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© Copyright 2013 Work-4 Projects Ltd.

Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

New & Improved
This month, we take a look at a few of the latest improvements in tool technology.

Understanding Milwaukee
I just got back from a visit to the Milwaukee design centre where they had lots of exciting tools that won’t show up here in Canada for several months yet. Stay tuned!
To understand Milwaukee’s line-up of tools one has to understand that they do stick to their core customers: Electricians, Plumbers and HVAC tradespeople. They do not try to be all things to all people, so they don’t generally make woodworking tools but they do try to make innovative game changing tools for trade specific narrow tasks.
A long time ago they invented the Sawzall, as a tool for running ducts and cutting pipes, and for next year they have a panel/framing 6-1/2” circular saw for their people who cut a lot of OSB. By the way, I got my hands on this upcoming M18 Fuel cordless saw and it really does cross the line to the lightweight and full power of a corded saw.
They are still supporting their brush-type tools as they find a cost niche for that. Then they have great Li-Ion offerings at several voltages and finally with their Fuel line they combine the best of motors, controls and batteries in an objective to actually replace corded tools. All of their drills and drivers are worth looking at for any renovator or builder.
A good example of focusing on replacing, not imitating, corded tools is their 4-1/2”-5” M18 Fuel surface grinder. Until now no metal workers would even bother with a battery operated surface grinder— it simply kicks out from overload or overheating a few seconds into the job. Although in shop applications, metalworkers will probably keep their never stopping corded grinders when this tool hits the Canadian market late this year; any on-site work will be done with this cordless Fuel machine which does perform right up there with the corded grinders.

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
DeWalt has come out with a whole new line-up of Lithium-Ion tools that they have pegged at 20V—which makes it sound just a bit better than 18V. They call it the 20v MAX series. They have made the choice to not make lithium ion batteries for their 18-volt Ni-Cad line, which is probably a good engineering choice—optimizing new tool design for Lithium-Ion, which does perform differently than Ni-Cad. But in doing so they open the door for their users to jump ship and buy into one of the competitor’s family of tools built around a different battery base.
DeWalt’s 20-volt line performs very well and their new Extreme Runtime versions are probably about an equal run against Milwaukee’s 18-volt Fuel system where Milwaukee spends a lot of effort talking about bringing motors, controls and batteries together in matched systems for each tool. You guys are going to have to test these two lines against each other on your own construction sites.

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.

Wall Scanners
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.
www.JonEakes.com


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