Tools & Materials
The Ultimate Guide to the 2018 National Hardware Show
Another National Hardware Show has come and gone and, as usual, the 2018 NHS did not disappoint. The only downside was the heat, a toasty 106-degrees is a bit hot for this Minnesota boy, but all the buildings and cabs had air conditioning, and the cold beer was that much more enjoyable. I met a lot of smart folks who are making a bunch of brilliant products. Plus I got to play with some sharp pointy tools, handle handy gadgets, sample sticky stuff, and try on some ingenious gear. Here are just some of my favorites.
Fiskars Utility Knives
Fiskars has been creating cutting tools since 1649, so it’s no surprise that they have the knowhow to produce a quality product. They recently announced a new line of utility knives, geared towards the pro contractor, that promise a few cool new features. The knives have an improved locking system that prevents accidental blade release, a smarter button placement, and (maybe best of all) the guts of the knives won’t fall on the ground when changing a blade. The knife line includes a Folding Utility Knife, a Fixed Utility Knife, a Retractable Utility Knife, Snap-off Utility Knives, Drywaller’s Utility Knives, and Painter’s Utility Knives. They will all be available in the next month or so.
Better Finish™ Nail Hole Filler
Here’s a handy tool from HYDE. It’s a reusable joint-compound dispenser that comes with its own small putty/taping knife applicator. It’s perfect for filling nail holes and other small drywall dings. HYDE says it will fill over 300 nail holes and will last up to 3-year years, even after opening! Might be a nice product to keep on hand. It doesn’t take up much space and it’s worth all 500 pennies if it saves you one emergency trip to the hardware store. Find out more and buy here.
Fence Post Repair
Not all of your customers can afford the full “Teardown, haul away, and rebuild” treatment. And some of those small repair jobs lead to larger jobs and referrals down the road. So if you have a customer with just a couple/few rotted fence posts that need replacing, check out the EZ Mender. Pound them in—fasten them to the post—away you go. Simpson E-Z Menders cost $8 each (each post requires two) at the Home Depot.
What a great idea!
We’ve all heard the horror story: “Guy climbs ladder; guy falls; wedding ring snags; finger gone.” If you enjoy all ten of your fingers, then you might want to check out these rings made by QALO (pronounced Kay-Low). The rings are made from silicone and are designed to tear away before your finger sustains a serious injury. These are perfect for construction workers, shop rats, weekend warriors, athletes, outdoor enthusiasts, and basically anyone who likes to do stuff. And no, they’re not just a glorified rubber grommet you find at hardware store. There are hundreds of design and color combinations to choose from. You can also customize rings with patterns, monograms, or phrases of your own choosing. Prices start at about $25, and they even offer a military discount.
Best Oscillating Sprinkler?
Yes, I know that this is not really a pro tool, but it’s such a good design, I had to talk about it. This solidly built oscillating sprinkler is made by Gilmour, and the beauty of it lies in the controls. Not only are you able to control how far out the water travels when it moves back and forth, but you can also control how far the water travels on each side. In addition, the sprinkler has a built-in water shut-off valve, so you can shut off the water when moving it, or you can tweak the water volume right there while you’re fine tuning the other adjustments. The more you can control the water pattern the less water wasted. Great design Gilmour. This sprinkler (Model #8303) costs $28.
Uber for truck owners
The Haultail booth piqued my interest as much if not more than any other I visited at the show. The Haultail app will work something like this: Mr. and Mrs. Johnson just bought a large dresser from Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Neither couple owns a truck so they send out a request on their Haultail app to all the truck owners in the area that are part of the Haultail network. Construction Joe just happens to be on his way home from work when he gets the alert. He has the time and is in the area, so for a small fee, he picks up and delivers the dresser—everyone’s happy. Haultail will also be uber-helpful for those truck-less folks wanting to bring home an appliances or piece of furniture from the store and homeowners wanting to haul away their old junk. The first test market is in Hawaii and will be launching soon. Keep an eye on Haultail. I’m guessing it will be coming to your town sooner than later.
Let it rain
Here is a great product for all you, “I do my estimates rain or shine” types. It’ a notebook that has waterproof pages. You can literally submerge these notebooks under water and they’ll stay intact. They come in dozens of sizes and configurations, and they’re made in the USA. A 4-in. x 6-in. top-spiral Rite in the Rain notebook sells for about $5. You can buy them or find out more here.
Mini Spray Booth
Here is a no-brainer product made by HomeRight. It’s a portable spray shelter. I think anyone who has ever used an airless paint sprayer, a High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) paint sprayer or even a can of spray paint knows that overspray can easily get away from you. And spraying outdoors isn’t always an option. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used a cardboard box or even made my own temporary spray booth/shelter out of sheets of poly. No more I say. The HomeRight Spray Shelters are available in a small benchtop size, a medium size, and a large shelter that resembles a camping tent. When not in use, they fold up and don’t take up much space at all. There’s even one that hooks up to a box fan. They’re available at online retailers and cost between $28 and $50.
Well-designed work vest
I always stop by the Atlas 46 booth when I’m at the show. This year they were bragging up their new Phoenix PRO-Flex Chest Rig work vest. It’s an improvement over their previous vest, which were pretty darn good to start with. They add more webbing to make it lighter and cooler. 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. Check them out if you haven’t already done so. The Phoenix PRO-Flex Chest Rig costs $99.
Okay, when I first stopped by this booth I was thinking, “A door stop, Really?” But after talking to the inventor I saw the light. Yes, it is only lowly doorstop, but it works better than other doorstops, and it folds up small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket. Why would you want a doorstop in your pocket you ask? Think commercial contractors, movers, maintenance staff, housekeeping or any other folks who need to keep doors open on a regular and mobile basis. See, you never know until you ask. PocketStops are made in the USA and cost $15.
The ShurTech booth wins the coolest demonstration award, or they would have if that was a real award that I was giving out. ShurTech, the makers of FrogTape and T-Rex duct tape, were showing of the preposterous strength of their new Brute Force duct tape. One loop of the stuff can lift 700-lbs. Look for it on shelves soon.
Until Next Year
I had a blast. I did feel a little sorry for those folks who had to work all day in the outside booths set up in the scorching parking lot. But despite the heat Vegas is always a great town for shows, and I look forward to next year’s parade of brilliant new products at the 2019 NHS.