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Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

Innovative Thinking

Just when you begin to think itís all been done before, a manufacturer will step up and make something just a little bit better than its predecessor. This monthís selection of new products is just that: examples of innovative thinking that make life on the job just a little bit easier, safer and more secure.

Security in an Open Pick-up
The Master Lock company has just brought out a full line of cables, attachments and speciality locks all designed for safe hauling of equipment together with quick and easy access in open pick-up trucks. Most of their Automotive Security Locks function around cables that attach to pick-up truck friendly anchor points or to other cables. They even have a special little lock that locks the tailgate removal mechanism down. Apparently the resale of tailgates has become a big business. See videos of these locks in action on www.MasterLock.com

The FuBar Add More Fu
For some time now Stanley has been making better and better demolition tools under their banner of the FuBar. With the FuBar Demolition bar, which I call the “Tomahawk,” they have added a new element to demolition tools. Now here is one tool that can strike, pull, pry, chisel and chop materials apart. Made to be struck with a hammer, the knife edge can be forced through wall boards faster and cleaner than any other tool while still being a general use crowbar.

Old Ideas are Making Better Drills
Milwaukee has launched a new line of M18 FUEL tools. The word FUEL is supposed to imply combining three key elements: great batteries, a fine tuned power controller and the reintroduction of brushless motors. Of course, better batteries and controllers are great, but I really jumped at seeing a brushless induction motor. Many years ago I had some Elu woodworking tools with induction motors. I never felt such smooth, even lightweight, power, and could find nothing like it in North American tools. So I jumped at the opportunity to see if this new tool from North America finally figured out something that the Germans had nailed a long time ago.
It is a beauty. As their literature says, the induction motor gives this ½” hammer drill more power with less weight: Everything fits together with a slimmed down 18-volt power pack and a power controller that matches the specific needs of a brushless motor. In my hands it feels like a 12-volt tool and works like a 24-volt tool. If my experience with induction motors is any guide, this thing will last forever. If Milwaukee is serious about moving to low maintenance powerful induction motors they may be changing our whole tool box.

Hammers Going Head to Head: Stanley vs. Stiletto
A bit of science first. The weight of a 15-ounce or 24-ounce hammer is the weight of the head only. Ideally the handle is as light as possible to help reduce fatigue. The longer the handle, the more momentum is given to the head, the more power is delivered to the nail— if you hit the nail. The longer the handle the harder it is to hit the nail— hence standard and finishing hammers that need to not miss have shorter handles. Framing hammers that drive large nails need more power.
Stiletto has held the status as the Cadillac of all framing hammers and Stanley has decided to take them head on with their MIG 15.
Length: although the Stiletto is almost an inch longer than the Stanley, the distance from the head to the finger crotch is the same on both hammers, so the effective swing is identical.
Weight: both heads are 15-ounce, although the Stanley is slightly lighter overall.
Only two items show up as significantly different:
1) Titanium has a recoil of about 3 per cent when it hits the nail, while the steel in the Stanley head will have about 27 per cent recoil. So, more of the power is delivered to the nail and less back to your arm with the Stiletto.
2) Titanium is expensive so while the Stanley MIG15 is listed for $90, it actually sells on the web for about $50. The web price for the Stiletto is about $220 for the TBII 15. So the Stanley has a lot less recoil on your wallet.
If you are working all day with a manual hammer (as when I started in this business), the Stiletto is a dream to work with. If all you need is to hit an occasional nail that you can’t get with the gun, Stanley’s MIG 15 looks like a well designed value.

Blade of the Month

Everyone is making segmented blade knives in all sizes and styles, but the blades are basically the same. DeWalt has now come up with something new: Carbide dust powered onto the cutting edge. Few people realize it, but drilling holes in drywall with twist bits will destroy the bit quickly, because that soft gypsum core is extremely abrasive. That same gypsum core takes the edge right off of our segmented knife blades. Finally we are getting some real help on the cutting edge of one of our most common tools.

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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