Two Hard-Hitting Hammers

Every year we're amazed at the amount of research and development poured into improving the most basic tool on the planet–the hammer. Armed with a growing base of knowledge about ergonomics and stronger, lighter materials, tool manufacturers continue to innovate this category. Here are two awesome hammers you'll want to add to your holster.

Stiletto Tools
Stiletto's Ti-Bone gives you everything you want in a hammer–and less. Stiletto is famous for replacing steel hammerheads with super-light, super-tough titanium. The company claims its 15-ounce hammerhead packs the same wallop as a 24-ounce steel head, but delivers less return shock energy into your arm. Because they're lighter and easier to swing, Stiletto says they cause less fatigue, too.

Until recently, the company combined its titanium heads with hickory handles. But the new Ti-Bone hammer represents the next step in hammer science, the company says. The Ti-Bone has an all-titanium shaft and a titanium head with a replaceable steel striking face. Stiletto says the new handle design allows the tool to hit like a hammer nearly twice its weight, and offers better side-pulling strength than wooden-handled hammers because the alloy won't break as easily as wood.

The Ti-Bone also has a magnetic nail start for one-handed nail-setting and an injection-molded rubber grip. You can switch out the milled face for a smooth face. The Ti-Bone costs $195 and ships with one steel striking face, which you specify when you place the order. For more information, contact Stiletto Tools, 209-357-1932; www.stilettotools.com.

Douglas Tool
The first thing we noticed about Douglas hammers is their unique heads: The top of each tool is almost flat, which makes a nearly straight claw. Tool designer Todd Douglas Coonrad designed the claw to act as a chisel; he even beveled the edge to a chisel's 8 degrees. He says the claw is perfect for splitting blocks or for demo work.

Coonrad also designed his hammer to extract stuck nails by including a side-pull notch in the hammerhead cheek, which optimizes nail-pulling leverage. The hammerhead and tang are a single piece of steel through-bolted to a 16-inch long hickory handle. If you manage to break the handle, you can buy another one and bolt it on.

The tool also has a magnetized nail set and overstrike protection plates, and comes with either a tractioned or smooth face. These hammers swing hard and are comfortable to hold. The 20-ounce original model is also available in 18- and 23-ounce sizes. The tools cost about $60. For more information, contact Douglas Tool Inc., 831-420-0456; www.douglastool.com.

Yokee Advanced Harness

This Editors' Choice Award winner puts safety in the palm of your hand–or, rather, in the seat of your pants. Yokee's fall-arrest garments include a safety harness, lanyard, and bib overalls all in one. If you're having a tough time getting your crews to tie-on, make these pants your company uniform. If your crew is wearing their pants, then they're wearing a full-body harness.

The cotton duck overalls have all the pockets and adjustments you'd expect; the harness is stitched to the inside. The garment is rated for 320 pounds and exceeds ANSI and OSHA standards. And not only are the pants comfortable to wear, say the roofer/inventors Dave Young and Mark Townsend, they're comfortable to fall in.

During early tests, prototype garments gave the inventors a seriously uncomfortable pinch where they least wanted to be pinched, when the line went taught. To eliminate that, Young and Townsend designed a perforation in the back of the bibs that allows them to tear open. This spares you a meeting with the ground and any unnecessary discomfort on the way down. For more information, contact Yokee Advanced Harness Technologies, 800-890-2018; www.yokeeusa.com.

Porter-Cable

When we saw this tool's prototype in August we knew it was a winner. It was so new, the number 12 was scrawled on it in Magic Marker in lieu of a label. Porter-Cable's new Tiger Claw reciprocating saw uses two unique features to get its blade just about anywhere you need it. First, the saw's body articulates 180 degrees, clicking into positive detents every 15 degrees. In addition, the nosepiece holding the blade rotates 360 degrees in both directions–while the tool is running. This radical articulation will help you maneuver the blade into tight spots you couldn't reach before.

While the saw's new features don't add much weight (the tool weighs 9 pounds), they do eliminate the ability to set the tool for orbital action, so engineers upped the strokes per minute to 0-2,900 to keep it aggressive. The Tiger Claw uses the same motor and the same great tool-less blade change found on the company's Tiger Saw.

The tool is 18-inches long overall, but bent in half it's just 8-1/2-inches long. It has a 1-1/4-inch stroke and comes with an insert that accepts jigsaw blades for tight scroll cutting. The Tiger Claw costs $299. For more information, contact Porter-Cable, 800-487-8665; www.porter-cable.com.

Spec out Corded Circular Saws on ebuild, the Professional's Guide to Building Products (TM).

ebuild Specs for Cordless Circular Saws.