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From the (virtual) mail bin: “Have you seen or used the one-handed reciprocating saw? Home Depot and Lowe’s both have one, and I was wondering how well they work.” Indeed we have. Read on for details.

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Before you head out to get your lawn and landscape machinery humming again, check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s recent tool recalls (beginning January 1, 2013) to avoid unwanted burns, gas leaks, lacerations, and explosions.

Recall: Briggs & Stratton Ariens Compact Snow Throwers
The carburetor bowl nut on Ariens’ orange-and-black 24-inch Snow-Thro can allow gas to leak from the unit, causing a fire hazard. The model number is 920014 with serial numbers from 100,000 through 119,039. They were sold from August-September 2012 at Ariens and Home Depot locations nationwide.

Recall: Ryobi Lithium 18 V 4Ah Battery Pack
The cordless tool battery pack, model P108 and part number 130429028, can overheat and burst while on a charger, causing fire and burn hazards. They were sold at Home Depot in the U.S. and Canada from September-December 2012.

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Though we haven’t tested one of these in person, we’ve been quite impressed with the bang-for-the-buck value of Ryobi’s updated One+ line, identifiable by their video-game-green color. And we’re glad to see the cordless recip get the updated treatment as well. Besides the obvious new look, some other pretty upscale features lurk under the hood, including a cushioned anti-vibe handle and an adjustable, pivoting shoe.

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For many of us, the “shop” also holds cars — at least when projects don’t eat all the space and leave us parking outside. The bad news, though, is that most homebuilders think that if a single crappy bare bulb offers enough light to get from your car door to house door at night, that’s plenty of garage lighting. We, of course, disagree. A dark work area makes working on anything at all pretty much suck. At best, the place feels dingy and depressing. At worst, you can’t see well enough to do the job and you might hurt yourself. The good news: It’s easy to fix. Just add some real lighting. Read on for three ways to brighten your day, night, and garage.

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The Christmas buying rush brings out a strange sort of logic in many family and friends. It’s as if, faced with a deadline, there comes a great burning need to buy tools they don’t understand for someone they aren’t sure will be able to use them. The Home Depot site will recommend actual tools if you click the last minute DIYer tab; however, if you click the “gifts for less than $50″ button, the first item on the list is a charcoal grill followed by a bucket jockey.

 

As Black Friday gets closer, some of the posted ads are already trying to chum the water. Home Depot, for instance, is rolling hard on the kitchen appliances. Discounts of up to $700 apply to some of the big-ticket kitchen items. While these select deals are going to be on sale for this price on the day of consumer darkness and they are lower than current offers, it may not be the deal you think it is.

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I thought I had snagged a pretty good deal a couple of days ago at Menards when I bought two 6″ Irwin Mini Quick Grip clamps for $10 after a $5 rebate. Then I stumbled upon the above display at Home Depot — an eight-piece set of clamps including: two 6″ and two 12″ inch mini clamps, two 2″ spring clamps, and two 2″ Handi-Clamps for $25 total, no rebate required.

Personally, I don’t use spring clamps very often, so in my opinion they don’t add much value to the set. I also wouldn’t pay more that a few bucks a piece for the Handi-Clamps since I’ve only used mine once, but I never have enough Mini Quick Grip clamps. And four for $25 isn’t such a bad deal.

I’m not sure when the deal ends, but the display was in Home Depot’s “gifts” section, so presumably they plan on selling it either until Christmas or until they run out of stock. So if you’re looking for stuff to put on your Christmas list, this set is a pretty safe bet — I know it’s going on mine.

Irwin Clamp Set [Home Depot]

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Back in my day, installing a door used to be a skill, but now these newfangled do-dads make it so easy a dad-gum fool can do it. OK, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but door installation kits have come down in price to the point where they practically give them away with a lock set. Usually these kits are made for locating and drilling the holes for the lock and latch, and leave you to your own devices to mortise out the the door so the latch sits flush.

Like its name says, Ryobi’s door latch installation kit is an all-in-one tool for installing door latches. With it you can score the outline for either rounded or square latches, then chisel out the mortise to the correct depth. There’s even a built-in screwdriver on board for screwing in the latch.

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Shortly after discovering the Best Damn Screwdriver Idea In A While, I ran into the quintessential Tool Gone Wrong: the 48-in-1 Ratcheting Rotary Socket Wrench. If you take a dog bone wrench and wrap a double-ended ratcheting box-end wrench around it, you’ve got the concept. What’s next? Giving the wrench flexible heads?

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Perusing through Home Depot’s “gift” section, I came across a lot of cheap flashlights and multifunction tools, but one tool really caught my eye. It was your run-of-the-mill multi-bit screwdriver from Husky — but it had a hole in the middle of the handle that you could stick the shaft into to make it a T-handled screwdriver. I thought, “Holy crap, why have I never seen something like this before?”

Now given, if you have to crank on a screw so hard that you need a T-handle screwdriver, you’re probably doing something wrong, but there are times when you just can’t get enough leverage to remove a stuck screw — and I could totally see this tool saving your ass in that situation.

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