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Starborn Industries, makers of the Smart-Bit, also put out some fasteners with innovative features — the most photogenic are their DeckFast epoxy-coated screws.

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LOX screws are so strip-proof, you’d practically have to take a drill bit to ’em to ruin ’em.  The same goes for spline bolts — good luck stripping them — plus many spline wrenches are “backwards compatible” with hex, twelve-point, female Torx, and square-heads, and they’re more effective at turning 50% rounded fasteners.  Now the Wright Spline takes another step.

According to the Wright website, “Most wrenching problems occur in removing fasteners, because the removal torque is frequently twice or more the installation torque,” so they took that into account when designing the Wright Splines.  Go figure;  a tool manufacturer looks at when we all have the most trouble — removing bolts — and figures out how to handle it.

Here’s the problem with loving the technology so much:  It looks like technology has gotten ahead of industry, because I can’t find them for sale anywhere.  As if I really need them…

Wright Spline [Wright Tool]


Ever since computer modeling started transforming the future of manufacturing, we’ve dreamed of being able to do it ourselves, without having to pony up millions of dollars.  The folks at Shapeways.com are bringing us a step closer to that dream of home tool design and creation — they put you in the designer’s seat, and they’ll crank out whatever you can dream up.

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How do you know your hoist will load 16 tons? This hoist load tester from Harrington Hoists can measure a hoist’s lifting ability up to ten tons — and a little more, for a good margin of error. (This baby could cause some serious “test to failure” situations.) Most Toolmongers’ll never need this kind of load tester, but knowing what kinds of tools are used to make and test tools is interesting all by itself.

If you really need a load tester like this one, you’ll have to get a quote from Harrington Hoists or one of their distributors.

Hoist Load Tester [Harrington Hoists]


Radiant barriers seems to be a huge deal — Dallas is inundated with advertising about the energy and monetary savings that can be had if you just pony up the cash to install a radiant barrier. But what’s the big deal, and why haven’t my Toolmonger friends in the Midwest ever heard of it?

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Metallurgists combine metals to create alloys that work differently than any of their components. Woodworkers might find this idea alien — mixing two woods just doesn’t go. Machinists might not even appreciate the beauty of this fantastic art and science, unless they carefully select the metals they work with. But the choice of a metallic alloy for a project or a part can make even more difference than a woodworker’s choice of species.

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As things get smaller, computers, hearing aids, heart valves, and the like all need smaller parts to function — and when the screws for these products get too small to handle, you need a smaller tool! Asta Gegeckaite and a team of researchers at the Technical University of Denmark have solved at least part of the assembly nightmare created by the miniaturization trend. They created a special gripper/automatic screwdriver to assemble these tiny parts.

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When you’re working on a complex project with wood, you can save a lot money by efficiently laying out the pieces, especially if you work with expensive wood. CutList Plus will calculate the most efficient layout for your project, so you have fewer total board feet to purchase, less waste, more useable leftover pieces/bigger chunks, and more money in your pocket. For a Toolmonger, this could also mean more projects — if only they could do this with time!

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A123 Systems claims to have made a significant breakthrough in battery performance recently, allowing the storage of more power in a smaller place while drastically reducing minimum recharge times — and hopefully opening the door for some really effective plug-in hybrid cars.  But as Toolmonger, we’re looking at another application: power tools!

From A123 Systems’ website:

“Traditional li-ion technology uses active materials with particles that range in size between 5 and 20 microns.  These large particles are required to minimize safety risks inherent to first-generation li-ion chemistries.  A123 high power batteries are based on a safe and stable active material that can use particle sizes below 100 nanometers without adverse reaction.  This new storage electrode enables much faster kinetics prodviding higher power than is possible from any other li-ion chemistry.”

Sounds pretty exciting.  What’s really exciting, though, is the fact that GM recently announced their intention to use these batteries in vehciles — which means A123 should have the cash to push this concept through to completion.

And if that’s not exciting enough for you — imagine a cordless drill/driver significantly more powerful than existing high-end li-ion tools, but with a five minute recharge time.  Wow.

A123 Systems [Corporate Site] [via]


Our friend Joe Brown over at PopSci sent us this bit of tool tech (from Digg) today — it’s the math behind square drill bits.  No, we’re not joking; there really are rotating drill bits that’ll drill square holes.

These bits are based on known as a Reuleaux Triangle — a triangle that looks like it’s been inflated to 10 psi and is shaped sort of like a guitar pick.  There’s lots of math involved, but essentially this shape can rotate within a square of the same width, though its center must follow a circular path in order to do so.

Early last century, Harry Watts created a patented system for drilling shaped holes by adding a gearbox in the drill’s chuck to allow his special bits to simultaneously rotate and revolve.  By changing the number of flutes on the drill and the shape of the gearbox, he created bits for drilling numerous shaped polygons.

Do any of you have experience with these?

Drilling Square Holes [Scott Smith] [via]
A Simpler Explaination [MathWorld]

Note: A commenter on Digg notes that these are also called “rotary broaches” and found some from Slater Tools (pictured above). [link]