Tools & Materials
2017 Hardware Show Round-Up
We always look forward to the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. It’s a great place to check out the new, improved, and state-of-the-art products. Plus…It’s Vegas! Here are some of the products we felt worthy of a mention.
Silent, Fumeless Power
I think we can all agree that working off a generator is a drag. Generators are stinky and require regular maintenance, and even the quiet ones are too loud. Could it be that the cordless revolution has finally invaded the generator space and provided us a solution? Well, maybe not the ultimate solution, but now there’s at least another option. Check out this Yeti 1400 power station made by GoalZero. It functions just like a 1,500-watt gas-powered generator/inverter. That’s enough power to run a circular saw or hammer drill but not quite enough to fire up a large air compressor.
The 1400 will charge in 25 hours when plugged into a wall outlet. It can also be charged with solar panels (sold separately) for you off-the-grid types. And there will soon be an option to run it in conjunction with a small gas generator (so it functions like a hybrid car engine). Apparently this last option will keep you powered up for days on 1 gallon of gas.
When the unit’s not in use, it will hold a charge for up to 18 months. A display screen gives an estimated run-time and recharge time. And of course, because there’s no exhaust fumes, you can park the Yeti right near the action, even indoors! At $1,999, the Yeti 1400 isn’t cheap, but it might be just the ticket if you’re looking for a silent, fumeless option. Find out more at goalzero.com.
Fiskars PowerGear Aviator Snips
Why should you care that Fiskars new PowerGear aviation snips achieves its cutting power from a ratcheting system rather than the traditional compound leverage mechanism? Both will get the job done, but the Fiskars snips will get it done faster and with less effort. When fully open, the handles are closer together than other snips, which is nice because your grip has more power in the mid-range position than when your hand is open. And compared with PowerGear’s competitor, each full squeeze of the snips produces a longer cut, so it takes fewer cuts to get to the finish line. The locking latch can be opened or closed with your right thumb, which is pretty standard, but lefties will love the fact that the latch can also be operated from the top. The snips cost about $25 at 15 at http://www2.fiskars.com/.
An Affordable Plywood-Cutting Solution
Cutting up full sheets of plywood on a table saw is usually a two-person operation. That’s why track saws are so handy. The problem is that track saws cost a lot of money; some cost almost as much as a portable table saw! And, you need a dedicated saw, which takes up more valuable storage space in a truck or on a shelf.
The folks in the Kreg booth were showing off their new track saw system, which might be the affordable solution you’re looking for. The Accu-Cut has a sled that attaches to your existing circular saw. And once you set up the sled, the saw is easy to remove and reattach. The track has anti-slip strips that hold it in place without the use of clamps (although clamps are available to use when you cut warped wood). Maybe the best feature of all is the price—$80! That’s a fraction of the cost of other track saw systems. Find out more info at kregtool.com or call (800) 447-8638.
Tough, Lightweight Slush Boots
Hey, concrete guys. Are you still sporting PVC slush boots? It’s time for an upgrade. We were impressed with the TREDS latex overboots. They were surprisingly lightweight. TREDS claims they will last up to eight times longer than PVC boots. And there’s no distinction between left and right for you guys with a bad case of brain fog in the morning. What’s not to love? Oh, yeah, they’re also made in the United States. They’re available for about $50 from workwear retailers or amazon.com. Find out more at treds.com.
Two-Sided Flap Discs
Flap discs work well when you need a smooth metal surface because they don’t gouge like a grinding wheel can. Forney recently introduced a double-sided flap disc. The one shown here is 60-grit on one side and 80-grit on the other. Now you can work your way up the grit ladder with half the discs. One double-sided flap disc costs about the same as two one-sided discs, which makes sense. Look for them at retailers that sell welders and grinding supplies.
The Stanley FATMAX is one tough shovel. It has a fiberglass handle and a thick tri-point blade. The padded control grip on the topside provides a comfortable grip when you’re chopping. But the feature that stands out the most is the Xtreme step—it’s huge! You can jump up and down on this baby like a pogo stick all day long without destroying the arches of your feet. The step also acts as a barricade, keeping more dirt piled up in the blade.
The FATMAX shovel is heavier than other shovels and may not be the tool for all-day digging in soft soil, but we tried it out on a project that was cursed with heavy, hard-packed clay. We worked it as a pickax, pry bar, jackhammer and occasionally a shovel as well. It really was the right tool for that job.
The FATMAX BDS7134 shovel has a lifetime warranty and is available for about $30 at hardware stores and home centers.
Stake Pocket Anchors
We thought these 3 in 1 Truck Ties were pretty interesting. They friction-fit down into the stake pockets of a pickup truck. They can be used as an anchor for ropes and tie-down straps. Or you can secure a tarp by wedging it into the stake pocket with the 3 in 1. They cost $20 each at amazon.com.
SAC Hearing Protection
Earmuffs with sound-activated compression (SAC) allow you to hear what’s going on around you but cancel out loud noise within a fraction of a second from when it occurs (.02 seconds in this case). This isn’t new technology, but we thought it was worth mentioning again. And GSM Outdoors makes a quality product. The RAZOR SERIES – SLIM SHOOTER FOLDING MUFF has a slim profile and an NRR 23dB rating. These are a favorite of shooters, but there’s no reason they wouldn’t work on a construction site. Buy them (#GWP-RSEM) for under $70 at sporting goods retailers, online or at gsmoutdoors.com.