• ToolHounds: Jed Dixon, North Road Workshop, Foster, R.I.

     
  • Editor's Note: Saved By a Survey

     
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    Site Lines: Great Gadgets

    Like most finish carpenters, I've had my share of countersink bits. In the last 10 years or so, I've grown very fond of one brand of two-piece tapered countersink bits because they cut just the right size and shape of hole for drywall screws. But controlling the exact depth of the countersink so...

     
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    Compact L-Shaped Rotary Hammers

    I had the opportunity to try out the Hilti TE 7-C and the Milwaukee 5363-21 rotary hammers while working on an addition to my own home. For this fairly average addition, my crew and I found ourselves reaching for these tools a lot more than I had expected we would. We used the tools to punch a...

     
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    Ridgid R84040

    When the Ridgid R84040 18-volt adhesive/caulk gun arrived at the office, my crew and I shared the same thought: Just because you can make something doesn't always mean you should. But while that adage applies to many things, our test proved the R84040 isn't one of them. It quickly earned our...

     
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    Pressure Washers

    A pressure washer is one of those tools you don't really need until you really need it. It's the only way to manage the large amounts of mud that find their way off the site and onto your customers' driveways, sidewalks, and street. It's great for a range of other tasks, too, so it doesn't just...

     
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    Tools on Wheels

    Here's an ingenious mobile storage system that could help you keep track of your tools and put them at your fingertips. The Mobile-Shop System includes four integrated tool organizers fully stocked with 230 high-quality tools and 160 critical small parts. Each pocket or bin is labeled and numbered...

     
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    Reusing Lumber

    At 8 a.m. on demo day, the framing I'm about to tear out and junk is a perfectly functional floor or roof system. By lunch, I'm paying to have it carted off. So, on my latest tear-down, a 25-foot-by-44-foot ranch, I explored saving framing and reusing it on the new project going up in the old...

     
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    Safety Checklist

    Use this checklist to avoid OSHA's most cited violations.

     
  • Simpson Strong-Tie Installation Pocket Guide

    Structural connector engineer and manufacturer Simpson Strong-Tie is adding to its extensive training library with a quick-reference pocket installation guide. This detail-oriented, bilingual pictorial booklet provides a quick visual reference on how to install many of the company's products. It...

     
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    Worx WT480 Miter Saw

    When the new Worx WT480 10-inch compound miter saw arrived at my shop, I admit I wondered what I would do with it. After all, for years the center of my cutting operations has been a tricked-out 12-inch sliding compound miter saw. But after using the WT480 for a few weeks remodeling, I quickly...

     
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    Great Gadgets

    Everybody ends up working alone at some point, whether by choice or by circumstance. For me, it's a choice. I like working solo and to my standards, and using the right mix of tools makes me even more efficient and capable when jobs get tough. While none of the tools below is brand new, each makes...

     
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    Bosch PS20-2 Pocket Driver

    Pick up Bosch's new Litheon PS20-2 10.8-volt lithium-ion Pocket Driver and you'll immediately start looking for ways to use it–or should I say, excuses. From the way this compact driver form-fits into your hand to the soft-grip handle and its perfect balance, this tool will quickly earn its way...

     
  • Window Installation Training

    CertainTeed Corp. has redesigned its Window Master Craftsman installation and education program to accommodate the different installation practices of contractors across the country. The online course and test provide comprehensive window and patio door installation detail customized for five...

     
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    Arbortech AS160 Brick & Mortar Saw

    Every once in a while the steady flow of innovation we see almost daily in our coverage of power tools goes into overdrive with a truly unique technology we've never seen before. When we caught a glimpse of the new Arbortech AS160 saw for brick and mortar, with its patented orbital blade system, we...

     
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    Construction Q&A

    We do a lot of things in construction that can be confusing if you're just learning how things work. Here are answers to some of the questions a lot of new carpenters have.

     
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    My Next Life

    I know what I want to be when I come back in my next life (assuming I've earned one)–a contractor. 'Why on Earth would you want to come back as something you have already been?' you might ask. Excellent question–very perceptive. Well, to be honest, contracting wasn't at the top of my list until a...

     
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    Aftermarket Advantage

    For most contractors, a pickup truck is more than just a method of getting from point A to point B. The work truck endures everything you throw at it–literally–serving as a storage facility, a work table, and a cargo hauler, all while making an aesthetic statement about you and your company. But if...

     
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    Tom Stall and Ed Sutt, Bostitch, East Greenwich, R.I.

    Step into Bostitch's nail research lab with Ed Sutt and Tom Stall and you'd think you were on the set of CSI. Immaculate countertops are loaded with high-tech testing equipment. Colored screens of micro-spectro-photo-whatchamacallits cast a glow on rows of beakers. But rather than solving...

     
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    Demolition Hammers

    There is nothing quite as dirty, dusty, and plain-old tough as demolition work, especially for breaking up concrete and masonry. The work is unpleasant enough for both the crew and the tools so we try to get it over with as quickly–and as painlessly–as possible. But here in New York City, a town...

     
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    Lost & (Someday) Found

    I was encouraged recently by news that researchers had found a 700,000-year-old tool in England earlier this year. Seems like Flint-man put down his sharp rock somewhere only to lose it during the Ice Age.

     
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    Cordless/Hoseless Tools

     
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    Concrete Countertops

    Twenty-five years ago concrete countertops were the domain of artisan contractors and high-end clients, mostly in California, looking for a one-of-a-kind surface. Today, homeowners nationwide request concrete for the same reason.

     
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    Kristin Beall, Charlie Johnson Builders, Mount Dora, Fla.

    I grew up on the jobsite,' says third-generation builder Kristin Beall of Mount Dora, Fla. 'But after eight years running the company, newer subs still think I'm the homeowner. This is a man's world and guys are still surprised when I tell them how to set trusses.'

     
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    Recip Saws

    Reciprocating saws have been on the move–fast–since the last time we looked at this group. Category-wide, manufacturers have made advances with tool-free blade changes, articulating handles, and even LED work lights.

     
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    Cut Out Saws

    One of the biggest challenges of my plumbing and heating practice has nothing to do with pipe, water, or fittings. Instead, one of the most problematic–and recurring–issues is making the cuts required to install those things in all the materials we encounter in both new construction and service...

     
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    Paul Discoe, Joinery Structures, Oakland, Calif.

    How well you sharpen a Japanese planer blade with your whetstone depends on how you hold your mouth. So goes the legend–and Paul Discoe, who has delicately hand-sharpened many a blade in his Japanese timber-framing shop, has found it to be true. He's still using a set of tools he brought back from...

     
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    Lost in Transition

    One of the toughest transitions facing any trade-based business owner is knowing when to let go ... of your tools. It's an awkward moment for sure because so much self-perception and personal identification, ingrained over years of hard work and jobsite camaraderie, are wrapped up in the simple act...

     
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    Tool Storage

     
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    Shear Wall System

    On one recent project the architect and engineer wrangled about a suitable window-to-wall ratio. The result was a system with massive timber columns, interior and exterior plywood, full-height steel rods, and about every size hold-down in the universe. It was costly and complicated, and we were...

     
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    0506-ToolHounds: Paul Discoe, Joinery Structures, Oakland, Calif.

    How well you sharpen a Japanese planer blade with your whetstone depends on how you hold your mouth. So goes the legend-and Paul Discoe, who has delicately hand-sharpened many a blade in his Japanese timber-framing shop, has found it to be true. He's still using a set of tools he brought back from...

     
  • Kneepads

     
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    Portable Band Saws

    I remember the first time I used a portable band saw as a young plumber's apprentice. We were working on a large commercial project and needed to hang our piping mains above a drop ceiling. When my boss told me to make 50 hangers out of steel stock and threaded rod, I thought I'd be stuck there...

     
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    AutoFeed Screwguns

    As a production framer building large-scale projects, I could probably measure the amount of plywood subflooring and decking we install in terms of acres. And while most framers still use pneumatic nailers to fasten their subflooring, the argument for screwing and gluing plywood to joists, based on...

     
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    2006 Editors' Choice Awards

    In this era of widespread hype and rhetoric, words like 'groundbreaking' and 'revolutionary' are so commonly overused they often turn us off rather than attract our attention. Instead of being wowed, we are often numbed and under-impressed. That's why we're happy here at Tools of the Trade to not...

     
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    New Power Standard

    If you read Tools on a regular basis, you know that for years we've been pushing the tool industry to establish performance-based testing and reporting standards that would provide tool buyers with a consistent means of comparing manufacturers' performance claims. While this hope is still a speck...

     
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    Take Time for Research

    With all the important things you have to manage growing your contracting company, taking time to keep up with new products, tools, and equipment can easily seem like a luxury. And with changes coming so fast CNN would have trouble covering them, it's no wonder you might fall behind on your...

     
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    A New Kind Of Concrete Code

    Construction codes often can be a source of frustration when they're so complex that implementing them causes hassles that delay work or, worse yet, halt it indefinitely and needlessly. And specifically, residential concrete construction has been handcuffed by needless complexity and...

     
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    Journeyman's Journey

    In the South of France near the city of Nîmes, a mythical structure has existed since the Romans erected it during the first century A.D. The Pont du Gard, or 'bridge over the Gardon River,' was built solely to transport water from a distant spring over the Gardon through a channel atop the span as...

     
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    Framing Gable and Shed Dormers

    Whenever adding any type of dormer, it's essential to determine the roof load and design the load path transfer to the existing floor joists or roof rafters. Then you can ensure adequate bearing points, or add framing and install beams to carry the loads through the walls down to the foundation. It...

     
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    Steve Phipps, IDMM System, Woodland Hills, Calif.

    If Steve Phipps can't find a tool from his collection to use in building custom cabinets, doors, and windows, he'll make one. When I'm looking for a special radius jamb and entry door or a houseful of bifold windows and doors, or the sweetest hardwood kitchen, Phipps is the guy I turn to first. He...

     
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    D-Handle Rotary Hammers

    As contractors in New York City, my crew spends most of its time pouring, cutting, drilling, and anchoring in concrete. For some framing and all mechanical and electrical work, we use rotary hammers on a daily basis to attach virtually anything to concrete, and the tool we reach for most is a...

     
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    Pry Bars

    Some bars are bred for wrecking, scraping, demolishing, stripping, razing, and smashing (my favorite part of construction), which some now call 'deconstruction.' Others are born with a gentler side, excelling at salvaging, de-nailing, pulling, lifting, and dismantling. While you may lump all these...

     
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    Flashing and Sill Products

    We've all seen the images of mold-infested homes that headlined media and courtrooms a few years ago–or experienced it firsthand–with faulty window installation often front and center as a main point of failure. But since that time, the industry has stepped-up efforts to provide training and...

     
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    A Fair Shake

    I know the days of doing business on a handshake are long gone, and I understand the reasons why. Even in my own good old days as a contractor, I knew enough to get everything in writing. But even the tightest 'ironclad' contract needed to be backed-up by a handshake. And after growing up with a...

     
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    Laser Tools

     
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    Window Casings Over EIFS

    Exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) account for an estimated 30 percent of commercial exteriors nationwide and, despite setbacks due to early moisture problems, are still gaining popularity in the residential market. A durable, never-needs-painting exterior is very appealing to homeowners...

     
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    Arthur Aveling, King Arthur's Tools, Tallahassee, Fla.

    Like most tool tinkerers, Arthur Aveling saw an unfilled need and created a product for it. Unlike most, he has created a kingdom around it, founding King Arthur's Tools, which today sells more than 100 products around the world.

     
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    Hoseless Nailers

    As a builder in the Washington, D.C., area, I spend a lot of time with a nailer in my hand and, of course, a lot of time dragging an air hose around the jobsite. It was an eye-opening experience for me to try out the current generation of hoseless (a.k.a. cordless) nail guns, both framing and...

     
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    Hammer Tackers

    Lowly-but-essential tools that we count on unconsciously and curse when we can't find them buried in the toolbox, hammer tackers simplify the tedious task of driving wire staples into all sorts of building products. Whether you're tacking down carpet pad, hanging faced fiberglass batts, felting a...

     
  • Feature: Warranty Wars

     
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    Corded Tools

     
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    Hybrid Table Saws

    Hybrid saws are a relatively new class of table saw introduced by DeWalt with its DW746 in 1999. Because of the vagueness of the term 'hybrid,' they are also referred to as light-duty cabinet saws. Basically in between a contractor's open stand saw and a shop-grade cabinet saw with all but the...

     
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    Towing Safety

    When the boss says hitch up the job trailer and go get another load, you go. But do you really know what you're doing when you're dragging all that weight around back there?According to recent studies, if you're like most drivers who use their vehicles to tow, you don't–and you're putting yourself...