Tools Keep Evolving
Whether you're removing deck boards or measuring a floor plan with your smartphone, these manufacturers have designed products to make your workday easier.
The Marriage Between a Camera and a Distance Measuring Tool
Stanley has a laser distance-measuring tool that works like most good electronic mea-suring tools work these days, the TLM99s. But Model STHT77343 has something extra: Bluetooth connectivity. So what does it connect to? To your smartphone or tablet with an application that almost outshines the tool itself.
The Stanley Floor Plan app is a free app that rather amazingly allows you to use your camera in your phone or tablet (both Android and iOS) to shoot the four corners of the room, and it creates a floor plan with surprisingly good dimensions, after a bit of calibration. Yes, it learns as you use it. Add room after room, even multiple storeys and you have a whole existing house on a floor plan in minutes. As you go, or after you complete the rough plan, you can Bluetooth connect with your Stanley distance-measuring tool, touch a measurement on the screen and ask it to correct to the absolutely accurate one from your TLM99s. Now you have a floor plan accurate to 3mm.
There is a catch. It is free to share your plan with anyone who has the same free app, but if you want to print it out or create a usable image from it, that costs $2.99 per floor plan, or $9.99 a month for an unlimited number of plans. But $3 for transferring all those measurements to a working floor plan is not expensive. Available this Spring for approximately $150. www.stanleytools.com
A New Point of Leverage
Finally a demolition bar made for gently but persuasively removing deck boards so you can re-use them, despite the fact that they were nailed down. The brilliant Bull Bar from Crescent has two "horns" that are set apart enough to side straddle a double joist. You slide them deep under the deck board on both sides of the joist, and then use the joist itself as the leverage point. Up comes the board, even if it leaves nails behind. You don't have to get in-between the board and the joist-you straddle the joist. Then they added a little but very tough cupped nail puller in the middle, which can pull out any nail or pop off the head easily for one that is already rusted.
Last year Crescent invented the swivel head for their crowbars and they have included that on this marvelous deconstruction bar. That means you can get way back in-line with the 44-inch-long bar, or rotate the head to any convenient position, even when working up against a wall. It works great on pallets as well.
Crescent tools used to be exclusive to Sears, but you can now find them at Home Depot, Fastenal and Amazon as well. Look up "Crescent Bull Bar" on YouTube to see it in action.
Designing a Metal Shear as an Extension to Your Arm
Milwaukee's new line of 14- and 18-gauge, single- and double-cut M18 cordless metal shears not only cut metal efficiently, they work with your arm. On all models, the heads will swivel 360° in a tool-free rotation letting you work into and out of tight places. For straight-on work, the handles place your arm directly behind the line of force, protecting your wrist, and the handle extensions protect your fingers from the metal tailings.
Light weight, high power and exceptional ergonomics will change your workday. www.milwaukeetool.ca.
Controlling Large Hole Saws
Years ago, when we started working with 6" rigid ducting for HRV installations, I managed to talk Starrett into importing their European metric saw just over 6" in diameter because our whole industry in North America stopped at 6" and a 6" duct will not go through a 6" hole. surprise: a new marketing opportunity! Since then, large hole saws have become common. But when standard hole saws get over 6" in diameter, they become almost uncontrollable, because when all those little teeth dig in all at the same time and with the narrow kerf, the cup binds in the work. If your drill is powerful enough to not stop, you go spinning.
That is why I was excited last year to discover the Lenox One Tooth large hole saws: one big carbide tooth that cuts a wide kerf for the saw cup itself and is very controllable, although unbalanced and very rough cutting. It also allows cutting large or deeper holes with smaller drills.
Now, IDEAL Industries has brought out a whole new range of Tri-Bore Multi-Purpose Hole Saws with three large carbide teeth. Like a three-legged tripod, it sits flat as it spins, making a clean cut while cutting a wide kerf, preventing twisting the drill out of your hand from the cup binding deep in the cut. In addition, their teeth are set at a negative rake angle, preventing chatter and binding in lighter or thinner material. This is a nice balance between torque and cut. It has taken a long time to evolve from making the standard hole saw simply larger to making the teeth match the working realities of larger diameters. Thank you, IDEAL!
IDEAL's range of Tri-Bore sizes are impressive: from 1-3/8 to 6-7/8 to cover most plumbing, ventilation ducting and recesses lighting fixtures.
Find a local dealer at www.idealin dustries.ca.
Redesigning Handles to Fit Your Hand
It is interesting to see a manufacturer compete with its own tools. IDEAL Industries sells an ordinary set of wire strippers that has always required your hand to form to the tool. Now they have brought out their REFLEX line of wire strippers where the tool handles are shaped to fit your hand. It is simple, but oh so much nicer to work with. www.idealindustries.ca.
Tools That Tell You When They Are Wearing Out
Electricians use tools that are heavily insulated to prevent creating a short circuit inside a box or possibly passing an electrical current onto the workman's hands, protecting from live wire contact up to 10000V. But, as with all things, from safety boots to hand tools, even these tools get old and worn. When is that electrical insulation no longer protecting you?
You may have seen screwdrivers with two layers of insulation all the way up the shank to the working tip-the first layer yellow, the second one red. This is actually a safety wear indicator. When the yellow shows through, you still have electrical protection but it is time to change out the tool.
Gray Tools, the only industrial hand tool manufacturer in Canada and located in Brampton, Ont., has brought out the most complete line of electrically double insulated tools available; including screw drivers, hex keys, pliers, socket wrenches, even the socket drives themselves and an insulated hack saw. Gray's line of insulated tools is comprehensive, but since each tool is individually coated, almost any tool in their extensive line of tools can be insulated if you need it-right here in Canada. www.GrayTools.com.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert
Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.