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Our compressor test has finally come to a close, and here are the results. We looked at all manner of compressor tools and tests and found what we consider to be some truths and untruths about what’s handy and what is scrap. To be honest, we didn’t find any flaming bags of poo in our test, just some compressors built for different kinds of jobs and a few we didn’t really get along with for one reason or another.

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Performance

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As you might expect, performance testing was largely a matter of looking at the numbers. The more CFM the tool required, the more challenging it was to keep up using low CFM compressors. So an 18-gauge brad nailer might go 50 brads before it needs to cut in on a 4.2 CFM compressor, where something like the CH got somewhere around 12 brads. Did both do the job? In a word, yes.

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However, there was a large difference in how fast the tank refilled and how quiet it was while doing so. Compressors like the Bosch and Makita would only kick in for a few seconds — the DeWalt and Hitachi for around 20 seconds and something like the CH would go chugging on for a full minute or so.

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There was also the matter of what you were going to be doing with the compressor. For instance, intermittent or continuous tools will make a large difference in what compressor you use and how well it works. Intermittent tools like 18 gauge nailers running at 90 psi (or even framing guns) might be fine for lower CFM rigs or compressors that have a cut out of 130 or 165. This is because you aren’t using it all at once and the motor can catch up to your use by replacing pressure when you’re lining up the next shots.

But when we hooked up an air-powered drill (continuous) with a CFM rating of around 6.5, the results were, well, not good. A few seconds of pulling the trigger and every one of the tested machines was pedaling at top speed to keep up. Eventually they all spun down into gasping out whatever the pump would push. The lesson: Don’t use continuous tools higher than the CFM rating of the compressor, or they won’t perform like they should.

So to better understand where machines that seem similar on the outside really start to differ, we put up a few baseline numbers.

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About a week and change after posting our first article on the beginnings of our compressor test, we found two things. We’d missed a few brands that needed to go along with that test, and we’d have to wait a little to get them and put them through the same ringer the rest of the field endured. In that spirit, a Bostitch, a DeWalt, and a Porter Cable compressor joined the cast of competitors.

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Browsing the tool section of Lowe’s today, I noticed yet another ratcheting adjustable wrench. We’ve previously covered these type of wrenches here, here, and here, but this wrench from Stanley-Bostitch uses a completely different ratcheting mechanism than the other wrenches we’ve covered.

This is by no means a review, but I do have some initial thoughts about the wrench after playing with it in the store. I tried the ratcheting action on the plastic nut Lowe’s had on the display, and to ratchet around a fastener, the adjustable jaw has a spring-loaded face that moves upward, allowing the fastener to slip in the jaws when you turn it one direction. It also stays in position when you turn the wrench in the other direction.

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Although the Stanley Fat-Max Extreme Instant-Change Saw System was announced last year, I finally saw it in the wild for the first time at Menards. Stanley also released what seems to be an identical product under their Bostitch brand, which has been on sale online for a while.

We’ve covered a similar replaceable blade handsaw, the Ergo Handsaw System, in the past and our readers seemed underwhelmed. I can’t say I understand the appeal of one handle with many blades myself, especially when you’re really not saving much money over a full saw.

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For every Arthur there is an Excalibur — together they create the seamless integration of human and machine that heralds the fulcrum of change. It could be anything, really; for Wyatt Earp it was the Buntline Special, Indiana Jones never left home without his whip, and for Eddie Rickenbacker it was the SPAD S.XIII. Everyone’s got one, even if they don’t know what it is exactly. After careful thought, mine is the 18ga. pneumatic brad nailer. It’s the weapon of choice in my shop, so it seemed only natural that I host a small test of nailers and see how they stack up to each other.

To that end, for the last few months we’ve been testing five models of 18ga nailers in the shop against the rigors normally associated with shop use. Then, for a little extra kick, each was loaned out to a rougher environment like a trim carpenter crew, cabinet shop or furniture repair retailer for a few weeks. Once each came back from the field, we compiled and compared the data.

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When Stanley looked to update their 24″ and 36″ demo bars this year — and let’s face it: we haven’t seen a whole hell of a lot of “updates” in the demo bar field lately — they looked to material. Specifically, they calculated that by selecting the correct steel and dialing in the heat treatment perfectly (just like spring manufacturers do to make heavy-duty springs like the ones that hold up your car), they could create a bar that’s just as strong as before, but also 30% lighter.

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You’ll note one big change in this long-popular short tape right off the bat: Gone is the FatMax Extreme brand, replaced with the familiar (if not on tapes) Bostitch brand. But hey — forget what’s printed on the case. The case itself represents one of the biggest changes in this tape. By changing the shape of the top just a little, the Stanley Bostitch folks have managed to render the lock switch significantly less susceptible to drop damage, at least according to the press release.

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For a few years now, we’ve made no bones about that fact that the razor knife we use around the shop is the Irwin Pro Touch. It’s light, comfortable, and feels good in the hand. Bostitch now has a knife that will see equal use in the shop — the Twin blade.

We’ve seen it around, but only just recently were we talked into using one. Surprisingly, it feels great. Though it is heavier than the Pro Touch, the grip and balance feel good in your hand. That alone wasn’t enough to sway us, however.

What did put the Bostitch over the top was the second blade. Unlike the razor commercials you see on TV that keep adding blades until they look like the back of a 80’s Nissan Z, the Twin Blade boasts two very workable bays that sport any standard razor type, like, in our case, a straight and hook blade. Add to that the width of the knife is still very trim and comfortable to hold, and it becomes clear this is not a gimmick.

Each blade has a slider on the spine, and despite looking like they’re too close together to operate easily, that’s not the case.

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When I first ran across the Stanley-Bostitch clamping level in Popular Science, I didn’t think much about it because it was pictured just sitting on a surface. Later I came across a picture of the level hanging off the bottom of a 2×4 and thought, “Hey, now that’s pretty cool!”  It’s funny how much difference the choice of picture influences our perceptions of a product.

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Staples seem like a good idea, until you have to remove them. Maybe you’re breaking down boxes in the shipping department, or you’re undoing some work by a carpenter who apparently was paid by the staple; you can use several different tools, but why not use a tool actually designed for the task?

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