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Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

Saw and Order

This month’s issue is focused on  my favourite topic: renovation! Narrowing the product selection down to just four was the tough part of the job.

Tool Security and Organization
Protecting your own tools on a construction site is always a problem. Stanley has thought out the problem rather thoroughly with the FatMax® Xtreme™ Portable Truck Box, which features a 42-gallon capacity, water-resistant box with good internal organization, large wheels and extendable handle — and then it gets better. A docking rack bolts down to the bed of your truck: The box just slides in and a key locks it into place, so not only doesn’t it bounce around, but only you can get it out of the truck. The lid locks with a keypad combination lock making it easy for you to open and close securely, and it has a siren if someone else attempts to open it. I checked it out while putting on demonstrations for the NB Home Builders — it is built sturdy for construction sites. The price is  $299 at most renovation centres. www.StanleyTools.com

Saw Horses with Attitude
Although it looks and acts much like half a pair of saw horses with the added advantage that it folds up compact for transportation, it performs more like a super Workmate. The Rigid® Super Clamp Portable Work Station has a foot-activated vise on the top. With its reversible head, it clamps from 0 to 37-1/2 inches wide with a one-ton clamping force.
Since that foot lever works on a ratchet, it can act as much as a press as a vise. While a foot-activated vise is generally reserved for factory situations, you will come to appreciate having both hands free when this is brought onto the construction site.
Now this tool won’t give you the table-sized work surface that many portable work surfaces give, but by either buying two or, less expensively, building an exact height work horse companion, it can actually hold larger material more securely than other devices. It can support 220 pounds and weighs 37 pounds. Price: $199 at Home Depot. www.Rigid.com

Two Heads Are Better than One
Lenox® finally figured out that a good portion of each of their diamond blades never wore out, but got thrown away because the part near the shoe of the saw was dead. So they have come up with a non-conformist solution: the Diamond Double Tang Reciprocating Saw Blade. You actually get more cuts for fewer dollars in cast iron, ceramic tile, clay pipe, stone, brick, marble, plaster and cement siding board. You will have to go to professional plumbing, electrical or tools distributors to find these.

Bi-Metal Oscillating Saw Blades
If you are using an oscillating tool in renovation you must not miss out on the relatively new bi-metal blade. It doesn’t cut as quickly as the large Japanese teeth blades, but it can stand up to hitting a nail. Note that tempered screws or square spikes will even kill this blade — but sometimes that is the price to pay to accomplish an otherwise impossible cut.
The Fein patents on the oscillating concept have run out and every manufacturer is making oscillating tools now. Although the battery-powered and corded low-powered tools can do well on hobby and light duty tasks, trying to do heavy cuts, particularly with the wide fan tail blades can destroy most of these newcomers. The Fein MultiMaster® is perhaps the best known of the oscillating tools and is operating at 250 watts power. Contractors doing heavy work on a constant basis, or even just trying the most difficult job of removing old caulking with a scraper knife should be looking at the 400 watt professional big brother to the MultiMaster, the Fein SuperCut® tool. Go to www.Fein.ca and search for SuperCut.

Learning Curve
Oscillating tools require different working techniques from those of reciprocating or circular or even orbital tools and so many people have asked me for help with these tools that I have produced a long series of technique videos on the subject, which you can see on my web site in the Learning Curve tab.

Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.

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