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As much as most of those end/beginning-of-the-year/decade lists annoy me, I did catch myself reflecting a bit and wondering about the first tool I purchased with my own hard-earned cash when I was but a wee lad. I think it was an Xcelite® Series 99® set similar to the one pictured above. I still have the original handle, drivers, and case, but mine does not have the clear plastic. Everything still works well, although some of the drivers are getting a little beat up. Over the years I have added additional drivers and a ratcheting T-handle.

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And so began my happy journey down the slippery slope of Toolmongerdom. What was the first tool you purchased? Do you still have it?

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14-Piece Series 99® Multi-purpose Set [Manufacturer’s Site]
Xcelite 99PR Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Street Pricing [Google Products]

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Sure, you can use a calculator or even your head to find the circumference of a round duct by measuring its diameter, but with the Cooper Tool Tinner’s Circumference Rule all you need to measure is the diameter — the ruler will read the circumference.

The tempered medium-weight steel rule measures in inches by 1/16″ on the top edge and circumference inches by 1/8″ on the bottom edge. The black markings are easy to read, and on the reverse side Cooper has printed relevant formulas and tables for easy reference.

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You come back to trim out a house, and you discover the drywall guys have mudded in half your boxes — now you have to spend extra time digging out joint compound when you could be doing your job.  If you’d used SmartGuard protective plates over your boxes you wouldn’t be having this problem.

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Many of us have experienced the pain of cross-threading;  careful as we try to be, sometimes things are just so unwieldy that cross-threading is inevitable.  With these thread-restoring files you may be able to restore those damaged or worn — external — threads.

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ANTOnline is offering a great deal on the 8″ Crescent adjustable wrench, priced at $9.29.  Featuring a black phosphate finish, it opens as wide as 15/16″ for all your loosening and tightening needs.

8″ Crescent Adjustable Wrench [ANTOnline]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

Leightweight Aluminum Snips

If your tin snips start feeling a little heavy, check out a pair of Wiss lightweight aluminum snips. They’ll make straight or curved cuts in light metal, flash, vinyl siding, or rubber. The 3-1/2″ rust-resistant blades will handle materials as tough as 23-gauge, low-carbon steel.

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We’ve sung the praises of owning a set of bolt cutters before, but let us re-iterate: from custom-sizing wire shelving to shortening bicycle brake and shifter cables, you’ll find dozens of household uses for bolt cutters — even if you’re not a scofflaw. In additon to their namesake, bolt cutters can be used for any task which is too abusive for ordinary wire cutters and tin snips.

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It’s easy to forget that the adjustment part of adjustable wrenches don’t require much force; All that’s required is that you adjust the wrench’s jaws to fit the bolt — not crush it.  Thankfully some manufacturers haven’t forgotten this simple fact, and have come out with some cool alternatives to the standard thumb-wheel adjuster.  To adjust the RapidSlide, for example, you simply move the slide-button mechanism back and forth.

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We keep a set of 24″ bolt cutters around the shop for all sorts of reasons.  Besides cutting bolts, they’ll also cut any kind of rounded material — even very hard cable and such.  Of course, you can also use them to cut many locks, so be aware that carrying these around in your car may bring you second looks from members of the law enforcement community.  But when you need to cut something big, they’re just the ticket.

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post-crescent.jpgWe grew up calling adjustable wrenches “Crescent wrenches,” though for what it’s worth we also grew up calling sodas “Cokes” and facial tissue “Kleenex.”  So there you go.

Anyway, with Crescent being such an established brand, we’re stunned that we missed this product release a while back.  Crescent’s R2 RapidRench has two angle-toothed jaws that can be adjusted in and out to grab pretty much any bolt (or other similar object) between 1/4″ and 7/8″ in size.  Once they’re adjusted in, they act pretty much like the standard ratchet in your socket set now.  Crescent describes it as “38 sockets and more in a single tool.”

We figure you’ll have to use the same caution using this tool as you would in using an adjustable (er, Crescent) wrench — rounded-off bolts are bad news — but it looks like a great tool to own.

The Crescent R2 RapidRench [Crescent/Cooper Hand Tools]