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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]

 

Northern Tool is offering a great deal on Empire’s Heavy-Duty Magnum Rafter Square, at $5.  Rafter squares, also known as layout squares, help you lay out cuts for rafter joints and make square cuts on dimensional lumber.

Empire Heavy-Duty Magnum Rafter Square [Northern Tool]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

You need to replace a screw, but you just can’t tell whether it’s a 1/4″-28 or 1/4″-32.  It’s an odd size, and you’d like to be sure so you can call around first rather than running all over town.  Empire’s $14 screw ID gauge won’t just help you identify the screw, it’ll tell you the bit you’d use for tapping matching threads and the bit you’d need to drill a clearance hole.

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Have you ever tried to do a level and measured layout for hanging a picture or the hardware for a towel rack? You can do it with a box level and a tape, but it can be difficult. If you have to do multiple layouts over and over, it can be downright frustrating. Empire Level makes a unique straightedge that can be a big help in this type of situation.

The Bubble Stick incorporates a built-in level and plumb vial into a four-foot, plastic straightedge. Because it’s not as bulky as a box level and the measurements are on tapered edges, you can see your pencil tip and the gradations easily. The edges aren’t hard or sharp, so it won’t mar painted or wallpapered surfaces.

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I recently found this useful little slide chart (close cousin to the slide rule) that converts metric to US units on the fly, and vice versa. It converts back and forth between feet and meters, pounds and kilos, gallons and liters, as well as a few other common units. If you don’t want to fill your head with conversion factors, this will save you the trouble.

There are two identical items under the Skill Tech and Empire Level brands — that means it’s likely manufactured by some third party company. Does anyone know know who made them? They each cost about five bucks.

Street Price [Google Products]

 
Precision Oiler

Fan in your computer whining because the tiny bearing needs oil? Nothing does the job as well as a micro oiler. Owned one of those cheap leaky plastic pen oilers — the one where you squeeze and too much oil squirts out? Empire’s precision oiler allows precise oil delivery, one drop at a time.

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TM reader — and lucky so-and-so — Stuey pointed us to this awesome deal on Amazon: a discontinued 48″ level plus a 9″ torpedo and a carrying case, all for $15.81.  Stuey writes: “The 4′ level alone retails for $25 at Home Depot and elsewhere.”

Hint: this would make a killer gift if you’ve got a Toolmonger friend with a birthday coming up.

Via Amazon [What’s this?]

 
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Phillip writes: “The ‘Fat Boy’ is a 16″ x 24″ aluminum framing square that’s a full 3/16″ thick.  That’s 50% thicker for durability.  I’d love to have a couple of these to make jigs, templates, etc.”

Actually, this looks like a really nice framing square.  I’ve met people before who swear by plastic ones, but I’ve always managed to break ’em — and even to bend some of the metal ones.  Look at it this way: sooner or later you’re going to drop it off the roof or back over it with the truck, yeah?

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As the level feature wars heat up, the EM71 represents Empire’s latest shot.  Empire’s “E” series levels are a very identifiable blue aluminum with a blue tint on the bubble glass. 

The EM71 is as the name would suggest that the new level’s a lot like the venerable E70.  In fact, as far as we can tell it is the E70 with two magnets added on the underside of the box beam.  So, if you already have its predecessor (or another magnetic big bubble box beam level), this one probably isn’t worth going nuts over.  But if you’re in the market for a magnetic level, it’s worth a look. 

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Levels have been getting a kick in the rear design-wise in the last year or so with the introduction of features such as bigger vials, aluminum frames, and large grips.   Now Empire’s testing the water with their True Blue system featuring a bigger bubble, blue fluid, and dark blue rings flanking the bubble — all of which (they claim) makes reading the level easier. 

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