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Posts by: Sean O'Hara

As a general rule, we like to think we’re getting a great deal more creative when it comes to transport than we were 40 years ago. As it turns out…nope. These rail cars stowed 30 Vegas per car, nose down, in the early 70′s, ya’ll.

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The term “builders’ grade” is often slapped on a piece of hardware you’re almost sure wouldn’t pass muster any other way new, much less after 6 or 7 years. Apparently such a term was appropriate for the riser in my toilet, which split for no reason this weekend and flooded the bathroom. I returned from the home center with a Korky brand valve.

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We’ve seen every model of Dremel rotary tool and put most of them through the shop to test this or that feature, but we kept coming back to the old Dremel 100 that never failed us. The phaser-shaped Stylus was cool but underpowered; the Volt Max cordless was better but didn’t last long with the jobs we subjected it to. However, Dremel’s new 4200 melds the strengths of old 100 with new features we might actually give the old dog up for — like the ability to swap accessories just by pushing a lever.

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The Boxer 320 mini skid offers a number of badass features — but the most interesting is that for about $80, you can rent it for the afternoon at the local home center and fit it through the garden gate. At around 34 inches wide, the Boxer can get into the the backyard or even pack itself into the back of a pickup and arrive on scene ready to work.

Equipped with a compact 20 hp Kohler motor, the Boxer can lift up to 625 lbs. over 54″ in the air, depending on the tip weight at the moment of lift and what attachment is stuck out front. At any rate, it’ll tear up a great deal faster than any mere human could do. Plus, riding on the back and operating a few controls beats lifting or breaking dirt yourself.

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One of my favorite things to do is rebuild or fix broken tools. There’s something about making an item useful again that appeals to me. When the crap-tastic handle on my cheapo hatchet broke a few weeks ago, in Toolmonger style I found some extra wood around the shop, designed a pattern, and fashioned a replacement from mesquite I had lying about.

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Last year around this time, Chuck and I built a set of Hungarian shelves at his place. This year, with lessons learned, I did the same at my place. I am decluttering the house and needed some overflow as well as a place where the other half could display pictures and knick knacks. An eight-foot system of nine shelves seemed to be the ticket. I learned a great deal from the last install and decided to change things up a little this time.

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The best part about this Hitachi magnetic driver bit video is when the guy says “You’re not going to lose your screw” and the screw promptly falls off the bit and bounces off the table. That aside, while magnetic bits themselves aren’t new, there are a few worthy points of note with Hitachi’s new release.

The basic setup: these new mag bits are available in Phillips #2, Square #2, and Star T25 and have a rare earth magnet tucked into the collar. If you’ve ever used a mag bit before you’d know that you can still lose the fastener off the end pretty quickly if you’re in a hurry. The up-gunned magnet removes most of the risk of losing the fastener. But it may work a little differently for pros who often stuck the bit in a pouch while still on the drill in order to grab one or two screws, as the new magnet would grab a bunch.

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It’s pretty easy to think that modern tools and techniques are the only way to reduce a piece of stock to size. In fact, methods handed down since edged tools existed are still extremely effective. One perfect example is riving — taking a chunk of log and reducing it to the rough size and shape for your project by using a stick and froe.

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If Bosch was looking for a way to further solidify its brand ethos, it picked a heck of a good line with the Dodge Ram. Ram’s stark and powerful Super Bowl ad taps deep into the heart of the relentless labor, the rugged existence, and the humility of the American farmer — drawing straight from the agricultural traditions of Jefferson and Crevecoeur. Love it or hate it, the Ram ad makes a strong statement, and Bosch is now linked to them with their new partnership.

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It’s funny when you witness yourself becoming a supporter of the horse and buggy when you see an automobile go zipping by. When Makita sent us their LXOB01 18v cordless sander, I let it sit for a while because I “knew” it would be a dud. This was not the case.

The cordless sander does have limitations that a corded one doesn’t: it’s heavier, and the battery eventually runs down. What Makita rightly pointed out is that the drill also went through this process as well and seems to have come through stronger. In fact, more cordless drills are sold today than corded, and the palm sander has the advantage of better battery technology in third-gen Li-Ion packs. The press material claims anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes of sanding per battery charge, which we confirmed in our testing. It’s easy to quote figures, but in real project time, what does that 20 -40 mins mean? 

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