What a great week here at Toolmonger! We appreciate all your input via comments and email. If you’ve been busy in the shop or something and haven’t had a chance to keep up with the site this week, you’ve been missing out. Luckily, it’s still all there. Go check it out! We recommend starting with these posts:
Hands-On: Black & Decker’s AutoWrench
When we first saw the AutoWrench, we questioned its ability to hold up under heavy use. We constructed a simple test rig and pushed it all the way to failure. The verdict: It works as advertised. It’s not as strong as a standard adjustable wrench, but neither are you. Whether it’s worth $30 to avoid turning the screw yourself is a subject that was hotly debated in the articles comments. Let us know what you think.
Hands-On: LOX Screws
Professional fence and deck builders know that there are some better alternatives to the Phillips head for heavy-duty driving. LOX is one of the newest, and we tested it by repeatedly driving and removing a single screw — something any experienced carpenter would studiously avoid. The LOX screws fared exceedingly well compared to Phillips-head, but many readers questioned its high cost — and whether it’s really a necessary improvement over the Robertson type.
Finds: Northern Tools Cross Slide Drill Press Vise
This (relatively) inexpensive drill press vise not only holds your workpiece in place, but also allows you to move it forward, backward, and side-to-side without unclamping it. We’ve also heard that it can be used as a “poor man’s” mill by chucking up an end mill and carefully manipulating the vise.
Finds: Northern Tool’s Gearless Ratchets
These reader-recommended ratchets offer a much shorter “sweep” — the amount you have to turn the wrench to engage the next “cog” — than standard ratchets: less than 3 degrees as compared to GearWrench’s 5 degrees or common ratchets’ 12. That’s a big help when you’re stuck working in a tight space where sometimes a few degrees makes the difference between ratcheting or not ratcheting.
Deals: Fun With Harbor Freight
We orignally penned this post as a send-up of some of the nutty items found in the latest Harbor Freight flyer, but it quickly turned into a discussion (via comments) of the merits of cheap-o tools vs. their high-dollar counterparts. When is using a cheaper tool OK? Check out the great comments on this post, and add your own opinion.
We’ve got some great new “hands-on” posts coming next week as well as some great new “finds.” If you haven’t been participating in “Doh!” of the Week, next week you’ll want to take a few minutes to jump in. We’ve got some prizes to give away, and we’re going to start offering one for the best “Doh!” we receive.
While you’re at it, don’t let us get by without mentioning your favorite tool. If you haven’t seen anything about it here, drop us a line and we’ll share it with the rest of the readership.
Have a good one, and stay safe — or at least be sure to tell us about your “Doh!” moment…