TOOL TALK ON Steroids
Jon Eakes delivers an expanded Tool Talk, in recognition of Home BUILDER's 14th Annual New Products Showcase
PORTABLE & LIGHTWEIGHT
Years ago I complained that cordless miter saws were a bad idea as they just couldn't do the work demanded for very long. With new battery technologies they have become a viable site tool. DeWalt has entered the market with a new very portable, lightweight model (31.6 lbs. with its 20V MAX battery) designed for basic renovation work. The 7-1/4" Sliding Miter Saw (DCS361) features a single left bevel that ranges from -3í to 48í left. With a 3-1/2" maximum vertical, 3-5/8" crown nested, and 2x8" horizontal cut capacity, the DCS361 will handle most of the common cuts needed in renovation. They added a cut-line light for more accurate trim work. www.dewalt.com.
CUTS LIKE BUTTER
A brushless motor, a power controller and extended battery power have also brought the small 5-3/8" circular saws strongly onto the construction site as shown with Milwaukee's M12 FUEL 2530-21XC. I didn't believe this one until I cut a stack of three half-inch OSB panels like butter the full four feet, again and again. This small diameter 12-volt tool was working as well as a larger diameter 18-volt saw. It has a 1-5/8" cut capacity at 90í, allowing it to be used for dimensional lumber as well. Its extreme lightweight at 5.35 lbs. allows it to be hung from a belt while climbing around in a structure.
Note that the shoe is on the right hand side of the blade, what we used to call a left- handed saw. Originally designed by Milwaukee for electricians that are often trimming plywood mounting panels down to size, this allowed a right-handed user to walk along the panel rather than stretching out, as you see in this photo. (I am sure that the photographer told the person in this picture to shift hands so he could see the saw, rather than showing off how a right-handed worker can trim panels more easily with a left-handed saw. (Once again the cameraman takes a great shot that misses the point.) www.milwaukeetool.ca.
Even Paslode's Impulse line of gas-fired tools is looking at improving performance with better batteries. Their new 18GA Brad Nailer is listed as Impulse Lithium Ion, indicating how they can achieve longer uninterrupted performance by going to Lithium Ion batteries-50% more performance and an 8% lighter tool. A new battery standby position also extends that battery power once at work. An 80% charge in 30 minutes certainly helps to keep this tool going. And it is exclusive to Canada. www.paslode.ca.
CORRECTION FOR MARCH ISSUE . . .
I am so used to associating Paslode with their gas-driven Impulse nailers that I tend to forget they have a whole line of pneumatic tools at the core of their business. So in March when I introduced their new CS150 Cap Stapler (not yet available in Canada) I wrongly listed it as a hose-less tool when in fact it is in their pneumatic line-up. The next time I get excited about the features of a new tool I need to do all my homework.
Milwaukee is reducing space requirements as well, enabling their M18 2776-21CT Right Angle Impact driver to drive steel stud fasteners from inside the confines of a steel 2x4. Thank you, Milwaukee. This compact two-speed tool uses a 1/4" Hex drive and provides 350 in.-lbs. torque in Mode 1 and 675 in.-lbs. in Mode 2.
In an almost identical similar slim design, Milwaukee's 2668-21CT is a 3/8" square drive right-angle two-speed impact wrench giving very tight access with impact sockets, bringing impact power to machinery previously too encumbered to reach.
Malco has brought out a new line of Quick Action Carbide Tipped Hole Saws. The heart of this innovation is a hub that slides both further out and closer in on the pilot shank and drill. Push a release button on the hub to change hole saws by sliding the hub right off of the pilot drill and sliding a new saw with hub back on. The same hub can be run back on the drill shaft towards the drill to act as a plug release. Large carbide teeth give a large enough kerf for easy plug removal.
Malco's CT hole saws are designed to cut through such hard materials as fibre cement siding. The extra-long pilot drill stands a full 1" proud for a controlled start, even over uneven siding. With a generous 2-1/4" cup depth, the CT hole saws are available from 1-3/8" to 6-5/16" in diameter. www.MalcoProducts.com.
GETTING WHERE OTHERS DON'T GO
Crescent Tools is changing the game in pipe wrenches. Their CPW12 Self Adjusting narrow pipe wrench gets where others don't go and bites better as well. Rather than making the head of a pipe wrench out of forged steel, they have seven layers of laminated steel that allows for great strength at only 1/2" thick. The teeth are stronger and more aggressive. Then the real innovation is to get away from the traditional screw drive to adjust the jaw opening. Simply pull the spring-loaded jaw back to full open. Move in on the pipe and flick the jaw forward- it simply grabs at the right size. This 12" long wrench will grab pipe from 5/8" to 1-1/2" in diameter.
When I put a conventional pipe wrench and the Crescent on the same steel pipe, the Crescent won the twisting contest until I got the traditional teeth properly set; then it was a stand-off. The CPW12 was instantly tight and ready to go every time we reset the wrenches. www.crescenttool.com.
The X6 Pass-Thru Adjustable Wrench Set (CPTAW8) from Crescent was just as impressive as the Pipe wrench. This time they took what looks like a traditional adjustable hex wrench, which we interestingly tend to call generically a "Crescent Wrench." On the working end you see their traditional square or hex adjustable wrench jaw. If you thread the jaw completely open, the adjustable face is reversible and you now have an adjustable light duty pipe wrench. On the other end of the tool where there is normally just a hanging hole, you now have a pass-thru ratchet. It comes with 10 sockets, which allows the screw to pass through while ratcheting down the nut. I don't usually like combination tools very much, but this one is solid and useful.
Here is one sleeper of a hand tool that I have been wanting to show you for a long time and I just found out it is now easily available on Amazon.ca. The Milwaukee 48-22-4005 Offset Compound Tinner snip makes child's work of cutting tough material like stucco screening. You need big hands to use this, as the handle opens up quite wide while the jaws move much less. It is that compound cam action between the handles and the jaws that transmits great power to the blades. $32 on Amazon.
SELF-ADJUSTING HOSE CLAMPS
I don't often talk about simple hardware, but Ideal Clamp Products Inc. just impressed me. They call it their self-adjusting SMARTSEAL stainless steel hose clamps. Basically it is a regular hose clamp, but on the inside there is a strip of stainless steel forming an adjustable ring. This transfers all the pressure of the clamp down to the profile, which is smooth and continuous even under the screw drive mechanism.
With its integrated two-piece design, the clamp assembly and the SmartLiner with channel design, SMARTSEAL provides spring compensation over 360 degrees. That's right, a self-adjusting clamp that provides a 360-degree seal! The improved clamp roundness eliminates leak paths.
On one model the inner liner is smooth, great for softer hose. On the Wave Seal version, a "W"-shaped trough design on the inner ring creates higher pressure loading compared to conventional worm gear clamps. SMARTSEAL is not your conventional clamp as it "grips" by penetrating deeper into the hose wall over a narrower cross-section (footprint). Comes in all standard clamp sizes. www.IdealTridon.com
They call these tool bags, but I call them jobsite briefcases. VetoProPac.com is a small independent and innovative tool bag company from the US Northeast. They have just stepped away from their primary line of tool bags to launch the LT or Lap Top series. Many people who come onto a work site need their office, and maybe a couple of measurement tools, more than they need power and hand tool storage. Hence the Veto Pro Pac LT series is basically a business bag with site essentials-lots of file folder space and some hand tool and measuring device space. Most importantly it has a protected centre section for that laptop or tablet. The rest is built rugged, including a sturdy waterproof base for dropping it down in a dirty space, something you would never do with your briefcase.
The Veto Pro Pac XLT recognizes that some trades don't need a lot of paper space, but do need electronic and measurement tools as well as the laptop or tablet, especially when dealing with wiring controls and calibration tasks. Hence the XLT shifts out document space for small tool space while keeping that computer or tablet highly protected in the middle. Both bags have a sturdy handle and a shoulder strap. www.VetoProPac.com.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert
Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.