The 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.
Because 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.
The kit costs about $120, which isn't much at all when you start doing the, "what's my time worth?" equation.
There was a bit there when we'd hear of a new oscillating tool release and our eyes would sort of gloss over. After the first big rush of releases, we got a little sick of the tools. But we just noticed this new one and it's price alone makes it worth a mention.
The Genesis GMT15A Oscillating Tool is a paltry $35 at Amazon. It actually has a pretty sharp look about it as well. Who knows what you're going to get at the price, but it might be worth skipping a night out with the fellas in order to find out.
It looks like it comes with the standard assortment of blades and that the chuck can accept Bosch accessories.
We did a little research and can't find any other mention of Genesis tools (other than the non-related rescue tool company - which, by the way, is totally badass and worth checking out here). So who knows what the deal is? We still recommend the Fein to anyone who is looking to really get into oscillating tools, but if you just want something to play around with and the spending purse isn't as heavy as it used to be, maybe give the Genesis a shot. Who knows, there's at least one comment at Amazon that seems at least somewhat satisfied?
Yesterday, we noticed that our latest Popular Mechanics article has been posted up. In this one we put the Ridgid JobMax head to head to head to head to head to head against the all of the tools that it can transform into. We were pretty surprised with the results.
Check out the article here. Also check out the Tool Snob review of the JobMax here.
And if you don't care to read the article, it's worth going to Popular Mechanics just to check out the new redesign. Things are looking pretty slick and it's a big improvement over what they used to have going on.
Watch for a more in-depth review of the H3 in the coming days.
The Makita died this past weekend. Friday, it worked. Sunday, nada. It was a good drill but since we got it on the eve of the big lithium-ion explosion, it always seemed a little heavy and clunky to us. It was durable though...3-1/2 years in our hands is no treat for any tool (and in it's latter days, we were particularly rough with it). There's no doubt that while we had it, it earned its keep.
But now, we're not sure as to where to go from here. Where do you guys stand? What are some of your favorite drills? Drop a comment and let us know.
This last weekend we were wrapping up a visit with the Bro-In-Law and he said, "oh, wait, I've got to show you the Shopsmith!" We were then ushered into the garage and it was there that we saw the magnificent vision that is the Shopsmith. Advertised on their website as 'the five most needed tools - all in the space of a bicycle' the Shopsmith is a phenomenal item for the home woodshop.
The Shopsmith is a revelation of multi-unit engineering (if there even is such a thing). With more shifting parts than Optimus Prime, the tool can quickly assume the form of whichever tool you need next. It's: a table saw, a lathe, a disc sander, a horizontal drill, and a drill press. It's also cool as hell. The one we saw was an older model (it had a band saw too) and it had that great look of an industrial farm tool from the 1950s.
The unit turns on with a nice old-fashioned toggle switch and there's a dial that allows you to change the power to the motor. The dial is marked with the names of the tools, so you know where to set it depending on the use.
To buy the basic package off the shelves it's about $3000, but this is the kind of thing that you can probably scavenge for about half that.
Do cordless chainsaws strike anyone else as a bad idea?
Chainsaws are right up there with table saws on the, "what's more dangerous than a coked-up rottweiler" scale. We actually like that 2-stroke engines can be such a pain in the ass. It's sort of like a built-in deterrent. First you need gas, then you need oil, then you need a handful of dixie cups in order to get the ratio right. The best part is that once you've devoted an entire shelf in your garage to your chainsaw and you've done everything the way it's supposed to be done, there's still about a 20% chance that the saw won't even start. All of this hassle means that chainsaws stay in the hands of those who are really willing to put the effort into tool and engine care. Additionally, the extended preparation time allows for a moment to think about the dangers of chainsaw kickback.
But these days, all you have to do is click your battery off your drill and into your Ryobi chainsaw and ta-da, you're all ready to go with the pull of a trigger
We're sure that the safety precautions are good and all, but it just seems waaaay too easy to get waaaay too dangerous. But hey, table saws only need an outlet and a flip of a switch.
We've had an eye on the Craftsman Vibrafree Sander for a while. It's been out for a couple years and we've read a bunch of reviews of it and they all seem pretty positive. Way more positive than we would have guessed from our first skeptical glance at the tool. The whole thing just seems too good to be true: an orbital sander that doesn't vibrate? So we had some anticipation in the works when Craftsman offered to send one our way for testing.
If you don't know, the Vibrafree's special superpower comes from its sanding pad, or rather sanding pads. Craftsman has taken the standard design of a singular disc and replaced it with a circular inner disc and a separate outer ring. The two pads orbit in opposite directions and thus cancel one another out. It's a simple idea and a nice one, but no matter how much we read, we wanted to know for ourselves if it did indeed work, and if there were any big drawbacks to the system.
One thing we noticed immediately is that the Craftsman is heavier than the standard orbital. We suppose that this is from having to stuff two orbiting mechanisms in the tool. It's also slightly bulkier than most, but even with both of these characteristics, the size and the weight, it's easy to manage with one hand. It also has a nice long cord (10'), which we're always in favor of.
Now on to the whole 'no-vibration' thing.
We started it up and got going. And, well, yeah, it actually works. There's still the general movement and occasional stutter of an orbital sander, but that constant micro-shimmy, the one that wears your arm out and gives you pins and needles after about five minutes, is entirely absent. It's a strange feeling, using an orbital without that ever present jiggle. It's sort of like the first time we sat in a Hybrid and realized it was on, even though there was no motor noise: it's great, but there's something about it that's slightly unsettling. Using the Vibrafree on a few small projects, we discovered that the wear and tear on our arm was considerably less and we realized what a struggle on the wrist standard orbitals actually are.
A second interesting feature of this tool is the dust collection. Instead of a soft filter dust bag, the Craftsman comes with something they call a 'cyclonic dust box,' which seems to work fine, but gains awesome points because it's called a 'cyclonic dust box.' It even has this nice little flip-up door at the back end of it so you can empty the canister without having to take it off the tool. Unfortunately the connection point between the tool and the dust box is done with these two little clips that look like they're one workbench drop away from breaking off. If you're not into the whole cyclone thing, the Craftsman comes with an adapter for a vacuum.
The one real downside to the tool is the fact that it's a single speed. If you're not used to variable speed orbitals, it's probably no big deal, but we like having that kind of control over disc speed based on the situation and it's too bad it's not an option with this tool.
Another minor bone that we have to pick with this tool is the case that it comes in (we can actually hear some of you clicking away from the site). It's one of those cases where there is only one possible way for everything to fit in (which includes removing the dust canister from the tool), and there's really no room left for storage. in our experience, orbital cases end up being sandpaper clearing houses, and here, there's no way for that to happen.
Less vibration means more money because the Vibrafree sells for $100, which is a good $30+ higher than the average high-end name brand orbital. There's also the issue of discs. Because of the anti-vibration design, the sanding discs are unique and, thus, not easily available. They're on the Sears website (a 3 pack for $4), but items like this, you need to have available on the fly. It's likely that they're also at your local Sears. Also, it's worth noting that Rockwell has also released a Vibrafree sander that looks similar to the Craftsman. And when we say, 'similar,' what we really mean is, 'identical.' It's like someone photoshopped in some new colors and a new logo. The Rockwell even has the kickass "cyclonic dust box." The tools are so similar that there's got to be some sort of licensing agreement going on. But anyway, our point is that while the Craftsman may have limited availability with their discs, the Rockwell may be easier to find.
So our final say is that the orbital works great, even though we have some finicky little issues with it.
Yesterday we were talking to our good buddy Hal from over at Extreme How-To and he asked if we had heard of the Skil Flooring Saw. We hadn't, so on his recommendation we came back to the shop and looked it up online and...well...this one looks pretty cool. Really cool, in fact.
What Skil has done here is analyzed what exactly is needed for cutting tools on a flooring project and done two things with the information; gotten rid of all the excess and combined the 'needs' into one tool. Skil's line of thought is, 'why bother with a 10" miter saw and a 10" table saw when all you're doing is cutting 3" wide boards?" They've got a point.
So their setup looks something like a tile saw. The blade is tiny and can either be run along the track for crosscuts or secured in place for rips. It looks like there's a also an adjustable miter fence and, in a wonderfully simple move, Skil made the base of the tool 1-1/2" high, so your outfeed can be taken care of with a 2x. From the looks of the video over at the Skil site, the tool is light too. The guy doesn't seem to have any problem hauling it around in one hand. While this may be good for mobility, we're curious how it affects rip cuts. Are there rubber gripping pads under the saw to prevent sliding, or do you have to screw the unit down to stabilize it? (UPDATE: We just got word from some people in the know that the saw does indeed have rubber feet as well as mounting holes for screw-mounting to a workbench).
It's funny, but each time Dremel releases a new rotary tool, we think to ourselves, "man, this is the best Dremel evah!" Then they release another one and we think, "Whoa, now this is the best Dremel the world has ever seen!" And on and on. Last year they released their new corded 4000 series tool and we loved it for it's strength and all around 'Dremely vibe.' Well, now they've released the cordless 8200 which seems to be a companion to the 4000. We were happy that they let us check out a pre-release sample. Oddly enough, we got it in our hands, played around with it for a bit and thought, "Hot damn! Now this might be the greatest Dremel we've ever used!"
The 8200 operates in a range of 5,000 to 30,000 rpm with the adjustment made with a slider on the back of the tool. Above the slider is a battery fuel gauge so you can keep an eye on how much juice you've got left. It's a feature that we think should be standard in li-Ion tools and it's nice to see Dremel getting on board with it.
Because we're carpenters and not hobbyists, we would have liked to see this tool come with two batteries instead of just one. Were that the case, the 8200 would be fully jobsite ready, but the extra battery would also tack on at least $50 to the price and it would be something that isn't used by a lot of the people who buy Dremels and use them sporadically in the garage workspace and won't mind the 1-hour charger.
(Update: We're dopes. Dremel does indeed offer an 8200 with two batteries. It's the 8200 2/28 and it will be retailing for $140. It also includes a cutting guide, a right angle attachment and 28 accessories. Sounds ideal to us. A thank you to Dremel for pointing out our error.)
In general, the cordless aspect of this tool is fantastic. It makes the use and set-up of it that much easier. And it's powerful too. According to Dremel, the 8200 has a speed of cut that is twice as fast as the leading cordless rotary tool. We didn't verify this, but we did use the tool to cut metal, plastic, and stone and thought it was right up there with the 4000.
The one thing we're not fond of with the tool is the case. Because the tool we got was an advance copy, the case we got may or may not be the one that is being sold with the tool. We have no reason to think that the production case will be different, but you never know. As our friends at Milwaukee are aware, we can get really hung up on tool cases. The blow-molded jobbies that some companies use drive us crazy, and while the Dremel case does have plenty of room for accessories, there is also this panel piece that creates an odd space for loose accessories to hide behind. And getting them out is like getting a pick out of a guitar. Dremel accessories are very tiny and some of them break down into even tinier pieces, so why make a case like this? No comprende.
But that's just our hangup and all of you who read that last paragraph with glazed over eyes can just walk away knowing that Dremel has made yet another great rotary tool.
it's also worth noting the we received a marketing sample, so the 100% finished "in the store" product may (or may not) have a look that is slightly more polished.
The 8200 isn't available until April, but when it is, it will sell for $100 to $140 depending on the accessory package that comes with it. It's not there now, but it will likely be at Amazon.com
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