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Posts by: Chuck Cage

As Sean pointed out yesterday, it’s that time of year again — the time where we start to see tools packaged and targeted at the gift-buying crowd. We ran across the above “set” in a big box the other day, and it strikes us as a great example of the genre. Let’s take a look at it specifically, but more importantly, let’s look at how this particular package exposes some of the tactics you’re likely to see in the marketing deluge that we call “the holiday season” — and what you can do to get the most bang for your gift bucks.

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A year and a half ago, I returned to college to finish my bachelor’s degree (inspired largely by the reader response to this site, by the way, and a desire to better understand how to do what I do here), so as much as I wish that I could spend the majority of my time in the shop, I spend more time these days in front of a computer than in front of the workbench. Sean gets more shop time than I do these days, but as a (relatively) new dad and creative worker even he puts in more than a fair share of time in the desk prison. Maybe that’s why this stupid flash drive ended up on both our WANT lists.

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According to the YouTube poster, this is a clip from the show The Secret Life of Machines. In the video, the host describes the concepts behind the electric light — specifically the idea of resistance heating to create light. Here comes the fun part, though: he demonstrates with a welding power supply and some good old wire and carbon filament.

As you might imagine, it gets a little messy. I love the first YouTube comment: “Molten metal? I’ll just brush it aside with my tweed jacket cuff.” Heh.

Anyway, don’t try this at home (obviously), and have a good weekend (doing safer things in the shop).

 

We keep boxes of latex gloves around the shop because they’re great for keeping grime and crap from getting ground into your skin and fingernails. (Just be careful of heat sources. Get latex gloves too close to a hot exhaust header once and you’ll never do it again.) I also keep a pair or two in the car — at least when I remember to replace them — to facilitate quick (and clean) repairs on the side of the road. But packaging them in a dispenser like WetWipes seems like an even better idea. These are a whopping $4.25 at Northern Tool. I’m going to grab a can or two.

What other quick solutions do Toolmongers use for grime-free hands in the shop or vehicle?

Latex Gloves in a Can [Northern Tool]

 

Long-time TM reader tmib_seattle posted this picture of a horse head clearly made on a forge. I love forge projects like this. In many ways, the forge is a great way to demonstrate the pyramid-like process by which complex items (and the tools used to craft them) are made. Each skill learned on the forge seems so simplistic in singular application as to border on useless, but they’re anything but. Instead, a creative person can combine even just a few basic forge techniques to make something really slick — like this horse head.

I really need to get off my ass and put together a basic gas forge so I can start the learning process. Be sure to check out tmib_seattle‘s other photos for lots (and lots) more forge work. And why not share your latest project with TM readers in our Flickr pool?

Horse Heads [Flickr]

 

We received a press release a little while back announcing the 10-year anniversary of Bosch’s RapidRepair service, a “network of over 700 service locations throughout the US, making it easy and convenient for Bosch customers” to get their tools repaired. Bosch defines “easy and convenient” as a five-day turn time. Please note that we’re not making fun of the RapidRepair service. Honestly, this isn’t that much different from what you’ll find from most other pro tool manufacturers, and it’s not exactly breaking news. But it did get us thinking about how exactly various return and repair policies work and how they affect the buyer.

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If I say the words “rotary hammer,” what do you think? Big, right? Big and burly. Mean. Like twist-your-arm-off mean, I bet. Hell, I wrote about one for PopSci back in 2009 under the title “The Meanest Drill.” As we’ve always discovered here at Toolmonger, though, not everyone has exactly the same needs when it comes to tools. After looking into the needs of electricians and commercial remodelers (among others), Milwaukee thought, “Wow, these people have a lot of our M12 gear, and they could use something capable of dealing with masonry and drilling pretty big holes.” Hence, they’ve created what you see above, which is a hell of a lot smaller than it looks. It’s an M12 rotary hammer, and it’s just 9″ long and weighs just about 4 lbs.

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It’s hard to pass up the cheap, easy installation of fluorescent shop lighting. With fixtures running less than an Andrew Jackson, there’s no excuse for suffering the darkness of a single bare bulb — even if that’s all the cheapskate builders installed in the house. Still, fluorescent lighting has drawbacks. Bulbs are pretty fragile, and they’re a pain in the ass to dispose of properly. And they’re not the cheapest in terms of operating cost, either.

So what about LED? Is it a viable option?

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When we first speculated a while back about the kind of tools we might see as a result of the Stanley/B&D merger, we focused on cross-pollination of the brands — like DeWalt manufacturing hand tools (which happened) and Stanley getting some power tools (wait for it). What we didn’t consider was how changes in the new company’s management could lead to within-brand sharing, too — like, for example, Black & Decker installing DeWalt’s 20V MAX battery tech in its tools. What you see above represents what we imagine is just the first volley in this kind of thinking.

So let’s look past all the corporate structure stuff and look at the tools themselves. Black & Decker’s 20V MAX brands start with B&D’s stalwarts: handheld vacuum cleaners. (Really — you still call ’em Dustbusters, don’t you? Like people from Texas call all sodas Cokes?) These include the Flex, a Dustbuster-like model, and an accessory-laden model that looks great for automotive vacuuming. All three get the 20V MAX lithium-ion batteries, but like their NiCd predecessors, they’re permanently installed.

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TM reader Woodshop Cowboy points out on his blog that this project originated as a way for him to express his mechanical interests via his woodworker skills. I’m betting that the lucky kid who received it cares less about where it came from than where it’s going — which is all over the neighborhood.

For those wondering, the balance bike (he also calls it a “suicide trike”) features two wheels at the back instead of one. The result, in the Cowboy’s words:

“…training wheels, instead of promoting balance, promote a kid to lean over the bike for stability. The training wheels train a kid to ride the bike the wrong way because he or she isn’t strong enough to get it up to speed while pedaling. A balance bike lowers the center of gravity, removes the pedals, and teaches a kid to ride upright. When the kid gets up to speed, the bike stays up! The transition to pedaling happens at a more natural age (six to eight) and is easier because the kid has already learned to balance.”

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