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Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

Saving Your Skin

Tired of straining over chucks and screws? Lucky for you, this month’s suggestions all have one thing in common: they’ll save you more than a little pain and suffering. That, and they’ve all been years in the making.

Automatic Spindle Lock
You’ve read my complaints about drill chucks that rip your skin off when you try to tighten or loosen the chuck for years — and alternatively praise some European tools that have a ratcheting mechanism that keeps your hands out of harm’s way while producing a better grip on the drill bit. Now I have to take my gloves off to a new system that eliminates the need to use drill power to attach or detach bits. When the drill is not operating, the arbour shaft locks, allowing you to hand turn the keyless chuck. Most drills simply spin when you try that, forcing you to use the drill power to tighten and loosen bits. It is called Automatic Spindle Lock and you will find it on all Ridgid and Milwaukee 18-volt Li-Ion drills. As if that weren’t enough, they put in that ratchet mechanism for better leverage on the bit.

Vertical Snips
Finally the tin snip makers at Wiss have used their ingenuity to make a pair of hand snips that keep your hands away from the cutting edge of the metal, as do the expensive power nibblers. Vertical Snips, as they are called, have cutting jaws that are at 90 degrees to the handle and of course come in left-turn and right-turn configurations. They are a dream for overhead work or just for getting the whole handle mechanism out of the way in tight turns. Not to mention how they spare your fingers.

Speed Rocker
We all measure and cut lines in drywall by hooking the tip of the tape over the blade of the utility knife and drawing the tape box along the edge while cutting a line pretty accurately parallel to that edge. Now occasionally the tape pops off or we cut ourselves by having our fingers too close to the business end of the knife. Enter the Speed Rocker. Both the fixed blade and retractable blade models of this knife have a pressure fitting plastic slot just above the blade designed for you to drop the hook of your tape into. This same positioning catch serves as a thumb pressure plateau to both hold the tape in place and put pressure directly down onto the blade. 
The metal and casing of the knife are not as slick and polished as other major manufacturers, but the larger version of this knife does include a sturdy folding drywall saw with sharp sharks teeth in the handle as well as a drywall rasp built into the side of the knife — a three-in-one tool for cutting and trimming drywall. 


Let me finish with my find of the month: Twist-n-Seal. This product is nothing short of genius. This brilliant little pyramid-shaped plug with a spiral screw thread and an easy to grab handle costs about $0.60. Yet the plastic is tough, not brittle, and the threads are almost hardened meaning they will actually create matching threads in the tip of your glue or caulking tube.
The shape, meanwhile, means that the same plug will fit just about any sized opening. The type of plastic and the lubricant formed into it means that even polyurethane adhesive will not adhere to it. It screws in tightly enough to resist compound run-on even when a tube heats up in the sun. Unscrew it, pop off the excess left when you put it on and you are ready to gun again. I tested it all summer and am buying more. Canadian stores haven’t discovered it yet but you can get it on the Web.

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