Top Five Tools
DEAR TIM: I just sold some of my old stuff that I no longer wanted nor needed using an online classified website. My intent was to get cash together to add to my hoard of hand and power tools. Can you share some of the coolest tools you're aware of? I'm interested in versatility and quality. If I need more cash, then I'll sell more of my stuff! Kevin F., Liberty, ME
DEAR KEVIN: You and I are doing the same thing! I've been trying to de-clutter my garage and attic and I'm making progress! It's funny that what I feel is junk or of little value to me is worth much to someone else. I'm having great success with the storied online classified website Craigslist.org. The founder and I used to be part of a secret mastermind group and I saw this website when it first launched.
I could go on and on about all sorts of new tools as I get to see so many each year. That's the problem for me. I see so many, I don't know where to start, but I'll give it my best shot. Realize that I could list twenty, fifty or over one hundred tools that you could buy to admire in your workshop.
One of the coolest tools I just saw at a conference is a cordless 7 and 1/4-inch circular saw. Smaller diameter cordless saws have been on the market for years, and some did well to cut but overall were a disappointment to me.
When you increase the blade diameter, you need more power to spin the blade to cut through thick material. Well, Milwaukee Tools has developed a Cordless Circular Saw I tested and I was blown away by what it could cut.
The reason the newer cordless tools are able to work as hard as traditional cordless tools lies in both the batteries and the onboard computers in the tools that manage the power to the tool. The microprocessors ensure the power in the batteries is not wasted.
If you dabble in electric repairs around your home, then you're going to love the all-purpose pliers I now use made by Klein Tools. This precision hand tool combines a wire stripper, a needle-nose pliers and a cable cutter!
In the past, I used three tools to cut a romex cable, strip the insulation from the wires then bend the wire tip to go around the screws on outlets and switches. No more! This all-purpose pliers does all three jobs.
Another cordless power tool you may want, but don't currently own, is an impact driver. This tool used to be just found in an auto mechanic's garage. You've seen or heard them used when they rat-a-tat-tat the lug nuts on your car or truck wheels. In repair shops these tools are almost always driven by compressed air.
But a few years back, some crafty power tool engineers decided to bring these impact drivers into the construction field and power them with batteries. The first time I used one, my jaw dropped. The tool drives screws, bolts and tightens nuts with speed and precision.
You'll simply not believe how versatile an impact driver is. All of the major power tool companies make these. I seem to favor my DEWALT 18-volt, 1/4-Inch Impact Driver, but I've had great success with the Bosch and Milwaukee brands too.
You've seen the laser measuring tools, right? Well how about one that's tiny, fits in your pocket and has but one button that controls all the functions? Oh, you want it to be accurate within an 1/8 inch in 50 feet? Well you need to try out the Bosch GLM 15 Compact Laser Measure.
I got this tool about two months ago, turned it on and used a traditional tape measure to test it for all sorts of distances. It was extremely accurate. There are all sorts of uses for it around the home including simple room measurements, floor to ceiling height in seconds, diagonal room measurements to check for square, etc.
Sometimes I prefer to use a traditional screwdriver for a job. Multi-bit screwdrivers are not new by any means. I've tested many and always wanted for one that had a certain heft and ergonomic design. What I've come to discover is that since each person's hands are not the same size, it's hard for a tool manufacturer to satisfy everyone. What feels right in my hand may feel too big or small in your hand.
Well, Milwaukee Tools didn't disappoint me. They came out with a Multi Bit Screwdriver that has seven bits, six of them stored in the outer edges of the tool handle. Each bit is about 3.5 inches long and connects to the tool handle with a strong magnet.
There's little wiggle between the bits and the handle. That's important to me because I want the tool to be steady when in use. The bit steel is also tough and fits nicely in slotted or Phillips screw heads.
This multi-bit screwdriver is front and center on my metal pegboard made by Wall Control that's just behind my workbench in my garage. Don't forget that you need a tool storage solution that looks great and is highly functional. That's why I use metal pegboard!
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