• Truckin' Around: Truck Updates

    Dodge has announced an upfit allowance program for all Sprinter chassis cab models to include 2007 through 2009 vehicles. Available through dealers nationwide, the program offers buyers a $1,000 allowance toward the purchase of upfit bodies valued at more than $1,500 and supplied by participating...

     
  • Product Watch: Power Tools

     
  • Launch Time 2008

    It's known simply as STAFDA, but the annual Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association show is the hottest ticket to a world of new tools and related product introductions for toolmakers, distributors, and in the end, tool users like you. As always, Tools of the Trade editors will be...

     
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    FirstTest: Lee Valley Plane Irons

    As with any edge tool, a hand plane's blade, or iron, is the key to its performance. Yet many people try to make due with their irons poorly tuned and sharpened. The irons on common planes usually need a significant amount of work before they will cut suitably, and then even more to cut really well.

     
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    FirstTest: Ridgid's One-Handed Recip Saw

    In my years of building and remodeling, I've seen high-quality flooring, top-dollar fixtures, even knot-free, dead straight, 2x stock fill dumpster after dumpster. But now, some cities and counties in our area require 65% or more of demolition waste to be diverted from the landfill, so we gladly...

     
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    Truckin' Around: Build-Your-Own Pickup

    If you're a Jeep fan but wish Jeep would once again offer a pickup, as it did with its Scrambler model until 1986, you're in luck.

     
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    November/December 2008 Hot Finds

    Drywall Cutting / Multifunction Bench

     
  • Cutting Edge: Dancing With Trim Carpenters

    Woodworking tradesmen are off and running in a competition announced by power-toolmaker DeWalt to find the top finish carpenters in the country.

     
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    Cutting Edge: A Blade Guard Worth Using

    In a rare example of unity among competitors, a group of major U.S. table saw manufacturers--including Bosch Power Tools; Black & Decker tool brands DeWalt and Delta; the parent company of Ridgid, Ryobi, and Milwaukee Electric Tool; and Makita--recently put their differences aside to develop...

     
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    Tool Test: Portable Jobsite Table Saws

    Jobsite table saws have changed a lot since I started working for my dad in 1972. Back then, we did almost all the millwork on-site using a huge, 12-inch contractor's saw that might have stayed set up for months. I started my own company in 1981, and as the business grew, table saws shrunk. I took...

     
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    2008 Site Commander Tour: Three for the Road

    What do you get when you combine ingenious features, breakthrough products and technologies, amazing craftsmanship, and the best brands in the business? This year's Site Commander. We've built some pretty cool Site Commanders over the eight-year history of this program, but this year tops them all...

     
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    Optimistic Road Trip

    No doubt, these are strange times in our industry. From manufacturers to suppliers to contractors--even magazine editors--we're all adjusting to changing conditions and the latest reports on the worsening economy. It isn't easy to find good news these days, that's for sure, and optimists are few...

     
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    Deconstructing Houses, Building Your Business

    This tough economic climate has builders thinking creatively and moving laterally when it comes to their businesses. They are becoming remodelers, renovators, even repairmen to keep work lined up for themselves and their crews.

     
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    Tool Test: Cordless Recip Saws

    More than 10 years ago, I bought one of the first cordless recip saws, hoping it would perform like my corded model. I had shelved most of my corded drills in favor of their cordless cousins, and I had high hopes for recips–too high, as it turned out, for the first generation.

     
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    Born To Build: Don Dunkley, Cool, Calif.

    Don Dunkley's ToolHound-ness was cast in Southern California tract framing in the 1970s. Ace framers made more money than doctors, and were driven by the relentless pursuit of production based on minimum tools–and maximum skill. Not even nails were spared.

     
  • Product Watch - Electronics / Tool Storage

    DeWalt's three new self-leveling rotary lasers offer increased accuracy, durability, visibility, and ease of use, according to the maker. Models DW074 and DW079 are for interior and exterior use, while the DW078 is for exterior use only. All have lasers that DeWalt says are among the brightest in...

     
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    First Test: Porter-Cable's High-Tech Sander

    Porter-Cable's new 390K 5-inch random orbit sander looks different because it is different. It is built around a new type of DC motor that Porter-Cable calls the EnduraTech. Besides not having brushes to replace, the motor has 71% fewer wear components, which should result in much longer tool life...

     
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    First Test: Next Generation MultiMaster

    Many multifunction tools don't live up to all they're supposed to do, but the Fein MultiMaster is a rare exception. I've used one for about eight years; I don't use it on every job, but when I need it, I'm glad I have one. I originally purchased it for the exclusive purpose of making accurate...

     
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    First Test: Milwaukee Cordless Vacuums

    At first glance, the two Milwaukee cordless hand-held vacuum models look like tool boxes: they're about 18 inches long, 11 inches tall, 8 inches wide, and have folding handles on top. They are basically identical units but in 18- and 28-volt versions.

     
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    Site Commander Update: Technology

    Here's a sneak peek at more of the technology we've designed into the 2008 LENOX-sponsored Site Commander, which will hit the road by the end of September. These Dodge 5500s are loaded with custom work-truck innovations, including what we're calling the 'Command Center' on the driver's side of the...

     
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    Truckin' Around: Slime Those Tires

    A flat tire at a jobsite is no fun. Thinner, less robust utility trailer tires are especially vulnerable. Tow vehicles routinely throw objects into the path of trailers, and when trailers veer toward a road's shoulder, they encounter all kinds of puncture-ready debris.

     
  • Truckin' Around: Oils Get Environmental

    Motor oil, two-cycle oil, even hydraulic oil are going green. Green Earth Technologies, a recent startup company with no ties to the petroleum industry, is selling the first products in a line of naturally organic, biodegradable, high-performance motor oils, including environmentally friendly...

     
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    September's Hot Finds

    Crank For Framing / Auto Feed Cap Stapler

     
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    Net Play

    With the Olympics and U.S. Open tennis championships just concluded, I am still well within the statute of limitations on using a sports analogy to make a business point–especially a tennis analogy.

     
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    The Crop Report: A Preview of New Tools

    Even though the building economy is in a slump, new tool launches don't seem to be slowing down a bit. Rapid in-house prototyping lets companies move designs to market quicker than ever, and fiercely competitive overseas production keeps many prices as low as they've ever been.

     
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    Tool Test: 12-Inch Miter Saws

     
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    Site Commander Update

    I just got back from the Detroit custom shop where we're building the three 2008 TOOLS of the Trade Site Commanders for this year's LENOX-sponsored tour. The Dodge 5500's with their Reading Body units are in a secure work bay at Special Projects, ready for the rest of their customization before...

     
  • New Tools Preview

    Two weeks ago, we told you about some upcoming Fall tool releases from some of the biggest brands that will be profiled in the September/October issue of Tools of the Trade. Since then, we've found a few more launches that we can reveal.

     
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    Tool Test: Sliding Miter Saws

    Whether it's into wood or your wallet, large sliding miter saws make the biggest cuts, so we tested them to help you invest wisely. The seven 12-inch, dual-compound sliding miter saws in this test are the best of each player in the field, and we couldn't resist throwing in a brand new, 10-1/4-inch...

     
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    Toolbelt Diva: Norma Vally

    Some girls like dolls, others like ponies. Norma Vally liked tools. The Brooklyn native remembers helping her father with fix-it projects as a very young girl, 'whatever age a kid can hold a tool,' she says, which turns out to be a great background, given her current status as the 'Toolbelt Diva'...

     
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    Re-Do-It Yourself

    I used to build a lot of second homes for lawyers, stock traders, accountants, and a couple of TV and movie execs. And based on the frequent calls I received during the week from their New York, Boston, and L.A. offices, it was clear that their minds were never far from their projects. They'd show...

     
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    Tool Test: Portable Miter Saw Stands

    The miter saws weren't the only tools on the spot. We tested saw stands of the lightweight, folding-leg, sawhorse type; more elaborate convertible, collapsible, rolling stand designs; and a more stationary multipiece stand. Besides evaluating their use in the shop and on the job, we devised a...

     
  • Product Watch: Hand Tools

     
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    Truckin' Around: New Ram Pickups

    The automotive media recently got a peek at the re-engineered Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks, scheduled to roll out in September as 2009 model-year vehicles. Two words sum up this top-to-bottom redesign: vehicle envy.

     
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    July/August 2008 Hot Finds

    Cleaning paint rollers, trays, and brushes often isn't worth the time or trouble, but throwaway tools are an expense that adds up. Shur-Line's new Teflon-coated roller covers, trays, and brushes for latex and oil paints and stains come clean so easily that even dried paint peels off without residue...

     
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    Supplying Green Builders

    GreenSpot, a tool, hardware, lumber, and building supplies dealer in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs, Colo., wants to be all green to all builders.

     
  • Toolmakers Face 'Difficult' Year

    The ongoing slump in housing credit and sales is affecting every sector of the home building industry, including manufacturers of tools and other products used in construction.

     
  • How Green Is Your Truck?

    Here's something to add to your list of sustainable practices: When your old pickup finally wears out, it's almost 100% recyclable.

     
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    Tool Test: 12-Inch Miter Saws

    Miter saws have come a long way from their humble beginnings. I remember the heyday of the 9-inch blade, direct-drive Rockwell 'Motorized Miter Box,' with a particleboard sub-base and a thumb-pressed brake. It was my introduction to using a miter saw some 30 years ago.

     
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    First Test: Stiletto Airgrip

    Stiletto Tools has come up with an ultra-grippy rubber tool handle cover with cold-shrink technology. Unlike heat-shrink tubing that can melt or cause you to char your tool handles, the Airgrip material simply shrinks into place at room temperature.

     
  • First Test: The New Nail Bangers

    Tools of the Trade rounded up nine waffle-faced framing hammers from around the globe and put them out on a Colorado jobsite with 15 framers, lead by regular contributor Michael Davis, to see how they'd stack up. Here's what we learned, in order of increasing appreciation.

     
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    First Test: Work Sharp WS3000 Sharpening System

    I tested the Work Sharp WS3000 in my small boat-building shop, sharpening the hand tools I use to make cedar-strip canoes, guide boats, and kayaks. I have always sharpened my tools by hand, and thought I sharpened them well until I tried the Work Sharp. This tool let me sharpen tools to a finer...

     
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    Screwgun Model BFR750

    Makita's newest screwgun, model BFR750, has a recip-saw shape and D-handle, silent clutch, and direct-drive transmission for heavy-duty use. The tool features an easy-feed system that drives collated screws from 1-3/4 inches to 21-5/16 inches, making it ideal for repetitive jobs such as drywall and...

     
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    FLIR 15 Professional-Grade Thermal Imaging Camera

    The FLIR 15 professional-grade thermal imaging camera uses an advanced infrared detector to quickly scan large areas to reveal energy leakage, missing insulation, radiant tubing embedded in floors, and anywhere heat is present. The tool is lightweight, compact, and easy to operate, and its 2.8-inch...

     
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    2008 Editors' Choice Awards

    Time and trouble–if only contractors and crews could find good ways to deal with these make-or-break culprits on every jobsite. When you think about it, the best jobsite solutions save us time and keep us out of trouble every day. The worst ones just make things worse.

     
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    Cordless Impact Drivers

    We set out to test the latest 18-volt lithium-ion impact drivers, but we made a few exceptions to round out the field. All but the Bosch are LI-powered, but a few different voltages and tool configurations are in the mix.

     
  • Product Watch: Cordless Tools

     
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    Roy Underhill, Williamsburg, Va.

    Roy Underhill is the one and only Woodwright, a term he coined to help sell his show idea to public television in the late 1970s. Now in its 28th season of filming, the original how-to show, 'The Woodwright's Shop,' is still going strong. In fact, Underhill is one of the longest-running program...

     
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    Time and Trouble

    It's time once again for our annual Editors' Choice Awards for the year's best tools, accessories, and jobsite solutions. This year, we spotlight 13 great products that will help you save time and avoid trouble–two of my biggest pet peeves as a builder and employer.

     
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    Delta 17-959L and Powermatic 2800 Drill Presses

    The first drill press I ever used was 40 years ago in my grandfather's workshop, and the ones I've used since, during my 22 years as a woodworker, haven't changed much. Woodworkers have always struggled with basic machines designed for metalworking.

     
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    Stretch Pickups

    Since the dawn of crew cab pickups, manufacturers have created ever larger, more luxurious passenger compartments. Now an aftermarket upfitter has topped them all with its own 6-door, 9-passenger custom stretch pickup trucks.

     
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    Transit Connect from Ford

    The Ford Motor Co. finally has taken the wraps off the Transit Connect, its much-anticipated import tradesman/delivery van. The carlike van, built in Turkey and sold throughout Europe as a commercial vehicle, will be marketed here as a more compact, economical alternative to the manufacturer's...

     
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    Import Scaffold Planks Fail Tests

    A product advisory has been issued, warning that non-APA-certified laminated veneer lumber scaffold planks imported from China failed to meet design specifications embossed on the products.

     
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    May/June Hot Finds

    The FLIR 15 professional-grade thermal imaging camera uses an advanced infrared detector to quickly scan large areas to reveal energy leakage, missing insulation, radiant tubing embedded in floors, and anywhere heat is present. The tool is lightweight, compact, and easy to operate, and its 2.8-inch...

     
  • Finally–Tool Test Standards!

    After years of repeated pleas by industry experts–including the editors of this magazine–major tool manufacturers have approved voluntary test standards for measuring torque and horsepower.

     
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    Lightweight Air Compressors

    My life changed 30 years ago when my boss showed up on our jobsite with a used 2-gallon, 1-horse air, belt-driven compressor and a couple of roofing staplers. That old compressor chugged day in and day out, just barely keeping pace with our tools but driving our production to a new level.

     
  • Worker Gear

    Face Protection / Performance Wear / Protective Gloves...

     
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    Tim Kenney: 'Gazinta Man'

    The look in Tim Kenney's eyes when he's showing you his shop says it all: 'I was born for this job.' And it didn't take him long as a kid to know this self-truth. 'When the other kids were playing sports, I was in my basement scavenging model airplane engines and making rockets,' he says.

     
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    Feast and Famine

    There's an interesting dynamic at play within the tool industry that I'm trying to figure out. On one hand, there are clear effects on the industry of the historic decline in new-home construction. It has affected everyone from jobsite subcontractors to tool store suppliers. We've never seen...

     
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    Dewalt and Ford Launch Tool Tracker

    DeWalt announced it will add to its line of tool security products a new truck-based radio-frequency identification (RFID) system called Tool Link that will help contractors inventory and track their tools. The system has been developed in conjunction with truck manufacturer Ford and technology...

     
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    Truckin' Around: Greener Trucks

    Truck manufacturers will roll out more fuel-saving, full-sized trucks beginning next year. General Motors and Dodge have both announced that they will offer 'full hybrid' gas-electric vehicles in Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Dodge Ram pickups. Meanwhile, Ford's F-150 trucks will get new...

     
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    Hot Finds: Nailer-Driven Screws / Wireless Layout

    Get the speed of a nailer and the holding power of screws with NailScrews new fasteners.

     
  • Nail Prices Jump

    Nail prices jumped about 30% within days of the Jan. 16 preliminary ruling by the Commerce Department on nail dumping in U.S. markets. (First reported in Tools of the Trade, Sept./Oct. 2007.) Responding to a complaint filed by five U.S. nail manufacturers and one labor union, the Commerce...

     
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    Electric Concrete Breakers

    Electric-powered breaker hammers have found a niche in the construction trades. In a wide variety of circumstances, these convenient tools fit the bill for small-scale demolition work.

     
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    Feature: Lost and Found

    Thanks to the Defense Department, we civilians have free access to the Global Positioning System (GPS), also known as Navstar. GPS is a network of 24 satellites, 11,000 miles up and orbiting the Earth about twice daily. By latching on to any three of them at the same time, a GPS receiver can...

     
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    First Test: Big Foot Tools Headcutter

    Big Foot Tools' Headcutter is a one-of-a-kind saw base that turns any chain saw into a precision cutting tool.

     
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    Makita TD090DW Impact Driver

    New from Makita, the TD090DW 10.8-volt lithium-ion impact driver outputs 800 inch-pounds of torque, 3,000 impacts per minute, and a no-load speed of 2,400 rpm, but weighs only 2 pounds and measures 6-1/8 inches long.

     
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    Hitachi Cordless Drill/Driver

    At 1.8 pounds and less than 6 inches long, Hitachi's DB10DL 10.8-volt, lithium-ion micro drill/driver fits into compact spaces.

     
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    Milwaukee V28 Cordless Grinder

    New to Milwaukee's V28 line of lithium-ion cordless tools, the 0725-20 4-1/2-inch grinder features a 3.0-amp-hour, 28-volt lithium-ion battery and outputs 8,000 rpm for cutting bolt, pipe, and angle iron and grinding weld beam.

     
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    Hilti 18-Volt Hammer Drill/Driver

    The SFH 144-A CPC 14-volt lithium-ion hammer drill/driver from Hilti offers the power of an 18-volt tool with the weight of a 12 volter, the company says.

     
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    Bosch Line of Cordless Hammer Drills And Drill/Drivers

    Bosch has released the second generation of its Brute Tough nicad-powered cordless hammer drills and drill/drivers, which have a range of features designed to provide the durability to stand up to rigorous conditions.

     
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    Metabo PowerGrip II Cordless Screwdriver

    Metabo's PowerGrip II 7.6-volt lithium-ion cordless screwdriver offers nearly twice as much power and drives twice as many screws per charge as the company's nicad-powered PowerMaxx Plus.

     
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    DeWalt 28-Volt Line Of Cordless Tools

    DeWalt's 28-volt lithium-ion tools with Nano Technology offer lighter weight, greater performance, and increased cycle life, the company says.

     
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    Panasonic 28.8-Volt Rotary Hammer

    New from Panasonic, the 28.8-volt lithium-ion rotary hammer, model EY7880LN2S, delivers 0 to 4,500 bpm in a compact size of 12-9/16 inches long and a light weight of 8.4 pounds.

     
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    Ridgid R86111 Hammer Drill

    The Ridgid R86111 18-volt lithium-ion hammer drill delivers 610 inch-pounds of torque and no-load speeds of 0 to 450 and 0 to 1,600 rpm, and 0 to 7,200 and 0 to 25,600 bpm.

     
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    Arrow Fastener CT50 Cordless Staple Gun

    Featuring a 10.8-volt lithium-ion battery, the CT50 cordless staple gun drives up to 1,500 staples on a single charge, says the maker,

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Makita Compact Hammer Drill/Driver

    Cordless drill/drivers seem to be shrinking; everywhere you look, brands are coming out with smaller and lighter versions

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: 10C Technologies Universal Battery Charger

    We're thrilled to award 10C Technologies' Crew Charge universal battery charger system, which can recharge different brands, voltages, and types of batteries simultaneously, including NiMH, nicad, and lithium-ion.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Muck-Truck Mini Dumper

    Packing the utility of a dump truck into a compact size suitable for the jobsite, the Muck-truck is a pink slip for your wobbly wheelbarrow.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Worksharp Wood Tool Sharpener

    Anything that takes the drudgery out of sharpening is a winner in our eyes, so we look to the Worksharp 3000 to save time and effort.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Steel City Granite-Topped Cabinet Saw

    No longer just a sophisticated addition to your customers' high-end kitchens, granite tops are now available on Steel City's 10-inch riving knife cabinet saw, providing a perfectly flat surface that will not warp or rust.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: DeWalt/Ford Tool Link RFID

    Communication and computer technologies have clearly made their way onto our jobsites.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Base Mate Ladder Stabilizer

    Say goodbye to unstable ladders teetering on uneven terrain.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Ridgid 12-Volt Subcompact Drill With Chuck

    Following in the lithium-ion subcompact trend is the new Ridgid Micros, but it has an important difference: a 3/8-inch drill chuck.

     
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    2008 Editors' Choice: 3rd Hand Saw Guard

    We keep an eye out for tools and accessories that we think can improve jobsite safety.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Max Superframer

    The best of the best in our recent test of full round-head framing nailers—we ran out of pages just extolling its virtues.

     
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    2009 Editors' Choice: Ridge Runner Truss Platform

    Being a ridge man on a truss crew is the framer's equivalent of a spacewalk.

     
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    2008 Editors' Choice: SawStop Contractor Saw

    SawStop's revolutionary blade brake won an Editors' Choice Award in 2001 when it first came out.

     
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    2008 Editors' Choice: Hain Co. Digital Cutting Station

    As much as we like many of the miter saw stations available today, this cutting station is one of a kind.

     
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    Product Watch: Snap-On Variable Length Extensions

    Snap-On's Variable Length Extensions get you into tight spaces with a socket wrench and adjust to the length needed as you tighten or loosen bolts.

     
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    Product Watch: Starrett ProSite Combination Protractor

    From the historic company that brought us the Combination Square comes the ProSite Combination Protractor (CP505A-12), a 5-in-1 layout device designed for measuring and transferring angles.

     
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    Product Watch: SOG Contractor 2x4 Knife

    The Contractor 2x4 from SOG is a knife of many trades.

     
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    Product Watch: Klein-Kurve Bent Nose NM Strippers

    Three new Bent Nose NM Strippers are now part of the Klein-Kurve line.

     
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    Product Watch: FastCap Folding Pocket Chisel

    FastCap's new folding Pocket Chisel will ride easily in your tool pouch, and the nylon handle protects the sharp edge from dulling or cutting its way through your pouch and into your leg.

     
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    Product Watch: Professional Tool Manufacturing Ratcheting Hex Key Wrench

    Professional Tool Manufacturing debuts the multipurpose, compact Ratcheting Hex Key Wrench.

     
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    Product Watch: Blue Spruce Toolworks Chisels

    Blue Spruce Toolworks chisels are made to order for the finest of detailing work, according to the company.

     
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    Product Watch: Irwin Mach6 Chalk Reel

    Among several new chalk reels from Irwin is the Mach6, with a redesigned body and steel handle with a larger center clutch.

     
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    Product Watch: C.H. Hanson Slide Square Layout Tool

    C.H. Hanson introduces a compact, new multifunction layout tool made of tough polystyrene that'll make a nice addition to your tool pouch.

     
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    Product Watch: Marshalltown DURAdjust Brick Trowel

    Marshalltown's new DURAdjust brick trowel has a dial that lets the user adjust the handle's diameter throughout its length, from just below the smallest on the market to just about the largest, for personalized comfort.

     
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    Product Watch: Bessey K-Body REVO Clamp

    Fans of the Bessey K-Body clamp that is being discontinued need not worry, according to the maker.