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    Tool Test: Combination Lasers

    My first encounter with construction lasers was 20-plus years ago on a commercial job site, where a subcontractor was using a rotary laser to level the track for a suspended ceiling. The tool obviously saved a lot of time, and even though it could only shoot level, I was jealous that my company...

     
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    Product Watch: 23-Gauge Pinner

    A 23-gauge pinner is perfect for fastening small returns and delicate pieces that would be destroyed by a brad nailer. Cadex, known for well-made and feature-laden guns, has just released the CP23.30, a low-price alternative to some of its fancier tools.

     
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    Product Watch: Liftable Box

    Hauling a gang box full of tools from site to site is backbreaking work. Just hoisting the thing up onto the truck can take up to four people. Rescue 42's General Purpose Box makes this labor-intensive process a simple one-man job.

     
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    Product Watch: Remote Air Regulators

    The H4X Remote Air Hub solves several problems associated with pneumatics on job sites. Instead of running multiple hoses back to the compressor, you put the Air Hub close to the action and plug tool hoses into it.

     
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    Product Watch: Mixing Paddle

    The task of mixing usually rolls down to the least experienced person on site, but it still has to be done correctly. While most mixing paddles only work with a single specified material, the uniquely flexible StirWhip – which looks like it's modeled after some rare sea creature – can be used with...

     
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    Product Watch: Faster Fastening

    Installing metal roof panels on a hot day is like hanging out in a convection oven, so any tool that speeds up the process is worth considering. The Strong-Tie BGP300 auto-feed screwdriving system drives the hex-head screws with washers used to fasten metal roofing and siding.

     
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    Product Watch: Rebar-Resistant Masonry Bit

    Nothing destroys masonry bits like rebar. One solution may be the new SpeedHammer bits, which – according to Irwin – are designed to be twice as durable as standard masonry bits.

     
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    Product Watch: Easy Door Painting

    Door Deckers are designed to assist with both the painting and the drying of doors and shelves.

     
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    Product Watch: Tight-Bend Air Hose

    Air hoses can be difficult to stow and are a real tripping hazard. Because of the unique design of its inner and outer walls, the new GilaFlex hose has no shape memory; it coils easily.

     
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    Product Watch: Creepy Lighting

    To a thief, a construction site can be a treasure trove of expensive tools and possibly an easy way to get into someone's house. Nightwatcher Security Lighting should thoroughly freak out even the most adept burglars and vandals.

     
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    Product Watch: Feature-Rich Finish Gun

    Bostitch recently upgraded its 15-gauge finish nailer with an eye toward making life easier for the trim carpenter. The gun has a small, thumb-operated blowgun for clearing away dust and debris and a small battery-powered LED on the nose.

     
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    Product Watch: Flush-Cut Recip Blade

    Cutting door and window openings through sheathing with a recip saw usually leaves a rough and crooked edge. Milwaukee's new flush-cut blade was created for these applications.

     
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    Product Watch: Innovative Demo Bar

    As the latest entry in the ongoing competition for the perfect deck demo tool, the Duck Prybar is distinguished by its unique adjustable head.

     
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    Product Watch: Reliable Hammer Tacker

    If it weren't for hammer tackers, the tedious task of applying felt paper and housewrap would be intolerable. As part of Arrow's new RED line, the HT50iRED has a bottom-loading mechanism that the maker says tightly secures the staples and makes jamming less likely than in rear-loading models.

     
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    Product Watch: 3-in-1 Sander

    The Festool RO 90 DX Sander has switchable modes that allow it to function as a grinder, orbital sander, and detail sander. In grinding mode, the motor gears down to produce more torque.

     
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    Product Watch: Fast Rebar Tying

    Rebar tying tools seem to come in two flavors: simple hand tools and high-tech cordless machines. Somewhere in the middle are the new Pinza Tying Pliers, which look like a set of end nippers with the spiral shaft of a Yankee screwdriver grafted into them.

     
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    Product Watch: Thor's Hammer

    Framing hammers take a lot of abuse, and after a while their striking surfaces can start to break down. To prolong the life of the Hardcore Hammer, its maker recessed the waffle face (made from hardened steel) slightly from the head's smooth outer ring.

     
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    Product Watch: Outdoor ToolBelt

    Protecting tools from the weather is an ongoing struggle for anyone who works outdoors.

     
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    Product Watch: Dual-Blade Saw

    Because they have a pair of close-set blades spinning in opposing directions, dual-blade saws virtually eliminate kickback and are great for plunge-cutting.

     
  • Product Watch: Inspection Camera

    Digital inspection cameras are useful for seeing into walls, down conduits, and anywhere else only a mouse can fit. As part of Bosch's 12-volt platform, the new PS90> has a 2-11/16-inch screen with a maximum resolution of 324x240.

     
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    Product Watch: Comfy Dust Mask

    Dust masks can be restricting, particularly when you're trying to talk to someone. With its pleated sides, the 3M Vflex respirator solves this and other annoyances.

     
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    Product Watch: Space-Saving Ladder

    Even though they fold, stepladders are bulky and difficult to transport. The Little Giant Select Step combines two common sizes – a 6-footer and an 8-footer – in one model, so you've got one less ladder to haul around.

     
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    Product Watch: Twin-Trigger Flooring Stapler

    With the Hitachi N2503AF you can install thin wood flooring without having to contort yourself into awkward positions to hold the nose at the proper angle.

     
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    Tool Test: Inline Circular Saws

    Fifteen years ago, when I started out as a framer, Skil was the only real choice for carpenters looking for an inline saw. Since then, a lot more companies have started making these tools and now there are quite a few to choose from.

     
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    Spring 2011 Product Watch

     
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    A Full Day's Work in One Hour

    Ray Robinson, Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 winner

     
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    Tools Up Close: Bosch Glide Miter Saw

    For as long as I can remember, miter saws have ridden on rails. This design works very well except for one shortcoming: You need to set up away from the wall because the rails protrude from the back of the machine. Bosch recently introduced a 12-inch dual compound sliding model (GCM12SD) designed...

     
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    Tools Up Close: Job-Site Radios

    Like many carpenters, I enjoy listening to music at work. When I was starting out, there were only a couple of options: Leave the truck radio on with the door open (and risk having to jump the battery later on) or listen to a bad-sounding boombox that was held together with duct tape and had a wire...

     
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    Tools Up Close: Hilti Electric Concrete Saw

    The DCH 300 is electric, so it's reliable and produces no fumes, and it has a hose port that can be connected to a dust-collecting vacuum. Though designed to cut concrete and masonry, the saw can be used to cut metal if it's equipped with a fiber-reinforced abrasive blade. Lots of companies make...