Top Tools To Splurge On
You could settle for the cheaper alternative... or you could splurge on these tools and materials that are worth the price tag.
Without accuracy and precision, a leveling laser is pretty much useless. Bosch’s new family of Three-Plane Leveling and Alignment Lasers has accuracy in spades. These lasers are accurate within 3/32 of an inch over 30ft, which is even better than Bosch’s typical 1/8 of an inch. The system comes in both a red light and a green light version. The green laser does go through batteries a little faster, but it’s 4x brighter, perfect for using on a sunny day. Both the red beam (GLL3-330C) and green beam (GLL3-330CG) are Bluetooth compatible so you can connect the lasers to an app on your phone. The Bosch Leveling Remote app tells you battery level, lets you control the lasers and gives you an alert if the laser is out of level. The green beam lasers cost $499 and the red beam lasers costs $399.
The new Shark
CNC machines, once only found in specialty woodworking shops, just became a lot more accessible. At the end of 2017 Next Wave Automation announced an entirely new version of their flagship product, the CNC Shark. The machine, which they are calling the CNC Shark II, has all of the great features of their previous models but at a much lower price point, and it has a smaller design so it doesn’t take up as much room in your shop.
“The CNC Shark was one of the first, widely distributed small format CNC machines in the world,” says Tim Owens, Next Wave Automation founder and CEO. “The new CNC Shark II machine is an industrial powerhouse with a small footprint, so that hobbyists and small shops can have a full range of functionality without having to create the space or the budget for machines costing, literally, thousands of dollars more.”
The CNC Shark II could benefit a wide variety of industry pros, whether you are a siding pro looking to make custom house numbers or a trim carpenter who needs a custom piece of millwork, or you just want to impress your customer with a “Welcome to the Johnson’s” sign. The new machine is available online starting at $3,599.
Laser Distance Measurers
Measuring distances on the jobsite over 100 feet used to be tricky. Distance measuring lasers changed that. Now all it takes to measure a long distance is the click of a button. Extech’s new DT-M series of laser distance measurers take convenience and safety to the next level. They are rugged, pocket-sized and only require one hand to operate, with an easy to read backlit display that measures up to 330 feet. They can be used to obtain Min/Max readings and indirect height measurements using Pythagorean calculations, all while storing up to 20 successive readings and easily adding and subtracting multiple measurements. Extech is a FLIR company, so you know the technology is cutting edge. So, if you need a quick and accurate measurement on the jobsite, this is a tool you should take a look at. Extech’s DT-M Laser Distance Measurers are available now online and in stores for $99.99.
Ever since OSHA introduced their latest dust regulations in September 2017, tool companies have done a lot to create efficient and cost-effective systems for dust control. Festool has continued that trend with the introduction of the CT Cyclone, an anti-static pre-separator that attaches to the Festool CT Dust Extractor. The CT Cyclone reduces the rate at which filter bags need to be replaced by separating large object before they hit the dust collector. This decreases the rate at which filter bags need to be changed and leads to longer tool life, ant that lowers the cost of ownership. The system also minimizes the amount of dust that hits the filter, resulting in higher suction power.
The CT Cyclone includes:
- Cyclone Systainer
- Systainer Pan
- Collection Container
- Hose Connector - CT-VA to CT Dust Extractor
- Disposable Dust Liner
The CT Cyclone attaches and detaches from all CT Dust Extractors as needed. The CT Cyclone is available now for $375.00
DEWALT Metal Storage Line
DEWALT recently announced a new line of Metal Storage Units that includes top chests, workbenches and rolling cabinets, ranging from 26 to 52 inches in width and 18 to 21 inches in depth. All of these storage units are made from double-wall steel for increased durability. Embossed drawer liners are now standard so that both the drawers and the tools placed within them are protected from dings and drops.
The full line includes:
When shopping for composite or engineered decking material most people are only concerned with how it looks, what it costs, and how long it will last. Not enough people consider heat. When exposed to full sunlight, engineered and composite decking can get very, very hot. And the darker the color, the hotter it gets.
MoistureShield has addressed this toasty issue with their CoolDeck composite decking that they claim keeps deck boards up to 35% cooler on those blazing hot summer days. CoolDeck reflects much of the heat instead of absorbing it like most other composite decking. In addition to comfort, cooler decking doesn’t expand as much, which makes it less susceptible to deflection that can lead to dips, bows and an all-around wavy deck. Excessive expansion and contraction can also lead to large unsightly gaps.
So if you’re shopping for composite decking, you might want to check out MoistureShield. It would be kind of a disaster if you built a deck that your dog couldn’t take a nap on or your kids couldn’t walk on with bare feet.
Check out their website for more info
Briggs and Stratton
The Briggs and Stratton Q6500 is lot of generator at a great price. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because it only weighs 128 pounds (without fuel). That’s almost HALF the weight of other generators in its class. Briggs’ decision to design it with an easy pull start, and not an electric start, was one of the factors that led to the greatly reduced weight.
This generator has an on-board inverter, which supplies a clean power that won’t damage sensitive electronics. This is a great feature if you lose power at home and want to power up some appliances, most of which (maybe all these days) have electronic controls. It’s also a great way to keep those tools running on the jobsite and still be able to safely charge a phone or tablet.
This beast runs on a solid 306cc Briggs engine that has 6500k starting watts, 5000k running watts and a 5-gal. tank that provides up to 14 hours of run time. Another great feature of the Q6500 is that it’s not nearly as ear-pounding as other brands, running at only 66db at a 25% load.
The Q6500 has 8-in. wheels to handle rugged terrain. Its collapsible handle and overall compact design is user-friendly and easy to store. The control panel has four 120v, 20 amp (GFCI) power sockets, a single 120v/240v twist lock power outlet, and two USB ports to keep smaller electronics charged. The main panel has LED indicator lights that will let you know how much power you are drawing (50%-75%-100%). There is also a LED indicator light for low oil, and if you’re running your generator at night there are LED lights that illuminate the control panel itself.
Not only did Briggs nail the design of this lightweight, quiet, compact and well thought-out mini power plant, they also made it one of the most affordable generators out there. You can pick up a Q6500 generator for around $1089. Just like its weight, that’s at least HALF the price of comparable machines.
Protect under your deck with Fastendry
Deckorators, a manufacturer of all types of decking products, recently introduced a new decking system called Fastendry. It’s a weatherproofing material that fits into the slotted edges of Deckorator’s custom composite decking and forms a waterproof seal in the cracks of the deck. That means you can use the space under you deck for dry storage or for a place to hang out when it’s raining. For more information go to the Deckorators website.
More battery innovations
Greenworks Commercial recently introduced several new lithium-ion powered zero-turn mowers including both ride-on and stand-on models. Pro landscapers and property managements companies are slowly embracing more and more battery powered equipment. And recently Greenworks has branched out ing to the UTV world. Their new lithium-ion powered Stealth HD UTV will have a payload capacity of 500-lbs., reach a top speed of 35 MPH and have a range of 90 miles per charge. Plus it looks downright wicked. The Stealth HD UTV will be available in the Spring 2019 with a price tag of $24,999. The Stealth UTV will be available in Fall 2019 with a price tag of $22,999.
Cut steeper slopes
The new Cub cadet Pro Z 972 SD is a commercial mower that can tackle steeps slopes most other machines can’t. Extra weight in the front, an additional set of tires in the rear, and a sprinkle of secret sauce allows this machine to handle slopes up to 25-deg. Most zero turn mowers are restricted to 15 degrees or less. Don’t worry about creating ruts with those aggressive rear tires, because this machine is equipped with a unique four-wheel steering system that’s easy on the turf. And the larger tire footprint also spreads out the weight, which reduces impact when mowing over wet conditions or soft soil conditions. The Pro Z 972 SD will retail for $15,999.
Well-designed work vest
Phoenix's new PRO-Flex Chest Rig work vest is an improvement over their previous vest, which were pretty darn good to start with. They added more webbing to make it lighter and cooler and they reconfigured the suspender clasps, which make the vest easy to get in and out of. The new rig also has pockets that have a piece of pliable metal woven into the rims so they can be opened up and stay that way. Or they can be pressed close so stuff won’t fall out. Atlas 46 makes good stuff built for the jobsite, so check them out if you haven’t already done so. The Phoenix PRO-Flex Chest Rig costs $99.
Tool Bag That Says "Aaaaah"
Hauling tools around can be a real pain in the a...arm. Digging for the tool you need is another hassle. The Tradesman Pro Wide-Open Tool Bag by Klein Tools solves both problems. The padded handles and shoulder straps make it easy on the back and hands. And the wide-mouth, stay-open top keeps your tools visible and easy to grab.
The bag is big enough to haul the hand and power tools you need for most any job but small enough to easily carry and store. The interior has 33 pockets for organizing small tools, a zipper pocket big enough for a laptop, and space for a battalion of cordless tools, batteries and chargers. The exterior has six large pockets—four with flaps—and two mesh bags for larger items. The molded plastic bottom keeps your stuff dry, and the ballistic nylon construction says "I'm here to stay." Buy this tool bag on Amazon now.
LED flashlights aren’t new, but this isn’t an ordinary LED flashlight. The TFCFL 1800LM XM-L T6 LED Zoomable Torch Flashlight (approximately $17 online) is powered by a standard 18650 lithium rechargeable battery that provides up to five hours of continuous use. The zoom feature allows you to concentrate light to get better illumination or pull back to light up large areas. Use the serrated front bezel for self-defense or to break glass in emergency situations. The flashlight kit comes with plug-in car and AC wall chargers, lithium battery, “AAA” battery adapter, a lanyard and a plastic case. Buy it now.
High-End Ratcheting Screwdriver
Would you spend 75 bucks on a screwdriver? Some people do, and they can't stop raving about this one. The Snap-On Ratcheting Screwdriver features a three-position ratchet adjustment, silky smooth action and a contoured handle that fits comfortably in the hand. Behind the bit is one of the strongest magnets you'll find in a screwdriver, so you'll waste less time searching for dropped screws. It comes with an assortment of bits that can be stored in the handle. Get it today.
A Sledge You Can Count On
We expect a lot from our sledgehammers. We want an indestructible head and a handle that can withstand overstrike. We also want a tool to be the ideal weight: heavy enough to bust through concrete yet light enough to swing all day. With most sledges you get two out of three—but one company has upped the score. DeWalt EXOCORE sledgehammers feature composite carbon fiber handles that are durable and seemingly immune to overstrike damage. The handles—which are about two-thirds hollow—lighten the weight and help absorb shock. The sledgehammers are available in 8-, 10- and 12-lb. versions and cost $50 to $60. Get this sledgehammer on Amazon today.
A rotary tool is one of the most versatile tools you can own, and the Dremel 4300 boasts the most powerful variable-speed motor in its product line. It's also the first Dremel rotary tool with a three-jaw chuck, enabling you to change accessories without a wrench. With its 360-degree grip, improved airflow design and a pivot light to illuminate your work, the 4300 is the Dremel tool you wish you'd bought years ago. It's only $199 for the tool and a boatload of accessories, so go for it. Buy this Dremel on Amazon now.
Stellar Shop Vac
Now that's a shop vacuum. With its 6.5-peak-horsepower motor and 16-gallon capacity, the WORKSHOP WS1600SS sucks up water at a rate of a gallon every second. Its low center of gravity and large wheels make it stable over rough terrain, and even though it's a beast, you'll be surprised at how quietly it runs. Maybe your shop vacuum works perfectly fine. But now that you've seen this bad boy, go ahead and splurge. It's only about $200. Add this shop vac to your collection today.
A Saw for the Ages
When I was a framing carpenter in Denver back in the day, pulling a mammoth “worm-drive” saw out of your truck and going to work was the sign you’d reached the big leagues. These monsters required Popeye forearms and a diet of canned spinach to operate, but they could cut through anything and were virtually indestructible.
The DeWalt 60-volt MAX circular saw (model DCS575T2) is the cordless equivalent of these vintage brutes. It has a lot to love. Like all worm-drive saws, the left-side blade position makes it easy to see your cutting line. It’s a workhorse: The 60-volt battery coupled with DeWalt’s thin-kerf blade (specifically designed for cordless saws) creates a saw that’s fast and powerful. It can churn through materials up to 2-1/2 in. thick and cut bevels up to 53 degrees. The safety button is easy to access. Buy it now.
Super Surge Protector and Power Strip
Awhile ago, I created a power charging station where I could amass a bunch of my battery chargers. All the chargers were connected to one power strip. It did help organize my shop, but it always bugged me that all those chargers sprang to life when I turned on the power strip even when I only needed to charge one battery. Not a big deal if the chargers are empty, but I often leave batteries sitting in the cradle until they're needed again. I solved the problem by buying a power strip that has a separate switch for each outlet. There are a few brands available online. I bought the Tripp Lite model TLP76MSG. Six of the outlets are switched while one stays on all the time, and all seven have surge protection. Mark Petersen
Delta 18-Inch Laser Drill Press
At around $1,200, it's one of the more expensive floor drill presses in its class, but take a look at the Delta 18-900L's advanced features that make it worth the price. Its laser crosshair, for example, enables pinpoint accuracy, while its auto-tensioning belt-drive system allows for easy adjustments while drilling. Plus, it's got 16 different speeds for drilling through wood, plastic or metal. And you'll love this drill press's sturdy feel and roomy work table that you can angle up to 90 degrees, left or right. Still working with a bench-top drill press? Splurge and get what you really want. Add this drill press to your tool collection today.
Makita Robot Vacuum
Wouldn't it be nice to turn off the light, close your workshop door and come back the next day to clean, sawdust-free floors? That's totally possible now with the Makita DRC200Z Industrial Robot Vacuum. This brawny machine has a 2.5-liter capacity and is powerful enough to suck up nuts and screws. Though built for commercial use, at about $1,100 it's not that much more costly than what you'd pay for a genteel robot vacuum designed for living spaces. Totally worth it. Get this workshop assistant now.
Milwaukee M18 Combo Kit
Did you know you can buy 15 Milwaukee power tools with compatible lithium ion batteries all in one fell swoop? Milwaukee's M18 15-Tool Combo Kit includes 15 cordless power tools, four 4.0Ah batteries and a six-bay charger. So dump your mismatched, used and abused tools and splurge on a set from a company known for durable, hardworking products. Get the entire set for about $2,000. Buy this standout combo kit on Amazon now.
The Smartest Small Table Saw
At about $1,800, a SawStop Contractor Saw will cost you more than a typical table saw. But then again, how much are your fingers worth? SawStop's patented safety system brings the blade to a complete stop within five milliseconds of sensing contact with human skin. That's a tenth of the time it takes a car's airbag to deploy. Instead of a potentially debilitating injury, the operator walks away with a minor cut. Priceless. Add this saw to your collection now.
Indestructible Coffee Maker
Time to ditch that beat-up old coffee thermos and ramp it up a bit with the new COFFEEBOXX single-cup brew system. This job-site coffee maker works with any K-Cup packs. It has a 3-ft. retractable cord and a huge 2.5-liter removable water tank. The drip tray detaches for taller mugs, and there’s a separate hot water line for making tea or instant soup.
Above all, the COFFEEBOXX is rugged; it won’t break if you drop it…off a cliff. It could even be used as a step stool in a pinch, unless you weigh more than 1,500 lbs.! And how many coffee makers are equipped with stainless steel tie-downs? (I bet your thermos doesn’t have tie-downs.) Buy it on Amazon now.
Thermal Imaging Camera
When you need to see what's hot and what's not around the house, there's just no substitute for a thermal imaging camera. The FLIR E6 detects temperature variations, allowing you to spot drafty windows, insufficient attic insulation, electrical hazards, leaky pipes and other areas needing repair. Particularly helpful is the device's Multi-Spectral Dynamic Imaging feature, which lays a photographic image over the infrared display, so you can clearly decipher where the issues are. You could potentially justify its $1,998.99 price tag by estimating your energy savings over time. Or you could just splurge and buy it because it's so cool. Order this camera on Amazon now.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by The Construction Pro Tips editors, who aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We welcome your feedback.