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Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

A Cut Above

From chain saws to caulking guns, this month, we take a look at five new products that have been developed with the professional builder or renovator in mind.


Chain Saws
Small chain saws are generally used for cutting trees, brush and firewood, but there are times when they can be useful on a construction site, even now that we have cordless circular saws taking away some of their tasks. I got interested in this when Oregon sent me a 40v Lithium-Ion powered 14” chain saw to test: the CS250 PowerNow saw. So I decided to try it out side by side with a similar sized quality gas chain saw from Husqvarna: the 455 Rancher.

They are both good light machines designed for light cutting and trimming—neither one would be considered a logger’s primary tool.
Power: The Husqvarna is a smooth running powerful little motor, even capable of driving chain blades far longer than 14”. I was indeed impressed with the very similar cutting power of the electrical Oregon saw, which has its battery well matched to its 14” blade. On the construction site the Oregon would be a gas-free step up from a reciprocating saw for much faster cutting of beams and the like, but no nails or binding allowed.
Battery vs. Gas Can: Obviously, if you are cutting all day long, a gas can is a better option than recharging batteries. But, for just a couple of hours of cutting, the powerful 40v Lithium Ion battery, with a fuel gauge, can cut a lot of limbs or lumber. If you are only cutting occasionally, batteries are far easier to store and handle than mixing gas and oil.
Noise: The Oregon makes more noise than I expected at 90db, but that is still less than the Husqvarna’s relatively quiet 2-cycle engine that runs not too far louder than 103db. When you stop the electric saw, the noise stops and there are no idling fumes. When you start, it is as Oregon likes to advertise: “Always Ready.” It is only fair to note that the Husqvarna has a great choke system and fuel pump that makes starting with a cord pull easy.
Auto Sharp: At first glance, the special “top sharpening” chain from Oregon looks like a DIY gadget that simplifies sharpening, but it forces you to buy their special chain. However, after using the saw for a while, I remembered the days of sharpening a chain tooth by tooth. With the Oregon, you pull a lever near the handle for a few seconds, while the chain is spinning, and a sharpening stone is put up against the chain. Bingo, sharp again without stopping work! That’s a pretty nifty trick for a guy that’s not a logger.
Cost: About $300 for the gas model and $450 for the electric version.

An Indexing Flat Pry Bar

Made to be whacked by a heavy hammer, the head on this 18” pry bar rotates and fixes to any of 14 positions, making it almost 14 different tools. Push it, pull it, whack it, this flat pry bar/nail puller will get where nothing has ever gone before. From the Crescent Code Red line of demolition tools, it is really built solid.

Tajima Convoy Super Caulking Gun

Why is this Tajima caulking gun worth every one of the $24 it cost me? 
Sturdy build: Neither the cast aluminum handle nor the heavy steel barrel will break.
Smooth drive: Double ratchet levers prevent slip and allow small increment hand closing, while the spring-loaded release backs off the pressure with every hand movement to control the flow.
Rolling barrel: The barrel rotates, even while working, to put your nozzle at exactly the angle you want.
Long spike: The 4” cartridge spike actually reaches the seal of PL Premium cartridges.
Hooks: Both a ladder and a rope hook to hang it during work.
Pleasure: It is a pleasure to use a tool that works for you rather than you working for it.

M12 Cordless 1/2” SDS Plus Rotary Hammer 2412

You may wonder about this Milwaukee 1/2” SDS rotary hammer being only 9 inches long, weighing only 3.9 pounds and running on only 12 volt batteries, but believe me, our tools are changing. My only problem with powerful tools getting this small is that you actually have to push harder because there is no longer a lot of weight stopping the rebound of the hammer action. On the other hand, you can actually work overhead without exhaustion.


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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