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Working on a project, whether at home or work, you reach for the stuff that works. When we first picked up the Irwin Groove Lock adjustable pliers, we were less than stunned, but they were a decent quality tool for the price so we threw them in the tool cart. Over time, we found we’d choose these over almost any other adjustable pliers out there.

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Levels have come a long way in the last hundred years, and Stanley has been there for the entire ride, making a good product the whole way. One of their latest, the Fatmax Xtreme level features bigger vials and aluminum construction. We admitted to being pretty big fans when it came out, and we still are.

We’ve used ours not only as a straightedge for scribing a line and truing up a surface, but we also clamp it down and use it as a guide fence when crosscutting sheets of plywood. We’ve put it through all manner of abuse, and it still looks like new — not bad for a $50 off-the-shelf piece of gear.

Our Fatmax Extreme level performed so well in the shop, we requested them for our birthday presents last year. Light, comfortable, and easy to read, they display all the hallmarks of a good level as far as we’re concerned. They’re gorgeous to look at as well — chrome and silver is never a bad combo in our book.

48″ Fatmax Xtreme Level [Stanley]
Street Pricing [Google Products]


Earlier last summer we mentioned that this wrench system was handy to have around the shop — that hasn’t changed. In fact, in the time since then, we’ve never put ’em away. We carted around our XL pass-thru set to every automotive project we took on, and each time, it performed like the champ it is.

The pass-thru concept is simple enough — since the sockets and extensions are hollow, you can pass any sized bolt through the top of the socket and even through the extension and the wrench itself while you’re turning the nut. When you finally use one on your car, you smack yourself on the forehead and wonder how you ever lived without one.

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Finish nailers often go overlooked in favor of their larger-gauged brethren, but in the Toolmonger woodworking shop we pick up the Ridgid 2-1/8” brad nailer as our first choice.

This gun claims the singular distinction of being the only nailer in the Toolmonger shop never to have jammed. This is no small feat; we’ve run close to 10,000 nails of different sizes through this gun and not had an issue — ever.

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Utility knives are the workhorse of the toolbox — we use ’em for slicing, opening, and trimming anything that comes to the shop or worksite. Few tools are as heavily abused and frequently discarded as the utility blade. This was our mentality when the first Irwin ProTouch arrived in the shop.

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Not all of our favorite tools are inexpensive. In fact, Milwaukee’s V18 was one of the more expensive drivers to grace TM’s shop last year. And that’s saying something, because if there’s one tool we see a lot here at TM, it’s cordless drill/drivers. But the V18 won over even our cheap-ass hearts. Read on past the jump to see why it’s one of our top ten of 2007.

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Early last year I started looking around for a decent palm sander, because after building numerous bookcases and other wood projects, my arms ached like hell. I’d tried other models in the past, and found many of them difficult to control, which led to mixed results in use. After lots of pawing at display models, I decided to try the Bosch 5″ random orbit model — and discovered why so many pros love this model. Read on past the jump to find out why it’s one of our favorite tools of 2007.

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You may notice that my Hobart welding gloves, pictured above, look like they’ve been through hell. That’s because that’s exactly where I put them (instead of my bare hands) damn near every time I use ’em. I’ve burned ’em, ground ’em, scuffed ’em, and otherwise treated ’em like crap for a year now, and they’re still just as protective and comfy as the second week I wore ’em. Read on past the jump to find out why they’re one of our favorite tools of 2007.

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We’re students of the old school when it comes to workbench design, so when we first saw Stanley’s Mobile Project Center we didn’t want to like it. We figured that a metal and plastic bench that stands high instead of wide wouldn’t last a week in the shop. We were wrong. Read on past the jump to find out why it’s one of our 2007 favorite tools.

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First up in our no-particular-order top ten favorite tools, 2007 edition, is Skil’s ever-popular circular saw — the 7-1/4″ Skilsaw. And we’re not talking about their high-buck worm-drive model. Our 2007 favorite is the model 5400-01, which we snagged for a whopping $25 off a Lowe’s sale table sans operator’s manual. Read on past the jump for details.

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