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Remember back when we told you about the Stanley Black & Decker merger, speculating that you’d see some of the underlying brands breaking out of their previous molds? It’s happening. Above you see a pretty straightforward folding retractable utility knife. But it’s part of DeWalt’s new hand tool line, which we understand will include all sorts of tools you probably never expected to see under the DeWalt brand. We’ll have more on those additions in coming weeks and months, but let’s start off with a look at this little utility knife.

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BuildingOnline.com reported this week that DeWalt and Empire announced “that they will end their partnership on the private label line of professional box levels that Empire Level licensed, designed and manufactured in 2010 under the DeWalt brand.” Considering DeWalt’s new Stanley Black & Decker heritage, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

What may be surprising, however, is what else comes from this still-shaking-out merger. Back when it first happened, we received a lot of reader mail. You were concerned about discontinuation of popular product lines, and you hoped for new, greater ones. We posted some of our best guesses — including new combos of power and hand tools crossing traditionally-separated brands and price categories — and we’re still convinced we’re on the right track. Of course, we’ll know even more when we see available products.

DeWalt/Empire Agree To End Private Label Partnership [BuildingOnline]

 

Large tool companies get traded faster than fictional real estate printed on cardboard; we know this. The latest press release on January 18 says this deal between Chang Type Industrial Co. Ltd. and Stanley Black & Decker for Delta closes Feb. 4th — we know this too. That’s all fine and dandy. The problem is we (the consumer) are often caught in the crossfire, and our tools suffer for it.

The resulting Delta company from the deal will be consolidated with the manufacturing, R&D, engineering, sales, and administrative functions in Anderson County, South Carolina, and be led by Bryan Whiffen and Norm MacDonald who have heavy-weight clout and experience in the field with Ryobi, Homelite, Milwaukee, and Ridgid. We also know that Biesemeyer accessories and Unisaw are going to keep a made-in-the-USA label as well. So why is it being sold again? What’s the mindset of the folks behind this, and what’s their plan?

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Here’s the question: If you want to get your kids — or your friends’ kids — started early, do you jump in and buy real tools, or do you pick up one of the many play sets available? I can see reasoning for both directions.

Play sets obviously allow you to get the kids started at the earliest possible age; Clearly they’re going to be able to handle plastic tools long before the real ones make sense. And we see a lot to choose from these days. Pictured above is Black & Decker’s “junior power tool workshop,” which includes not only numerous kiddie-plastic power tools, but an adjustable work bench as well. Looks pretty sweet, as toy-tools go.

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Every year you’ll see a number of holiday “gimmick” items gracing shelves about this time of year, stocked by folks who hope you’ll find ’em tempting — especially if you’re looking for a gift for someone who has lots of tools. The “features” seem to set the tool apart from others, many of which your giftee will likely already own.

Two years ago it was the Black & Decker Autotape. Is it junk? No. It does exactly what the box says it’ll do. But in our experience — and the experience of a number of friends who got them as gifts over the last few years — the battery dies quickly, and then it lies in a drawer unused.

Instead, consider purchasing a basic, high-quality tool that’ll give service for years. You can pick up a super-nice short tape — like, for example, the Stanley Bostitch 16′ pictured above — for $20 or even less with some careful shopping. And even if your favorite Toolmonger already owns a short tape, it never hurts to have two. Or three. In short, it’s the kind of gift that’ll always bring a smile because a) it’s useful, b) it’ll remain useful for years, and c) it’s thoughtful.

Short Tapes [Bostitch]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

Black & Decker announced a couple of new automobile power inverters recently, but the one pictured above caught our eye. It’s small, plugs right into a forward-facing 12V outlet (which means no cables strung around the cockpit), and it includes a USB jack for device charging. At 100W rated output, this inverter would easily power a small laptop — and charge a phone at the same time.

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Say what you want about Black & Decker, but they have been around a long-ass time — 100 years, to be precise. Their Centennial Sweepstakes has two months with free combo kits, tools, and gear left to go. It’s funny; you don’t really think about Black & Decker as being that old but if you look around you’ll find tools that are older than your grandparents stuffed in drawers and covered with dust.

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Here’s a great lineup of older Black & Decker sidewinder saws from reader PutnamEco. Generally I love any circ-saw, but I’m fascinated with older ones. PutnamEco lists out what each one is and they’re all interesting — but the one that caught my eye was the Super Sawcat.

Black & Decker circular saws from my collection. The closest saw in black is an 7 1/4″ 1 1/2 HP saw from early 80s?, no model is listed on the tag, the grey saw is an model no. 3057 Sawcat from the late 70s, a poser living on the reputation of the next saw with the black handle, a real Super Sawcat cat. no 997 from the late 60s, last a cat. no. 730 aluminum bodied saw from the early 60s.

Mostly because the 60’s were before my time, I haven’t gotten my hands on one but once. It was the first circular saw I ever held. It was a thing of mystery at the time but it kicked off a lifelong love of all things noisy and dangerous. Glad to see they are not as rare as I thought they were. Nice circ’ collection, sir!

Toolmonger Photo Pool [Flickr]

 

When the snow melts, it exposes that green stuff. And that means you’ll have to mow it. (Though you don’t necessarily have to like it.) Thankfully, you’ve got more options than ever this year, both in gas and electric. Of course, if you’re like we were a few years ago, you probably rejected electric out of hand. Our advice: Don’t. They’re surprisingly effective, especially if you’ve got a reasonably-sized yard.

Take, for example, Black & Decker’s updated cordless line. Their top-of-the-line 36V cordless model (pictured) mulches, and it’ll handle up to 12,000 square yards (that’s about 2-1/2 acres) on a single charge. While we haven’t tested it, we believe it. We’ve seen the old 24V model handle more than an acre, and even it felt as powerful as the gas models we’re used to schlepping.

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Admittedly, it’s so covered with carefully-branded “features” that we almost completely overlooked this little driver when it launched. But considering the positive experiences we’ve had with the Smartdriver, we spun around for another look. Here’s what we see at second glance: a Smartdriver-like 3.6V li-ion screwdriver with the addition of a clutch and a screw holder.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Remove the contrived “SmartSelect Technology” sticker — complete with “project icons” representing lengths of screws — and you’ve got a simple clutch just like you see on larger drivers. And even with only 44 in-lb of torque to apply toward stripping a screw, we can clearly see uses for a clutch in this application.

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