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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Monday morning, my neighbor and I planned on renting a machine to aerate our lawns. At 9 a.m. we drove over to Home Depot and they had several Classen CA-18 machines like the one pictured above in stock. The sales guy noticed the aerator we were renting was low on gas, filled the tank up with the last bit of gas they had on hand, then fired it up to show us how to start it.

When we got the aerator back to my yard it fired right up, but any time we tried to give it some more gas, it either died or sputtered badly. After about 15 minutes of letting it idle, then slowly easing off the choke and giving it more gas, it was running at full throttle but we couldn’t ease off the throttle without it dying. At this point we knew something was wrong, but we decided not to turn back.

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When I first saw one of the plastic bubble monstrosities required for “in use” receptacle covers, I thought the idea was sound, but the execution awful. Today there are a few more models to choose from and some are even more tasteful, but most of them still stick out of the side of a house like a sore thumb.

That’s where TayMac’s flat in use cover comes in. It’s made from heavy duty polycarbonate and expands from a flush 1″ to 3-1/2″ thanks to its synthetic neoprene rubber accordion-like structure. Supposedly the materials won’t dry rot, crack or deteriorate in sunlight and are paintable.

TayMac calls this box an “in use cover” and says it’s ETL listed, yet they specially don’t mention whether it’s weatherproof or meets the 406.8(B) NEC code; although Ace claims the box is 2008 NEC compliant. So here’s the question: can you actually use this box to meet code? Maybe somebody can straighten me out in the comments.

TayMac’s flat in use cover will run you somewhere around $9. Also, when I was researching this item I found a cool resource where you can download the various building codes by state. Use the last link in the post to visit the site.

Flat In Use Cover [TayMac]
Flat In Use Cover [Ace Hardware]
Public Codes

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With Robert’s Roll-O universal knife you don’t have to sacrifice the skin on your knuckles when you cut rough materials like asphalt shingles or carpet. The knife’s finger loop, contoured handle, and extended roller tail protect your fingers and probably give you more control than a standard run-of-the-mill utility knife.

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A cable ripper is a simple tool with one function: removing the outer jacket on ROMEX and other electrical wires. One of Ideal’s versions, the Lil’ Ripper Stripper, incorporates some other commonly-used tools to let you rip, clip, strip, loop, and twist with one tool.

Besides ripping the outer jacket of ROMEX, the tool also clips it. It also can be used to strip insulation from wires, form loops in wires for screw terminals, and get a better grip on wire nuts with wings. The grip is injection molded elastomer and a measurement scale is molded into the side for measuring the correct amount of wire to strip.

You can pick up Ideal’s Lil Ripper Stripper for about $6.

Lil’ Ripper Stripper [Ideal]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Lil’ Ripper Stripper [Sears]

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Forget measuring to locate recessed cans when you’re hanging drywall; Blind Mark’s Center Mark tool uses the awesome power of magnets to make finding them faster and easier.

To use the Center Mark, screw the target into the socket inside the recessed can and hang the drywall.  Then move the Center Mark locater puck approximately where the can should be, and with any luck the puck will snap into place to locate the center of the can. Finally, saw away from the puck until you hit the edge of the recessed can, jump to the outside, and saw around the outside of the can.

The Center Mark sells for $18. The Home Depot site claims the tool is only available online, but my local Home Depot had them on the shelf.

Center Mark [Blind Mark]
Center Mark [Home Depot]

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Whether it’s labeled as Klutch (Northern Tool), Commercial Electric (Home Depot), or some other house brand, this electrician’s multi-tool has an aluminum handle with a non-slip grip and several stainless steel tools including:

  • 10-20 gauge wire strippers
  • Pliers
  • Knife
  • Wire hook
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Large slotted driver
  • Small slotted driver
  • Saw
  • Cable splicing blade
  • File

The multi-tool comes with the obvious disclaimer to not use the tool on live circuits because it’s not insulated — if you couldn’t figure that out for yourself, somebody should probably come take your tools away.

The Electrician’s Multi-Tool includes a belt pouch and runs $19 at Northern Tool. You might be able to find it for less at your local big box, though.

Electrical Multi-Tool [Northern Tool]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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Magswitch takes two Magswitches and mounts them to a couple of right-angle plates to make their BoomerAngle Adjustable Switchable Magnetic Welding Angle. They sell two versions of the BoomerAngle: an 8″ model sporting two 30mm Magswitches with 155 lbs. of breakaway force each and a 10″ model with two 50mm Magswitches, each having a breakaway force of 550 lbs.

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After all the prepping and painting is over, you still have to clean your equipment. Ryobi is looking to make that last step a little easier with its paint brush cleaner. Plug in the cleaner, fill it with water or thinner, and it’ll supposedly clean any brush up to 3″ wide in a few seconds.

What’s more, they claim the cleaner will make your brushes last longer and perform better. Soft brushes rotate at 950RPM to “gently” clean the inserted paint brush. The 10″ x 11″ x 12″ cleaner weighs 4 lbs. and can hold up to 1 gallon of cleaning fluid.

The paint brush cleaner only seems to be available online at Home Depot for $30, but at least it looks like there’s free shipping.

Paint Brush Cleaner [Ryobi]
Paint Brush Cleaner [Home Depot]

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