Ideal Industries

Ideal Industries has invented a better mousetrap for the electrician in the form of an improved armored cable cutter. The Sir Nickless ($24) has the simple distinction of having its cable bed slightly curved so that the wires inside are pulled to the bottom, out of harm's way. Pretty simple, but pretty smart. The cutting blade is also depth-adjustable for more control and protection. Are you still taking a risk by stripping Romex with a knife or diagonal cutters? Wire strippers that can safely chop through the outer sheathing of nonmetallic insulated wiring are the way to go. The Reflex T-Stripper has everything you need for 12-2 and 14-2 residential wiring and nothing extra, and its ergonomically curved handle fits the human hand better than a straight handle.
¦ 800-435-0705,


Bessey is known for its strong industrial and shop clamps. One of our favorites is the TSC4.516 Staircase Clamp ($59). Instead of wearing out your wrist by cranking on the handle, you can drive the tool securely using a 15/16-inch socket on a ratchet wrench. Even better, you can use a pneumatic or cordless impact wrench to crank it tight without breaking a sweat. The clamp has a throat depth of 4-1/2 inches and a capacity of 16 inches, and can apply nearly a ton of force.
¦ 800-828-1004,

Lee Valley Tools

Lee Valley Tools comes up with a lot of thoughtful designs, and its Veritas brand Skew Block Plane ($189) is no exception. Cutting with any blade at a diagonal effectively lowers the angle of attack and results in more of a slicing cut than a straight-on chisel cut. So the 15-degree skew of this block plane's iron helps it sever wood fibers more cleanly – especially end grain. The plane is made in both left and right skew versions so you can always plane with the grain. Since its iron goes all the way to the edge, the tool can be used for rabbetting, and it comes with a removable fence and a scoring "nicker" for cutting rabbets. The Log Builder's Slick is a brand-new "modern classic" tool from the company's Chestnut Tools brand. This 3-3/8-inch-wide chisel is for paring log or timber-frame joints down to their final dimensions. Its long, flat blade and chest-pushing knob are designed for maximum control. Another gotta-have tool for careful layout work in the shop is the Japanese Square, which has a flexible body that can be bowed down to make contact along the edge of your workpiece. As the tool is bowed, the knife-edge ruler surface sits tight across your board for accurate markings with no parallax error.
¦ 800-871-8158,


Greenlee has some interesting fastener-holding drivers. The 6-inch shank, 1/4-inch socket Nut-Holding Nut Driver ($18) has an ingenious taper within its socket that holds nuts tightly without magnets (which can attract filings and clog up the works). A short rap on a hard surface with the nut driver held upside down will lock-wedge a nut into the socket. A quick rap with the socket down will release a stuck nut. With most sheet-metal screws, though, this nut driver works just like any other. Also in the line are flat and Phillips-head Screw-Holding Screwdrivers with a spring-loaded device that holds fasteners very securely.
¦ 800-435-0786,


Bostitch, now the brand for Stanley's heaviest-duty pro hand tools, has introduced a series of new products. Our practical favorite is the 33-001 25-foot tape measure ($25), which features the widest blade – 1-1/4 inches – the longest standout – 13 feet – and a hook 150 percent larger than others available. Most tapes turn sideways and collapse when you try to hook a wall. But the giant ears on the Bostitch tape hook let you hook the wall with the side of the tape without fail. The hook even sticks up above the tape so it can snag the bottom of distant joists.
¦ 800-782-6539,

Tajima Tool

Tajima Tool's Combination Drywall Rasp ($16) has teeth made of chromed die-cast aluminum. According to the manufacturer, the aluminum teeth will last four to five times longer than the teeth on competitive steel rasps. The 7-inch tool feels very light in hand and has a nice rubberized grip surface. The rasp has a recessed section with coarse teeth for quickly shaping or straightening the edge of a drywall sheet, as well as a finer flat section and aggressive corner teeth. Bi-directional teeth cut forward and back.
¦ 888-482-5462,