June 29, 2010

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

bosch_ps31.jpg

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.

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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.

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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...

ArrowContinue reading: "Delta Unisaw with Low-Voltage Control"

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

June 16, 2010

Plans for an Adirondack Chair from Skil

double_adirondack.jpgOn their website, Skil is offering free plans for a nice looking double Adirondack chair. It might be something for dad to do with all of his new tools that you're getting him for Father's Day.

In other Skil news, they also have a 12" compound miter saw for short money at Lowes and Amazon.com. Looks like a nice saw and it's only $200.

Get the plans here.

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

June 11, 2010

Porter-Cable Heavy-Duty 15-Amp Circular Saw - Review

pc_saw_3.jpgThese are the hardest reviews to write. When we're writing about some freaky new tool that we've never seen before like the JobMax or the JawHorse, we never have any shortage of things to say (which is why some of our reviews compete with Anna Karenina on overall length). But when it comes to a direct drive circular saw, we lose our word mojo. Because we're carpenters, we do the carpenter thing; grab the saw, give it a heft and a quick look-over, make a few cuts with it, and pass judgment.

So what is there to say about the new Porter-Cable 15-Amp Circular Saw? Since Porter-Cable sent it to us over a month ago, we've brought it to work for some framing (and some additional opinions), then we brought it back to the shop and built a gate with it, and in that time, we've also used it for all those little odds and ends that you end up using a circular saw for; a cut here, a cut there, some kindling for the fire pit and some dunnage for the woodpile. And, well, honestly, it works great and was liked by everyone who looked at it. Are there any insane, dynamic features that we've never seen before that are going to revolutionize the tool industry? Nope, not really. Are the features that it has successful and well thought through? Yep.

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The stand outs for us are the 1-amp motor that's strong enough for everything we threw at it, the nice long cord (huge plus, in our eyes), the large, easy-to-grab bevel handles and the fact that it's 9.5 lbs (very light for a 15 amp saw, due, in part, to the cast magnesium shoe).

We tested its durability with a few drop tests and one 'hurl-it-across-the-garage' test, and other than a few little scuffs, it survived with no problems. We could see this saw taking job site abuse without any issues.

The bottom line is that it's a really nice saw and we would recommend it to any serious DIYer and any carpenter as well. It's priced at about $100, which is more than reasonable for a saw of this nature.

At Lowes

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

June 10, 2010

Multi-Function Power Tools

rigid_jobmax_popsci.jpgHere's an article we wrote a bit ago for Popular Science. I was in the June print edition and we just stumbled across it online. It's about three new multi-function power tools. If you're up on your Tool Snobbing, you'll already be familiar with them; the Ridgid JobMax, the Rockwell H3, and the new Skil Flooring Saw.

Read the article here.

Subscribe to Popular Science here or here.

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

June 7, 2010

Bosch GCM12SD 12" Axial-Glide Miter Saw

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The big hoo-haa of Bosch's press party last week is, without question, their new take on the miter saw. As an answer to Festool's oddly expensive Kapex, which modified the rail system so the motor travels on a stationary rail, Bosch has altogether eliminated the rail system and replaced it with two articulating arms that look like they fell out of a Bionicle box. The result is a miter saw that you can back right up to a wall. A very nice characteristic if you're a remodeler and you're constantly struggling with open space at your job sites.

According to Bosch, the glide mechanism has 12 sealed ball-bearings making for a smooth and stable movement. Additionally, the tool has a glide damper so you can alter the resistance to suit your own psychotic personality. Also, Bosch is saying that the stability of the blade alignment is much better than in a traditional miter saw.

And as with other Bosch saws, the bevel controls are all up front. Our primary miter saw is a 10" Bosch and this feature alone puts them over the top. Now that they've got this new freaky-deaky arm, things are looking even better.

The street price on this one will be around $700 which is about the price of their current high-end 12" miter saw. It's looking like they're going to be in stores sometime around October.

At Amazon.com

The full press release with more information is after the jump...

ArrowContinue reading: "Bosch GCM12SD 12" Axial-Glide Miter Saw"

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

June 2, 2010

Big Waves Over at Bosch

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As we speak (or type and read, rather), Bosch is in the midst of their annual press event. It's when they gather all the toolish writerly types in a room and unveil all the new and innovative tools they're set to release this year. Well, thanks to Twitter (honestly never thought we'd say those words) you can follow along as well.

To get in on the action and see some photos of the new, and completely insane looking, Axial Glide Miter Saw, go follow #GLT10. It's a two day event, so there's sure to be some good stuff tomorrow as well. But man oh man, that saw is going to be tough to beat....

Axial Glide Amazon.com

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

May 27, 2010

Poulan Wild Thing 18" Chainsaw - Review

poulan_hero.jpgNo one is ever going to mistake us for lumberjacks, but we're also not going to pass for city-dwellers either. Because of the wood stove and all the trees on the property, we need a half-way decent chainsaw. We happen to have gotten this Poulan a few years back as a gift from our old boss and we've been using it ever since despite the fact that it's purple and green and has the words 'Wild Thing' printed on the bar (which, thank the heavens, has finally rubbed off).

But aesthetics aside, it starts when we want it to and it cuts when we need it to. We neglect it most of the year and don't pay too much attention to properly winterizing it. From time to time, we have to fiddle with the idle, but that's not a bother. The only thing that's functionally wrong with it is that the pull cord got all tangled up once and in the process of fixing it, we lost a few revolutions of tension, so it hangs a bit loose. No big deal. It still starts.

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We don't think a whole lot about the saw (like we said, we sort of neglect it), but what spurred this review was last weekend's project of making a patio/planting bed border out of railroad ties (have you ever tried picking up a railroad tie? Oh man, are they heavy). The front of the patio has a curve in it to follow the driveway, so we had to make a number of relatively precise cuts with the saw. Like all the other times, the saw started right up and acted just like a chainsaw should. It handled the railroad ties without a problem and other than a fine creosote dust on everything and a chain the needs sharpening, all is good in the world.

Seriously, the only problem we have with the saw is the whole "Wild Thing" thing. Had this not been a gift, we would have never purchased it ourselves based on that alone. We think it's just kinda lame. Sort of like the tool equivalent to having neon lights on the under-carriage of your car.

The Wild Thing costs about $150 and as long as you can handle the look of the thing, it's a great choice for someone looking for a reliable homeowner saw without a big price tag.

At Amazon.com

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

May 26, 2010

Milwaukee M12 3/8" Right Angle Drill/Driver

milwaukee_rt_drill_hand.jpgThe manic depth that Milwaukee has achieved with their 12-volt platform is pretty well documented by this point. In addition to the standard tools like drills and saws, they seem more than happy to delve deep into the trades, coming up with things like electrical metering tools and PEX expansion tools. We've gotten our hands on a fair number of their M12 line and have hardly had any complaints at all. It's all very stellar.

Now, or rather, late last year, they added a right angle drill to the mix. They sent us one for something else we were working on (which is here, by the way), and we liked the tool so much, we though we'd mention it on this site as well.

Milwaukee_rt_drill_action.jpgBecause it's only constrained by the little 12-volt battery, Milwaukee was able to make the drill very small and the 3-3/4" head is capable of getting into some very tight spots (sorry about the blurry photo). It has a nice paddle switch, so it's easy to use no matter what contorted position you find yourself in, which is good because where right angle drills are concerned, contorted seems to be the norm.

There is also an LED, a 12-position clutch, and a fuel gauge. It's got great power and, if need be, can sink a 3" drywall screw.

The drill comes with a charger and a single battery, which is fine because, face it, if you're getting this, you've either bought into the Milwaukee 12-volt system and you're lousy with batteries, or you're getting it for those times when you absolutely need a right angle drill. If you're looking for your one and only drill, there are better options out there.

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The kit costs about $120, which isn't much at all when you start doing the, "what's my time worth?" equation.

At Amazon.com

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

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