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Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

Compromise Not Required
Five products that really deliver

Whether you work indoors or out, you’ve probably had to compromise on some aspect of how you do your job, whether that means working with a skinny combination square or getting chilled to the bone as the wind howls through your winter jacket. While the five products showcased here won’t solve all your problems (you’ll probably still have to stand outside on a jobsite in mid December), they will provide you with some no-compromise solutions.

Super-size Me
How many times have you had a problem marking out a square cut-line on an uneven edge; like a curved counter edge, pipe or some molding? It is a simple tool modification but it took 100 years for someone to figure it out— the Fat Combination Square. That’s my name for it; LaGesse Products, a US company with some French heritage, call it “LaSquare.”
A full 1” shoulder on each side of the ruler is incredibly useful for stabilizing the square on any surface. That’s the obvious advantage. The most unique feature of LaSquare is that the blade sockets perfectly flush with the larger than usual body, giving you a whole new dimension to your mark-off plane. This means that you can mark two points on adjacent surfaces at the same time! Think about that a bit and you will never go back to skinny combination squares with their blades riding high on the top.
Available with 12”, 18” or 24” steel blades, while the base is 5” long and 2” wide. For the moment, available only on the web at www.LaGesseProducts.com.

Steel Studs to “True Zero Accuracy”
When you hook a tape and pull it tight, it lies relatively flat to give you an accurate measurement. When you butt to a surface or simply use the stand-out, it tends to bend and be less accurate.
Stanley has put a powerful rare earth magnet on the end of their FatMax magnetic 25’ tape along with an oversized hook able to catch the rounded corners of steel studs. Whether you are hooking on or butting up your tape to a steel stud, you can now pull it firmly and straight. With a stiff 1-1/4” wide blade, it has an 11’ standout, which is impressive: you stretch the tape out 10’ and then catch your target with either the hook or the magnet.

New Muscle at 90 Degrees
The new Bosch ADS181 18-volt cordless Lithium-ion HC Right Angle Drill has a 1/2” ratcheting auto-lock chuck—presently the largest chuck on the market for a 90-degree tool. It matches that increased chuck size with up to 160 inch-pounds of torque—40 per cent more than previous right angle drills.
You no longer need to compromise power in those tight spaces. A right angle drill combined with self feeding bores (which require a lot of power) gives you leverage you can’t get with regular drills, seriously reducing fatigue when drilling a lot of demanding holes.

Does Body Warming Count as a Tool? In Canada, YES!
It took a tool company to do it right. The Milwaukee M12 Cordless Heated Jacket uses your Milwaukee 12 volt lithium-ion tool batteries to provide energy to the fleece-lined multi-layered polyester working environment. The core zone of the chest and upper back have three heat settings, and the pockets have three separate heat levels all controlled by an accessible patch on the chest of the jacket. The battery holder keeps the battery secure inside the jacket. It even has a USB port with Velcro cable channels to the lower left pocket and the chest pocket, to charge your securely zippered communications devices. You get up to six hours of continuous heat per battery charge.
Available in red or black or in CAN/CSA Z96-09 Class III Certified fully reflective design, handy when reflective wear is required on a work site. Also available in full camouflage if you don’t want your clients to spot you! Available at Home Depot or any Milwaukee Dealer in Canada.

Controlling Your Lit Environment
The compact power of LED lighting allows for a single head band to provide a continuously variable light environment from 3 to196 lumens. The single LED lamp is powered by three AAA batteries that are continuously dimmable with a lever on the battery pack. On the forehead mount you can focus from spot to flood and even tilt the lamp down while wearing gloves. Unlike most spotlights, it purposefully provides some flood at the same time for more side vision.
Coastal’s HL7 Focusing Headlamp can fit on your head or on your helmet and light up to 350 feet away. It can run on full power for over five hours. Actually they have six interesting models for both sports and construction. www.CoastPortland.com

Blade of the Month
The last couple of months I haven’t received any really interesting or really new blade announcements, but as I was searching for a cutting edge to talk about I realized that in just the last few weeks I have run into three different young tradesmen who were fighting with cutting extrusions with a miter saw. They were throwing pieces left, right and centre and spending a lot of time filing off burrs. They had never heard of negative angled teeth and certainly not heard that this was the “proper” blade to use for plastic and non-ferrous shaped pieces cut in a miter saw.
The angle between the face of a saw blade tooth’s front edge and a line drawn to the centre of the blade is called the hook angle. Hook angles range from a very aggressive fast cutting +25 degrees all the way to a very slow scraping -7 degrees. A positive hook angle in aluminum, brass and plastic extrusions or moldings tends to vibrate the material and then grab too big a bite—literally exploding a PVC pipe if you are not careful. A negative hook angle, usually -5 degrees, together with a triple chip grind on the teeth literally scrapes through the material with no grab at all—and surprisingly, no burr either. You can’t just turn a blade backwards, as us old-timers used to do, before carbide tips existed, since that will knock off the carbide teeth.
I have a whole video on the subject on my website’s Learning Curve section: http://joneakes.com/learning-curve/136-cutting-pipes-and-profiles.
Freud has these negative hook angle blades listed on their website, www.Freud.ca, in their Industrial blade non-Ferrous section.

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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