February 9, 2010

Skil 5" Random Orbit Sander with Pressure Control

skil_w_pressure_control.jpgHave you ever been using an orbital sander and all of a sudden you realize that you've gradually gotten to the point where you're putting about 90% of your body weight on it? It seems to happen to us all the time. We're not sure why, but it's our natural tendency to really lean into it. We know that it doesn't improve the efficiency of the tool, but we end up there anyway. Apparently we're not the only ones with this problem because Skil has recently released a new orbital with something called Pressure Control.

Pressure Control is some sort of warning system that lets you know when excessive pressure is being put on the tool. From the image, it looks like there are a number of warning lights, sort of like the Homeland Security threat level system. The sander probably makes some kind of noise too. Maybe an electrical pulse as well.

In all other respects, this looks like a regular old orbital; it has a vacuum attachment, a filtered bag, a nice grip, etc. It costs about $40 which sounds like a good price.

At Amazon.com

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

February 4, 2010

Bosch Bulldog Xtreme - Review

Bosch_Bulldog_Xtreme.JPG

Our normal reviews go something like this: we find an interesting tool or get a press release on something new; then we query the manufacturer (or their PR company) and beg and plead that they send us a sample to test out; if they are kind enough to take pity on us and do so, it arrives at the shop and we spend a few weeks giving it the once over; we then sit down and write a Pulitzer-worthy review of said tool (making sure to comply with new FCC regulations and let you know that the tool came from the manufacturer). Well, this time it's different. We didn't just get our hands on our two Bosch Bulldogs, and we didn't get them from Bosch. We paid for them outright and to be honest, it's some of the best money that we've ever spent on any tools.

It's easy to review the precision or functionality of a tool, but when it comes to durability we usually combine 'general feel' with 'previous experience with that company's tools' and add in a few drop tests, and come to our conclusions. Here, that's not the case. We've had one of these tools for about five years and the other one (the dirty one) we had on an aggressively brutal jobsite for about 18 months. We can only say that these tools are phenomenal and that if you're thinking about getting one, just go ahead and do it. There were days when we treated these tools so poorly, you'd think that we hated them. They've been dropped, tossed, kicked, stepped on, and one of them was even lost in a snowbank for a short period of time. As far as tools go, they're like the paperboy from Better Off Dead; always there, ready to go, non-stop (minus the annoying voice).

In addition to the unreal durability, there's the power/size ratio which, in our eyes is perfect. If you're a carpenter, you really don't need some massive hammer drill, but you still want the ability to chip concrete and spend a day driving tap-cons. This tool does all that, and it doesn't take up that much room in the back of the van.

They cost around $200 and there are a couple different versions with different handles and features, but they've all got the same ass-kicking quotient.

At Amazon.com

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

January 19, 2010

Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool

dremel_8200_Hero.jpgIt's amazing how much mileage Dremel has gotten out of the rotary tool. Each year seems to bring a new and improved version each with significant advancements over the previous models. The company would be deemed completely insane if it weren't for the fact that each tool really is that much better than the last. So it's not like these guys are coasting on a single tool (well, they sort of coasted on the Golf Cleaning Kit), instead they're seemingly on some sort of frenzied quest to create the perfect rotary tool.

Late last year they released the 4000 corded rotary tool (our review here), which suprised us with its jobsite-ready power (we used it yesterday, in fact). So if 2009 was the year of the corded upgrade, 2010 must be the year of the cordless. Which brings us to the new 8200.

It appears that the 8200 is the companion cordless to the 4000. The removable nose has the same look as the corded version and the new tool can handle all of the Dremel accessories, including the new detailer's grip and the sanding guide.

The 8200 is powered by a removable 12-volt li-ion battery that, according to Dremel, gives the tool a speed of cut that's twice as fast as any other cordless rotary tool out there. The battery recharges in 1-hour.

The 8200 will be available in April and will range from $100 to $140, depending on the kit.

At Amazon.com

The press release is after the jump.

ArrowContinue reading: "Dremel 8200 Cordless Rotary Tool"

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

January 13, 2010

DeWalt DWS535 Worm Drive Circular Saw

dewalt_worm_drive.jpg

DeWalt is on the verge of releasing a new worm drive saw and at first glance it looks like a real monster with a number of practical features to assist the day to day framer.

What we like best is something called the Toughcord cord retention and protection system. We assume that this is a reinforced connection between the cord and the body of the tool, which likely stemmed from the developers visiting jobsites and watching ladder-bound carpenters raise and lower their saws with the cord. We see it all the time (and have been known to do it on occasion). Now, thanks to DeWalt, you'll not only be able to comfortably hold the saw's weight with the cord, but you'll probably also be able to swing it around like a bullroarer.

Another smart feature is the extra wide rafter hook, built with beefy engineered lumber in mind. There's also a 53 degree cutting bevel.

There's no word on price yet, but given the price of the competition, we would expect something in the $200 range.

When it's available, it'll be at Home Depot

As always, the press release is after the jump if you're interested...

ArrowContinue reading: "DeWalt DWS535 Worm Drive Circular Saw"

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

December 11, 2009

Craftsman Professional 12-Amp Scrolling Reciprocating Saw - Review

craftsman_recip.jpg

Craftsman has recently released a new 12-Amp Recip Saw, geared for the pro and equipped with one very interesting feature. Luckily for us, they were nice enough to let us try one out.

craftsman_recip_others.jpgFirst, we'll start with all of the standard recip saw items. The Craftsman has an 12-amp motor, a quick blade change, and an adjustable shoe. All features that are all pretty much standard on recips these days. The motor was plenty powerful for the tasks that we put it through. The quick blade change is done with a lever on the side of the tool as opposed to the spring loaded kind that Makita has on their saws. Our preference is the latter, which actually ejects the blade from the chuck. With the Craftsman, the blade needs to be manually removed (with a little jiggle), so handling a piping hot blade is going to be something that you'll have to deal with. As far as the basics went, we liked the Craftsman. Honestly, a little more than expected. It has a very solid feel to it and it looks like it can take a bit of a beating. To get a idea of the size of the tool, we took a shot of it next to our trusty Milwaukee 10 amp and our building-killing Makita 15 amp. It's about the same size, just a little bit longer.

craftsman_recip_nose1.jpgcraftsman_recip_nose2.jpg

But this isn't your average recip saw. In fact, it has one feature that really sets it apart from the pack. The nose of the tool is not only capable of spinning around, but it can do this while the motor is running. This gives you, depending on how you look at it; a) a somewhat awkward scroll saw, b) a turbo powered jigsaw, or c) a very versatile recip saw. If you want, the nose can be locked into place at any one of the four compass points, or, like we said, it can be maneuvered around while the saw is running.


craftsman_recip_scrolling.jpgcraftsman_recip_scrolling2.jpg

We tested this out quite a bit and it really is not only useful, but damn cool as well. Just think about the last time you had to notch a joist in a crawl space or some other awkward procedure. Now, with the Craftsman, you can keep the tool stationary, but still have the full 360 degree cutting ability. We made some cuts in a piece of plywood to show the scrolling action. Now, obviously, no one's going to use a recip saw for intricate scroll work, but cutting rough circles and working in confined spaces just got a little easier. It's an innovative tool and as far as we know, the first of its kind. We've never used Porter-Cable's recip with the rotating nose, but we're led to believe that there are a number of positive stops which prohibit smooth scroll cutting (we could be wrong here...anyone know?).

The Craftsman comes with a thin scrolling blade and a carrying case. Thankfully, Craftsman opted to give this tool a duffel-style bag, as opposed to the 'zero-additional-storage' blow-molded cases that they usually hand out with their recips. The whole package costs about $100, which isn't bad considering the scrolling action. The big jobsite brands pretty much all up in the $120 range for their 12-amp models.

At Sears


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

December 4, 2009

Bosch 3-Mode 18-Volt Impact Driver

Bosch_3_mode_impactor.JPGSince reviewing Bosch's 18-volt Impact Driver back in September, we've continued to work the tool harder than the horse from Animal Farm, and each day it shrugs off the abuse like it was nothing. For an essential day to day tool, it's exceeded our expectations for toughness, portability, and power. But still, we need a drill around for all of our precision work. Or do we? Maybe we just need Bosch's new 3-Mode Impact Driver.

Tailor made for today's impact driver-obsessed carpenter, the new tool is an impact driver that has the ability to toggle in and out of impact mode. So now, you theoretically only need one tool for drilling and driving. This is a nice idea, but because the tool has a 1/4" quick-change chuck it means that you'll probably need to go and get a new drill bit set.

We're not sure how much we'd use this tool. To date nothing has ever stopped us from putting a drill bit in our impact driver and, in fact, we find it to be pretty effective, particularly for rough tasks. Also, because the new tool doesn't have a clutch setting (and what impact driver does?), it's not going to replace the cordless drill/driver for all tasks, so you'll still want a regular old screw gun, at the very least, in the gang box - you just might not have to take it out every day. When it comes down to it, the 3-Mode Impact Driver is all about the streamlined work day and productivity. If you're in a fast-paced situation where you're constantly going back and forth between tools, this new item from Bosch might be a good thing for you.

They're calling it a three mode because there's a high speed, a low speed, and the impact setting.

This fella is going to retail for about $370, which includes 2 Fat Pack batteries. With the added technology on the tool, this price makes sense given that the straight up impact driver goes for about $315.

The full press release is after the jump and there's more info at Bosch.

ArrowContinue reading: "Bosch 3-Mode 18-Volt Impact Driver"

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

November 27, 2009

Dremel 4000 Rotary Tool - Review

dremel_4000_case.jpg"Man, this thing has some stones."

That's what our coworker said after borrowing the Dremel 4000 to fine tune a radius cut on a piece of 1/8" steel. The grinder bit was devastated after the five minute process, but the tool seemed like it was just getting warmed up.

The Dremel 4000 is simply the latest update to Dremel's omnipresent rotary tool. Over the years, we've tried a number of different rotary tools and we keep coming back to the fact that Dremel is where it's at in this category. In fact no one we know even uses the term 'rotary tool,' preferring to use 'Dremel' as the catch all, like 'Kleenex.' So with the release of this new installment in the ongoing Dremel saga, the company was nice enough to ship a unit our way for reviewing purposes. We immediately tossed it in the back of the truck and headed off to work to see what it was capable of.


dremel_4000_hand.jpgdremel_4000_speed.jpg

So what's new with the Dremel 4000? Quite a bit actually. And as an added bonus, the changes are pretty significant when it comes to the functionality of the tool.

First, the 4000 is more powerful than its predecessors, ticking in at 1.6 amps, as opposed to the 1.15 amps of earlier models. We understand that 0.45 amps might not sound like much, but here it makes a large difference. Compared head to head with an older Dremel, the 4000 has reached a strength level that really increases the uses of the rotary tool. Until now, we saw Dremels as items that are useful in many situations, but their 'hobbyist' vibe (read: low strength) prevented us from embracing them as a job site item. Since we're coming at things from a carpenter's perspective, the added strength is right up our alley and, like we said, it opens a lot of new doors for the tool.

dremel_4000_grip.jpgBut there's also a 'double-edge sword' thing going on here though. Yes, the tool is more powerful, but because of this added strength, the Dremel has outgrown some of its accessories. We used the 4000 to tinker around with the pre-cut lock set openings on a metal door and while the tool showed no signs of stress, we went through the grinder accessories like they were made of origami paper. They might be fine for someone sitting in their basement carving ducks, but on a job site, a more aggressive grinder wheel is necessary. If we were Dremel, we'd start considering a 'Pro Line' of accessories. If they're going to make a tool with this strength, morons like us are going to push it well beyond its limits on a regular basis. (For all of you non-carpenters out there reading this, you can probably ignore this paragraph and take comfort in the fact that the Dremel 4000 is powerful enough to do what you ask.)

The added power is just one of the cool things about the 4000. There is also a new handle attachment called a 'detailer's grip,' that screws onto the chuck and allows a tremendous amount of control over the tool (not available in all kits). During use the handle would loosen some, but this was nothing more than a minor irritation compared to the level of added maneuverability. The kit we used also had a sanding guide and a multi-purpose cutting guide (not available in all kits).

dremel_4000_cut_guide.jpgDremel_4000_sand_guide.jpg

To wrap things up, this is a fantastic tool and by far the best rotary tool in Dremel's already stellar line up. The ergonomics are off the charts and like our pal so eloquently said, it does indeed have 'stones.' Lots of 'em.

It looks like there are three kits available, the differences being in the number of included accessories and chuck attachments. We tested out the 3/34 (3 attachments, 34 accessories), and after looking at the other kits, that's probably the one we'd recommend. There is also a 2/30 kit and a mega 6/50. We suggest checking out each kit to see which one suits your needs best.

Dremel 4000 2/30 at Amazon.com ($80)
Dremel 4000 3/34 at Amazon.com ($87)
Dremel 4000 6/50 at Amazon.com ($150)


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

November 3, 2009

Ryobi 12-Volt Auto Hammer

ryobi_auto_hammer.jpgLast week, ToolGuyd had a nice find with the new Ryobi 12-Volt Auto Hammer. By the numbers, the tool is nearly identical to the Craftsman version: 3,600 hits per minute, magnetic head, both under 2lbs. Also, like the Craftsman, the Ryobi comes with only one battery and a canvas carrying case).

We tested out the Craftsman and had some success with it, even though it's not going to replace your traditional hammer. Our Tool Snob review is here, and we also wrote about it for Popular Mechanics, even going to far as to smash our thumb with it.

Oh yeah, one difference between the tools is that the Ryobi is $89, making it $10 cheaper than the Craftsman.

Ryobi 12-Volt Auto Hammer at Home Depot

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

October 13, 2009

Milwaukee M12 3/8" Right Angle Drill/Driver

milwaukee_Right_Angle.jpgWe're quite enamored with our Hitachi 12-volt Right Angle Impact Driver (in fact, we had to use it yesterday), so we're happy that Milwaukee is expanding their already impressive 12-volt system with a new right angle drill/driver. It looks like a very useful tool and with a 3-3/4" head length, it should fit in some awkward spaces with no problem. It's also got a little LED and 12 clutch settings.

We also noticed that it only comes with one battery, which is too bad for anyone who hasn't bought into the Milwaukee M12 line. It makes sense though, as it's unlikely that the tool will ever get a full day's workout. But still, any cordless tool that only comes with a single battery makes us feel like we're somehow getting short-changed.

We also want to applaud Milwaukee on their press release. We read a lot of these things and most of them are filled with all sorts of business market share talk. But instead of going down that route, Milwaukee lays out the tool with this dead-on quote:


"A right angle drill driver is similar to jumper cables for a car," says Paul Fry, Director of M12™ for Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation. "Many people do not realize they need one until they are in a tight space and need help."

it looks like this guy's going to cost in the arena of $140-$150, which we think is an entirely reasonable price.

At Ohio Power Tools

Read the entire press release after the jump.

ArrowContinue reading: "Milwaukee M12 3/8" Right Angle Drill/Driver"

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

October 6, 2009

Dremel 4000

Dremel4000_horiz.jpg

Dremel has once again advanced and improved their rotary tool, this time with a model referred to as the 4000. It must be quite an item to warrant the jump from the 400 series. From the hundreds to the thousands? Ten times the series? What exactly can this thing do?

Dremel-4000-Final.jpg

First off, just the look of it is impressive. We've always thought that Dremel's rotary tools were some of the most ergonomically advanced tools in the world, but this one makes the older models look like cave tools. It's a sleek looking item and could be used as a prop in some glossy science fiction flick. It also has a new electronic feedback systems that maintains a constant speed under a tougher workload.

Also, the tool is compatible with all Dremel accessories, in addition to some new ones that the older models are unable to use. Two of these newer attachments are being released in conjunction with the 4000 and they are a pistol-grip handle and a sanding/grinding guide.

The changes made to the 4000 were done so based on user feedback, so they're likely all positive improvements. For the basic kit (30 attachments, 2 accessories), it looks like the 4000 is going to cost about $75. If you're buying a kit with more the attachments and accessories, the price is going to be higher, but will max out around the $150 range. It's a little higher than their older models, but not at all unreasonable for a new item with all the extra bling. For more information on what accessories come with which kit, check out the Dremel website here.

Dremel 4000 with two attachments and 30 attachments at Amazon.com ($75)
Dremel 4000 with 3 attachments and 34 accessories at Amazon.com ($85)
Dremel 4000 with 6 attachments and 50 accessories at Amazon.com ($140)

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

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