By Michael Springer
New hand tools often get overshadowed by the excitement and buzz surrounding the latest cordless tools and shop machinery. Yet these are the tools that foster the most sentimental and personal connections with their users – the hammer you swear was designed for your own grip, the block plane that feels like an extension of your hand, the combination square that's like a trusted friend. Go ahead and ask some pros about their personal favorites. You're far more likely to hear stories about a folding rule – or a hand saw or a smoothing plane – passed down from previous generations than you are to hear anyone wax poetic about a compressor, drill, or circ saw.
We feel the same way, which is why we've carefully selected more than 50 hand tools to share with you this issue. This diverse collection of tools represents the next generation of designs, with features that will help you carry on your own legacy of quality and provide continued enjoyment in your particular trade.
|The DoorJack ($20) is a clever foot lever for lifting and rehanging doors up to 240 pounds. The 10-inch-long device is weighted to sit nose-down so it can slide under a door more easily. Once the door is elevated (up to 1-1/2 inches), the lever can be pivoted to move it laterally onto its hinges. The tool's smooth, glass-filled nylon body is less likely than a drywall lifter or flat bar to mar door or floor surfaces. |
¦ 877-399-5225, www.doorjack.com.
|Megapro won an Editor's Choice award a few years back for its handy 15-in-1 screwdriver. Our other favorite is the company's 15-in-1 Hex Bit Driver ($27). We all have assortments of Allen wrenches, but turning a socket-head screw very far is slow with the short end and clumsy with the long end. The Megapro hex model features eight standard and six metric bit sizes, all of which store inside the retractable handle. This indispensable driver is just the thing for countless tool- and machinery-maintenance tasks and is equally at home on the job and in the shop. Megapro also has drivers with specialty bits for automotive, HVAC, and tamperproof fasteners. The newest is a sleek Ratcheting 13-in-1 Screwdriver.|
¦ 866-522-3652, www.megapro.net.
|Jevons Tool's 3D Squares ($60) are sold in sets of four to help with clamping casework corners and making joinery square, but they also have other uses. The machined aluminum legs are guaranteed to be within +/- .002 degrees of 90 degrees along their entire 6-inch length, meaning that they can be used to square up fences and blades, too. With a contact surface more than 1 inch wide, they balance better than most squares on machinery tables, so you have two hands free to make adjustments. A 2-inch leg version called the Mini 3D Square is making its debut soon. It's ideal for small jobs like squaring the base of a jigsaw to its blade or gluing up wooden toolbox drawers.|
¦ 913-384-0023, www.jevonstoolco.com.
|Rockler's Pock-It Hole Clamp ($20) is a novel device for aligning and clamping pocket screw joints in 3/4-inch stock up to 3 inches wide. A plastic pin engages the pocket hole and draws the stock up flush to the bottom of the aluminum clamp body. To use the tool on a flat assembly table, you pull out the clamping knob to disengage it while snugging the clamp with a hex bit driver. Clearance under the clamp frame lets you fasten pocket screws as close as 1/2 inch to each other while the clamp is engaged. |
¦ 800-279-4441, www.rockler.com.
|Ridgid plumbing tools have been a mainstay in the industry for decades, and the company's newest offerings show us what plumbers have been missing until now. Using the Tailpiece Extension Cutter ($21) on the thin-walled plastic tubing found in undersink drain lines sure beats making fuzzy cuts with a hacksaw. With openings sized for 1-1/4- and 1-1/2-inch tubing, the tool works much like a wheeled tubing cutter, except that its spring-loaded pointed tooth cuts with a scraping action that also bevels and deburrs the cut end. Another new tool, the 2-in-1 Close Quarters Autofeed Cutter, can cut copper tubing up to 1 inch in diameter inside walls or in other tight spots. The tool ratchets an included (but removable) Model 118 midget cutter around the tubing within a few inches of an obstruction. The handle needs only 10 degrees rotation to ratchet. And the spring-loaded cutting wheel needs to be tensioned just once per cut if the easy-to-turn football-shaped knob is cranked down tightly.|
¦ 800-769-7743, www.ridgid.com.
|German plane-maker Kunz has a new premium plane line. We were the first folks in the U.S. to get our hands on the 5 Plus jack plane ($230), which has a modified Norris-type adjuster and cheeks reminiscent of the old Stanley Bedrocks. The plane's fit and finish are on par with those of other mid-to-premium plane brands, and it has a unique locking knob atop the lever cap that cinches down all the adjustments. The first plane out in the premium line was the 4 Plus, which we examined last year. The extended series is expected to include a #62 low angle, a #100, and a #9-1/2 block plane (following Stanley lineage numbering). After those will be a version of the Preston #1368 and possibly Stanley patterns #4-1/2 and # 5-1/2. Kunz planes are distributed in the U.S. by Robert Larson Co.|
¦ 800-356-2195, www.rlarson.com.