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Posts by: Chuck Cage

The Boeing 777 is an amazing piece of hardware for a number of reasons. It’s one of the first aircraft to heavily incorporate computerized design to reduce testing time. It’s a two-engined aircraft that’s proven so reliable that it’s been certified to fly previously four-engine-only routes. It’s pretty amazing. But did you know each one (like previous Boeing aircraft as well) are hand-made — like a Ferrari, or a Lamborghini?

We leave you this week with the above video, which was created by Boeing to tell everyone a little bit about not the 777, but rather about the people who build it. In roughly seven minutes, we get a little peek into what makes those thousands of people go, from their childhood dreams to their introduction into the mechanical world. All of this comes together in carefully-coordinated teamwork — and a product that many cross-continental travelers bet their asses on every day.

What I see are a bunch of folks who like what they do and care to do it well — whether people are watching or not. That’s just awesome. Enjoy.

 

Though we suspect many pros already know about this, we wonder how many high-end DIY folks are aware that most of the major manufacturers offer automotive versions of their charging systems. Indeed, if you take the time to do a little Googling, you’ll discover lots of options regardless of the color of your power tools. Read on to take a closer look at four of them.

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I still remember when my father bought me my first workbench of my own. He ordered it from Sears, back when the catalog pick-up window was much busier at Sears than their front cash registers, and we picked it up in a big flat-pack box, took it home, and assembled it. I still have the bench, too. (Well, Sean has it, actually. It was eating up space in my storage unit, and Sean needed a bench.)

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If you’re worried that someone might steal your license plate, Amazon offers a $5 solution to the problem in the form of specialty fasteners. They’re designed to make your plate just a little harder to steal than the one on the car next to you. I came across this while spinning around Amazon looking at tools, and I’ll admit my first thought was “Really? These are necessary?” Apparently so, at least if you believe the review comments. Check out the first one in which “psnorb” shares his experience of having his plates stolen and promptly used in a high-speed chase with police. (Interestingly, his biggest gripe is that the police kept his plate as evidence.) I have no idea where “psnorb” lives, but I’m guessing it’s not here in Dallas, TX.

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Despite TV’s focus on the motorcycle craze, a number of folks pour their souls into building bikes of the human-powered variety. This video tells the story of Ricky Feature, a British bespoke bike builder who “started with little more than basic materials and rudimentary tools such as a file and torch” and proceeded, driven by his own “personal perfectionism,” to establish “an impressive reputation for his handcrafted bicycle frames.”

For what it’s worth, if I had zillions of dollars to spend on a bespoke product, I’d visit a guy like this instead of heading to Savile Row.

Have a great weekend, and don’t forget to spend some quality time in the shop!

 

Over the summer we saw more movement in the constant SawStop battle, and we thought we’d share it with you. Honestly, we’re getting a little bit weary of the whole mess, but it’s still something we know many Toolmongers care about. I’ll just start by sharing the email that landed in our inbox over the summer, above. Take a look. We’ll wait.

For those who aren’t familiar with the whole SawStop mess, a quick rundown: SawStop is a sensing technology that, when incorporated into the design of table saws, stops the saw very quickly when it encounters “meat” (read: your hands, fingers, or body). It works, and it can definitely save folks from injury in many cases. But there’s more to this than merely safety. The creators of this system own a patent on it, and they want (from what we can tell) significant sums of money for licensing the patent. Also, the system is designed such that each time the saw stops (whether to save your fingers or, in the case of a false positive, stop), it uses up a “brake cartridge” which you must then replace. These cartridges cost upwards of $50 (the 10″ version is $70 right now, for example) — a significant percentage of the cost of the saw. Now the kicker: the owners of the SawStop patents are pushing lawsuits to mandate the use of the SawStop technology, essentially claiming that any saws that don’t include the SawStop feature are inherently unsafe by design.

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Ok — have some pity on a relatively new cyclist, if you will. I’ve been writing about tools here for many years, but I just recently got into running, swimming, and (yep) biking. But I quickly realized that while I can easily work on my bike in the garage, I don’t have the garage with me when I’m out riding, and I’m getting to the point where I’d like to ride at times when I can’t easily call someone to come get me if things break. So I’ve begun kitting out the bike with the tools necessary to get it back on the road after basic breakdowns.

Besides tubes and the means to inflate them, my next choice is something that’ll let me deal with other minor adjustments — specifically a multi-tool. What you see above is the ParkTool IB-2, the first tool I’m trying out. It’s small enough to fit in my road bike’s little saddle pouch, but it’s packed with a variety of tools, including 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, and 6mm hex wrenches — damn, there are a lot of hex nuts on bikes — as well as a T25 and straight-blade screwdriver. Conspicuously missing is any kind of Phillips head driver. I paid $17 for the tool, which seems a buck or two higher than the average street pricing.

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What you see above is Black & Decker’s latest entry into the cordless screwdriver market: the Gyro, named such because you control it by simply turning it. When you pick up the Gyro — which you hold pretty much the same way you would a palm nailer — your palm pushes a switch on the back, turning the Gyro “on.” Rotate the screwdriver to the right, and its accelerometers detect the turn and begin rotating the powered driver clockwise. Turn it back to center and it stops. Rotate it to the left and the screwdriver head turns counter-clockwise. The farther you rotate the unit, the faster the head spins.

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We’ve got a box full of various gimmicks we receive from manufacturers, ranging from the ubiquitous screwdriver-based bottle opener to the AutoTape. But this is the first powered corkscrew we’ve ever seen, so we thought we’d share. We’d tell you all about the specs right here in the article lead, too, but hey — it’s a Skil iXO driver, just like any other Skil iXO. The “magic” (such that it is) happens in the accessory the ships with it.

Clearly inspired by Alton Brown’s cordless drill-powered pepper grinder (inset), Skil differentiates the 2354-10 “powered corkscrew” from the 2354-01 “iXO driver” by including what appears to be a standard corkscrew mounted in a cage and fitted with a hex-head to plug right into the driver.

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Lance Herriott was a ship welder, until he retired. But like many Toolmongers, retirement represented a change in, rather than a departure from, the idea of making a living with one’s hands. In this ~30-minute video, we get a look at this process through the eyes of Herriott’s daughter, Nikole. (We’re sorry, by the way, that we can’t embed the video directly. It’s Vimeo’s limitation, not ours. Don’t worry, though. Just click through the picture above or the link below to play it directly off the Vimeo site.)

While not everyone will necessarily feel the same way she does, I’m betting we all feel a little bit like Lance. What would you like to do when you retire? Have a good weekend, everyone. And remember to do something cool (and tell us about it).

Herriott Grace [Vimeo]