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Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

Layout & Alignment: Getting Simpler

In an era when more and more tools are being loaded with laser beams and built-in calculators, it is a pleasure to see some very simple but extremely useful tools showing up on the market.
The SlideSquare(tm) is a simple pocket-sized gadget that gives you a square and even a quick angle marker for rafter work but, remarkably, can also be used for lining up foundation bolts perfectly onto the sill plate. Place the sill plate on the top of the wall with the edge of the 2x4 or the 2x6 on a line marking the outside edge of its final position. Then hook the square over a bolt and use the square end of the yellow base to line the tool up square to the board. Move the sliding part of this gadget up against the bolt in either the 2x4 or the 2x6 position and it will give you a marking guide for the bolt hole in exactly the right position toward the centre of the sill plate. Each bolt will fit perfectly into its drilled hole and the sill plate will actually fall into the right position on the wall. Available through C.H. Hanson or Amazon.com for $10.
starrett 5-in-1
Known brands are always coming out with new tools but many of these are actually invented by a guy on a construction site, a guy like MARK SHAPIRO with his Starrett "5-in-1" Protractor. The fact that he got major manufacturing and distribution behind him speaks well for this tool, but what really impressed me was that it is a heavy aluminium, very solid protractor with features easier to use and more efficient than competing high-cost gadgets with calculators built in. This thing won't get damaged on a construction site. You can open the arms against a corner and then use the different scales to directly read the angle, or half the angle or the complement of the angle (180 - x). You can set roof pitches without looking at angles. You can even look up the proper compound mitre/bevel mitre saw angles for both 38º and 45º crown moulding for a wide variety of wall angles on its built in table - and you don't need an instruction book to figure out how to use it. Just under $100 from www.Starrett.com.
Drill Guide
The True Position Drill Guide(tm) got me to stop in my tracks at a trade show recently. This is a quality drill guide specifically designed for quick and accurate drilling of all cabinet related holes - from handles to shelf pins to drawer tracks. Most importantly, it is good both for the shop and for on-site work. Totally reversible for left and right sides, it reaches easily into the back of cabinets with centres, stops and everything you need to get it right the first time and repeat that across the kitchen. It has solid scales (reading in both inches and metric) and case-hardened bushings. Essentially, it brings the precision of a factory-ganged drill press into a small shop or a construction site - obviously designed by someone who has struggled with makeshift story boards and paper templates. Kits starting at $149 from www.PrecisionCasewerk.com.

In past articles I have talked about Just-For-Copper, the adhesive solution to welding copper pipes now that we have to struggle with lead-free solder. Oatey has come out with another solution that is really quite exciting for any of you who have problems with the lead-free solder and the difficulty of getting a perfect sweat joint before the flux burns off. Lead Free Tinning Flux No. 95 is more expensive than regular flux because they mixed silver solder powder right into the flux, which means if it is taking a while for you to heat the joint, the silver has already tinned the copper before the flux burned off. This is the answer for those of you who, like me, don't solder pipes all the time, or even for the professional plumber working on large diameter pipes. Go to www.Oatey.com.


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