2-inch blade, to be exact. This is a good sized step down from the standard 7-1/4 or the increasingly popular 6-1/2 inch blades. These smaller trim saws aren't uncommon, but Rockwell decided to give theirs an "in-line" body style, as opposed to a traditional circular saw body. The result is that it looks like one of those "all-purpose" saws that claims to cut tile, stone, and wood. But given my experiences with those saws, I'm happy to report that this one is nothing like them and thankfully, is only geared towards wood. Rockwell sent us one to check out and here's what we thought...

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

October 18, 2013

Bosch CM10GD 10" Axial Glide Dual Bevel Miter Saw

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Couple years ago, Bosch shook things up with the release of the 12 inch Axial Glide Miter Saw. Built around a two bizarre gliding arms and discarding any rails, the saw can be backed right up to a wall and still work with no problems. We reviewed it here and really liked it. We still use ours all of the time, but because it's so massive, it's become our "stay in the shop" saw, while the Hitachi 10 inch is the "grab and go."

We prefer 10 inch saws and feel that they're big enough for most people. 12s are just too big and unwieldy and you really only need the big blade if you're timberframing or cutting up some crazy crown.

We just saw (via the new Acme Tools catalog) that Bosch has finally gotten around to releasing a 10 inch version of the tool. This is good news. The 10 inch version will be lighter, less bulky, and all around easier to lug in and out of the truck. Right?

um...

According to Bosch's website, the 10 inch version of the Axial Glide weighs 64 pounds. The 12 comes in at 65 pounds (DeWalt weights 51 pounds, the Hitachi is in the 40s). So, yeah, they shaved one single pound off of the tool. How much of that is just the weight of the smaller blade, blade housing, and blade guard? That's got to be most of it. It's only a pound.

So if these numbers are right (and because they're on the Bosch site, we imagine they are), the 10 inch Axial Glide is basically the exact same tool as the 12 inch version, just with a smaller blade. Pricing seems to be about the same too. Amazon has the 12 inch for just under $700 and that's where Acme had the 10 inch.

So if you're a big fan of 10 inch blades, there is now a great (but heavy) saw to add to your list. If you were hoping that the 10 inch was going to be a lighter, more portable version of the 12 inch, it looks like that's not the case.

Either way, we fully recommend the Axial Glide technology. Among other things, it can really free up a lot of space in a crowded workshop.

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

September 3, 2013

Festool Carvex 420 Jigsaw - Review

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We've been waiting on the Festool Carvex for a while...maybe almost three years since we first heard about it. We got a chance to play with one at the JLC show a few years back and at the time it seemed like the jigsaw that would solve all of our jigsaw problems (accuracy, straight cuts, tight scrolls, etc). Then we heard that its release was delayed...and it disappeared for a while...but now it's here. When Festool offered to send us one to check out, we hopped at the opportunity. This one looks like it has it all. And as it turns out, it does have it all. But only if "all" includes a functionality problem that unfortunately cancels out much of the good that it has to offer and makes it a tool we can't recommend. A real and total bummer.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (10) | social bookmarking

August 5, 2013

Festool Carvex Is Almost Here (for reals this time, yo)

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At least we hope it's for real. I think it was two years ago that it was on the verge of US release and then it was pulled at the last minute. It was so close that I got to test drive one at that year's JLC show. But then word went out that it was a no-go. If I recall, Festool said that it had to do with a performance issue.

But now, it's back again and slated for a September 1 release.

We're usually pretty impressed with Festool products, their four-headed drill is a champ and the RO 90 DX Rotex sands like the devil himself. I've never used any of their Trion Jigsaws, but I've actually heard quite a few luke warm things from those who have. Sort of a, "yeah, it's kinda cool, but...."

That said, the Carvex, their new line of jigsaws, looks to be above and beyond. That's really the only way to describe a tool that has a four LED strobe light that shines on the blade, timed to the stroke. So when you're using the tool, the blade looks like it's standing still. Seriously. Check it out here:

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

June 18, 2013

Weller Soldering Iron Giveaway

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Good news. Weller is providing one of their new soldering irons for us to give away to one of you. Pretty cool. They've got a couple different models and the one they sent us was the standard duty model. They've all got LEDs at the nose which is always a good feature (wasn't it like five years ago that LEDs didn't come on any tools?) The soldering iron has a very nice ribbed rubber gripping area and above that is a triangular housing where the LEDs live. The thought behind this is that you use the round handle to roll the iron how you want it, then grip the triangular area for working stability.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (18) | social bookmarking

June 17, 2013

Milwaukee Tools: Annual Shindig 2013

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Last week I was lucky enough to get invited to the annual Milwaukee Tools Product Symposium. It's their yearly event where they showcase all of the new things they have coming down the pipeline. And lets just say that this time around, it was a seriously big pipeline.

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

May 27, 2013

Skil MAG77LT 15-Amp Magnesium Worm Drive - Review

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Circular saws generally come in two flavors; sidewinders and worm drives. Sidewinders are what you generally associate with the tool. They're the classic, small-bodied saws with the direct drive motors. Worm drives are quite a bit larger and heavier because they're geared down, exchanging some of that motor speed for more torque.

Over the years I've slowly evolved into a worm drive person. Even though they're heavier than sidewinders, I like them for their never-ending strength and solid handling. Years ago, they were predominantly a west coast thing, but I've been seeing more and more of them here on the east coast. Now with the magical interweb being able to ship whatever where ever, the two saw styles are in the process of fully mingling.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (5) | social bookmarking

April 17, 2013

Old Makita Circ Saws, Good For Everything But Framing And Finish

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Everyone should have at least one of these things. I'm lucky enough to have three. These saws have seen it all and as long as I can keep replacing the cords, which seem to get severed a lot, they'll be getting handed down to Tool Snob Jr. in about 20 years. They are long since past the days of being used as a normal jobsite saw and are now well into their second careers as 'special forces.' The footplates are a little bent up and the bevel on one of them is immovable. I keep one outfitted with a masonry blade, and two with wood blades, but it's hardly wood that they're cutting, more like multi-layer asphalt roofs and concrete-coated form work. I don't care what happens to them and they don't seem to care what I do to them. It's a relationship that works.

I don't use them all the time, but when I need them, they're golden. It wasn't too long ago that I had to trench my basement slab out for some plumbing and the Makita was there to do the work. Who wants to use their nice woodworking saw for that kind of abuse? But that's the life that these saws live. They fill in the cracks and because they're the ones that take the hits on the dirty work, they keep my other saws nice, clean, and sharp.

The big one on the right, that's the roof cutter. If that saw was a person, it would be Leonard Smalls from Raising Arizona. I have no idea on the quality of current day Makitas, but these older ones are real monsters.

Makita Circ Saws at Amazon

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

March 10, 2013

RoboReel - Review

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Who knew we'd ever refer to an extension cord as intelligent? But oddly enough, that's the best way to describe the RoboReel. Even calling it an extension cord is a gross over simplification, it's more of a one-stop power system for your shop. Great Stuff, the makers of the Reel sent us one to check out a while back and we've had it in the mix for the renovation as well as general shop use. It's easily the most feature-riddled power cord we've ever put eyes on.

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

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