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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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Rather than trying to guess what various tradesmen and consumers will want to buy together (and then creating a zillion different “kits”), Hitachi’s trying something new — simply offering what amounts to volume discounts on purchases of a broad category of tools. In this case, they’re trying out the idea with compressors and nailers. This strikes us as a great idea.

Here’s how it works: when you buy Hitachi’s EC510 compressor, you automatically get 20% off the price of one of five finish nailers. (See below for the full list.) If you buy two of the nailers, you get 30% off the package. If you buy three, you get 40% off the package. It’s a “roll your own” kit.

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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.

Performance

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.

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.

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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I covered the Hitachi DB3DL for Wired back in 2007, and I gave it a mixed review. It drove a lot of screws on a single charge, and its replaceable battery made it stand out from the permanent-battery crowd. But the trigger was a bit tough to reach, and I was concerned about the tool’s longevity. Now Hitachi has updated the line slightly, releasing the DB3DL2.

Sadly, it’s hard to find an original spec sheet for the DB3DL, so I’m struggling from memory to figure out what they’ve changed. Obviously they’ve simplified the styling, ditching some of the shot-it-with-a-paintball-gun molded shapes. The result is a lot more appealing to the eye, and I bet it feels better in the hand as well. Besides that, you still get two removable batteries — 1.5 Ah 3.6V li-ion — and the DB3DL’s bendy middle.

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Shop air compressors are very much like the heater in your home: If it’s working, you really don’t pay it much attention. Only recently when we had a hiccup with our five-gallon Ridgid twin-stack did the thought even come up that this was a 5-year old unit that had put in hundreds of hours of tireless service. We decided to see how our favorite old compressor does against a field of modern competitors.

We shopped around until we found a good representative product from several manufacturers. The rules were pretty simple: Each unit had to be available at a home center or gear equivalent, needed to be in the 2-to-5 gallon range, and finally had to be able to power the shop tools we put into circulation on a regular basis such as trim guns, air blowers, and so forth. Four challengers to the Ridgid arrived in the shop for test. They are, in manufacturer’s alphabetical order: Bosch CET4-20, Campbell Hausfeld FP2602, Hitachi EC 89, and Makita MAC2400.

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Hitachi announced today that they’ll extend the warranty on many of their lithium-ion cordless tools to “lifetime.” Exceptions include most of the really-nasty-use models, including grinders, rotary hammers, and gas nailers — all of which still include a one-year warranty. The new warranty extension doesn’t cover batteries, either, which retain a two-year warranty.

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When pros need to drill seriously gaping holes in masonry, they put the hammerdrill back in the truck and reach for a rotary hammer. And Hitachi recently updated their 1-1/2″ spline-shank hammer, shaving off just shy of three pounds of weight while retaining an 8.4 amp motor that delivers a whopping 5.9 ft-lbs of impact energy and an impact rate of 2,800 BPM.

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Another Costco score, this looks to me like the 18V set that normally retails for around $399 in most places — and if it’s different, I’m not sure that the differences would make that much difference for homeowners. We’ve had our hands on a number of different Hitachi drill/drivers and they’re not bad at all, as long as you can get used to the Halo plasma pistol styling.

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It may look like just another angle grinder, and the motor spec certainly looks similar. But this tool’s designed with one purpose in mind: cutting through masonry in a nice straight line. Fitted with a 5″ segmented diamond blade, it’ll cut up to 1-1/4″ deep — perfect for trimming up concrete, brick, or tile.

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Hitachi just announced the newest edtion to their already extensive nailer lineup with the NT50GS, the gas-powered 18-gauge nailer. You heard right — Hitachi has now made with the cordless gas in a small brad nailer format. We’re guessing it’s to try and slim the lead on those guys in orange.
 
The new NT50GS will hold a 5/8 in. to 2 in. 100-shot magazine-style load and, as you can see from the pictures, is not covered in the alien-skin green that brings such a polarizing cheer or groan from the masses. The system is powered through a “fuel-rod” gas cartridge that Hitachi says will send 1200 rounds home, and the spark that lights up the gas is provided by a rechargeable 3.6v Li-Ion battery.

The same battery will fit in the cordless screwdriver freebie that Hitachi is throwing in the kit along with a spare battery and charger.

The entire rig will run you about $299 retail and be available at the local home center soon.

NT50GS Gas Powered 18-gauge Brad Nailer [Hitachi]