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Greenlee, it seems, now makes a utility knife. If you’re not a professional electrician, you’ll probably never see one, because I’m betting this is the sort of thing that’ll never, ever appear at the local big box. Still, it’s interesting to see their take on a tool that pretty much everyone else makes — and sells by the truckload. My first thought: It’s a lot shorter than most utility knives I’ve seen, which might not be a good thing.

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Remember how your parents would tell you not to stick your finger in a household electrical outlet, you know, so you don’t get electrocuted? Well, the International Electrotechnical Commission — the folks who set the safety standards for electrical test equipment — rate those measly single-phase outlets as “category II.” Some people have the cojones to work in what the IEC calls “CAT IV” environments. That’s three-phase power at the utility connection — stuff rated at 1,000V but can extend up to a whopping 12,000V.

Those people are Greenlee’s target customer for their new FishFinder Plus Vision System. At first glance it looks like a chubbier version of every other portable jobsite camera you’ve seen. But as CAT IV veterans will tell you, little things make a difference when you’re working around power that can kill you instantly.

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Ever wonder how pros cut those huge cables you see in commercial electrical installations? Here’s the kind of tool they reach for: a power tool that’s like a motorized, ratcheting version of your limb pruner. Greenlee’s ES1000 (pictured) features a 2-1/8″ opening that can cut through any copper or aluminum wire — sheathed or not — that you can stick through its maw.

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If you’re like me, you’ve got a box full of wood hole saws. But if you’re an electrician (or the complete tool geek), you’ll want a set of metal hole saws, too. And Greenlee’s got a new set they say cuts 30% faster, lasts longer, and has more features than the competition. So how the hell does that work?

First, they’ve tossed in a variable pitch sawblade, in this case a 4-6. (I use a 12-16 on my metal bandsaw, and it’s awesome, riding that perfect line between low-count blow-through-the-thick-stuff and higher-count please-don’t-hang-on-the-edge-of-tubing.) And they’ve hardened the teeth to keep ’em sharp longer. They say their oxide finish prevents chip buildup as well, but that seems pretty common to me.

Feature-wise you’re looking at a quick-change arbor with a really nice-looking knurled grip — as well as a removable depth stop.

Individual saws start at around $8 and range up to around $50, but you can find three-piece and five-piece kits, too, from around $150 including the arbor and all the goodies.

New Hole Saws [Greenlee, warning: PDF Link]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

Given the state of 2x lumber you get nowadays, why wouldn’t you use steel in non-structural applications? Why screw around trying to use warped, twisted, and cupped studs when you can use uniform steel studs? The metal studs even have pre-cut holes to run most plumbing and electrical, unless you need to need to run something like 2″ water, vent, or waste pipes. In that case you’ll need a tool like Greenlee’s 713 stud punch. Think of it as the big-ass version of a paper hole puncher — only for steel studs.

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Speaking of outlets, it’s often nice to test whether they’re live. The $25 Milwaukee 2201-20 will do that, and also give you an LED flashlight (“3x brighter than the competition”!?). This 3.5″ long, non-contact tester operates from a single AAA cell, has a voltage range from 90V to 600V (CAT III), and turns on/off via a rear push-button switch.

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A few weeks ago we posted stubby spade bits, but today we noticed that Greenlee has announced a line of stubby auger bits.  One big difference between the two types of bits is that auger bits tend to leave much cleaner holes with less tear-out than spade bits.  The trade-off:  Auger bits also tend to cost more.

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At first glance, Greenlee’s CableCaster looks like someone slapped a fishing reel on a toy dart gun — that may be exactly what they did, but the $100 list price is no joke.  The CableCaster allows you to pull cable through hard-to-reach spaces, like above a suspended ceiling or through a crawlspace.

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If you want to bore large holes in wood you can choose from a huge variety of bits — and since there are so many choices, companies have to differentiate their products from the crowd.  Taking their customer suggestions into consideration, Greenlee recently redesigned their E-Z Bore bits to drill cleaner holes faster.

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Starting a screw in an awkward place can vex even a veteran Toolmonger. If you can hold the screw with one hand and use a driver with the other, you’ve got a chance. Otherwise you’ve got a problem on your hands. Greenlee’s screw-holding drivers hold screws in place with a spring-loaded sleeve that makes for easy, one-handed driving.

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