By Jon Eakes
Time testing comes to Tool Talk
Once a year I get the opportunity to call up all the power tool manufacturers and ask them to send me one - only one - of their tools that would knock the socks off of a contractor audience. The tools are presented at the Ontario Building and Renovation Forum for a seminar we call Tool Time, which is put on by the provincial HBA. I argue with them to try to avoid much duplication and always seek some tool that we can actually demonstrate. Some impress the guys and gals, some don't excite them much, but all offer some improvement over tools being used today. So I thought that this year I would share these tools with our readers across the country, not just those who came to the Forum.
Bosch sent over
a strange little power saw called the Fine Cut. This actually looks like a
hand saw blade, with a power handle. Several fine-tooth blades are available,
including an off-set blade allowing flush cutting of door trim to flooring.
Stretched to the limit, it can cut through a 2x6 stud. You can also get a
fence accessory that turns it into a fine cutting power mitre saw for detailed
Bosch #1640VSK List price: $170
DeWalt chose its new cordless finishing nailer in response to the constant desire to get away from pneumatic hoses. It is heavier than the gas-fired cordless finishing nailers, but then you don't need to keep buying gas. It comes in both 14.4-volt and 18-volt models, for both straight and angled nails, and can operate in single or continuous firing modes. Probably the biggest problem at the moment is that the 20-degree nails are only available at industrial outlets. This machine is the object of Tool Talk contractor testing right now, so we will know more about what you guys think in the next issue. DeWalt #CD618KN List Price: $599
Fein has put forward
its incredible multi-purpose Multi-Master again, but this time with a real
renovation blade. This is a bi-metal blade, like those you use on the cut
saws. This means that you can make fine cuts and hit nails without problems.
It also becomes a tool of choice for cutting neat holes in aluminum or vinyl
siding. If you are having trouble finding this tool or its accessories, you
can get them through my Web site: JonEakes.com.
The bi-metal blades are three for $92.
|The quality of the cut is amazingly smooth despite removing the weight and stability of a standard saw blade.|
Freud, the saw
blade guys, brought out their new renovation blade. It is a thinner and redesigned
blade that cuts through wood using one-third of the power of their standard
blades. This is great for two uses: battery operated saws that will get three
times more cutting done per charge, and under-powered mitre boxes that will
undergo three times less stress in getting the same job done… lasting three
times longer. We could simply feel the difference in cutting through a piece
of maple with this new blade than with a regular blade. The quality of the
cut is amazingly smooth despite removing the weight and stability of a standard
Triple power blade - List Price: $60
Hitachi wanted to show off its new digital readout mitre saw with laser. Okay, the saw is a saw, but this one has really perfected the electronics that help you to use the saw more precisely. They have a built-in laser line for the cut with the one element I demand in a laser: complete adjustability. You can set this line to the right, centre or left of the kerf cut, as you like… and it stays there.
Then they put in an up-front
readout for both mitre and bevel angles. No more hunting or guessing. It has
all the regular lock stops of other saws but now, when you want to get slightly
off a stop, or slightly off the last odd cut - you know exactly where you
Hitachi #C12LCH List Price: $550
a beautiful, very lightweight 14.4-volt cordless impact wrench capable of
rapidly driving 1/2-inch lag bolts. The chuck takes a standard 1/4 hex shaft,
so not only can it use nut sockets, but it can also use any screwdriver or
drill with a 1/4-inch hex shaft. Having renovation in mind, they put in a
powerful LED light that lights up what you are driving in.
Makita #6935FDWAE List Price: $349
Impact wrenches seem
to be the new glamour child, perhaps because renovators are discovering that
they are not only for auto mechanics. Ridgid chose to send me quite
a different cordless impact wrench, a 12-volt right angle drive. This very
small tool packs just as much power as other impact wrenches, although it
gets there by slowing down the speed. Slower, yes, but it will get into places
where nothing but a ratchet wrench would go. It also has the 1/4-inch hex
socket, so can be used for driving Robertson screws as well.
Ridgid #R82233 List Price: $269
Bostitch is the
only company this year that stuck with traditional pneumatic drives, but they
showed us a tool that solves one of our greatest problems: house wrap blowing
off the house. They have a stapler that feeds plastic disks under each staple,
giving a tight hold- down of building paper that will not let the staple rip
through under high winds. Although slower than a hammer stapler, this gun
is as easy to use as any pneumatic stapler. You don't have to put the house
wrap on twice.
Bostitch Button Cap Stapler List Price $325
Some of these products are fresh out on the market, or not quite out yet. If you are interested but can't find them, ask your local dealer that handles the specific brand to get you more information. Just a request like that will help convince the dealer to stock the tools.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.