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Jon Eakes 2016Tool Talk logoBy Jon Eakes

Show Stoppers

This month’s line-up is ready for centre stage

Finger-saving Technology
In 2012, I reviewed the SawStop, the table saw that will not cut your fingers. This was probably the greatest advance in table saw safety ever made. When the blade contacts skin, an explosive charge jams an aluminum block into the blade, stopping it before the scratch becomes a cut. That was impressive, but expensive, especially since the blade block and the blade itself are scrapped every time it is triggered.
With an idea that good, it was inevitable that competition would eventually show up. After delays due to a patent infringement lawsuit from SawStop, Bosch is finally hitting the market with its new REAXX table saw. As you would expect, it is a full-featured portable saw. It has a slightly different finger saving technology that Bosch calls Active Response Technology. If the blade touches skin, one of two explosive charges will go off, just like the SawStop, except, rather than destroying the blade, it blasts the blade down under the table so fast that here too, the scratch does not become a cut. One of the big advantages is that it does not harm the blade, and since it is loaded with two charges, you can simply pivot the blade and its arbour back up and in less than a minute you can go back to work— if you have quit shaking about the thought that you almost lost a finger.

Yes, you can bypass the safety function when cutting something like wet wood. It has a full coloured light system to tell you if it is in functioning mode, in bypass, needs attention or needs repair.
The Bosch REAXX has about the same price tag as the SawStop, but fewer operating costs. Woodworkers are giving both saws high marks as table saws.

Dewalt Cuts Another Power Cord
DeWalt has released its first cordless portable band saw. The DCS374 runs on DeWalt’s standard 20V MAX platform with the smooth power of a brushless motor. Despite its 5” by 4-3/4” cut capacity, with its 5Ah battery it is actually lighter than Dewalt’s own corded band saw—weight and balance being a critical element in a free-hand band saw.

What’s In That Box?
The Festool CT system is basically a series of stackable interlocking boxes that allow taking tools and even work surfaces on and off of construction sites easily. The new 584174 Dust Extractor is built into two CT system boxes, one for the vacuum and one for all the accessories. Everything, including the hose, stores in the boxes so you are never forgetting some head or other attachment. It can be stacked onto CT wheels or carried with a shoulder strap.
It has manual or tool actuated operation with a low noise level of 67 dBA, maximum suction capacity of 106 CFM (3,000 l/min) and a maximum vacuum of 80” static water lift (20,000 Pa). It can be fitted with an optional HEPA filter. It is designed specifically to fit most power tool vacuum attachments. If you are doing custom work in existing houses, this is probably the most convenient while powerful vacuum you need to impress your client with your lack of dust.

Sometimes Cheaters Prosper
One of the first lessons I learned on a construction site was how to place a large steel pipe over the handle of my monkey wrench to make up for being a little guy.

Apparently I wasn’t the only one who wanted extensions on pipe wrenches. Milwaukee spends a lot of time watching what their customers do with their tools, so they have recently come out with the “Cheater.” This pipe wrench comes with two insertable extension handles, which allow it to operate in three lengths: (1) 10” length for access in tight spaces, (2) 18” length for general purpose use, and (3) 24” length for additional reach and maximum leverage. The reduced weight of the Cheater in 24” mode, when compared to like-sized competitive aluminum and steel traditional pipe wrenches, puts less strain on the user and maximizes productivity.
They gave it an “Overbite Jaw” with additional teeth, which tends to keep the material centered in the jaws even in challenging pipe and fitting configurations. The Milwaukee Cheater features the slim jaw profile of a traditional 14” pipe wrench, and the jaw capacity of a traditional 18” wrench. That’s one less oversized cheater pipe to drag around in my toolbox.

A Water Hose that Works at -26C
If you haven’t noticed that professional water hoses have flexible support extensions to protect the traditional weak spot where the connection joins the hose, the Stanley FATMAX makes that obvious. But this 50’ x 5/8” hose has some other properties that make it worth taking a look at.

First, it is incredibly lightweight for its strength with what Stanley calls PolyFusion technology, combining polyurethane and PVC. Somehow with all of that, they did one more thing. They made it incredibly flexible, even elastic. They call that their “AntiKink” technology, and it works right down to -15F (-26C). Of course, let the water sit in the hose for very long at that temperature and although it won’t burst the hose, you won’t be able to roll up the ice.

A Lawsuit that Won’t Disrupt Your Work Schedule
Uponor plumbing systems feature PEX-a tubing, which is considered the superior PEX tubing manufacturing method in the industry. PEX-a is the most flexible of all PEX types, and because of its shape and thermal memory, it can use ProPEX expansion fittings which are the only fitting system that actually gets stronger over time, making it highly leak resistant. Good designs like that and you’re bound to get copycats.
Recently Uponor won a patent infringement case against Heatlink Group and PexCor with a clearcut court ruling that these two companies had to halt manufacture and sale of PEX piping in both the US and Canada.
That can create a lot of concern if one of these two companies is your supplier of PEX. But very shortly after total victory in court, Uponor announced that it has reached an intellectual property licensing agreement with HeatLink Group Inc. and PexCor Manufacturing Inc. That means that Uponor gets more money but you can do business as usual with confidence in all three of these companies. No delays on that upcoming job.


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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