May 21, 2013
ActivArmr, the makers of my current favorite gloves (which I reviewed at Tools of the Trade here) have recently overhauled their website.
The new site is pretty slick and even has a Find-A-Glove feature to help narrow down your search. I've spent time with both the heavy laborer gloves and the carpenter gloves and I can't say enough about them. Unfortunately, the laborer gloves met an interesting demise (see here), but the carpenter gloves are still going strong.
May 15, 2013
For the most part my hands look like they belong on someone who is 150 years old. They're usually scratched, cracking, freakishly dry and the cuticles are nothing more than shredded scraps of dead skin. Moisturizing isn't really in my daily program, so my hands tend to stay in disaster format. I'm also in the process of tiling 500 square feet of finished basement, so with all the thinset and water, things have even gotten worse. My hands look almost mummified. A couple weeks ago, Gojo sent us some of their Hand Medic to try out and we tasked it against our nearly destroyed hands. Here's what we thought.
Continue reading: "Gojo Hand Medic - Review"
March 10, 2013
Who knew we'd ever refer to an extension cord as intelligent? But oddly enough, that's the best way to describe the RoboReel. Even calling it an extension cord is a gross over simplification, it's more of a one-stop power system for your shop. Great Stuff, the makers of the Reel sent us one to check out a while back and we've had it in the mix for the renovation as well as general shop use. It's easily the most feature-riddled power cord we've ever put eyes on.
Continue reading: "RoboReel - Review"
February 5, 2013
OK, this is a little odd. The other day, I drenched my Ansell ActivArmr Heavy Laborer Gloves (reviewed here), so I plopped them right next to the woodstove to dry them out. Well, apparently, one of them somehow found its way to the woodbox and seemed to have hitched a ride on a log right into the stove. I spent better part of the morning looking for the lost glove and when I opened the stove to start a fire, I saw its devastated remains among the ashes.
But what remains is what's interesting. I've long heard that many high quality work gloves are woven with some heavy duty additives, but I've never actually seen what it looks like. Well guess what? When you burn the rest of the glove off, you're left with something that looks like a very delicate chain mail hand. It's pretty cool looking. Ansell says that their glove is woven with Kevlar and stainless steel. Since Kevlar does burn and melt, I have to assume that what's left is 100% stainless.
Ansell Gloves at Amazon
May 25, 2012
We've gotten enough of those massive vertical grain fir splinters (the ones that look more like large toothpicks) to be really in favor of gloves. For finish work, we'll sometimes bypass the hand protection, but with framing work, we've gotten to the point now where we feel naked if we don't have gloves on. It's slowly ingrained itself in our mind the same way safety glasses have. They're just part of the fabric now.
So we were pretty happy when Ansell sent us a pair of their ActivArmr Gloves to beat on. That was months and months ago (sorry Ansell and thanks for the patience), and we've worn them quite a bit and have come to our final conclusions on the gloves.
Continue reading: "Ansell ActivArmr Gloves - Review"
November 9, 2011
As of Oct 1st, all CTs (vacs) shipping from Festool are labeled as "Full Unit Certified HEPA." This is pretty cool and a result of the obnoxious new RRP regulations that have come to be. If you haven't heard, if you even look at a house with lead paint on it, you need to be wearing a Tyvek suit and a full respirator. You also need to wrap everything in plastic (duct taping the plastic to the floor), and you can only use a HEPA vac. You also need to take a class which includes forking over $300 to the government. But that's only if you're a contractor. If you're a homeowner doing the work, you can go shirtless, use an angle grinder to do your sanding, and pressure wash the lead paint into the nearby wetlands. Makes total sense.
But we digress...with these new regulations, tool companies have had to make a quick adjustment. Festool has had a leg up with this transition because their vacs are top of the line in the first place. The way the law reads is that you can't simply drop a HEPA filter into a ShopVac, but rather you need a fully-compliant vac (it has to do with the seal within the vac).
So, as we started, as of Oct 1st, All Festool vacs will ship with Full Unit Certification. They are also taking care of all customers who purchased a CT 26/36 since their launch back in 2010, by providing an updated HEPA filter, hard copy certificate, and labeling for their dust extractor, all at no charge. All you have to do is register on the website and they'll send out the goods.
Festool CTs at Festool Products and Amazon
November 7, 2011
So you're probably all familiar with the Little Giant Ladder. If not, it's a freaky sort of extension ladder that can transform itself through a lengthening or shortening of the legs into one of about fifty different configurations. They're very handy. They're also pretty heavy, but overall, great to have on site.
So last year, Little Giant brought the technology into the step ladder format and called it the Select Step. We thought this was a little strange and redundant, seeing as the standard Little Giant already can convert into something of a step ladder. We got in touch with the company and they sent us one to review. We've had this thing for a while now and honestly, it spent much of that time leaning against the wall in the garage. We never really dug into it until a few months ago when we brought it to the site.
Since then it has become something of a jobsite MVP.
Continue reading: "Little Giant Select Step Ladder - Review"
October 18, 2011
Keeping the dust out of your work area while on the lathe or just cutting up some wood is a good idea. This powerful Shop Fox dust collector features a heavy-duty 12in. steel impeller and a 1.5 HP, 16 Amp 110V single phase motor that operates at 3450 RPM. It will generate 1280 CFM air suction to capture dust and debris from any woodworking saw, planer, jointer, band saw, shaper or sander with a dust port.
We've been using such a model in our woodshop in Maine, and we can safely say - what a difference. One thing this does add is a bit of noise, but then wearing some earplugs is also a great idea when in the shop.
At SHOP FOX W1685 1.5-Horsepower 1280 CFM Dust Collector
April 29, 2011
When it comes to standard jobsite dust protection, we swear by the 3M 8511. It's the best light-medium duty (sanding, demo, etc) dust mask we've ever used. It's way better than those flimsy painter ones and it's not a bulky mess like the full-on, tuna can, toxic respirators.
So a while back we read a description of another 3M respirator and it sounded great. So great, in fact, that we thought it might rival the mighty 8511. We asked the company to send us one to try out and they did. Well, a few days later, it showed up and, what do you know? It was the 8511.
If you've never used one of these, you should give one a shot. They're a little more expensive than the aforementioned lame painters masks, but they're definitely worth it. They fit well, they've got two straps (not one), and the little valve thing keeps the temps down in the mask, so the bottom half of your face isn't completely drenched in sweat.
Note: usually with our reviews we post up pictures of the items as we've used them. Unfortunately, the 8511 that 3M sent us ended up in the trash before we could take any photos. But is that really a bad thing? Do you want to look at a used dust mask? Didn't think so.
At Amazon.com (a 10 pack is $8, which is waaaay better than what the local lumber yard sells them for).
April 19, 2011
I'm of the opinion that if you fire up any power tool and you're not wearing eye protection, you're a complete and total moron. I'm manic about my eye protection and during the workday, I'm never more than three feet from a pair of safety glasses.
So when 3M offered to let me check out their new Tekk Forceflex Glasses, I jumped at the chance. Because of my eye safety fetish I've probably worn at least 20 different types and styles of safety glasses, so I know what I like and what I don't. Here's what I thought of the Forceflex...
Continue reading: "3M Tekk Forceflex Glasses - Review"
October 18, 2010
For some reason, we only seem to talk about Ergodyne products when they're out of season. It was high summer when we told you about the unusual (and slightly creepy) Extreme Balaclava, and now here we are heading into winter and we're going to pass on the info on the Chill-Its Cooling Towel.
The deal is that he towel is made up of some astronaut material that can absorb water (and sweat) and keep you nice and cool. You 'activate' it by getting it wet and then because of it's mutant evaporative powers, it feels cooler than the ambient air. It's probably the only towel in the world that comes with an MSDS sheet.
But we probably wouldn't even be talking about this item if it weren't for the interesting bit we found on the Ergodyne website in the section marked, 'Applications.' Here is what is says,
Construction, Trades, Maintenance, Landscaping/Grounds, Assembly/Fabrication, Material Handling, Freight/Baggage, Warehousing/Distribution, Iron/Steel
Fabrication, Olympic Diving
Wait...what? I'm sorry, could you repeat that last one?
One of these towels costs about $12 at Amazon.com
October 7, 2010
Early yesterday, I managed to get my finger caught in a rapidly closing door. It happened around 9:30 in the morning (EST), so if the wind was just right and you heard a frightening barrage of swearing, that's what it was.
Continue reading: "Tool Snob Announces the 'When Will My Fingernail Fall Off?' Contest"
September 23, 2010
Have you ever been in a mall and seen a mother who has one of those tether things for their kid? You know, where the kid is actually on a freakin' leash? He can stray around, but if he gets too far, momma gives a sturdy tug to get him back to home base. We think those things are completely insane but when you carry the same principal into the tool world, it's a bit different.
So substituting, 'kid' with 'tool' you have the Gear Keeper. It's a leash for your tools; one end clips on the belt, the other on the tool. The line is coiled like an old-school telephone cord so it doesn't hang and cause a trip hazard if you clip the tool to your belt.
Judging from their website, Gear Kepper seems intent on creating a tether for every imaginable object that man has ever carried since he days as a cave-dweller. Check out the selection here.
September 13, 2010
I just got word that a good friend of mine did a nice slice and dice on his leg with a circular saw. He's a smart guy, conscientious, very experienced with tools, and just generally has a good head on his shoulders, but he was rushing and took a few short cuts. We've all done it. He's all stitched up now and it's not looking like there's going to be any lasting damage, but it's a serious reminder that no matter who you are, how good you think you are, how experienced you are, as soon as you let your guard down you're putting yourself in a whole lot of danger. It's a very fine line between confident (which is good) and cavalier (which is potentially deadly).
I try to maintain a healthy hatred of a few tools; table saws and chainsaws mostly, and to a lesser degree circular saws. Each time I step up to bat with one of these monsters, I try to remind myself what it can do and how quickly it can do it. Thankfully, I've thus far been free of any major injuries, but I've had a few near misses over the years. Here are the details on three of them...
Continue reading: "Stitches in a Leg and Other Thoughts on Tool Safety"