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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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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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I really needed to change blades on the Shop Smith recently in order to rip hardwood stock, but there were a few issues with that plan. The first is the Mark V takes special 10-inch Shop Smith blades that you can’t just buy anywhere. The other was that my version of those blades had worn out, and the technology behind them isn’t evolving as fast as the rest of the competition. Luckily, Shop Smith provides an arbor that allows a different brand of blade on the machine.

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For me, mixing paint is an action that involves an old screwdriver or a scrap of wood. The Mixing Mate paint lid claims to simplify the process of mixing paint or stain in the can: it combines a one-quart paint can lid with the properties of a coffee grinder and one of the maple syrup dispensers from IHOP.

The Mixing Mate seems to work well from what I’ve seen, but for some reason I’ve never needed the help getting paint mixed or pouring it into a can or tray. Normally it’s a rite of passage to open up a can, stir it up, then spill paint everywhere before learning to control the can. After the first time it really isn’t an issue anymore. Plus, if you want to switch paint or materials you’ll have to wash the thing off really well or you’ll be making a different color than you thought.

On the whole it looks like it’d work, but so would a screwdriver and 15 seconds with a paint stick.

Mixing Mate [Rockler]
Street Pricing
[Google Shopping]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


For the past few years, Milwaukee has maintained extreme focus on tradesman-type applications. The end result for the consumer tends to some pretty wicked task-specific products that everyone can use, but might not have the need for. The ductwork and drywall Sawzall blades follow suit with this trend.

The ductwork Sawzall blade features a “pierce point tip” designed to plunge into sheet metal with a tapered shape, allowing the blade to make both radius and square cuts for any kind of pro- or homeowner installation. Tiny teeth are designed to cut clean without hanging on duct material or bending the metal, which also makes for a less accurate fit.

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As much change as we’ve seen with tools over the last 6 or 7 years, there have been as many or more improvements in their accompanying accessories. Milwaukee’s latest-gen blade is called “Double Duty Upgrade,” and though it may sound like they’re stringing together adjectives like Top Gear’s “i-Hammer Eagle Thrust,” there actually is a method to the madness.

Dan Wolgram, Sr. Product Manager at Milwaukee Electric Tool, sums up the changes in the new Milwaukee blades:

“When blades break at the tang and buckle under stress, users have to waste valuable time on the job replacing them to continue the task at hand… As a result of this frustration, Milwaukee has created several new-to-world solutions that strengthen the blade at its weakest points, delivering the longest lasting blade on the market today.”

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A year and a half ago, I returned to college to finish my bachelor’s degree (inspired largely by the reader response to this site, by the way, and a desire to better understand how to do what I do here), so as much as I wish that I could spend the majority of my time in the shop, I spend more time these days in front of a computer than in front of the workbench. Sean gets more shop time than I do these days, but as a (relatively) new dad and creative worker even he puts in more than a fair share of time in the desk prison. Maybe that’s why this stupid flash drive ended up on both our WANT lists.

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Mobility makes almost everything better around the shop, which is why it’s always good to know where to find a cheap set of casters. More to the point, it’s not a bad idea to have a few of ’em sitting around in a box just in case you get inspired or decide to add mobility to an existing project.

My first port of call for cheap-ass casters is usually Harbor Freight, where you can get a set of 3″ poly casters (soft enough to avoid marring floors but hard enough to support a bit of weight) for just $4.50. They offer lots of other options in the same range, too, like a 3″ hard rubber version with a swivel and brake for $6 and a rubber-tired cast-iron model for $6 as well. They also offer larger casters, like this 8″ cushion tire (read: not pneumatic) for $18. My father chose that 8″ model for his roll-around welding table, and they worked great.

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When it comes to making smooth cuts without tearing the crap out of your workpiece, blade selection makes all the difference. Sure, a little filler can hide small cut imperfections, but nothing matches the quality (and simplicity) of a good cut the first time. So if you work with different kinds of wood in different situations, you probably keep a number of different blades on hand to match the right specs to the current job. Now you have one more choice: Irwin.

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A little while back, we mentioned we’d be trying out the Mr. Heater Hero, the little cordless/forced-air/propane heater meant for small shop (read: two-car garage) spaces. I read the directions front to back, checked all the gear, and acquired some propane. After reading about tons of bad experiences involving propane-related deaths, I hooked the Hero up to the gas, popped the garage door some, and let it rip. To my surprise, this was a hell of a lot better than I was led to believe.

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