Table Saw Stand
Bosch's Gravity-Rise fold-down table saw stand, designed for transporting, storing, and using portable table saws, wins this award for delivering jobsite utility in a smart, flawless design. It works perfectly, is tougher than tough, and they got the details right. The 53-pound tube-steel unit folds open and closed in an easy, fluid motion by rotating an easy-to-turn handle. Folded down, the unit carries the saw and rolls smoothly on rubber pneumatic wheels. The stand's design allows you to store the unit and the saw upright by enabling the saw to rest vertically on a guard–which saves valuable space in a cramped shop or jobsite. This same guard also acts as a handle for lifting the saw and stand–in one piece–into the truck. Opened, the unit is very stable, resting on its rubber wheels and on two adjustable rubber feet; this soft surface makes it ideal for setup in a finished space. The table where the saw is secured is another great feature: Not only does it unfold to a perfect height, it's pre-tapped to accept many other manufacturers' saws. Smart design and needed utility make the Gravity-Rise stand tall. Bosch, Gravity-Rise table saw stand: $150 alone; $550 packaged with Bosch 4000 table saw. 877-267-2499. www.boschtools.com.
Hitachi's powerhouse DH24PC2 rotary hammer wins for being unstoppable. In our January/February 2005 issue, our tool tester reported there was little he could do to slow this rotary hammer down drilling and chipping in 3,000-psi concrete. From recommended pressure through extreme force, the unit relentlessly and quickly sank 1/2-inch-diameter holes and blasted a bull-point chisel 3 inches deep. Add to that good comfort, low reaction torque, and a competitive price and the result is a tool that can tough it out in the roughest conditions. The DH24PC2 weighs 5.5 pounds, delivers 2.1 foot-pounds of impact energy, and has three modes of operation. Hitachi, DH24PC2: $199. 800-829-4752. www.hitachipowertools.com.
This is the best hammer we never heard of. The A-Hammer by Norwolf received one of the most glowing write-ups of any tool we covered in our 10th Anniversary issue (July/August 2004) by the original Tools of the Trade editor Clayton DeKorne. From balance, weight, and feel through engineering, construction, and toughness, he finds it to be the right hammer for everything. At 18 ounces, the tool is light enough for trim but heavy enough for framing and demo, and the balance is just right. The head is forged from the toughest commercially available steel in America, a 4340 alloy that tips the Rockwell Hardness scale at 44–50, harder than typical striking tools. The handle is solid aluminum alloy with zinc, copper, and a bit of titanium, which makes it nearly indestructible; the head is isolated from the handle with O-rings to minimize vibration. Norwolf Tool Works, A-Hammer: $38. 888-667-9653. www.norwolf.com.
If you were looking for an excuse to change over your 120-psi pneumatic tools to high-pressure technology, Max's PowerLite HN25C is it. The HN25C pneumatic pinner drives hardened nails into concrete as fast as you can bump-nail sheathing. At 400-psi operating pressure, this siding nailer–sized tool sinks 3/4- to 1-inch pins with so little recoil it's almost unbelievable, and at a rate of five pins per second, according to Max. The 4.4-pound nailer holds 100 pins in a coil, can fasten within 1/4 inch of a wall, drives consistently, and–maybe best of all–is quiet. It has a dial adjustable depth control, a swivel connector to keep the hose from tangling and twisting, and enough power to sink pins into 7,000-psi concrete. So, if you use metal track instead of ACQ to finish basements or if you do light-gauge steel framing, Max's HN25C will not only revolutionize and speed up how you shoot down that track (or make many other connections to concrete), it looks like it'll pay for itself in a hurry. For attaching 1-by and 2-by stock, look for the soon-to-be-released HN120. Max USA Corp., HN25C: $871 (tool only); compressor: $1,328; hose: $125. 516-741-3151. www.maxusacorp.com.
If big is beautiful, then International's 7300 CXT trucks win the pageant. If power is your thing, these trucks kick... As huge as it is–its GVWR is 25,999 pounds–the truck has a 7.6-liter, 220-horse engine, and its air brakes can handle 13-ton loads. Plus, its plush air-ride cab gives you a view of the road like you've never had before.
But the CXT trucks are more than a vehicle to get you and your stuff from site to site. They're an experience. You can get them with a basic interior, but at about 90 grand it might be a let down to sit on cloth seats. You can appoint the interior with leather seats, fold-down captains chairs (definitely a must-have because in this you'll rule the road), wood-grain trim, a drop-down DVD player, and satellite radio. The CXTs also feature on-demand all-wheel drive and are available with a remote control rear dump-bed. For drivers who look at the big picture, this is their rig. International, 7300 CXT trucks: $93,000–$115,000. 800-448-7825. www.internationaldelivers.com.
Stiletto took one of the most basic and functional tools in our belts–the nail pick–and made it better. A lot better. The dimpler on Stiletto's Clawbar is a little thing that makes a huge difference and makes the Clawbar a distinct improvement over the standard nail pick (or cat's paw). The dimpler encircles the head of the nail you need removed; when you strike the bar with your hammer, the dimpler compresses the wood fiber around the nail head, making it much easier to get the bar's claws under the head to get a solid bite on the nail. Add to this sharp claws (one acute and one obtuse) for getting at nails in different locations and a titanium body and you get a tool that not only works better, but is lighter and easier to use than its predecessors. Stiletto Tools, Clawbar with Dimpler: $50. 800-987-1849. www.stilettotools.com.
Spanish Language Cards
OK, so your New Year's resolution to learn Spanish has tanked once again. But every day you need to talk with your Hispanic crew, and the language-tape-in-the-truck thing isn't really working. No hay problema! Spanish In-A-Pinch, created by 2nd Language Success, is a terrific set of laminated translation cards that'll get you started with just about every trade. Get your message across to your subs, from concrete, framing, and stucco through insulation, drywall, and electrical; there's a card for each specialty that'll help you direct the work in Spanish. Pulling up to the site to do a framing walk-through? Slide the waterproof framing card into your pocket and use the phrases and terms to get the work done. The company also offers English In-A-Pinch so your Hispanic crews can meet you halfway.
2nd Language Success, Spanish In-A-Pinch: $5 per card; $65–$80 for sets. 877-265-8575. www.2ndlanguagesuccess.com.
Ridgid's R3210 7-1/4-inch wormdrive circ saw is well designed and well engineered. From the moment you pick up this 14-pound saw, it feels unexpectedly light and extremely compact for a wormdrive. The rubber overmolded handle provides a great grip and the rubberized trigger is easy to pull. Bevel and depth-of-cut levers are easy to reach and adjust, while the blade-guard lever is just the right size. The blade guard itself retracts well in all positions whether cutting thick framing or thin sheet stock. Lines of sight left and right of the blade are uninterrupted, while the aluminum shoe is notched definitively so you can tell exactly where the blade is relative to the line on an important cut like a door or panel. It even has a skyhook. Engineering is top-rate: The saw starts smoothly, but fast. The motor is quiet. The blade purrs to a quick stop without a brake. Function complements form, and vice versa. Ridgid, R3210: $169. 800-474-3443. www.ridgid.com.
We first saw Tibroc's remote-control power trowel at the World of Concrete Show in Las Vegas last January, and it had everyone talking. A remote control puts you in charge of speed and direction, as well as trowel-pitch up to 35 degrees, on four trowel spiders with an overall finish area of 40 inches per pass. The unit is powered by a 2.5-hp Honda engine and steadied by dual gyroscopes. The company designed this to be a lightweight (85 pounds) time-saver, reducing hand-finish work by letting one operator work from off the slab surface. Warning, your kids might abandon their radio-controlled racecars for this innovative new tool.
Tibroc, remote-control power trowel: $4,999. 619-309-5015. www.tibroc.com.
Reusable Batter Boards
How many hours do you think you spend setting up wooden batter boards with frustrating wooden stakes and junk-lumber cross pieces that only shift around when you try to get your string-lines set tight? Too many. Rousseau's adjustable and reusable batter board system puts an end to that. The powder-coated–steel batter boards are held in place by steel concrete forming stakes you slide into the two vertical "legs" and drive into the ground. You then adjust the batter board height with locking knobs and adjust the string location along the horizontal frame with the sliding string holder. Once in place, you lock the string holder and loop your string line over its center post. Layout can be fun again, and this product will make you look forward to every new job. Rousseau Co., Batter Boards: $69–$119. 800-635-3416. www.rousseauco.com.
A fresh look at an old tool sometimes produces unexpected results. In the case of Bosch's new PR series of trim routers and kits, those results were quite good. Bosch engineers built the palm routers on the manufacturer's laminate trimmer platform, nearly doubling the power and beefing up the body so the tool could be used in more applications than ever. The enhanced body style and redesigned grip include finger support pockets on the base of each tool to increase stability. So why use an 8-pound, 10-inch-tall router to remove 1/16 inch of material for a hinge mortise when you can use this tool, which weighs half as much but does the same work? Add to that a new series of base plates and guides and full-on router features like variable speed and soft-start (depending on model) that look like they'll change how many routing tasks are done on the jobsite and in the shop. Bosch, PR series: $100–$200. 877-267-2499. www.boschtools.com.