Our orbital sander is one of the most indispensable tools that we own. It's versatile, fairly small, and does a great job in a lot of different situations. But the problem we always have is with the sanding discs; they just wear out too quickly. To combat this common complaint, Microplane, the makers of kitchen tools, woodworking tools, and a few personal hygiene tools, have come out with what looks like a great idea; stainless steel sanding pads for the orbital sander.
The good folks at Skil have been kind enough to send us one of their new Octo Finishing Sanders. We're very excited about this little tool and think that it has the potential of being quite a success. With eight different detachable sanding heads, the Octo seems capable of sanding just about anything. We'll test it out and have a full review up soon.
Installing joist hangers is a pretty tedious task. If you do it by hand, you’re forced to swing a hammer between two joists which leaves you with the nail driving power of your six-year-old daughter. Your other option is to use a palm nailer, but you’re going to spend the afternoon with the sound of a machine gun beating away at your ears, not to mention that it can be tricky getting those nails to go in straight. Well, the folks at Bostitch have been kind enough to give us a third option for this scenario.
Recently, they’ve come out with the Strapshot Metal Connector. Weighing less than five pounds, the Strapshot won’t tire your arm out, and it tool is built so that it can easily fit between joists that are 12” on center. The lead nail tip is exposed to allow for precise placement and the body design allows it to angle into tough spots nicely. This looks like yet another quality entry to the Bostitch nail gun catalog.
Ridgid has recently released the Fuego 6-1/2” Framing Saw, and if you’ve ever spend an agonizing day wielding a traditional framing saw, the size of this tool comes as a welcome relief. Weighing in at a mere 8 lbs, as opposed to the 13 lb DeWalt 7-1/4" Framing Saw, the Fuego is a lot lighter than the competition. We like that they didn’t just shave off 9 oz and call it lighter, they shaved off 5 entire pounds, which, in the tool world, is an astounding amount and can mean the difference between having a burning arm by 10am and working all day and actually getting something done.
Barbara K, a tool company that designs products specifically for women, offers the Power-Lite Cordless Drill. The 12-volt drill has an ergonomic handle and a keyless chuck, but it's the innovative battery design that grabs our attention. To combat fatigue and greatly lessen the weight of the drill, the battery can be removed and worn in a hip pouch. A coiled cord (think of the telephone you had when you were little) connects the two and now you've got an extremely light drill that can fit just about anywhere.
The drill comes with a charger, one Ni-Cad battery, a carrying case, a few drill bits and a few driver bits.
In the ongoing attempt to make a cordless version of every single tool in the world, Makita has recently released their 18 Volt Lithium Ion Cordless Angle Grinder. The tool takes a 4-1/2 inch grinding wheel and whirls around at 10,000 RPM. This is impressive for a battery tool, considering that the corded Bosch and DeWalt grinders rotate at 11,000 RPM. The Makita weighs 5.6 lbs, which is heavier than the average corded grinder, and has a slide switch. The tool comes with two batteries and a 45 minute charger.
The 18 Volt Makita Cordless Grinder could definitely come in handy in a crawl space or some other spot where trailing a 20' extension cord is impractical, but at it's current price (over $375), it's quite an investment, particularly when most regular grinders can be obtained for a hundred dollars or less.
Hitachi has recently released a 3.6 Volt Cordless Screwdriver and it looks like a pretty versatile tool that could help out both the contractor and the homeowner. Weighing less than a pound and under a foot long, this little cordless fits in situations that would render the regular battery drill useless. The 3.6 Volt Lithium Ion battery should be enough to get most small to medium size tasks completed.
Two speeds, a built-in work light, and a quick 30 minute battery charge round out another nice looking tool from Hitachi.
Rousseau, the maker of many great power tool accessories, has recently come up with a way to combat the dust explosion that occurs every time you use your compound miter saw. This is a welcome innovation, seeing as those little dust collection bags that come with most saws are effectively useless, not even capturing 5% of the total dust created.
The Rousseau Downdrafter is a large plastic hood that cradles the back of the saw and attaches to a vacuum. Just set the hood at the appropriate height, pivot it so you’ve got the right angle, turn the vacuum on, use the saw and watch the dust disappear.
The Downdrafter comes in two models. A pedestal system that is set on a stand with casters and a bench system that attaches to any workbench and is compatible with many Rousseau miter saw stands.
When we use tools, we’re all about safety. We wear ear protection, eye protection, dust masks, and, when necessary, gloves. When we use power tools, we only use them in the manner for which they were intended and we do so with care and intelligence. That said, it’s always interesting to watch people who have absolutely no respect for tools, no concerns for safety, and very little in the brains department. Here is a video of two losers skeet shooting with a coke can and a nail gun.
The display of idiocy is exaggerated by the fact that he only starts shooting off the nail gun after the can has landed on the ground. It’s all pretty anti-climactic.
Metabo has recently released the BHE20 Compact SDS Rotary Hammer, which, if what they say is true, is the first of a new era of small hammer drills. When Metabo says ‘compact,’ they really mean it. The BHE20 extremely light, weighing only 4.7lbs compared to the Bosch Bulldog which is 6.7lbs. In fact the BHE20 is lighter than the regular DeWalt 18 volt cordless drill, which comes in at 5.2 lbs.
Although we can’t get a number on how long the BHE20 is, it appears to be short enough to fit in a standard joist bay as well as other hard to deal with spaces, which give it a huge advantage over other hammer drills, which tend to be either long or bulky.
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