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Currently viewing the category: "Tool Pr0n"

One of my favorite things to do is rebuild or fix broken tools. There’s something about making an item useful again that appeals to me. When the crap-tastic handle on my cheapo hatchet broke a few weeks ago, in Toolmonger style I found some extra wood around the shop, designed a pattern, and fashioned a replacement from mesquite I had lying about.

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As is often the case with Garrett Wade tools, the English plated brace is great, antique-looking tool pr0n that’s very expensive but not something you actually feel the need to have. The 13″ brace is carved from Beechwood and includes a 5” single square-tapered shank center bit and button-operated latch. Of course this splendid specimen of awesome will cost you $295, is only available online, and you’ll have to wait ’til mid-February for the backorder. Maybe the Garrett Wade scout-buyer who collects these from London got tied up in the pub.

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I live in Texas, and trucks are a religion down here. It seems whether or not the need for one exists, most folks want one — and the bigger the better. Last weekend the parental unit and I decided to go to an estate sale. We took the Ranger over his ’98 Ram because it averages 27 mpg, we had 60 miles to go, and by chance it was cleanest.

We’ve spoken many times in the last year and change about how much we’ve come to support buying for what you need instead of the shiny extras that look or sound impressive. Just to be clear, we at Toolmonger have absolutely no beef with professionals or hard-working people who require/use heavy duty trucks on the job or at home. There are about a hundred good reasons to have one. But I don’t off-road, don’t have a crew to be transported, and don’t pull a trailer. I commute and haul wood and project supplies to and fro, and that’s about it. I bought a truck that supported that and have never regretted it.

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With measuring tool brands changing hands like mad in the last few years, you’ve never had more options to buy laser measuring gear. But let’s say you want something less bright-colored plastic and more aircraft aluminum — something less Tonka toy and more James Bond-beautiful. And let’s also say you’ve got $5k to spend on a laser level. Consider the Cornerstone, pictured above.

From the website:

“Machined from 7075 aircraft aluminum, 360 brass and 440c surgical stainless steel; projecting three athermalized laser reference planes through patent-pending, diamond-turned aspheric optics, and powered by rechargeable Li-ion cells. [...] Imagine a compact tool that generates a highly accurate and complete level plane, like a rotator but with no moving parts. Got it? Now imagine another plane of light that runs across the floor, left to right, up the wall to your right, across the ceiling right to left, and down the wall on your left. And finally, imagine another plane of laser light simultaneously running along the floor in front of you to the wall ahead, up the wall, along the ceiling to the wall behind you and down the wall. A complete and portable plumb-level-square reference system.”

And as you can see from the photo above, it’s every bit as pretty as the prose on the site. Wrap all that machined metal up in a ceramic hardcoat, add some hardwood grips (with optional hand-checkering for you gun grip fanatics) and you’ve got a dead sexy piece of measuring gear.

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We’ve seen golden axes, golden shovels, and golden scissors for ceremonial purposes, but how about a gold ceremonial trowel? I’ve never seen one used, but if I had to guess, it might be for laying the first or last brick in a project.

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Or, based on the picture, maybe this post should be titled Flashlights In Space! Now I like flashlights as much as — or probably way more than — the average Toolmonger, but the mPower Emergency Illuminator that I recently saw on Gizmodo is a bit much even for me. Porsche Studios designed it, and mPower, a wholly-owned consumer products division of mPhase Technologies, uses its parent company’s AlwaysReady Smart NanoBattery technology to produce a two-tubed flashlight with two standard CR123 batteries in one tube, and an unactivated NanoBattery in the other. The NanoBattery side has a minimum 20-year shelf life with no power dissipation until activation. It’s to debut at CES in January, and should be available in March 2010 for a mere $250–$300. For that price you do get a “high power” LED  and an accessory USB connection for charging cell phones and PDAs.

Think there might be something better in the next 20 years?

AlwaysReady Smart Nanobattery [Manufacturer's Site]

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Many of Bridge City Tool Work’s tools make it into our Tool Pr0n category, but their limited edition CT-16 palm brace has got to be one of the most frivolous offerings since the $100 plumb bob.

Bridge City Tool Works crafts the brace from steel, stainless-steel, and aluminum and then chromes the outer chuck, swing handle, and knob in black, a look which they call “stunningly beautiful.”  The handle of the 8-1/2″ inch long brace swings in a 4-1/2″ circle around the bit and accepts 1/4″ hex shank bits in its chuck.

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Laser cutters and computer-aided machining got together in a shed a while back, and the net result is a neat new technology for cutting profiles in tubing of all dimensions. Among many other uses, high-budget race teams use these machines for cutting their tube frame members. They send the company a CAD rendering of the frame, and shipping containers full of pre-made tubes show up on their doorstep. Stick together, weld, and the job’s a good one.

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If James Bond ever spent a weekend in the garage, he’d use one of these beauties to lift his DBS. The above is a jack manufactured by Mittler Brothers, very light, and costing a cool $1300. Not exactly weekend-mechanic fare, but if your calling is race mechanic, this could well be your weapon of choice. Have fun justifying the cost to your boss, but if you can convince ‘em, you’ll be rewarded with a hydraulic lifting device fit for a king.

Every part is CNC-machined from aluminum. The handle swivels to make steering easy, and has a nicely-padded surface where it’s likely to bash fenders. One man with one hand can haul this thing over a wall with ease, and it has a quick-raise feature which makes me jealous. One pump will lift the pad into contact with the jacking point, no matter how large the distance between them. That’s the kind of ability I’ll have to look for when shopping for less exotic gear.

Mittler Brothers [Mittler Brothers Machine and Tool]

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Even if I win the lottery and build my ideal workbench in my ultimate workshop, I’m not sure I would want to have this beautiful leg vise out there. I’d be afraid that I’d nick it with a saw or dribble paint on it. I think it would go better on my dining room table. Then I could use it at Thanksgiving to hold the turkey for carving, or perhaps at Christmas to help slice that stupid fruit cake Aunt Sally always brings.

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