Tools & Materials
2016 National Hardware Show: New Product Round-Up
The Construction Pro Tips crew just got back from Vegas again (tough life, we know). This time we walked the floors at the 2016 National Hardware Show where there were a couple thousand exhibitors showing off their wares. We discovered a bunch of new tools, nifty gadgets, and rugged accessories that just might be a great addition to your tool arsenal.
Best Jobsite Hose
The new Stanley FatMax garden hose isn’t the only rugged hose on the market, but it’s probably the lightest. This new hose (manufactured by Bond for Stanley) is made from a combination of polyurethane and PVC which makes it a lot lighter than synthetic rubber. It’s non-abrasive and kink resistant. It doesn’t snag on obstacles as easily as rubber hoses and it stays flexible down to 15 degrees F.
Instead of the standard hose bib connector, the FatMax hose has a large coupler that you can grip with your whole hand. The wrench-free coupler not only makes secure connections a snap, it also helps protect the threads when the hose gets walked on, run over by a wheelbarrow or crushed into the ground by a skid loader. The hoses are available in black and a visible yellow, perfect for the jobsite. They can be purchased in various lengths from 25 ft. up to 150 ft. A 5/8 -in. x 50-ft. hose costs around $35 at home centers, hardware stores and online retailers.
What is a locknut wrench?
Gardner Bender has been manufacturing all things electrical for more than 50 years, and they just added another handy product to their 3,000+ product lineup. This is for you guys who do lots of wiring with conduit. It’s a thin profile locknut wrench, perfect for tightening and loosening locknuts tucked away in tight spaces. Now you don’t have to rattle the whole works loose or tight by banging on the locknuts with the tip of a screwdriver. And the diminutive size takes up very little space in ye olde tool belt. Find the three common sizes (1/2 in., 3/4 in. and 1 in.) at electrical supply stores or online retailers.
Diesel Powered Generator
Looking for a generator with longer run times? How about 32 hours? Is that long enough? Generac’s XD5000E diesel-powered generator sports a 12-gal. tank that will keep you in business all day long…and then some. This is the perfect tool for you storm-damage-restoration guys who need to run pumps, fans and dehumidifiers 24 hours a day.
The diesel engine is perfectly equipped to handle those long run times, but it is heavy–the unit weighs in at a hefty 250 lbs. (and that’s with an empty tank!), so don’t even attempt to wrestle it into your pickup alone. Expect to pay about $3,700 at equipment dealers.
A Super-Versatile Circular Saw
There was a lot of buzz around the Cuz-D Industry booth. Their soon-to-be-available Straight Flush Saw puts a new twist on the circular saw, a tool that hasn’t changed much since its debut. This saw boasts the ability to make flush cuts, cut to a depth of 3-1/8 in., under cut, and bevel cut up to 65 degrees. What does all that mean? Well, imagine a saw that can cut out sheathing covering window openings from the inside or bottom plates in doorways. And wouldn’t it be nice to cut through two 2x4s at the same time? These are just a few of the ways this saw out-performs both worm drives and sidewinders. If this saw lives up to the hype, they will sell a ton of them.
Who Wouldn’t Want a Plasma Cutter?
Forney was showing off their new plasma cutter for the “everyman.” The 250 P+ Plasma Cutter runs off of 120V power, has a 30-ft. reach and weighs a measly 41 lbs. It cuts mild steel 1/8 in. thick and severs metal (rougher cut) up to 1/4 in. What really sets it apart though, is the built-in compressor and the torch that can be dragged along the metal instead of having to hover the tool over the workpiece. This is perfect for those of us with a less-than-steady hand.
Why would you want a plasma cutter if you’re not a professional welder? Just think of the pesky stuck bolts you could cut off, the broken fences and damaged auto parts you could remove and the stubborn structural metal hangers you could demo. You could express your inner artist by creating beautiful signs and yard art. But maybe the most important reason to own a plasma cutter: You can brag to your buddies that you own a plasma cutter! Expect to pay just under $800 for the 250 P+.
Ferociously Strong Tape
ShurTech, the makers of Duck Tape and FrogTape, have just introduced a new line of tape that sticks two times stronger than duct tape, holds three times longer and is four times more weather resistant. It’s called T-Rex tape. They sent us a roll a few months before the show and we used up most of it, and loved all of it. It feels twice as thick but still tears pretty easily. We even tried it outside in a Minnesota winter, with great success. It’s available at home centers and hardware stores for about $8 per roll. And check out the handy 1-in. “Mighty Roll.”
A Better Stud Finder
Finally, a stud finder that can actually detect a whole stud, not just the edge of one. The Franklin ProSensor 710+ is equipped with 13 sensors and clearly indicates the location of the whole stud so you can mark both sides in one pass, instead of locating each side separately. And it’s wide enough to locate multiple studs that have been doubled or tripled up. Buy one at specialty tool stores or at online retailers for about $55.
A Perfect Screw for Ipe Decking
Ipe is an incredibly dense and hard hardwood from the tropics. It’s so dense it sinks in water! Installing it generally means predrilling and countersinking screws. Simpson Strong-Tie’s Deck-Drive DHPD Hardwood Screws have a unique paddle-style drill point tip for drilling. And the wings on the shaft counter bore the hole so the screw can be countersunk without damaging the surface. Both of those features mean no drilling, no countersinking and no splitting. A box of 100 screws cost about $50. They’re also available in collated strips.
There was a bunch of traffic at the Atlas 46 work-wear booth. These folks make uber-duty nylon aprons, pouches, bags and clothing. They started out 40 years ago making personal equipment products for the military and law enforcement agencies. They recently branched out to serve us working stiffs in the trades. They were showcasing aprons that you can wear in a shop and others that could carry every tool in your tool box. The prices for the aprons varied from around $90 to $190.