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From the (virtual) mail bin: “Have you seen or used the one-handed reciprocating saw? Home Depot and Lowe’s both have one, and I was wondering how well they work.” Indeed we have. Read on for details.

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The History Channel has been playing the damn Kobalt Double Drive mini-infomercial between breaks so much I would actually buy one if I thought it’d make them stop playing it. The funny part is, as much as I’d like to make fun of it, the twisty ratchet does look pretty cool. The basic premise is, if you click it to double mode, a barrel twist each way will advance the head in the direction you’d like to go.

The Double Drive form factor isn’t funky or out of line with what a ratchet should look like, and it delivers more functionality than a standard ratchet. It reminds us a little of when the GearWrench pass-thru system first came out, but not nearly as groundbreaking. For around $20 it seems a decent investment to throw down for.

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You know how regular toggle bolt wall anchors always require extra space behind the drywall, and to remove you unscrew them, dropping the toggle behind the wall? This week I found the best toggles I’ve ever used — SnapToggles, made by Toggler. They’re much easier to install, and they stay in place when you unscrew the bolt.

They’re odd-looking, which probably explains why at Lowe’s I found a box opened and a few scattered around the wall anchor area. While traditional toggle bolt anchors consist of a single bolt with “wings” at one end that pop open after being pushed through the wall, the SnapToggle’s two parallel plastic straps tee into a single bar-shaped anchor. The straps can move up or down independently, see-sawing the anchor to form an “I” or a “T” as needed. To install, simply push the toggle long-wise through the hole you drilled (generally a half inch, or about what you use for a medium-to-large standard toggle), then line up the straps to flip the toggle 90 degrees. Next, push the cap along the straps, zip-tie style, until the toggle lies flush behind the wall, and pull the toggle tight with the straps. Finally, just break off the straps flush with the cap. The cap and toggle stay in place, allowing you to install the bolt whenever you like.

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Rather than trying to guess what various tradesmen and consumers will want to buy together (and then creating a zillion different “kits”), Hitachi’s trying something new — simply offering what amounts to volume discounts on purchases of a broad category of tools. In this case, they’re trying out the idea with compressors and nailers. This strikes us as a great idea.

Here’s how it works: when you buy Hitachi’s EC510 compressor, you automatically get 20% off the price of one of five finish nailers. (See below for the full list.) If you buy two of the nailers, you get 30% off the package. If you buy three, you get 40% off the package. It’s a “roll your own” kit.

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In the furious battle to provide the “complete” project experience, many outlets and home centers are putting packages together to help you get home projects and honey-do’s done. If you stop by the Lowe’s site, the front page has a link to the Home Profile Creation page. I have mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, it’s pretty cool to be able to plan projects and have list items, pricing, and the total material sums for the the project, as well as pictures of how it might look when completed. On the other hand, my projects never seem to wind up going exactly to plan anyway. And a certain amount of (ok, to be fair, almost all) home projects I’ve undertaken require tweaking followed by some fairly serious swearing.

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Since the time humans have been keeping “stuff,” we have enjoyed the happy task of finding someplace to put said stuff. For years, fasteners, bits, and bobs have lived in a draw in my workbench. For the last year of that time it has been increasingly harder and to get closed — until the last time I shut it. Apparently it really had reached that magic capacity where truly nothing else would fit, and in doing so, the final compression of the drawer closing popped a tube of two-part epoxy stored there. The resulting mess meant I was in the market for fastener storage.


If the latest gear and Li-ion isn’t a must, cashing in on an older frontrunner like the DeWalt 18v combo kit might prove pretty handy. Sure, it’s 4-year-old tech, but in the end, a $250 kit (marked down from $375) from Lowe’s gets you a lot of functionality.

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Saying “it’s tough all over” really doesn’t cut it when it comes to businesses trying to keep their head above water in a diverse and competitive market where the returns are slim and spending is down. Lowe’s announced that it will be closing 20 stores across the country and laying off just shy of 2,000 workers before the end of the year.

We hate to see any hardworking folks lose their jobs. It’s one of the hardest things to overcome in today’s economic landscape — however we’d like for Lowe’s not to be vilified, either. They still employ over 161,000 full-time people and 73,000 part timers, and the company plans to open 12 new stores next year, according to a Reuters article. This isn’t insignificant.

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I hate contests that ask you to do all kinds of crazy stuff for a few bucks or maybe a little trinket. So in general, I end up avoiding giveaways on Toolmonger. But the folks at Lowe’s were kind enough to hand us a $25 card to give to one of you, and we know you could probably find a way to spend it — we could — so I figured I’d go ahead and post it. But I won’t ask you to do anything annoying — hell, anything you wouldn’t do anyway.

Here’s what we’re gonna do. We’ll pick our favorite comment posted sometime in the next week, and we’ll contact you (whomever you turn out to be) via the email you enter with your comment, and if you respond (i.e. you entered a real email address), we’ll drop the gift card to you in an envelope. We appreciate the time you spend adding your knowledge, experience, and general enjoyment to TM. Really!


This month, Sears began selling Craftsman tools through Costco club outlets, including hand tools, power tools, and tool storage units. It’s not the first time the company has sold its products through potential competitors — K-Mart picked up Craftsman products after the companies merged*, and Orchard Supply Hardware in California, Fastenal retail outlets, and AAFES all carry Craftsman. Even a number of ACE Hardware stores recently started carrying the line.

Sears is reaching out essentially to one of its own major competitors — Sears Holdings is ranked #10 on the National Retail Foundations’s Top 100 Retailers list. Competitors Home Depot (#5 on the list) and Lowe’s (#8) still don’t cross streams with Sears, but Costco’s in the top ten, too, at #6, doing almost double the retail sales in the U.S. and worldwide last year. And now, by the end of the year, all 430 Costco outlets will carry the Craftsman line.

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