December 18, 2012
We were impressed with Arbortech way, way back when we first saw their AS160 AllSaw at a tradeshow in May of 07. Then we got a chance to test some of their woodworking tools out and loved those too. The Mini Grinder and Power Chisel, still now, are tools that we feel we've only scratched the surface of their potential. Recently we were contacted by the company again, this time to take a look at their new TURBOPlane. What is the TURBOPlane you ask? Read on...
Continue reading: "Arbortech TURBOPlane - Review"
September 5, 2012
Next month, Black and Decker will be getting into the modular tool arena with something called the Matrix. It's sort of their version of the Ridgid JobMax. It's a battery-powered handle with a PTO end that can accept a variety of different tool heads ranging from a sander to an oscillating tool to a router to a mini-circular saw. It looks like B&D has two different bodies to choose from; one powered by a 12 volt battery and one powered by a 20 volt battery. An AC version in en route and will arrive early next year.
The kits come with a drill/driver attachment and the other available heads are...
From the B&D website:
Impact Driver Attachment
• Up to 1,300 in-lbs of torque** for tough fastening applications
Oscillating Multi-Tool Attachment
• Up to 18,500 OPM (oscillations per minute)** for precision and performance when sanding, cutting, scraping, grinding, or paint removal
• Tool-free release that allows users to quickly change between accessories
• Up to 2,800 SPM (strokes per minute)** for fast straight cutting or detailed curve cutting in wood, metal and plastic
Detail Sander Attachment
• Compact tool for access into tight spaces
• Up to 9,000 RPM (revolutions per minute)**- ideal for use on decorative edging projects, small woodworking projects and more
Trim Saw Attachment
• Up to 3,400 RPM (revolutions per minute)** for use on plywood, paneling and fence boards
One thing that's funky about the Matrix is that they've opted to go with a screw gun-like base, rather than a 'lightsaber' base like Ridgid used. Not sure how easy the router head will be with the Matrix, but we'll see. There are always drawbacks with the 'one-tool-does-everything' scenario and here the handle may cause some issues.
It's doubtful that the Matrix will be able to handle the abuse of a construction site, but that's OK. If it functions as advertised, it could be a nice item for a DIYer looking to consolidate or an apartment dweller who is looking for a lot of functionality but only has room for one or two tool boxes.
At Black and Decker
August 15, 2012
A few months ago, we wrote up a touching and tearful obituary about our old and dear friend, the Makita orbital. We'd had that little fella almost since the start of our carpentry career and it had always delivered and never complained. Heaving it into the dumpster was one of those moments when you realize that time flows like an unstoppable river. It was like watching the kids pack up and head off to college, except that it wasn't kids and a college, it was a tool and a dumpster. Sort of the same thing really.
Continue reading: "Makita BO5041K 5" Random Orbit Sander - Review"
April 2, 2012
One of the first tools we got when we decided to take the plunge and live the life of the construction donkey was a Makita orbital sander. It came right after our DeWalt drill, our Makita circ saw, and our Bosch jigsaw. We've had this fella for a while and while we were clearing out the garage last weekend, we decided it was time to say goodbye to our old pal.
Continue reading: "Ye Olde Makita Orbital: R.I.P."
February 9, 2012
We felt we had to emerge from our renovation coma to spread the word on this one. Festool's new (new to the US, at least) drywall sander. Even though it kinda looks like it was designed by H.R. Giger, we have the feeling that it might be pound for pound the most time/agony saving tool ever invented. We've never even touched the thing, but we've sanded enough joint compound in our time to know what a tedious, dusty, pain in the arse it is. Combine that horror-show with Festool's core belief in the eradication of jobsite dust and their freakishly high quality standards and you're talking Planex.
There's a lot to say about this tool. But first off, one of the accessories is a body harness. How wild is that?
Continue reading: "Festool Planex LHS 225 Long Reach Drywall Sander"
April 15, 2011
Festool has just released the RO 90 DX Rotex Sander, a tool capable of sanding, grinding, polishing, and dealing with inside corners. It's a crazy tool and we were just entering the sanding phase of a large shelving project when Festool sent one our way to test out.
Continue reading: "Festool Rotex RO 90 DX - Review"
March 3, 2011
Update: we just saw that Stu from ToolGuyd posted about this yesterday. Great minds think alike, but apparently, his mind is one day greater than ours....
....and heeeeres Skil!
Skil's oscillating tool looks pretty similar to the Bosch PMF E Multi, which EuroBosch released years ago. Green EuroBosch, as opposed to blue EuroBosch denotes their DIY brand and since Bosch US doesn't have a Bosch DIY brand they own Skil instead, which is sort of the same thing. So it makes sense that the tools look like relatives. They are.
Skil's tool has a 2-amp motor, is variable speed and has a built-in dust collection system and a no-mar head. It's going for about $100.
March 1, 2011
We've got to be honest, we're a bit burned out on the whole oscillating tool thing. Fein's patent wore out years ago and it was way back in July 2008 that we started covering oscillating tools from other companies. Back then, for some reason Bosch opted to put their weight behind a 12-volt cordless version, even though EuroBosch already had a corded model available since at least mid 07 when we first covered it here (granted, it was in their DIY line...sort of like Skil).
At the time, the only corded options were the Dremel MultiMax and the Rockwell Sonicrafter (yeah, yeah, yeah, we know there was a Harbor Freight version available). And for years, those two models pretty much owned the marketplace. We've come to generally dislike 12-volt oscillating tools for their short battery life and truly don't understand why it took Bosch so long to get a corded version to market. If the traffic numbers to our review of the SoniCrafter are any indication, everyone and their mother has one by now. Since it was posted in late 2008, it has been, by far, our biggest traffic draw. By a long shot.
Seems to us like a big opportunity lost, and not just by Bosch, but by the other big companies as well. Milwaukee took a while to get into the game and, like Bosch, led with a cordless model and DeWalt is nowhere to be seen, which isn't surprising given that their 12-volt line was released just last year.
But this is all from our perspective and we follow the tool industry with a microscope. The average carpenter (at least the ones we work with) hardly know that there are even options other than the Fein available. So once we step back, the fact that this tool is two years late probably doesn't even matter. And the fact that we're like a broken record on this topic matters even less.
And, not surprisingly, the tool looks very nice. Jay from CopTool has a great review up at his site that puts the tool head to head with the Fein.
Press release is after the jump for all the stats....
Continue reading: "Bosch MXE25E Corded Oscillating Tool"
December 16, 2010
Festool has just updated their Rotex micro site with more information and pictures of their new geared sander, the first of its kind. If you missed our earlier post on the tool, the deal is that the sander has three distinct modes; an aggressive one which Festool likens to a grinder, a standard orbital mode, and a delta mode which requires switching out the circular pad for a triangular one (similar to an oscillating sander).
They've also posted up a couple videos. Here's a general intro to the tool...
...and here is the aggressive mode in action. Looks feisty.
They've also given a March 1st release date.
December 1, 2010
One Sander to rule them all, One Sander to find them,
One Sander to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
If you signed up to Tool Nut's weekly email blast, you'd already know about this all-powerful sander that's on its way from Festool. The newest tool in their Rotex line, the RO 90 DX, has the functionality of a grinder, a standard orbital and a corner sander. This tri-action is the result of two different aspects of the tool; 1) it has interchangeable heads (one circular, one triangular) and 2) it has gear settings that not only seem to regulate the speed of the tool, but the style of orbit as well.
From what little information there is available, the RO 90 DX has three distinct modes; aggressive, random orbit, and delta. Festool says that, "the aggressive mode delivers material removal like that of a grinder" which is an intense feat coming from a tool that doubles as a fine finish sander. The orbit mode behaves as you think it should and thankfully, according to Festool, "it's like a Zen sanding experience." Finally, there's the delta mode which, we assume, alters the orbital motion to better accommodate the smaller sanding pad.
There's no pricing yet, and not much else in the way of details, but to see some cool pictures or sign up to get more information as it becomes available, go here. This one sounds like a winner to us.
September 16, 2010
Dremel 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...
Continue reading: "Dremel 6800-01 Trio - Review"
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...."
March 18, 2010
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.
February 9, 2010
Have 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.
January 26, 2010
Nothing is quite like the dust produced when you sand joint compound. We can say without hesitation that we loath it. It gets on our clothes, in our hair, up our nose. Everywhere. And then someone comes along and pats you on the shoulder and all of a sudden it looks like a bag of flour exploded. The stuff is wretched, and that's why we're in favor of tools like Goldblatt's Dust-Free Hand Sander.
It looks like this kit comes with a sanding pad, a hose, and a few couplings for the various vacuums out there. Obviously it's not just for joint compound, it can be used for wood as well, but it's with the drywall tasks where we would find the best use for it.
The whole kit costs a whisker over $20, which is nothing compared to what you'll save on laundry detergent, shampoo and cans of Endust.