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The Boxer 320 mini skid offers a number of badass features — but the most interesting is that for about $80, you can rent it for the afternoon at the local home center and fit it through the garden gate. At around 34 inches wide, the Boxer can get into the the backyard or even pack itself into the back of a pickup and arrive on scene ready to work.

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Equipped with a compact 20 hp Kohler motor, the Boxer can lift up to 625 lbs. over 54″ in the air, depending on the tip weight at the moment of lift and what attachment is stuck out front. At any rate, it’ll tear up a great deal faster than any mere human could do. Plus, riding on the back and operating a few controls beats lifting or breaking dirt yourself.

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In a quest for better ergonomics, YouTube videographer pocket83 designed a simple and creative mod for the handles on his drill press by hollowing out a few golf balls. He removes the original plastic nubs on the rotating handle, drills out the rubber cores of a few Wilsons, and replaces them with threaded nuts to create larger handles with a smoother rotation.

I can’t help but wonder if there are common concerns people have with big shop tools, the way 1990s Grand Cherokees seem to usually have transmission problems, A/C failure, and a creaky driver door hinge (ours was a ’97 and I still miss it).

Are there known issues with your favorite tools, and if so, do you have simple modifications you recommend to keep them running smoothly?


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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Who ever said that play can’t change the world? The Soccket ball, developed by two Harvard alumns, is a regulation-size soccer ball containing an inductive coil mechanism that captures and stores a small electrical charge. With a tiny flip cap that reveals an 1/8″ input, after less than 30 minutes of play, the Soccket will power an LED light for 3 hours, charge a battery, or operate other small devices, including an iPhone or portable CD player.

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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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Last year around this time, Chuck and I built a set of Hungarian shelves at his place. This year, with lessons learned, I did the same at my place. I am decluttering the house and needed some overflow as well as a place where the other half could display pictures and knick knacks. An eight-foot system of nine shelves seemed to be the ticket. I learned a great deal from the last install and decided to change things up a little this time.

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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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It’s pretty easy to think that modern tools and techniques are the only way to reduce a piece of stock to size. In fact, methods handed down since edged tools existed are still extremely effective. One perfect example is riving — taking a chunk of log and reducing it to the rough size and shape for your project by using a stick and froe.

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If Bosch was looking for a way to further solidify its brand ethos, it picked a heck of a good line with the Dodge Ram. Ram’s stark and powerful Super Bowl ad taps deep into the heart of the relentless labor, the rugged existence, and the humility of the American farmer — drawing straight from the agricultural traditions of Jefferson and Crevecoeur. Love it or hate it, the Ram ad makes a strong statement, and Bosch is now linked to them with their new partnership.

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It’s funny when you witness yourself becoming a supporter of the horse and buggy when you see an automobile go zipping by. When Makita sent us their LXOB01 18v cordless sander, I let it sit for a while because I “knew” it would be a dud. This was not the case.

The cordless sander does have limitations that a corded one doesn’t: it’s heavier, and the battery eventually runs down. What Makita rightly pointed out is that the drill also went through this process as well and seems to have come through stronger. In fact, more cordless drills are sold today than corded, and the palm sander has the advantage of better battery technology in third-gen Li-Ion packs. The press material claims anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes of sanding per battery charge, which we confirmed in our testing. It’s easy to quote figures, but in real project time, what does that 20 -40 mins mean? 

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