June 22, 2015

Milwaukee Tools 2015 New Product Symposium

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Last week I was able to head off to Milwaukee Tools for their annual Product Symposium where they unleashed all of their latest and greatest tools and gear. There is a lot coming too. To get a sense of what I'm trying to get at, picture a giant red tidal wave with white lightning bolts shooting out of it (a toolnami, if you will). Hearing about each and every one of these new tools over the course of a single day was like being attacked by a grizzly bear made entirely of information. Honestly, towards the end, my mind was beaten down to the point where I felt like Brad Pitt from 12 Monkeys. Now here I am a few days later, trying to decipher my scribbled notes and jumbled memories.

Here's what I've got for you...

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June 8, 2015

Ridgid R4040S 8-inch Tile Saw - Review

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Here's a piece of advice: if you're a DIY tile guy...even if you only do a tile project once or twice every few years, you would be doing yourself a massive favor by tossing that little table top tile saw that you have in the garage and investing in a larger model with a sliding tray. The cost difference might sounds like a lot ($100 vs $500), but the ease-of-use and quality of the finished product between the two are miles apart. If you're just installing one bathroom floor and you're never tiling again, fine, get a table top. But if you're doing anything more than that, seriously, seriously consider getting a bigger saw. It makes all the difference in the world and it will save you loads of aggravation.

I'm speaking from experience here. During the full gut/remodel/addition of my house (aka: the Lost Years), I tiled three bathroom floors, two tub surrounds, a shower, and over 550 square feet of basement floor. For the first bathroom and a half, I had an old Masterforce that immediately died on me, so I ran out and replaced it with a Ryobi table top because it was the cheapest thing that looked half way decent. Around that time, Ridgid offered to send on their 8-inch Tile Saw ($500) for testing. Since I still had a boat-load of tiling left to do, I said, "Hells yeah, I'll give that thing a whirl." Turns out it was one of the best decisions I made during the entire renovation. The difference between a real tile saw and those little DIY ones is like night and day. After having used the 8-inch, I can never go back to a smaller one again. It's like learning to walk after crawling.

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June 6, 2015

Win $5000 Worth of Feeney Railings

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Fellow tool-writer and long-time pal Rob Robillard of A Concord Carpenter is running a contest that is going to have one lucky person walking away with 5K off of their Feeney Railing DesignRail tab.

To enter, you have to send in an image of the view from your deck (where the railing will be installed). The most interesting view will be picked as the winner. My own submittal is above. Good luck suckas.

The timing of the contest is pretty good too. Most of us are just now getting around to checking out the status on the exterior of the house and, well, lookee here, rotted newel posts...twisted balusters. Could be time for a replacement.

All of the information that you need is here.

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June 5, 2015

BernzOmatic Trigger Start Plumber Kit

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If you've never soldered copper pipe, you should give it a try. It's really easy and when you're done, you feel like you've accomplished something cool (at least I do). The most important part is having all the right ingredients on hand, and that's what BernzOmatic's new Trigger Start Plumbing Torch Kit does. It's a one-stop purchase that includes a torch (with a trigger-start), an acid brush, some flux, and a small roll of solder, basically everything you need to get going. BernzOmatic was nice enough to get one in my hands so I could check it out.

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May 6, 2015

TYTAN High Yield Subfloor Adhesive - Review

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When it comes to gluing down subfloor, I usually go with PL Premium. I've used a whole lot of the other brands out there like Lumber Lock and Liquid Nails, but I've never found anything that is as tenacious and fail safe as PL Premium. Just don't get it on your hands, oh Lord, don't get it on your hands.

But anyway, I got word that TYTAN has just come out with a High Yield Subfloor Adhesive ($18). It comes in a 29 oz can and attaches to a gun, like a spray foam set-up. According to TYTAN, one can can do the work of 12 28 oz tubes of traditional adhesive. Sounds intriguing, eh? Well, they were kind enough to send a sample so that I could try it out.

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April 27, 2015

Coast LK375 Light Knife - Review

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Coast makes some pretty cool knives (and flashlights and headlamps). I carried their RX312 (or something close to it) for a while and always liked it. I still use it from time to time, but I've switched my EDC over to a utility knife (the Milwaukee Fastback). I just finally accepted the fact that my lifestyle is brutal on a blade and I don't have the time to deal with sharpening. Disposable utility blades are just so simple to deal with.

But anyway, Coast recently developed a very interesting item that they refer to as the LK375 Light Knife ($52). It's basically a combo between a ...wait for it... wait for it... wait for it... flashlight and a knife. It's a great pairing, kind of like chocolate and peanut butter, eggs and bacon, or Ashton and Demi. Coast was nice enough to send me a sample so that I could check it out.

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April 23, 2015

Fuh-reee Festool Sander

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The two best things that could ever happen to a woodworker or serious DIYer:

1. A random visit from Norm Abram
2. Winning free Festool gear

Festool Products, our go-to spot for Festool gear can't help with the first, but they're going to hook someone up with the second. Right now, they're working some heavy sweepstakes action and giving away a free Festool DTS Finish Sander, a $255 value. The best part is that there's no purchase necessary.

I scoped out the rules and the only thing of note is:

By entering the Sweepstakes you agree to receive email newsletters periodically from The Tool Nut. You can opt-out of receiving this communication at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the newsletter.

I'm actually already on their subscription list and, as far as those things go, the newsletters coming from Tool Nut (who runs FestoolProducts) are totally not annoying. In fact they're usually loaded with some really nice deals, and not the kind where it's obvious they're just trying to offload some lame inventory that won't sell. For example, one had 50% off DeWalt circ saws, another had 15% off Jet and Powermatic tools, and yet another had 30% off Milwaukee M12 batteries. Plus, if you don't like it, you can always unsubscribe, which takes like two seconds.

So anyway, here's a link to the sweepstakes. Have at it.

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April 3, 2015

Crescent Bull Bar

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When I rank all of the prybars that I've ever used, the number one spot goes to the Crescent DB18X Indexing Flat Bar (I reviewed it for Tools of the Trade here). With the articulating head, you can use it to delicately pry off crown moulding or bust up a foundation (both of which I've spent a lot of time doing). Because of the success of the Indexing bar, my ears always prick up a little when I hear that Crescent is releasing a new demo/pry tool. And that's exactly what they've just done with the Bull Bar ($95).

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February 26, 2015

Warhorse Makita Belt Sander

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Seems like every time I sit down to write a post about some tool of mine that has persevered through a long life of hard work and abuse, it's a Makita (check out my collection of old Makita circ saws here). This time, I'm giving a much needed call-out to my old Makita Belt Sander.

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February 13, 2015

Hardcore Hammers Ultimate Survivalist Hatchet - Review

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A while back I reveled in reviewed the Hardcore Hammers Naturalist Hatchet. I loved it for it's....everything. Late last year, they sent along their newest hatchet, the Ultimate Survivalist for me to try out. And try out I did. Over and over and over. This new version polishes up some of the functionality of the older one and adds a few things. It also has a head that is nearly indestructible and holds an edge for a long time, which is really what you want if you're out in the middle of nowhere relying on your tools.

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February 10, 2015

Loftek Portable Floodlight - Review

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There's a special ball of rage deep in my belly that I reserve for halogen work lights. How a tool that is so irritating in all ways has become a job site standard ranks right up there with the Easter Island heads for total depth of mystery. They're bright, yes, but beyond that, pure torture. "Whoa, the housing is like a million degrees...what's that smell, oh, a burning moth...let it cool down for an hour before you change the bulb...make sure to wear gloves so you don't get any oil on the bulb...where's your screwdriver to open up the cage?...Oh those little ceramic bulb ends are pulverized in the sockets?...right, why don't you just pick up a new one the next time you're at the lumber yard."

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January 23, 2015

Where I been....

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Since exactly none of you have been wondering why this site has slowly evolved into a ghost ship, I'll raise my hand, call on myself, and give an answer.

Most importantly, I've been wrapping up my renovation (yes, still...). I just looked at the first permit the other day (the renovation has two separate permits) and saw the issue date of November 2011. Yeah, that's a while ago. It's been a slog. I've been in full donkey mode for four years...building cabinets, framing, tiling, window restoration, flooring, painting, oh man, it's been a lot. Yesterday, I had the final electrical inspection and soon it will be time for the big kahuna building inspector to come through. If everything passes OK, I'll likely head to the nearest saloon for 2-4 months or maybe Tijuana. Once the "decompression" phase ends, I'm looking to get back to regular posting here at the site.

But along with the renovation, I have been keeping up with quite a bit of writing. A number of tool-ish reviews that I've done have been posted up at Tools of the Trade. If you're into tools, ToTT should really be one of your first stops. There is a lot of great coverage over there. Recently, I reviewed the new Makita 8-1/2-inch Compound Slider. It's a great little tool and if you want an easily portable slider, this should be one of the first saws you look at. I thought there were a couple small drawbacks, but they pale in comparison to all of the goodness that this tool brings to the table.

I also did a piece on my three favorite work gloves; one for general construction, one for demo and digging, and one for cold weather. When I first started in construction, I thought the fingerless framer gloves were totally silly, but over time I've completely bought into the concept. And now with all the use of touch screens, it's nice to not have to keep taking the gloves on and off all the time. The Kleins are a great representation of the design.

The StoneBreaker Rancher gloves deserve a special call out too. I have a hard time explaining to people how nice these gloves are. Most leather work gloves look like floppy Fozzie Bear hands, but the StoneBreakers are so form-fitting that they really fit like a...well....glove.

The RoboReel Air was another interesting item I reviewed for ToTT. It's a pneumatic hose with and electric recoil. It's all very similar to the RoboReel Electric that I covered here a while back. It's pricey for sure, but really handy to have.

Over at Fine Homebuilding I covered a similar item, the PneuPower Recoiler. It's also a retractable hose system, but this one is manual with a hand crank on the body of the tool.

If I were to choose between the two, it's tough to say which I'd go with. The Recoiler can get tangled up from time to time, but it's also less than half the price of the RoboReel and much easier to lug around. It also has 100' of hose while the RoboReel has 50. But still, the RoboReel winds up with the push of a button.

I've also been doing plenty of work over at TheSweethome.com. If you've never checked it out, I highly recommend doing so. It's a site that really strives to recommend the best gear that fits the needs of most normal people. They've got comprehensive articles on all kinds of homegoods from bath tissue to rice cookers to air conditioners (check the sister site TheWirecutter.com for digital gear like cameras, tvs, and computers). I've written a lot of the tool guides, such as...The Best Hammer, The Best Utility Knife, and The Best Adjustable Pliers and plenty of others. I've also done some yard gear like The Best Lawnmower and The Best Leaf Blower) and a few oddballs that ended up being completely fascinating to research...The Best Picture Hanger, The Best Duct Tape.


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November 10, 2014

...More on the Milwaukee Patent Lawsuits...

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Dave over at Tools of the Trade did some more digging and has additional information and thoughts regarding the Milwaukee patent lawsuits. A lot of the information came from readers who seem to be in the know on the whole "law" thing (including our reader Bob who commented on our original post...thanks for dropping some knowledge Bob!).

Check out Dave's piece here.

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November 4, 2014

Milwaukee Tools, Li-Ion, and Some Heavy-Duty-Lookin' Lawsuits

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Dave Frane over at Tools of the Trade has done some very interesting sleuthing regarding a few patent lawsuits recently filed by Milwaukee Tools. When I first saw his headline, "Milwaukee Claims Exclusive Right to Make Lithium-Ion Tools," I thought it was one of HomeFixated's April Fool's posts. But no, it appears to be legit.

Definitely head over to ToTT to read the whole thing. Dave did a really nice job with it. The article is here.

I don't really know what to make of it all since my legal expertise is confined to a few traffic tickets. But what strikes me as strange is that the patents seem to date back to 2002. If the fact of anyone else simply making a li-ion tool breached that patent, wouldn't they have done something about it long before now? Also, as Dave points out, the companies that Milwaukee is going after seem to be a very selective list, excluding all of the mega-players (DeWalt/B&D, Bosch, Makita). If anyone has any thoughts or insights, drop a comment.

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Vampliers Pro - Review

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I have to admit that the name "Vampliers" was a little off-putting at first. It sort of sends the vibe of, "yeah, the tool doesn't have much going for it, so we gave it an interesting name." Turns out, that's not the case at all. The Vampliers are, in fact, a unique, useful and interesting variation of a set of linesman pliers. The fact that they're very well made only adds to the goodness.

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