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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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This crossbow-style ratcheting tubing bender from Uniweld will bend soft copper and aluminum tubing up to 90º. The ratcheting mechanism replaces the long lever arms of other benders, allowing you to make bends in tight spaces.

Designed to distort the tubing as little as possible to maintain optimal flow, the ratcheting handle drives the mandrel and the tubing against the side support blocks. As the mandrel continues forward, the side blocks rotate to keep their concave surface supporting the tubing.

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Last summer one of our two outside water faucets started leaking. By the time I shut off the water to the outside faucets for the winter, it had become a constant stream. So this spring before turning the water back on, I talked with a plumber and bounced my impending repair off him. He recommended that I could simply reseal it myself. The repair was simple, cheap, and will prevent me from worrying about my water bill skyrocketing this summer.

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Friday, I posted a tool that I had trouble identifying and asked the readers have a guess at its function. Today, I’ll post all the information I have about the tool.

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If you read this site, you probably spend a lot of time wondering how they put things together, or better yet, how you’d take them apart. Take a tub drain, for instance: How do you remove the old one so you can replace it? Superior Tool makes a tub drain wrench like this dumbbell wrench to help you get the job done.

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Rothenberger’s 10″ self-adjusting ROGRIP pliers grip pipes, bolts, sheet goods, and more with just a single hand. Just put the object in the jaws and squeeze the handles — no slip jaws, screws, or ratcheting required — and they’ll automatically adjust to any object up to 1-5/8″ in diameter.

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Ridgid designed this ONESTOP wrench to be the only wrench you need to install angle and straight stops, faucet nuts, washer/dryer/dishwasher legs, compression couplings, and other fittings. Actually, it’s two separate wrenches — the flare-style wrench stores in the open-end handle.

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Magnetic levels are great, but only a small subset of pipes are made from a magnetic material; the rest are PVC, ABS, copper, or something else entirely. So what do you use to level, plumb and slope these pipes? You could use Kapro pipe levels.

Made from a flexible extruded polymer, the pipe levels snap onto and stay on standard sized pipes. The pipe levels have both vertical and horizontal bubble vials, and the vials have three painted lines for measuring different slopes.

Available in a five-piece set with levels for 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″, 1-1/4″ to 1-1/2″, and 2″ pipes, you can pick up the set for around $10.

Pipe Levels [Kapro]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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Toolmonger reader Ron writes: “I’ve heard a lot of people talk about 12 volt drills and I was wondering if I should pick one up. I currently have an 18 volt Ryobi drill (yes the recalled one) and impact driver. When I asked the person at HD he said I would be disappointed with the ‘downgrade.’ Is it something I need or just G.A.S. striking again?”

Great question, Ron! Here’s our take: The new 12V market grew from the need for less powerful — yet still durable and long-lasting — drills. Let’s take a look at the torque specs for some representative models.

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When we sat down to red-line the plans for our house years ago, we realized that while the builder had constructed hundreds of homes, this was our first. So we asked him: What would you do if this was your house? He immediately recommended a couple of changes (some of which we’d already put on our list), like moving the hot water heaters from the attic to the garage. But my absolute favorite — which I’d have never considered: Add plumbing for a sink in the garage.

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