New & Improved
This month, we take a look at a few of the latest improvements in tool technology.
I must mention another teaser from Milwaukee for anyone working with long bolts or all-thread hangers. So simple once it is patented—but this nut driver is hollow right through the handle so you could run that nut 3 feet up a threaded rod—with a magnet to keep it from falling to the floor if you let go. The bolt will never bottom out in the socket! This one just got released in the U.S. and should hit Canadian shelves very soon. www.milwaukee tool.com.
Dewalt Enters the Competition For the Best Batteries
One of the most recent and most interesting from DeWalt is their 20V MAX* XR Brushless LI-Ion Impact Driver with Extreme Runtime. This tool is impressively powerful and compact.
Here is a newly released $30 attachment from DeWalt that will find many takers. The Impact Ready Right angle adaptor (DWARA100) is just about the smallest and one of the most durable available -- with a true 90degree angle, a hex drive and a floating ring magnet. www.dewalt.com.
We used to call them stud finders, now we call them wall and floor scanners. New technology allows us to see more and more inside the walls. DeWalt calls it a Radar Scanner, Bosch UWB Radar Technology and Milwaukee calls it a Sub Scanner detector.
They all detect metal studs, electrical wires, wood studs as well as metal, water-filled plastic pipes and rebar buried in concrete. They indicate the material, the depth of the material and have a screen to give an accurate image of the object below. DeWalt is the latest to the game so they have profited from the evolution of LED screens to give you coloured images of the material below.
From the publicity sheets they all sound just about the same, despite the fact that the Bosch lists for $1,308 ($709 on Amazon), the Milwaukee lists for $650 ($305 on Amazon) and the DeWalt pre-launch lists for $546 (expected $249 in stores). In my experience, no scanner is perfect and often requires checking and double-checking, especially if testing through several layers of material, but they are all much better than we have ever had before. I will let you know when I find out if the price differences provide any real world working differences.
Tapes: A Drag Opening For Your Finger
After trying all kinds of tape breaks that usually just got dirty and jam things up, it looks like the industry is moving towards using the skin of your finger for the job. Both Lufkin and Milwaukee have brought out designs that let you do what you have always done with your finger— that perfectly controlled pressure to hold or slow down the retraction of a tape—while protecting you from yourself. They have put the opening on the bottom behind the tape stop so that you can’t get pinched as the tape hook hits home. Lufkin calls it their “Control Series,” Milwaukee will be launching at the end of the year. www.lufkintool.com.
Stopping the Oscillating Tool
Oscillating tools abound today so the accessories are getting more and more creative. The latest thing to notice is depth stops. This one from the new Porter Cable heavy-duty job-site offering (PCE605K) is one of the best depth stops I have seen yet. www.portercable.com.
Drill Bit of the Month
Irwin just announced the launch of their Multi-Material Drill Bit, but the fact is that DeWalt has their Multi-Material bits too and Bosch calls them Multi-Construction.
What is a Multi-Bit? It is a general purpose carbide tipped bit, diamond ground to a sharper point than usual, designed to work best with rotary drilling but can withstand a bit of hammer drilling. It is a little rough in wood, a little slow in tile and concrete but does allow you to cut through multi-layered materials with one single bit. Speciality bits are always better in any given material, but when you want to put an anchor through layered materials; only the multi-bits will get through with reasonable performance in one pass. www.irwin.com
Blade of the Month
Until now the only carbide we have found in oscillating tool blades is carbide grit on grinding blades. Bosch has moved the competition up a notch from the durability of bi-metal blades with their first carbide tooth oscillating tool blade, the OSC114C. They weld a strip of carbide to a solid blade base and then grind in the teeth— hence no individual teeth getting knocked off at the weld point. Bosch lists it as standing up to harsh applications like fibre board, cement board, plaster and lathe, ceramic tile, nails, bolts, screws, sheet metal, copper pipe, cast iron and hardwoods. Wow. It has a thicker bracket and the thickness of the blade is tapered for vibration control and more efficient debris removal. www.boschtools.com.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert
Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.