The Anne of All Trades Blog

Odd Jobs around the Farm With Milwaukee, Bosch and Diablo

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Farm Facelift

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The past few months, I’ve been working on a massive project I’ve named Farm Facelift. It is, just as the name implies, a huge effort to truly change the face of this farm for the better. I’ve installed french drains, regraded and replanted the pasture, installing long overdue waterlines for the garden and animals, am finishing building out my blacksmithing and fabrication shops, and am putting up new gates, fencing and adding growing space to the garden. Oh and while I was at it, I also helped my bff/neighbor redo her bathroom. (More accurately, I showed up with a sledgehammer, did the fun part, cleaned up my mess and then checked in on the project from time to time over the next couple of weeks). For several of these projects, the GIANT Milwaukee Chalk Reel (I never intend to add chalk) and the Bosch 50 ft Self- Leveling Laser came in very handy. The Milwaukee reel got used to reconfigure my garden beds and their spacing as well as laying out fence posts for the new garden enclosure. The Laser was super handy during the bathroom remodel, hanging gates, and also hanging new joists in the blacksmith shop.

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And speaking of the blacksmith shop, I also used the Milwaukee Torch Carbide Toothed Metal Cutting Saw blade to cut off about 100 rusty bolts off of these fabrication tables we recently moved into the space. I’m quite unsure as to what purpose they once served, but I’m equally glad they are now gone.

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It never ceases to amaze me how far blade technology has come. The fact that I can literally saw through metal is just mind blowing. Of course, I still love my plasma torch, but tossing a metal cutting blade in a battery operated tool and cutting solid metal is pretty dang awesome. This month the Diablo 48 tooth Steel Demon Ferrous Metal Cutting Saw blade also saw a lot of use as I was cutting tubing and channel for the windows in the Blacksmith shop. Diablo’s patented Cermet (ceramic and metal blend) teeth hold up really well against steel and the blades last forever. The coating on the blade keeps it cool in the cut, the tooth design minimizes burrs on the cuts, vibration is minimized by the stabilizer vents on the side of the blade, and the fact that it’s cutting rather than abrading the steel makes for a much quicker cut, far fewer sparks, and a generally safer work environment.

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Posted on April 25, 2019 .

Husky Jobsite Accessories

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

This Husky tool tote has become my new fencing bag

This Husky tool tote has become my new fencing bag

The Husky Pro-Hybrid Tote with Tool Organizer

Living in the Pacific Northwest where it rains… constantly, I am generally not a fan of cloth tool bags. Tools seem to get eaten up in them and lost, left to rust in the bottom of the bag somewhere. This tote, however, is sturdy, provides a lot of options to keep the tools inside it organized, and offers just enough space to house a useful amount of tools and still be light enough for me to physically carry from spot to spot. It’s come in really handy the last few weeks as I’ve been doing fencing projects, because everything I need fits in it and I’ve stopped having to make 10,000 pesky trips back up to the shop to grab more tools. Being prepared for the task at hand makes me a whole lot more efficient, and since fencing is basically my least favorite thing ever, efficiency can’t be overrated. At $59, it’s not going to break the bank, it won’t protect your tools from rain, but it will keep them organized and portable.

And look at this sweet front fence/gate I just put up!

And look at this sweet front fence/gate I just put up!

Now let’s talk about these sweet Husky Knee Pads!

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I was very, very impressed with these kneepads, and in my opinion, they are totally worth their $20 price point. I haven’t worn kneepads for the last few years because I’d yet to find any that wouldn’t slosh around my tiny legs or cut off all circulation to my feet in a matter of minutes. These fit even my small frame, are comfortable to wear, and stay put surprisingly well when I’m moving around. They’ve become a permanent part of my donkey hoof trimming kit and my knees and back are thankful to have them!

Husky’s also got a pocket knife!

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While this knife won’t be replacing the staple pocket knife I’ve been carrying for 3 years around the farm, at $9, there’s not a whole lot to lose. I put it in my Husky Tote with my fencing tools and it’s been handy to have it when I needed it a few times over the last few weeks. I like the wood handle, the blade is easy to sharpen, and it’s everything I’d expect from a $9 knife.

Posted on April 24, 2019 .

This Just in From Dremel!

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

DREMEL 8220 SERIES 12-VOLT MAX LITHIUM ION CORDLESS ROTARY TOOL

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Because I don’t have all my buildings at the farm wired for convenient plug-ins everywhere I want to use tools, battery power has become king. This cordless rotary tool, paired with the 32” Flex Shaft Attachment ($25) is pure awesome. It’s ideal for sanding and polishing, and is capable of cutting and grinding on a small scale with the right attachments. I keep it with my blacksmithing tools (currently located on the porch far away from any outlets) and it comes in really handy to polish my hammer heads and tools. It doesn’t offer the same power and versatility as my stationary rotary tool in the wood shop, but as something I can easily toss in a bag and use for all kinds of random stuff, it’s a good buy. The tool itself retails for $75, with the flex shaft for $25, you’re right at the $100 price point for a great little tool. So far, the battery has held up well, but I’m interested to see what it’s like in 6 months after regular use.

Home depot has several starter kits right around the $25 price point:

The 7 Piece EZ Lock Sanding and Polishing Kit for Metal, Steel, Wood Brass, Aluminum, Plastics and Vinyl

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If you can be tethered, the Dremel 4300 Series Rotary Tool

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… offers Dremel’s most powerful 1.8 Amp motor, giving more power for cutting, sanding, grinding, drilling and carving. Because I have a stationary rotary tool in my shop, this one hasn’t seen a ton of use, but I did use it to polish the damascus paring knife I forged (humble brag) and it made quick work of it. These rotary tools are great for cleaning rust off of stuff in tight spaces, cutting off rusted out screws, polishing trim and cutting plastic. And speaking of cutting plastic…

Let’s talk about the Dremel SawMax!

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While I really love the concept of this tool, a handheld saw that cuts straight and can be safely used single-handedly, I couldn’t really justify purchasing one, even at it’s $110 price point because it’s corded and I simply don’t have enough jobs it’d be uniquely suited to anywhere I have easy electrical access. I have been doing a lot of re-plumbing around the farm the last few weeks and used it quite a bit for that, but I eventually tired of making trips back and forth to the shop for each cut and grabbed a battery operated tool. If you’ve got trepidation about using bigger saws, and want an affordable, ergonomic saw that provides a lot of safety and comfort in use, this is a great option. I’ve been told by several contractors that this is a fantastic saw for cutting grout, but since I’ve yet to convince Adam of No Trades to let me tackle the bathroom and kitchen remodels, the jury is still out on this one :)

Posted on April 23, 2019 .

Little lamp, big light

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about the Milwaukee 550 Lumen LED Rechargeable Pivoting Flood Light:

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I’m not really a big fan of little gadgets, but this little rechargeable LED mag-light from Milwaukee has become pretty dang useful to me the past few months. First of all, it’s BLINDINGLY bright, but in a good way. It packs a huge punch for its size. It’s got a little pop-out stand and it’s got a magnetic back. I started using it in the shop, sticking it to the arbor of the drill press to provide spot lighting for drilling, sticking it to the underside of my truck’s hood so I could get a better look at the notoriously shadow-y compartment, clipping it onto the stall doors of my barn when my goat had babies and I needed directional light for health checks. Then I started using it for filming too. It provides really clean light to move or remove shadows, it’s bright enough to bounce off light surfaces for ambient light, and it’s so tiny, you really can change a shot by shining it right where you need it. The battery life is great too.

Actually, as I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’ve only even had to charge it a couple of times even though I’ve been using it daily for the last few weeks. Just like other Milwaukee lights, it gives you a few minutes of warning blinks before it shuts down entirely. Of course when the battery dies at an inconvenient time due to poor planning on my part, I do lament the fact that it’s not like my other Milwaukee tools which I can just pop a new battery in, but with its compact size, that is obviously not an option. Plus, I’ve already got two other Milwaukee lights I totally love I can run up and grab if I’m in a pinch.

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 This tool retails for $70, would I buy it? Absolutely. Milwaukee tools are well made, rugged, and functional. As a serial project-er, farmer, and movie maker, I always find myself needing clean, reliable, compact directional light, and this is a pretty handy little gizmo for all that.

Posted on April 22, 2019 .

Bosch Bulldog Concrete Bits

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So Let’s Talk about the Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Concrete Bits

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While I was doing demo and re-framing the blacksmithing shop, I needed to put in some concrete anchors. I’ve used some cheapies before, and always regretted it the moment the carbide tip chips off right along with the concrete it’s meant to be cutting. Bosch really has the market cornered on drilling technology, and concrete is no exception. The carbide tip pulls the bit right into the concrete so you don’t have to reef on the bit to get it to enter the cut. It cuts fast and clean and held up to a lot of abuse on this project. I don’t often find myself drilling in concrete, but when I do, I’m very happy I’ve got this bit. It retails for $20 and I’d buy it again if I needed to (but this one should serve me well for quite some time).

 

Posted on April 21, 2019 .

Dewalt Cordless Jobsite Radio

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about the Dewalt 20-Volt MAX Bluetooth Speaker

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Another tool that came in super handy during the blacksmith shop rebuild was the Dewalt Bluetooth speaker. Because Adam and I are both musicians and audiophiles, there is rarely a time we don’t have tunes on. I plan to hardwire my woodshop sound system into the fab and blacksmith shops eventually, but for now, this little sound machine does a really fine job. It’s loud, the sound quality is great, the battery life with the slim-pack batteries leaves a bit to be desired, but if you pop a flex-volt battery in there, it will run for days. I also really love that it can also run on a power cord. When it’s stationary in the shop, I can use my batteries for other tools, but when I want to carry my tunes out to the garden, I love it’s portability. The other thing I was super impressed with on this speaker is the Bluetooth function. On most battery powered speakers, the Bluetooth range is pretty short and the signal can be pretty spotty. I can keep my phone in my pocket and walk a hundred feet away and not lose signal. It’s also got a USB port so I can use it to charge my phone as well.

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This tool retails for $79 would I buy it? If you need portable tunes and you’re already on the Dewalt battery platform and you’ve got flex volt batteries to pop in this, it’s a no-brainer purchase. I like to use it in the barn, the garden, and even take it out on the boat. If you need a good Bluetooth connection for a stationary speaker on an outlet in your shop, I’d also argue this is a good option. But if you’re on a different battery platform ahd need portability, check out what options your platform offers- this is a great addition to my Dewalt toolkit but wouldn’t be a platform-changing-kind-of-tool. 

Posted on April 19, 2019 .

Ditching little gas engines... for good?

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This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Let’s cut right to the chase on this one. If you use a chainsaw or a string trimmer, and have the budget for either or both of these tools and their attachments, go out and buy them right now. They have proved their worth every penny and then some on my property over the last few months.  You can offset part of their cost by selling your gas-powered tools, because chances are pretty high you won’t need those anymore.

I spent a large chunk of my childhood taking apart small engines and putting them back together. From keeping our pre-historic lawnmower running for my landscaping business I ran from our shed to the ten thousand iterations of my dream go-kart, I know how to get a fussy 2 cycle engine running. That said, there are few things I hate more than fussing with 2 cycle engines. Milwaukee has hit another major home-run in my book this year by offering all the property maintenance tools a homeowner needs on one convenient battery platform. That’s right, I said battery.

At this point, battery technology has come far enough I can confidently say it competes with gas power, and there is no exception with the property maintenance tools Milwaukee currently has on their 18V battery system.

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Very few homeowners ever need to tackle any property maintenance that can’t be tackled with ease with Milwaukee’s 18v outdoor tools. Switching to battery power means you can dispense with the tedium of overwintering engines, keeping fresh gas on hand, and dealing with fussy engines, dirty filters, and oil mixes in the spring. Pop a battery in the tool, it starts right up, you get the same freedom from cords and wires as gas, and a fraction of the noise.

I’m not just your run-of-the-mill homeowner, either.  I’m a homesteader, a wood turner and I manage our 3 acres of urban forest. I’ve got gas powered tools for big jobs, but I’m using them less and less, and have already sold a good portion of them off, because even managing the forest, cutting firewood and prepping woodturning blanks regularly, there is very rarely a job my Milwaukee battery powered tools can’t handle. The chainsaw is especially impressive. It is really quiet, which makes the tool far more enjoyable to use. It’s lightweight but powerful enough to eat through logs that take up every inch of the bar. It cuts quick, it’s rugged and durable, and the battery life is also surprisingly wonderful. When my favorite willow tree split in a recent storm, I bucked up over a cord of firewood, turning blanks, and spoon wood from it on two battery charges. It was not a small tree, either. It was during that project that I realized that as long as I had a sufficient battery supply, I probably wouldn’t need to use my gas powered “big girl” chainsaw on anything other than giant logs again.

Because we’ve got animals that graze, I rarely (if ever) mow my lawn, but I do try to keep the tall grasses (ok, weeds) around the fence posts and against my landscaping cut nicely. A string trimmer is great for that, but I have to use it so infrequently, it’s always an ordeal getting the gas trimmer started. The battery powered trimmer is convenient, quiet, and shockingly powerful. The bump feed works well and restringing it is fairly straight forward. The only negative I’ve found for the trimmer so far is that it’s so powerful, in fact, that if you’re not too careful with the bump feed function, the long strings can really tear up the plastic guard.

Check out the  Hedge Trimmer attachment !

I’m usually not one for multi-use tools, but the attachments for the string trimmer are a pretty major exception. Our house only has one small sidewalk, so I don’t have a ton of use for the edging attachment, but it works really well and the tool delivers the same kind of power with the edger as it does with the trimmer. It made quick work of cleaning up the lines on the walkway up to the front door.

The hedge trimmer attachment is another winner, articulating several different directions to make trimming brush a breeze. It trimmed up my boxwood and forsythia fabulously, snipping errant branches up to ½” thick like they were nothing. One feature I’d like to see on this tool is a short arm for trimming brush that grows at waist height, because while the long pole makes it really handy for reaching the tops of bushes and working above my head and at ground level, it’s really awkward working at waist height with such a long pole on the tool.

The real standout attachment for the trimmer for me, however, is the pole saw. I was able to safely trim my fruit trees with both feet planted firmly on the ground. The saw comes sharp, is plenty powerful, and the dang thing is so much fun to use, it’s turned an annual chore into a really fun activity.

 These tools retail for: would I buy them? If you, like me, are sick of fussing with small gas engines, I’d say the saved frustration and easy “turn on and go” function of these tools is worth every penny simply for the frustration saved. If you aren’t super handy or time fussing is an issue and you have to take your gas engines  in to get serviced, these battery powered tools will pay for themselves in short order. All of that said though, these tools are not cheap, especially if you’re not already on the Milwaukee platform and you’ve got to invest in the big batteries as well. This gets even worse if you don’t already have other Milwaukee tools and thus have extra batteries to pop in while the others are charging. Having a project halt to a stop because your battery is out of juice is a real bummer. That said though, my gas projects come to a similar halt when I run out of gas or oil mix too, so that one is somewhat less concerning to me. Yes, these tools are a huge investment. I’d choose the attachments for the trimmer carefully, especially knowing how those add to the cost as well, but I can tell you right now I’d pay double the price these tools are for the convenience and saved frustration I’ve found with the chainsaw and polesaw attachment for the trimmer alone. It would be tough for me to write a review that was not more glowing than this.

Posted on April 18, 2019 .

Dewalt 15 Amp Corded Double Bevel Sliding Miter Saw

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

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So let’s talk about the Dewalt DWS779 12” Double Bevel Sliding Miter Saw:

I used this saw in the shop at Pratt for over two years on a daily basis. It’s accurate, durable, and pretty much everything you’d need in a miter saw. The only reason I don’t have one in my home workshop is because the sliding arm design on this particular saw gives it an enormous footprint, well over three feet front to back when the saw is fully extended. Because of this, it doesn’t fit on top of the cabinets in my shop. Were I using it on a dedicated stand or on a jobsite, I’d have zero other complaints.

If you’re buying a slider to cut big crown molding, you might look into another fence design, as I’ve heard from a lot of my contractor friends who specialize in crown molding that the fence on this saw is a tad short for that purpose, but I use my chop/miter saw for rough stock sizing and have never cut a piece of crown molding in my life, so this hasn’t been an issue for me.

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You see yellow tools at most jobsites because Dewalt makes tools tough enough to stand up to the abuse they get from contractors slinging the tools in and out of work trucks, lots of different users running material through the tools, etc. This saw is no different. A lot of other saws have an aluminum bevel detent plate. These get worn down and sloppy. Dewalt uses stainless steel plates which hold up to a whole lot more abuse.  

 For compound bevels, I like that this saw has actual physical stops at 22.5 and 45, so they don’t go out of alignment, and the detent plate is actually adjustable, so if things get knocked around, you can re-adjust the plate placement.

At $349, would I buy this saw? If I had the space on my cabinets to run this saw over the saw that I currently use, I would, all day long. It’s a great value for the money. The dust collection is very good (for a miter saw), the recoil action and the ergonomic motion of this particular saw in use is my favorite as well.

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Posted on April 10, 2019 .

Dewalt 15 Amp Jobsite Saw

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

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So let’s talk about the Dewalt DW745 S 15 Amp Corded Jobsite Table Saw

At $299, this saw is a good value. You can plug it into any 15 amp outlet and it will deliver a shocking amount of power for it’s size. It is light and compact, comes with a stand, and has built-in storage for all the bells and whistles of which this saw brags.  My favorite thing about this saw is the fence and its adjustment mechanism. The rack and pinion system provides accurate alignment to the blade making for straight, safe cuts with the saw.

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Used indoors, this saw is significantly louder than my cabinet saw, but that is understandable, seeing as the motor isn’t enclosed in a cabinet. Most other Dewalt table saws have a dust collection port built into the guard, but this one doesn’t have one. That said, I don’t generally use dust collection when outdoors, which is the only place I intend to use this saw, so that is a bit of a mute point, plus, the dust collector port located below the saw does a pretty good job by itself.  My biggest complaint about this saw is that the arbor cannot accommodate a dado blade. By changing that one feature, this saw would become infinitely more valuable to me.

At $299, would I buy this saw? Without the ability to use a dado stack (one of the few things I regularly use a table saw for), this is not the saw for me. If I were looking for an affordable, rugged jobsite saw for general use, however, this would be a great option. It’s little enough to be packed around, and durable enough that it can be tossed in and out of the jobsite truck with all the care of a team of contractors and maintain it’s accuracy.

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Posted on April 9, 2019 .

New From Milwaukee!

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This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about what’s new from Milwaukee this quarter!

First off, the Milwaukee 25’ STUD Tape Measure:

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This tape measure looks tough because it is tough. It’s built well, and brags the longest lasting blade in it’s class. The blade is rip and wear resistant, the tool can survive an 80 foot drop, and it’s covered by a limited lifetime warranty, so if you somehow DO manage to destroy this beast, Milwaukee’s got your back. At $25, this tape is a good value for a jobsite where it’s going to get really abused. It’s durable, accurate, has quick springback, and the blade isn’t as sharp as some of Milwaukee’s competitors’. In my experience, there are two types of carpenters, those who “break” their tape right out of the box to make the blade supple and malleable, and those who want a super rigid tape, and will go to great lengths to keep their tapes that way. Milwaukee tapes don’t need to be “broken,” the blades are flexible right out of the box. So if you are “that” kind of builder, you won’t find a better tape. I personally prefer an extremely rigid tape, and for that reason, this wouldn’t be the first tape I’d reach for out of my tool bag, but I debated my bestie April long and hard about flexible tapes while we were building the Tiny House, and she remains a huge fan of flexible tapes, and it truly is a matter of personal preference.

Now let’s talk about the 142 Pice Milwaukee Shockwave Impact Duty Driver Set

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This seems like a pretty ridiculous thing to be excited about, especially considering the awesome variety of stuff that comes inside them, but in all honesty, this bit set is worth the $30 price tag even just for the cases. These are by far my favorite bit cases on the market, and I even put my other branded bits in the Milwaukee cases just because they are so durable, so functional, they keep the bits organized and well protected.

The other things that stuck out to me with this set are the hexagonal shank drill bits, which perform really well. Not only is it great that they can be mounted in impact drivers, they also have a long life on the jobsite, they run cool, come sharp, and last well. My biggest frustration with this set is the way the bits come organized, which is an easy fix out of the box, but frustrating nonetheless- the way these come, you have a lot of variety within each bit type, but very little bit type variation within each box, necessitating bringing the entire set wherever different bits are needed, which takes up valuable space in the toolbag unnecessarily. Milwaukee sells a lot of smaller kits which have a good variety in each box, and I prefer those to this wider variety in multiple boxes simply for the ease of just grabbing one box and going right to work. That said, there is a huge variety within this set, and especially seeing as the former owner of our house loved to be extremely creative with his fastener choices, having the right tool for the job is really important.

And Finally, the M18 FUEL Super Sawzall Recip Saw Kit:

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This tool delivers the same power of a 15 amp corded reciprocating saw. It includes a 12 AH M18 battery pack, rapid charger, blade and contractor bag.

This is a monster tool, and, with the 12 AH battery, is fairly heavy, but what you get with a tool this size is a nice long stroke length, making it great for demo and construction, and heavy duty work around the farm like pruning and other quick cuts. The first “improvement” I made to the tool, however, was switching out the 12 AH battery for a 5 AH battery. Because I’ve got so many Milwaukee tools on the M18 platform, the 12 AH battery was actually a fantastic “plus” in this kit, because I put it right in my lantern and doubled my battery life there, and the 5 AH battery in the Sawzall lightened it up and made it significantly more mobile and thus more versatile. I’ve used it a TON to cut our 16” firewood down to 12” lengths I can use in my Tiny Stove in the shop. This tool offers the power and durability to make tasks like that a total breeze. With a long stroke though, it’s not going to be great for metal work, fine cuts, or cutting plastic tubing because it will shake, shatter, and chatter like nothing else on those finer materials because its cut is simply too aggressive.

If you need an “all around saw, I’d definitely look at something smaller, more mobile, less expensive,, easier to use above your head for long periods of time, and with a shorter stroke length. For demo or pruning though, you really cannot go wrong with this saw. I’m toting it around and using it in place of a chainsaw quite often around the farm, it’s done 90% of the demo in the blacksmithing building I’m renovating right now, it’s powerful, ruggedly built, and able to withstand the Seattle rain quite well (it’s already gotten soaked multiple times and hasn’t missed a beat), and with the extras that come with it in the kit, is still a great value, and one worth investing in if you, like me, are already on the M18 battery platform.

Posted on January 29, 2019 .

Makita 36V Brushless Cordless Circular Saw Kit

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So Let’s talk about the Makita 18V X2 LXT LI (36 Volt) Brushless Cordless 7/14” Circular Saw Kit

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If a tracksaw isn’t an option, this is hands down the best saw I’ve ever used in terms of accuracy. The bevel detent plate is an improvement even from the Festool tracksaw. This saw is very ergonomic, easy and comfortable to use, and well balanced- especially considering the fact that it runs off two 5.0 Ah batteries. And speaking of those batteries, they have a fantastic life, I used this saw for three days on the jobsite on a single charge. When the batteries do die, the double slot quick charger does the trick in a hurry. The base is plenty long to make cuts feel stable and accurate, and the wide base makes it really easy to use with a clamping system and a straightedge. The two-handed grip is really great if you’re cutting heavy stuff or are worried about kickback, you have plenty of control over the tool. This saw is a massive improvement in so many ways of former Makita circular saw models, and blasts their competition out of the water. Circular saws being such a crucial element in any tool lineup, especially for contractors and heavy-use hobbiests, the addition of this saw to the Makita lineup is a strong argument to consider Makita as a primary platform. Now, I did specify contractors and heavy-use hobbiests for a reason, because Makita really designs their tools for professional users and the price tag reflects that, but these tools are a solid longterm investment they are well made, ergonomic, built to last.

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 The one drawback of this saw is that if you’re cutting 2x material with a full depth cut, the blade guard totally gets stuck. For me, safety is a huge priority, so this was a massively disappointing thing to discover on a tool I love so much.

The only other battery powered saw in a similar class I’ve used as extensively as this Makita saw is the Dewalt FlexVolt circular saw I used to build my tiny house. The Makita delivers a very similar amount of power with a very different ergonomic feel and less weight. They are both brushless, which is fantastic because the blade starts quick and stops quick, offering solid power and the added peace of mind that the blade isn’t still spinning for very long at all after it’s exited the cut. One other thing that is awesome about this Makita saw, and that sets it apart from it’s competition, is that the blade is perfectly square to the shoe, which is really important for finish cuts and using the saw in conjunction with a straight edge, because it’s super accurate and it doesn’t bind.

 The dust collection on this saw is also a really great feature. It’s certainly not a “dustless” tool, but when used in conjunction with a vacuum, having the ability to get some of that airborne dust out of the air and the big chips out off the floor, especially when working inside is important.

 On higher price-point tools like this one (it retails for $349), I always like to include a “would I actually buy this tool” disclaimer, and in this case, I absolutely would. Because I’ve already got lots of other tools on the Makita platform the two 5.0 AH batteries and the quick charger are a fantastic value-add that helps make it much easier to justify the price of a tool I really like, and will continue to use on a regular basis within my own projects.



Posted on January 28, 2019 .

The Perfect Vacuum for the Shop?

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My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Let’s talk about the Ridgid 16 GAL 6.5 Peak HP NXT Vacuum/Blower

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 I’ll be honest, when I first unboxed this tool, I was a little skeptical about the usefulness of a detachable blower (or any blower, for that matter, that came with a cord). That, of course, is because I only had the farm on my brain. For most tools I’m using around the homestead, I need gas or battery power or I’d be stringing 20 extension cords together just to turn them on. But then, I started power carving in my woodshop, and suddenly this vacuum (and the detachable blower) earned a very special place in my heart and shop. I can’t use a gas powered blower indoors, and the enormous accumulation of fine dust that covered everything I owned with three back-to-back power carving projects (the alpaca sculpture, the sculpted table for the tiny house and the sculpted Bed-tray) simply had to go.

The vacuum bags for this vacuum are easy to find and affordably priced, at $9 each The filters are also easy to replace, and are thick enough that you can wash them out and reuse them a few times before needing to replace them.  

For a vacuum this size, this tool offers more power than you’d ever need. The tool storage being on the vacuum is an awesome feature, because accessories don’t go missing easily. The wheels need a few blows with a plastic mallet to fully seat during the first installation, but once they’re on there, the vacuum rolls around really nicely. And speaking of rolling, I’m notorious for pulling vacuums around by their hoses, so the new locking feature on the hose clips has been a really satisfying improvement for me. The only time they get a little annoying is when I’m trying to change accessories in a hurry, sometimes the plastic lock gets a tad cumbersome and is in the way when you forget which end of the hose goes to the vacuum and which goes with the accessory, but the lessened frustration of leaving the vacuum behind when I pull on the hose is totally worth that inconvenience.

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The blower is great for indoor sawdust, drywall, or hardwood floor cleanup. It’s super easy to detach and reattach and is lightweight for comfortable use. The wet/dry feature of the vacuum has also come in really handy since we’ve had some flooding issues, and the bag and filter can get removed, the water sucked up and dumped into a 5 gallon bucket over and over, and then the filter and bag can be put back in and used dry and the tool is no worse for the wear. At $119, I think this is a fantastic all around vacuum for any small-medium sized garage or workshop, and I’d happily buy it again should the need arise.

Posted on January 24, 2019 .

Milwaukee 12V LED Tower Light

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So Let’s Talk about the Milwaukee M12 Rocket LED Stand Work Light:

Earlier this year I sung the praises of the Milwaukee 18V Site Light which has been a regular staple around the farm. The M12 has proved to be even more useful. While I appreciate that Milwaukee has kept the price point of this light under $150, if they could figure out how to include a charging feature when the tool was plugged in and keep the price point low, my one complaint with this tool would disappear.

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Here’s my honest truth about this light: if you are already on the M12 battery platform, this is an awesome light, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’m impressed in every way by this tool. That said, all my other Milwaukee tools are on the M18 battery system, so if I were purchasing this light for my own personal use, I’d spend the extra $50 and buy the M18 Tower light.

While I was initially concerned about the bulkiness of the folded light, I quickly realized in use that the heft of the base is necessary for stability on the jobsite- even as it is, I’d advise against using this light fully extended in windy conditions, as it’s liable to tip over. There are three detents in the stand, allowing the light to “click” into three different heights. From there, the directional head can be pointed right where it needs to go.

This light is shockingly bright considering the size. Working in a 10’x10’ space around the light, a single light amply illuminates the area for safe work in the dark. For less precise work, it can illuminate a much bigger space, for example, our entire lower pasture, which has come in quite handy multiple times moving big equipment and loading tractors on the trailer after dark (which, in Seattle winter, happens around 4pm). Milwaukee sent the M12 Compact 2.0 AH Battery and Charger kit(retail $69.99) with the light, which will give you about a 30 minute runtime for the light. I prefer to run a 4.0 AH battery in it for a longer run-time.

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Posted on January 22, 2019 .

Dewalt 20 V Max Cordless Jigsaw

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about the Dewalt 20 V Max Cordless Jigsaw:

Starting at the bottom, the plastic shoe cover on this tool is really nice because you can take it off for rough materials and put it back on for finer materials like pre-finished or painted materials so you don’t scuff them up. At first I was a little worried about the durability of that shoe being plastic, but it’s been bouncing around in the bottom of my tool bag for three months now and doesn’t have a scratch.  

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The detent lock on the base is really helpful for quick changes to the cutting angle at 45 degrees and 90. Instead of an allen screw, like most of Dewalt’s competitors, it’s a quick release lever. Anytime a manufacturer incorporates tool functions into the tool itself and outside tools are not needed for basic functions the tool performs is a huge plus for me.  

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The adjustable orbit on this saw is a great feature, settings 1-4 allow you to have a larger or smaller orbit, which will affect how aggressively the blade removes material. The longer orbit cuts quicker, the shorter orbit cuts slower and cleaner.  The variable speed trigger, instead of a speed dial on many other jigsaws is great because you can adjust your speeds seamlessly depending on where you are in your cut and what you’re doing, ie starting the cut slowly and precisely, and speeding up once you get going.

The fact that this tool is brushless means that it’s quieter, runs cooler, and batteries last forever. Ergonomically speaking, heat is less of an issue on this tool than others, since the motor is so far away from your hand, but in my book, less heat is usually good regardless of motor placement. This is another super versatile, lightweight tool with a small, sleek design. I personally prefer the barrel grip design of this tool, but that is a personal preference, and this tool will see lots of use in my shop and around the farm regardless. At $179 for the bare tool, I’d add a 2.0 AH or 4.0 AH battery and be off to the races.

Posted on January 21, 2019 .

Dewalt 20v Max Cordless Sander

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Let’s Talk about the 20v Max Cordless Sander

Starting with the sanding pads, I really like that Dewalt adapted the 5” 8 hole pattern, because sandpaper replacements can be found pretty much anywhere. The dust bag and vacuum port is great, it works with all of Dewalt’s vacuums that lock onto the outside and it works with the standard 27mm hose size that Festool and every other vacuum manufacturer uses.

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Ergonomics wise, the trigger is really nice, the palm grip seems to fit most hand sizes well and the sander doesn’t vibrate much during use. Battery placement on this tool is as good as it can be, but if I were sanding for long hours I’d probably opt for a cord and a lighter, smaller tool. The brushless motor keeps the tool running really cool, so you’re not gripping a hot motor, which is nice. And speaking of the brushless motor, it’s great for startup, because the tool starts on a dime, but it also stops on a dime, so it’s really important to always be sure to lift the sander off the workpiece before turning the tool off, or it will really scuff up the board. 

As a bare tool, this sander retails for $119. I wouldn’t run it with anything less than a 4.0 AH battery, which, thanks to the brushless motor extending battery life, will give it about an hour of continuous runtime.

 The one drawback of this tool is the orbit speed. As a battery powered sander, most applications are going to be aggressive sanding, and as such, I’d really like to see a faster orbit that would mirror that need and remove material faster.

Posted on January 19, 2019 .

A battery operated oscillating tool? Yes PLEASE

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

So let’s talk about the Dewalt 20 V Max LiON Cordless Oscillating Kit

While I actually really like this oscillating tool, my biggest complaint right out the door with this tool is that the included battery is way too small for a useful amount of runtime with this tool and, with that said, the quick charger isn’t included in this set either. That aside, this is a great tool and a good value. If you’re already on the Dewalt battery system, I’d take this as an opportunity to switch the smaller battery on this tool with one of your larger batteries on a tool that requires less juice to run and call it a day.

My favorite feature of this saw is the blade latch, the best one I’ve seen on any oscillating tool yet. It’s a quick release, with seamless blade changes and no extra tools needed. And, the blades are self-ejecting, so finger burns removing hot blades are now a thing of the past. The saw also comes with an adapter for the old style of oscillating saw blades.

This tool saw a ton of use while I was trimming out my new woodshop, and I loved it!

This tool saw a ton of use while I was trimming out my new woodshop, and I loved it!

The trigger lock on this saw is great, especially because I find myself getting a lot of hand fatigue holding triggers for continuous run-times. The variable speed rocker trigger really allows you to dial in your speeds for various cuts and allows for safer cut entrances and exits.  

Going into tool ergonomics, the length of the tool and the handle is well balanced and you don’t have the hot motor right next to your hand, a huge plus.

Retailing at $129, if I was already on the Dewalt platform and had a larger battery to pair with this tool, this is totally a tool I’d buy for my own use.

Posted on January 18, 2019 .

A Winning Combination

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

Dewalt 20v Max Litium-ION Cordless Combo Kit

This killer combo kit includes the 20V Max LI Circular Saw and the 20V Max LI Reciprocating saw packed in one of Dewalt’s Tough System boxes. At $199, this set is a fantastic value for most diy/home improvement cutting needs.

Let’s start with the Tough System Box:

I personally love these boxes. Using tools outside around the farm, the fact that these are waterproof is a huge plus. I can toss them in the back of my truck without worrying about water damage, and the name doesn’t lie, these boxes are TOUGH. Not only are these boxes waterproof, the hinges, clasps and hardware is all metal, as opposed to the flimsy plastic on other systems. The only thing I wish Dewalt would change on this system is the plastic latches that latch multiple boxes together. It seems a tad silly for the rest of the hardware to be metal, and then to use plastic there. The handle on top of the box, however, has a comfortable grip and is built to last.

Now let’s talk about the circular saw:

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The guard on this saw works really well, it slides out of the way easily with the cut, which is a big bonus because it reduces the temptation to pin it back and out of the way. I am a big fan of safety features like this one that work the way they should and don’t encumber use. The width of the shoe is great for a saw this size, and the bevel detents on the bevel scale make it really easy to set the shoe to the bevel you need. This saw is also a really nice weight, especially being a battery operated saw. It’s compact and lightweight, easy to use above your head on a ladder and to tote around the jobsite all day.

And onto the reciprocating saw:

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This is a great saw for plumbers and electricians, but not great for demolition. It has a really short stroke length, meaning it’s not aggressive, which is really nice when you’re cutting metal and plastic pipes because it doesn’t tear things apart. But, because of that short stroke length, it’s not going to be a great saw for pruning blades or demo blades that really thrive on an aggressive cut. A longer stroke simply isn’t really attainable on a tool this size, but there are benefits to it’s stubbiness- it is lightweight, easy to use for long lengths of time, and it fits in small spaces much easier than some of it’s far larger counterparts. There’s very little vibration, which is another huge plus. As is the case with all the 20v Max tools I’ve tested, it’s obvious Dewalt spent a lot of time creating ergonomic, safe, comfortable to use tools for this line. My final favorite feature on this reciprocating saw is the blade lock. It’s a quick release, with seamless blade changes and no extra tools needed.

Battery life on both of these tools with the 2.0 A/H slim packs is pretty remarkable. It did strike me as a little odd that a two-tool set would only come with one battery, and, that said, I do wish Dewalt had included the fast charger with the battery pack, but I do appreciate the fact that they did well to keep this set under the $200 price tag. All in all, this is a fantastic set for the money, but as with everything, I’d want to know what kind of use I hoped to get out of the tools before purchasing. As light duty tools which will be real workhorses around the house and the jobsite, this is a perfect set. If you’re looking to do a ton of demo or pruning however, I might look at a recip saw with a longer stroke, and purchase the circular saw separately.

What about blades?

Diablo 6 ½” 24 tooth demo demon saw blade: $16.97

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This blade has a low rake angle, so when you cut through nails, screws, or electrical, it doesn’t catch or bind badly, and the occasional contact with metal in wood doesn’t tear the carbide off. I really appreciate whatever magical methods Diablo uses to secure their carbides onto their blades because they seem to “stick” a lot longer than their competitors’. I’ve had several Diablo tablesaw blades get stopped in the sawstop cartridges at the community woodshop I used to manage and the blades were easily salvaged almost every time. This blade can get sharpened several times before it needs to get replaced, and at $16.97, that’s a fantastic value in my book. As far as length of wear, this blade will keep cutting until you’ve run it through a good number of nails or hit a piece of metal that’s too big to get through it. On the jobsite, that is often a full day of continuous use for demo, on my farm, that’s a few weeks (or months depending on what I’m doing). This blade is marketed as a demolition blade and it is just that. It cuts quickly and stays sharp for a long time, but you don’t want to use it for finish work. The red coating Diablo uses on their blades keeps them cool in use and greatly reduces friction when cutting.

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 As a quick aside here, to get the most out of your blades, you need to pair your blades with the right tool. For review purposes, I was asked to use this blade in the Dewalt 20v Max circular saw. Of course the blade works fine in that saw, but that saw doesn’t have the power needed to do the demo work this blade was built for and get the most out of this blade. On the jobsite, I’d want to put this blade into a worm-drive or 60v tool.


Diablo 6 ½” 60 tooth Finish blade: $21.97

 This is a fantastic blade, and very well suited to the 20 V  Max circular saw. It has a 60 tooth profile with a very low rake so you get a really clean cut on prefinished materials like prefinished plywood, painted materials, etc. As is the case with most of Diablo’s blades, blade life is excellent. The carbides are well attached, the red coating keeps the blade cool in the cut, they can be sharpened multiple times, hands down, Diablo blades are great for the money.

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Posted on January 17, 2019 .

It's Hammer (drill) Time!

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not a professional contractor. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to construction and renovation projects, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. That said, I doubt many professional contractors will be reading my tool reviews. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars. Now, let’s talk about some tools!

Ridgid Octane Brushless 18v Hammer Drill/Driver

As is the case with so many Ridgid tools, the first thing I’m drawn to is the price point and the warranty Ridgid offers. It’s ruggedly built, another added bonus around my shop and farm because I’ve got a lot of inexperienced people coming in and out who are really tough on tools. At $149, this is a great value, but I will definitely say that the power this drill offers (1,300 in lbs of torque) begs for a bigger battery, something that would up the cost significantly. If you’re already on the Ridgid Octane platform, you’ve likely already got some bigger batteries, but if you’re not, you’ll want one, and the added cost of purchasing said larger battery might affect your decision making.

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The half-inch collet is a pretty standard feature on hammer drills these days, and rightfully so, the amount of power, the quick start and stop of the brushless motor, and the cool run cycles on this tool allow you to run some pretty big bits in this drill. This tool also offers a lot of customizability in your drilling and driving functions, with over 100 settings to really help you dial in the perfect setup for the task at hand.

One really interesting and unique feature on this drill is the LED light around the collet with an individual trigger just for it. That said, I’ll be interested to see how durable the light is in that position, because I can see it easily getting damaged with a careless drop or slipping off a screw and ramming the head of the driver accidentally into a stud.

I also really like the side handle for this tool as well as the way it clamps onto the tool, making the switch from right to lefthanded applications and position changes for tight space considerations quick and painless.

The battery level indicator on the battery itself is also awesome, and a feature I really appreciate that Ridgid is including in all their new Octane batteries- no more loading up a toolbag with dead batteries and showing up to the jobsite with no power.

My main hesitation with this tool is the ergonomics of the drill. With my small frame, size and heft really become an issue for me hefting a tool for 8 hours. This is a big tool. Yes, it offers lots of power, but with the 2.0 AH battery it comes with, it’s a little unbalanced. With a 4.0 AH battery I stole off one of my other tools, it’s a beast, and for most applications I’m facing, I’d rather have a more compact tool and sacrifice a little power. That said, on the occasion I’ve got light concrete drilling to do where there’s no power source, this would be my go-to option- drilling cinderblocks for joist hangers, hanging expansion bits or anchors in the concrete barn wall, etc.

And speaking of drilling, let’s take a minute to talk about the new Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits:

19 Piece Bosch Daredevil Spade Bit Set

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If you’re doing framing, rough construction, or demo, these are the best spade bits for your money. At just under $20, you can expect a lot for your money. The screw style tip pulls the bit right into the wood and it cuts extremely fast. The coating on the bits (the blue stuff) keeps the bit cool while cutting and extends the life of the bit significantly. The curved design of the paddle ejects chips super fast, again, adding speed and keeping the cut cooler. The bits last and last and last, through multiple accidental brushes with screws, nails and staples in framing lumber, but, as I’d expect, they are toast when you hit a big piece of metal.

The spiral tip and speed it offers pulls the bits in so fast that it’s tough to have a clean exit hole- something that’s not important in framing, but these definitely aren’t bits for carpentry. That said, it’s advisable to have two sets of bits regardless one for framing and demo, and one for finish work,, because a normal bit is too slow for framing, and the clean cut they offer isn’t really needed for that application anyway.

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Their hex shank makes them easy to use with an impact, and that’s just another awesome feature.

The one thing I will warn with sets like this is that I find myself using one or two sizes of bits for every single application, and then there’s a whole lot of random sized brand new bits floating around in my toolbag. If it were me, I’d be much more inclined to buy a smaller set or multiple individual bits of the size I most commonly use.

Posted on January 15, 2019 .

Minimizing Dust and Maximizing Filter Life

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This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not an expert… anything really. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to working on cars, construction, framing, electrical and renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

I have had an older model of this same Ridgid vacuum in my shop since the beginning. They were hardy, affordable, and had a lifetime guarantee. For a broke wanna be woodworker trying to build up my shop, that’s all I could ask for in a tool. I’ve still got that vacuum and it’s kept my shop clean and played dust collector like a champion for 7 years, and I couldn’t ask any more of a tool.

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So when it came time to test the Ridgid 16 Gallon 6.5 HP vacuum for this review, I was pretty well versed with what I’d be getting, a great tool for a great value. This thing boasts the best CFM in it’s class. The new nozzle clips keep the hose and attachments from detaching unexpectedly, which is a brilliant answer to one of my biggest frustrations when cleaning the shop. At 16 gallons, this is still technically a “portable” tool, but if I was regularly moving it around the jobsite, and not just pulling it around my smooth concrete shop floor, I might be inclined to get a smaller model.

As is the case with most shop vacuums, this model has a blower, but I never use the blower (on purpose at least, there was one unfortunate incident where I had the hoses hooked up wrong and accidentally blew dust all over the shop I’d just spent two hours meticulously cleaning… we will just attribute that incident to an extreme lack of sleep).

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The one thing I don’t love about this tool is it’s cloth storage pouch. It does hold all the attachments, but I think it looks kind of sloppy and, it being cloth, it collects dirt and dust just like you might expect a cloth bag on top of a dust and trash receptacle would. Another feature I would really, really like on a shop vacuum would be an automatic cord reel. The wrap provided works, but isn’t my favorite design. Another thing I would really love to see less of on this tool is plastic. That said, I also understand the manufacturing process, and alternative construction materials would increase the cost of the unit significantly. 

This vacuum retails for $159. Would I buy it?

Absolutely, I have been using a similar Ridgid vac in my shop for 7 years.

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What about the Dustopper attachment?

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Retailing for $40, the Dustopper is Home Depot’s answer to the Dust Deputy, which retails for $50. I have both, and both are good products. I wouldn’t use either on my every day vacuum that I drag around the shop while I clean because they are cumbersome and the Dustopper bucket tends to tip over a lot, but on a stationary tool hooked up to the vacuum, they are MAJOR filter savers. When the Dustopper is attached, the majority of the dust and debris  falls directly into the 5 gallon bucket beneath it, and very little material goes into the vacuum. I use it most on my chopsaw and oscillating spindle sander because those fine particulates are enemy No. 1 of my vacuum filters. Without an auxillary product, all that fine dust clogs the filter and the vacuum loses CFM really quickly. The thing I like most about the dustopper is it’s low profile. It fits under my chop saw like a glove. I actually bought the dust deputy to live under that cabinet, but it didn’t fit, so I was really glad to find another option that worked.

Posted on October 26, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.

Reviewing the Bosch BLAZE 165' Laser Tape

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This review was created as part of a paid affiliate program with the Home Depot.

My first order of business with this and every product review is a disclaimer: I am not an expert… anything really. I am a farmer and a fine furniture maker. When it comes to working on cars, construction, framing, electrical and renovation, I’m a DIYer and weekend warrior. My goal in reviewing tools and products is to provide honest feedback based on my own use and experience with these tools to other regular folks like me- wanting to get their hands dirty, try new things, and get the best value for their hard earned dollars.

I am a huge fan of this tool’s little brother, the GLM 42 135 ft Laser Measure, and I reviewed it in July (click here to read it).  This model, the GLM 50, costs an extra $20, retailing for $119. It offers an additional 30’ of accurate measurements (165’ digital tape) and Bluetooth capability so you can use the tool in conjunction with your cell phone on the Bosch Measure app, giving you greater storage capacity and versatility using this tool. Those are the only two differences between this tool and the GLM 42, so this review will be pretty short, as I’ve sung the GLM 42’s praises quite loudly here before.

Probably the coolest feature that comes with the Bluetooth capabilities of this tool is the ability to overlay your digital measurements onto photos.  For a visual person like myself, that is a really awesome concept. That said though, I’m not super tech savvy and the app is a tad cumbersome to use. I really like the GLM 42, and if it were up to me I’d just buy a GLM 42 and save my extra $20.

If you’re keen on gadgets and cool features though, and are patient enough to learn and work with the app, the cool factor on this tool is extremely high. The GLM app allows you to create floor plans from within the app. You can do real-time measurements, tack those to photos of the space, and you get an increased storage capacity by integrating with the app. The tool will calculate length, area, volume, and can measure/calculate angles and perform addition and subtraction calculations.

Posted on October 25, 2018 and filed under Tool Reviews.