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Posts by: Vince Bloom

PCs don’t feel too at home in the shop, what with all the dust, dirt, oil, paint overspray, you-name-it. Open up your home or office PC case and look at how much dust has accumulated inside it — that’s only a fraction of what happens in an industrial setting.  Made of a breathable fabric, the PC Dirt Bag totally encases your PC and filters out all the nasty shop crud.

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When it comes to decorating for Halloween, any soccer mom can run to the local big box and grab a light-up skeleton or animated rat — but any mad scientist worth his Bunsen burner knows a Jacob’s Ladder is the way to go. They look cool and they sound cool, and you can build one for next to nothing from scrounged materials.

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Marshalltown’s innovative trowels make bricklaying easier, thanks to their DURAdjust ergonomic handles — a dial changes the diameter of the handle to fit the user’s hand, and a soft rubber coating adds to the comfort.  Less hand fatigue means you, or your employees, can work longer and get more done.

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Of course you’re smarter than a bolt, but SmartBolts are still pretty crafty — they can show you if they’re loose, tight, or overtightened. For the average Toolmonger, this is overkill; we’ll break out the torque wrench if we need to know when the bolt’s tight enough.  When it’s not critical, the grunt method works — one grunt for tight, two grunts for really tight.  However, neither of these methods will show you if a bolt has loosened over time.

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Pounding things into submission with a sledgehammer can really work out your frustration, but that’s the only time it’s fun — repeatedly aligning walls with a sledge isn’t most carpenters’ idea of a good time.   It definitely wasn’t Keith Kennedy’s favorite pastime, which is why he invented the WoodRatchet.

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Three-phase power used to be one of those things that separated the professionals from the amateurs — but now, with the availability of inexpensive AC drives, you can easily run three-phase equipment in your shop.  In the past, phase converters were large and expensive, and in some cases they decreased the motor’s power.  Inverter technology has solved all of those problems.

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C.H. Hanson calls their Slide Square the next generation of layout tools — it’s a square, it’s a caliper, it’s a protractor, and it fits in your pocket.  It also features holes for marking bolt locations in 2×4 and 2×6 sill plates.  Multi-tasking is a beautiful thing.

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The Exair Reversible Drum Vac might better be described as a “liquid transfer pump,” since it can fill or empty a 55-gallon drum in about 90 seconds.  It runs on compressed air and has no moving parts, and it attaches to the bunghole of any 30 or 55-gallon closed-head drum.  And you can stop giggling — “bunghole” is the correct term for the opening in a drum.

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No matter how good your band saw is, if it doesn’t cut square it’s not living up to its potential.  Usually setting a band saw blade square to the table involves a lot of cutting and checking of scrap stock — or you could clip this blade alignment gauge to the blade and check the alignment easily with a machinist square.

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