By Jon Eakes
I receive a lot of tools
to test out; sometimes they are just minor competitive changes to standard
tools and sometimes they really break ground.
Makita recently hit a home run with some relatively simple additions to an old stand-by: the Impact Wrench. They call it their Gear Shift Impact Wrench. It takes standard 1/4-inch hex shafts for what we have come to love in a lightweight impact wrench, which allows us to drive lag bolts with ease. But take a closer look at the gear shift mechanism. On the left are two speed drill settings, then the impact wrench setting, then a hammer drill setting, then a screwdriver setting with the upper collar kicking in to give 16 screw torque settings. If the screw is too big and tough for the screw driving section, slide over and use the impact.
Finally, you are not limited to using drills that have a 1/4-inch hex shaft. They sell a standard three-jaw chuck designed for abuse that is mounted on that 1-4-inch hex shaft, instantly extending the range of bits you can put to work with this machine. This is the ultimate fastener machine, not to mention the glow-in-the-dark nose and a built-in light to find the screw, bolt, nut or whatever.
The Porter Cable 371K belt sander has nothing special on it, except that it is very small and very powerful. It weights in at 8.5 pounds, packs five amps of power and is under 11 inches long. It even fits into your tool box. When you want a job site sander for touch-ups and fit adjustments, this little guy will sand right up to the side of a wall. You can still attach your shop vac to it.
I tested it out by taking some rough-sawn hardwood down to smooth as fast as with my full-sized machine. As you might expect, you do have to buy special 2-1/2 x 14-inch belts.
flashings and the new CSA standard
The new standard for windows now requires end dams on window and door header flashings and you guys have been asking me how to make those end dams without bringing in a sheet metal guy. In my book, that takes a jig, so I went to the shop to make it work. The jig turned out to be very simple, producing on site and in about 30 seconds perfect end dams that require no caulking.
But all of that is too complicated to explain here, so I invite you to go to my Web site (www.JonEakes.com), click on the Database icon on the left, choose your country and then, under the keyword search, select Flashings and click on Search. Click on the entry on the top of the list: Header Flashings End Dams for Windows and Doors and there you will get the whole thing, including a detailed video on how to make and use the jig, as well as one that shows the trick for slitting vinyl siding neatly to receive that end dam.
Roofing Clips a Hit
As you know, I often send tools or products out to contractors for testing, and if you are interested in getting on my team list, drop me a line. It took the guys a while to get back to me on this interesting gadget: the Grip-H-Clips. These are very slick nylon roofing clips. The smaller ones will work on from 7/16 to 1/4-inch sheathing and the larger model will grab 19/32 to 5/8-inch sheathing. The manufacturer claims that they won't smash, won't fall off, won't cut you, won't snap in the cold and are actually stronger than metal clips. They claim to save you hours of labor on every roofing job.
Here's what two of the guys thought:
I have tried the nylon roofing clips on several smaller applications. They were very easy to use, and didn't fall off like standard metal clips do when you pound on the roof. They weren't too bulky under the shingles and they pulled the plywood together well when the plywood had a bit of a warp to it. All in all, I was impressed with the clips and think they would make installation of a big roof easier and quicker than the metal clips. In comparison to regular metal clips, they are much easier to use - no swearing involved! - Barry
Tom, our framer, said they were excellent to use and he very much prefers them over the metal ones. They didn't squish like the metal ones. They also fit in much nicer and opened up. They were easier to use, which made the job faster and more efficient. As one of the project managers, I noticed that the H-clips you sent were much better for the guys. I would say that they probably saved a couple of hours on the three cottages they were used on. - Stan
The rest of the testers basically said the same things... and they want to buy more. This one is a winner. Grip-H-Clip is currently tying up distribution with Weyerhaeuser, so that should get them across Canada this spring. You can always connect with them at www.GripHClip.com.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.