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Who ever said that play can’t change the world? The Soccket ball, developed by two Harvard alumns, is a regulation-size soccer ball containing an inductive coil mechanism that captures and stores a small electrical charge. With a tiny flip cap that reveals an 1/8″ input, after less than 30 minutes of play, the Soccket will power an LED light for 3 hours, charge a battery, or operate other small devices, including an iPhone or portable CD player.

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One of my favorite things to do is rebuild or fix broken tools. There’s something about making an item useful again that appeals to me. When the crap-tastic handle on my cheapo hatchet broke a few weeks ago, in Toolmonger style I found some extra wood around the shop, designed a pattern, and fashioned a replacement from mesquite I had lying about.

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Last year around this time, Chuck and I built a set of Hungarian shelves at his place. This year, with lessons learned, I did the same at my place. I am decluttering the house and needed some overflow as well as a place where the other half could display pictures and knick knacks. An eight-foot system of nine shelves seemed to be the ticket. I learned a great deal from the last install and decided to change things up a little this time.

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http://youtu.be/c2x3EurISZA

The best part about this Hitachi magnetic driver bit video is when the guy says “You’re not going to lose your screw” and the screw promptly falls off the bit and bounces off the table. That aside, while magnetic bits themselves aren’t new, there are a few worthy points of note with Hitachi’s new release.

The basic setup: these new mag bits are available in Phillips #2, Square #2, and Star T25 and have a rare earth magnet tucked into the collar. If you’ve ever used a mag bit before you’d know that you can still lose the fastener off the end pretty quickly if you’re in a hurry. The up-gunned magnet removes most of the risk of losing the fastener. But it may work a little differently for pros who often stuck the bit in a pouch while still on the drill in order to grab one or two screws, as the new magnet would grab a bunch.

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It’s pretty easy to think that modern tools and techniques are the only way to reduce a piece of stock to size. In fact, methods handed down since edged tools existed are still extremely effective. One perfect example is riving — taking a chunk of log and reducing it to the rough size and shape for your project by using a stick and froe.

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It’s funny when you witness yourself becoming a supporter of the horse and buggy when you see an automobile go zipping by. When Makita sent us their LXOB01 18v cordless sander, I let it sit for a while because I “knew” it would be a dud. This was not the case.

The cordless sander does have limitations that a corded one doesn’t: it’s heavier, and the battery eventually runs down. What Makita rightly pointed out is that the drill also went through this process as well and seems to have come through stronger. In fact, more cordless drills are sold today than corded, and the palm sander has the advantage of better battery technology in third-gen Li-Ion packs. The press material claims anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes of sanding per battery charge, which we confirmed in our testing. It’s easy to quote figures, but in real project time, what does that 20 -40 mins mean? 

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The City Wheel is quite striking to look at. Part of the “Long Nights Big City Lights” exhibit produced by McNabb & Co., the wheel is sharp, vibrant to look at, and makes quite a statement even if you’re unsure of what it is. Look a little closer and it just gets more impressive. The wheel is made from over 60 blocks that have been carved into buildings and put back in the ring one at a time to form what you see here.

Each building was done by hand, and no two are exactly the same much in the same way buildings themselves are not the same. It’s a badass marriage of art, craftsmanship, and calculated design that, when massed together, is praiseworthy on several different levels. Once the math of the wedges had been figured out and the design was set, you’ve still got dozens of building to carve up.

Sure, once you’ve seen how it’s done, you could make a go of it, but the sheer time involved is nothing short of staggering. The artist certainly took the long-game approach when doing the wheel and the other pieces for the show –simply amazing.

The making of the wheel [YouTube]
The City Series: Wheel [McNabb & Co.]

 

The FatMax magnetic tape honestly looks like a normal FatMax with a magnet clipped to the hook — but sporting a $22 price tag instead of the $8 you’d find with the standard leverlock. However, as with many Stanley tape products, the benefits of the magnetic tape are a little more subtle than might first be expected.

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I really needed to change blades on the Shop Smith recently in order to rip hardwood stock, but there were a few issues with that plan. The first is the Mark V takes special 10-inch Shop Smith blades that you can’t just buy anywhere. The other was that my version of those blades had worn out, and the technology behind them isn’t evolving as fast as the rest of the competition. Luckily, Shop Smith provides an arbor that allows a different brand of blade on the machine.

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Rockwell is set to offer a 16V lithium-ion line, starting with a drill and an impact driver. Why should we care? Well, a few years back Bosch kickstarted the compact market with the PS20, reminding us that a) we don’t necessarily need to use the biggest possible drill for every job and b) small doesn’t have to mean crappy. Then both Bosch and DeWalt took a page from the less-is-more book in their 18V lines, cutting back on the extra bulk to produce svelte, light, yet still quite powerful general-use pro-line drills. DeWalt has even filled in the gap between Bosch’s compact PS series and the new compact 18V tools — the 12V MAX line features more standard form factors than the PS tools (along with larger size), and, in some cases, a little more power.

Rockwell argues that their new 16V series fits in the tiny gap between 12V models — they claim their 16V offers more power — and 18V class tools, which Rockwell suggests are bulkier than their product. How will it hold up? Read on after the jump to find out.

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