September 20, 2010

Wheeler-Rex Mantis Band Saw

mantis_band_saw.jpg
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

September 16, 2010

Dremel 6800-01 Trio - Review

dremel_trio_1.jpgDremel recently released a funky looking tool called the Trio (and were nice enough to send us one to review). In the great Venn diagram of power tool abilities, it seems to overlap with 'rotary tool,' 'router,' and 'RotoZip (aka spiral saw).' We're generally wary of tools that try to do too much (seems like they usually end up doing not too much of anything) but because of our very high regard for Dremel, we had hope and were looking forward to digging into the Trio.

As it turns out we found some good and some bad. Unfortunately, more of the latter than the former...

Update:
we heard from Dremel and as it turns out, we were using the Trio in an incorrect manner. We've updated the review with some clarifications. Amazing, eh? We write a post about tool safety and then rip this thing out of the box and start using it without reading the instructions...."

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (6) | social bookmarking

September 3, 2010

DeWalt DWP611 Compact Router

dewalt_router.jpg dewalt_router2.jpg
DeWalt has just announced the release of a new compact router which appears to sit the fence between 'laminate trimmer' and 'router.' It's got that Bosch Colt vibe, but with a 1-1/4 hp motor it's more powerful (the Colt has 1hp) and with the plunge base, more versatile.

We really like the looks of this one. The Colt has been our go-to router for years. As a day to-day-carpenter, there is rarely a need for a full-sized router. We're usually just doing a sill bullnose or a casing bead, nothing too big. So looking over the press release, there are a few things that stand out as features that set this one apart from the competition. The first is an LED set-up that illuminates the workpiece. We scoffed at LEDs when they first started showing up on drills, but now we're full-on Kool-Aid drinkers on the things. The second feature is the plunge base. Having the plunge ability on a small router is a great idea and this seems to be a first for that.

The fixed base model is going to retail for about $140 which is $25 more than the similar Colt kit. The full kit with the plunge base will go for $200.

The press release is after the jump...

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

August 17, 2010

Crain 812H 13 Amp SuperSaw

crain_supersaw.jpgQ: How do you make a router even more dangerous than it already is?

A: Put a 6-1/2" saw blade on it.

And that's sort of what the geniuses at Crain have done with their undercut saw. It's a tool that is meant to assist with all kinds of flooring (tile, carpet, wood, etc.), but from the looks of it, we think it's meant more for general ass-kicking.

So if you're putting a carpet down over a nice heart pine wood floor, you can use this tool to trim the bottoms of the doors as well as the jambs and baseboard for a nicer look. It's really a specialty tool, but it's nice to know that it's out there. It's the kind of thing that you'd never think of using, but if you're taking on a massive re-flooring project at your house, it may be cost effective to get one.

The tool has a 1-1/4" depth adjustment (from flush to 1-1/4") and it's able to fully undercut an inside corner which is a nice feature.

The SuperSaw sells for $340 and is at Amazon.com

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

July 26, 2010

Milwaukee 2010 Product Symposium

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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

July 16, 2010

Dremel 6800 Trio

dremel_trio.jpgIt's amazing what a handle can do.

When you boil the Dremel Trio down to it's mechanics, it's a rotary tool, just like the million-and-a half other rotary tools that Dremel has released over the years. But when you get creative with the handle (and in this case we would say, 'very creative'), all of a sudden you have not only a standard rotary tool but a mini-router as well, and sort of a jig saw, and kind of a RotoZip and maybe this and a bit of that. It's kind of tricky to wrap the head around this little item with it's pivoting handle and its plunge-cutting ability.

dremel_trio2_jpgWell, actually it's not that little. At least not as little as we thought. We played around with one at Home Depot and the body is actually 'softball-sized' where, from the picture, we were thinking more along the lines of 'baseball.' This size has allowed Dremel to stuff in a 2 amp motor, which makes the Trio more powerful than any of their rotary tools to date (the Dremel 4000 has a 1.6 amp motor).

We see the Trio being useful to the woodworker and hobbyist, particularly with the plunge-cutting ability. We have our reservations on bit-life though. If you've ever used a Roto-Zip, you know that embedding a spiral blade in wood and scrolling around with it equals a severely short bit life. Dremel may have addressed this, as we noticed a disclaimer on the Dremel site saying that the Trio is not compatible with standard rotary tool accessories. Sounds like they've made a more durable set with the Trio in mind.

The Trio is currently available at Home Depot and Amazon.com (only pre-order at Amazon though, with a release date of Sept 15th...wonder what it took for HD to get first dibs?)

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

July 2, 2010

DeWalt DWS535 Worm Drive Circular Saw - Review

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So what's a worm drive?
If you're in the dark on the whole worm drive thing, here's the deal: When compared to a direct drive circular saw (the kind you think of when you hear the words 'circular saw'), a worm drive has a more significant 'gearing down' of the motor, giving it higher torque, but at a less speed. The speed part, you don't really notice, but the power part, you do. Because of the design of the worm drive gear, the blade runs parallel to the motor, as opposed to perpendicular to it, accounting for the generally cylindrical shape of the tool.

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

June 29, 2010

Bosch PS31-2A 3/8" 12-Volt Drill/Driver - Review

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A little while back, we cobbled together a glowing review of the new Bosch pocket driver, the PS21-2A. It's a little monster of a tool and we found it could basically replace our 14.4 drill and could even handle some things reserved for the 18-volt (although not on a day in and day out basis). Well, soon after releasing that little fella, Bosch hit the stands with the PS31-2A, which is basically the same tool, but with a 3/8" three-jawed chuck. They dropped one in the mail for us, and for the last month or so, we've used it extensively, both on the job site and in the shop.

bosch_ps31_top.jpg bosch_ps31_bat_lights.jpg

And there's really not a whole lot to say other than that it has quickly achieved the spot of our primary drill/driver. Everything we liked about the PS21 is there but now we have the added functionality of the three-jawed chuck. Because of the chuck, the PS31 is a longer tool than its driver counterpart, but we'll take that extra bit of length any day in order to get the added versatility. Sure, we know that you can buy bits with the 1/4" hex end, but that's honestly a pain in the ass and we don't want to have to go out and get a special set of bits just for one tool. Not to mention, the three-jawed chuck lets us use countersinks, centering bits and all kinds of oddballs that we couldn't use with the PS21. To put it simply, this is a fully-functional drill.

Out of all the 12-volt drills and drill/drivers that we've seen and been able to really field test, this one is the best and it's all in the power. Sure the other features are there, the battery gauge (a very nice feature on li-ion tools), the LED, and the case with all the extra room for bits, but a drill needs to be powerful first and foremost, and this one certainly is. The PS31 had no problem passing the TimberLok test, sinking a 6" screw into a block o' PT. It was a strain on the tool, but not that much of a strain. In addition to this, the PS31-2A just performed well everyday. 1-5/8" screws, no problem, 3" screws, not a problem (but a whisker too slow for production work).

So if you're a handyman who does a lot of punch list work, or maybe someone who doesn't want to lug around a massive 18-volt drill all the time, or a homewoner who wants something small, reliable and powerful, it would be smart to seriously consider this tool.

bosch_ps31_in_case.jpg bosch_PS31_w_tlok.jpg

As far as price goes, the PS31-2A is about $150, making it one of the more (if not the most) expensive 12-volt drill/driver on the market and putting it $20 above the PS21-2a. For the added ability and raw power, we think it's worth the investment.

$150 at Amazon.com

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

June 28, 2010

DeWalt Releases 12-Volt Max Tools

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Last week, we were privileged to be invited to the Baltimore HQ of DeWalt for the launch of their new line of 12-volt tools. While there for the two-day event, we took in a Orioles game (from the Jim Palmer Party Suite...woot!) had a few brews at the hotel bar with some of our fellow tool writers, and the next morning, got to check out the tools.

There are seven tools in the release. They are:

1. DCF610S2 1/4" Screwdriver
2. DCD7102S 3/8" Drill/Driver
3. DCF815S2 Impact Driver
4. DCF813S2 Impact Wrench
5. DCT410S1 Inspection Camera
6. DCT414S1 IR Thermometer
7. DCL510 Work Light

dewalt_12v_flashlight.jpgThe most interesting thing that DeWalt did with these tools was to opt to use the traditional rectangular battery configuration as opposed to the cylindrical style that Bosch and Milwaukee use. This allows for the handle to be thinner (because the battery isn't in it) and for the weight of the tool to be distributed on both sides of the grip, making for a much nicer hold. The Hitachi tools released over a year ago did the same thing, but they left on the battery stem which DeWalt got rid of as well.

We've never had any complaints about the balance on the Milwaukee or the Bosch tools, but when you're holding one of them in one hand and a new DeWalt in the other, the difference is significant. There is no question that the DeWalt feels better and much lighter, due to the smaller handle and weight balance. In fact, we were almost veering towards the opinion that DeWalt might have made the handles too small. We've got some pretty massive paws and our little finger was snugged up right against the battery. With gloves on, the fit would be even tighter.

The tools all have some nice touches to them; the inspection camera has a removable screen; the drivers can handle a 1" bit and have a smart LED configuration that lights up the work area without shadows; and the tools have nice little belt hooks where appropriate. The drills and drivers were powerful when stacked up against the competition and the flashlight has a fantastic design.

dewalt_12v_drill.jpg dewalt_12v_w_milwaukee.jpg

But of the tools, there wasn't much that we hadn't seen before. But that's fine and, in a way, it's DeWalt in a nutshell. They're not a company that's going to throw the long ball and create a tool for every known micro-niche of the HVAC world like Milwaukee is prone to do. No, DeWalt has more of the everyman feel. They're about tough tools for the tradesman, and the tools that they make are the kind that can hop from a plumber to an electrician and then over to a carpenter. There wasn't much flair at the event, but there didn't need to be.

So as it stands now, the tradesman-ready 12-volt world is as such: Makita released a nice driver and a drill/driver and nothing else, which renders them a bit impotent for someone looking for a system to plug into. Hitachi came out of the gate strong with a variety of tools (a mini-recip and a nice right-angle impact driver), but has since been located napping behind the barn. Bosch started strong then seemed to lose their way but now appear to be gearing up again with the release of their incredible PS31-2A drill/driver. DeWalt is now fully into the fray with a solid line of tools and they're no doubt researching (and probably already testing) their next wave. And then there's Milwaukee who is apparently looking into releasing a 12-volt tool for every single action that has ever been taken on a job site. It's interesting to watch all of this develop and we're sure that another chapter in the 12-volt saga will be written in a month when we pack up and head out to Milwaukee for another one of these events.

Oh, and one last thing to all you people who live in Baltimore...get over yourselves and go out and root for your baseball team! Even if they completely blow, you'll still be out and experiencing a game. The one we were at had an attendance so low it didn't even look like there was enough revenue generated to pay the electric bill for the Jumbo-Tron. We live in the vicinity of the over-expensive and always-packed Fenway and don't understand why, if you have the ability to hit up a game, you wouldn't. Also, if you start going now, when they win the Series in fifteen years, you'll be able to say you stuck with them through the worst of it (and boy, oh boy, this sure is the worst of it).

There will be more info on the tools at DeWalt.com/12vmax

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

June 21, 2010

Delta Unisaw with Low-Voltage Control

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Delta just released the info on an update of their fantastic Unisaw. This time around, they're making the low-voltage control switch (LVC) a standard feature. The purpose of this switch is to downgrade the voltage where it matters so there's no charring of your skinny ass if there's ever an electrical problem. According to Delta, they always had the LVC available as an option, but the more they spoke to woodworkers and the more they did research, the more they realized that it should be a standard offering.

All other aspects of the new Unisaw are the same (including the fact that it's made in America), meaning it's still one of the premier cabinet saws out there. For a full tour of the tool, check out Delta's Unisaw page here. The saw will be retailing for about $3800.

The press release is after the jump...

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

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