The Anne of All Trades Blog

RYOBI ONE+ Battery Operated Soldering Station

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 RYOBI 18-V ONE+ Hybrid Soldering Station

When I was a kid, soldering was my game. I was tearing apart, repairing, and rewiring our home electronics enough to drive my parents absolutely insane. In college, when Adam and I were playing and recording lots of music, there was the occasional speaker repair, or minor computer chip mod, but since then, I really haven’t touched the stuff. Technology has changed a TON over the past 12 years and I have not even tried to stay up with it.

People who follow my channels know how much I love and use my little wood stove in my shop, and sitting atop it is a sterling powered fan which displaces the heat. Well, it recently stopped working, and, after a little online sleuthing, I found out that, more often than not, a $12 replacement part from Ebay could fix the fan rather than having to replace it, so I found myself in need of a soldering iron. Enter, the Ryobi 18-V One+ Hybrid Soldering Station.

This handy little gadget can be used on the go on Ryobi’s 18V battery system, or can be plugged in for continuous use. While I was tucked away comfortably in my shop for this particular project with plenty of access to plugs, I can see plenty of potential when working on the truck or on something out and about where I don’t have access to power, when this battery powered option will come in especially handy. I used to work at a fire and security company, and I can imagine that the battery feature on this tool would be especially desirable for techs working on the go. While on battery or plugged-in power, the unit heats remarkably quickly.

The unit is designed to be fully self-contained. It’s got an iron holder for safe and convenient storage, it comes with a fine point and chisel tip, a small solder coil, and a cleaning sponge. It heats up to 900 degrees F, with consistent temperature, allowing you to set and maintain your desired temperature. The LED light indicator lets you know when the tip is hot.

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As is my opinion with most budget-friendly tools, with this one, you are getting a great tool that should far exceed what a homeowner/diyer would need from a tool like this, but it isn’t a pro-quality tool. I wish there were a greater variety of tips and/or that they were interchangeable with some of the professional standards. The tip next to the handle gets very hot, so if you are like me, and hold the tool like a pencil, you’re going to have to readjust your position and technique a tad. Because there isn’t a digital readout on the tool, there is also a bit of trial and error when getting the desired temperature.

At the end of the day though, even buying a new tool at $79 and a replacement part for $12 on Ebay, I’ve now got a working fan for a fraction of the cost of a new one. This is a fun little bit of kit, and I won’t ever write a review of a Ryobi tool without mentioning their incredible warranty program and their dedication to have backward battery compatibility. If you’ve got two wires that need to become one, some jewelry work, some electronics work, this is a great tool for the job.

Posted on October 14, 2019 .

Ridgid 18V Octane Cordless Jig 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.

Let’s Talk about the Ridgid 18V Octane Cordless Jig Saw

For those interested in a good all-around tool, a jigsaw is a pretty decent option for several reasons: they are relatively safe to use, they can cut curved or straight lines, and they can be used on a variety of materials including wood, particleboard, plastic, metal, even some kinds of ceramic tile- just make sure you pick the right blade for the job. If you’re looking to cut a straight line, clamp a board or straight edge along the line you’d like to cut. Simple jigs can also be made to cut fairly perfect circles as well. During the testing process for this review, this particular Cordless Jig Saw earned a permanent spot in the toolchest. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you’ll know I’ll sing odes to cordless tools all day long. Seeing as my whole farm has basically been a construction site for the last four years, and lugging cords around the farm is the bane of my existence, I wish I’d had this tool a long time ago. This saw offers plenty of power, a long battery life, enough fine adjustment options with the line start, variable speed dial, variable speed trigger, and adjustable orbital action that, with a fresh blade, it can even be fine tuned enough to pinch hit for the bandsaw when needed. It’s brushless motor runs nice and cool, so no hot hands while running the tool, and these brushless motor tools brag a 50% longer motor life.

The place where it’s really come to shine, in my shop at least, is in stock preparation. Folks who follow my fine woodwork closely know that grain selection is an integral part of every project I do. Being able to grab the jigsaw with no need for a cord, and a quick connect spot to attach a vacuum hose to break down stock and cut the best parts out of each board for ideal grain selection, something I used to do on the bandsaw, is a real time and energy saver. I also really like the lock-on button, because finger fatigue is a real issue for me, as I’ve started to develop some early onset arthritis in my hands.

This bare tool costs $129. Is it worth the money?

Since I’ve already got several other Ridgid 18V Octane tools and batteries, this one is a no-brainer add-on. Ridgid tools are contractor grade at an approachable price. Just like all other Ridgid tools, it comes with a lifetime service agreement, as long as you remember to register it within 90 days of purchase. And like all the tools I test, it’s gotten dropped, left in the rain, dragged through the seattle mud, and hauled all over the farm to do all kinds of rugged work and has stood up well to the challenge.

Posted on October 12, 2019 .

Ryobi One 18V Impact Wrench

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 Ryobi One 18V Impact Wrench

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At $79, if you are already on the Ryobi battery platform, you really cannot go wrong with this impact wrench. And if you’re not on the platform, it might be good to look into a few of the awesome offerings Ryobi currently has on battery power. Ryobi currently claims the greatest variety of battery operated tools on a single platform. This wrench is compact and powerful. It’s got three speeds, for fastening, driving, and max torque. Having variable speeds is a pretty important thing for an impact tool because there is a VERY different power requirement when driving self-tapping roofing screws in aluminum roofing material (like we did on the barn overhang) than removing lug nuts from my truck. Too much speed or power with the roofing screws and you’ll drive a hole in your roofing material, and too little power removing lug nuts won’t shake them loose (this tool has no problem performing either task). And while we are talking about vehicle work, the size and ergonomic design of this little tool is fantastic. It can get into places an air hose tool or larger battery tool can’t. It is worth mentioning up front that Ryobi’s intended audience with their tools is the light-medium duty home user, not general contractors. While these tools are built well, they are not made with the intention of standing up to heavy duty applications, but kept within their intended means, they perform fantastically. Three LED lights illuminate your work well in use. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the thing that impresses me most about Ryobi is their dedication to backward compatibility with their tools and their warranty- these come with a 3 year manufacturer’s warranty.

A few manufacturer details on the Ryobi One 18V Impact Wrench:

  • 3/8” square anvil with hog ring to easily change sockets

  • Impact mechanism produces 150 ft.lb. of torque and up to 3,400 impacts per minute for a variety of heavy-duty applications

  • Powerful motor allows for tightening or loosening of various nuts and bolts

  • 3-Speed selector switch offers greater control over a wide rang of fastening applications

Posted on September 27, 2019 .

Husky 200pc Master Socket Set and Stubby Ratchet

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 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 Husky 200 Pc Master Socket Set

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If you’re looking for an affordably priced, well-rounded socket set with a lifetime warranty, this is it. It includes 1/4”, 3/8” and 1/2” drive socket sizes including SAE, Metric, 12-point, 6 point, standard and deep length sockets. This set is definitely worth the $200 price point for the right buyer, but if you’re a DIYer or weekend warrior, not doing a ton of wrench turning, I might encourage you to start off with a smaller set, because while this wide variety is perfect when I’m working on my ‘53 Chevy with a thousand different nut and bolt sizes, most average homeowners/DIYers won’t need this much variety. The other downfall of this particular set for folks who don’t have mechanic’s toolchests is storage. A box full of loose sockets isn’t going to be of much help unless you’ve got a way to organize and display them in a useful manner, so again, a weekend warrior might be better suited to get a smaller set with it’s own storage system upon purchase. With those things said though, you really cannot go wrong with these Husky sockets. The fact that you can bring them back to any Home Depot and exchange them without a receipt is proof that the company is making a product they stand behind. The sockets are designed with off-corner loading to help prevent the rounding of nuts and bolts, their polished chrome coating helps keep them clean, and the large stamped markings make for easy identification of socket size. And darn it if they don’t look pretty in my toolchest!

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How about this Stubby Ratchet?

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This little $20 ratchet is worth every penny. By now, I think we all know how much I love tiny cute things, and this little guy is no exception. I like the black anodized finish, and it feels great in the hand. It’s 100 positions allows access and workability in tiny spaces. Similar ratchets only offer 60 teeth, which really limits your ability to work in tight spots. The short handle also allows for easier access to small spots and with a no-questions lifetime warranty with no receipt required, this one is a no-brainer.

Posted on August 6, 2019 .

Husky 5 Drawer Base Cabinet

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 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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This heavy duty welded base cabinet would be a great addition to any shop. If I’ve come to learn anything this past year finally having dedicated shop space again, it’s that you can never have enough storage. In an active effort to rid myself of wasted space and make my shop more efficient, I’ve added tons of cabinet and wall storage to the shop, and this one has earned a permanent (albeit portable) spot. Cabinet capacity is 1200 pounds, with each drawer having a 120 lb capacity inside and a 500 lb capacity on the solid butcher block wood top. Though I don’t have a big need to lock any of my cabinets, it is nice to know I have the option should I need it with this cabinet. The heavy duty casters are solid and having a portable workspace as solid as this one is yet another huge bonus in my shop.

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At $377, this isn’t a small investment, but this is a sturdy cabinet which provides tons of storage space, the capacity to hold an insane amount of weight, convenient soft-close drawers, heavy duty locking casters, a solid wood worksurface on top, and is built to last. It’s sleek, matte black design makes it blend into the background as a silent keeper of all your cool stuff. Backed with Husky’s lifetime warranty, this is an item I wouldn’t hesitate to buy.

Posted on August 4, 2019 .

Instant Adjustable Workbench by Husky

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 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.

The bench was a fantastic staging area/worksurface while we finished out the blacksmithing space.

The bench was a fantastic staging area/worksurface while we finished out the blacksmithing space.

Partnered with the 45 gallon Husky Tote (which I also reviewed a while back), this Heavy Duty 6ft Husky Workbench provided the perfect solution for a nice flat, clean work surface in my new blacksmith shop. While I wouldn’t be likely to use a bench like this in my woodshop (I’d want more benchtop thickness, more weight and more integrated storage below), the adjustable height and ease of assembly makes it a good solution for most folks in their garage workshops. It’s not cheap, at $352, it’s definitely an investment, but a good one considering the fact that you’d be hard pressed to purchase the materials and make a similar one for any cheaper. It is extremely easy to assemble and requires no extra tools to fold up and store, another big plus in my book. I love the integrated power strip (especially the dedicated USB port, which charges my phone and camera batteries), the engineered wood top which is hard enough to withstand abuse, is finished to make for easy oil spill cleanup, the adjustable height options makes it great for dialing it in to the proper position to save your neck and back from awkward bending while working, and the self leveling feet will keep it stable on most any floor surface. I’m on a gravel floor in the blacksmith shop, but if you’re on a hard floor, this bench would pair fantastically with the heavy duty Husky rolling drawers I reviewed a while back. Like all Husky products, it comes with a lifetime warranty.

Perfectly nestled.

Perfectly nestled.

All set up and ready to move some steel!

All set up and ready to move some steel!

Posted on August 1, 2019 .

Packing it in (and out) with Husky Storage

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 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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This tote has earned a spot in my blacksmith shop because the big wheels have no problem rolling around on my gravel floor and it is rough and rugged enough to put up to all kinds of heavy stuff getting stacked on and leaned against it. As we go through the attic in the barn, I’d like to get a few more of these to really get organized and have confidence that my stuff is protected from both water and rats (farm life is so idyllic). There’s not a whole lot I can say about a plastic tote, but for $22, these are a great investment. Having a couple of these to pack with tools, roll out to my truck, and know the stuff will stay dry puts my mind at ease. I’m not worried about packing them too full and having the bottom bust out like a lot of cheaper plastic tubs. Around the farm and around the jobsite, storage options take a ton of abuse, so it’s great to have an affordable option that can stand up to it all.

Husky’s also got you covered with soft-sided storage in their new and improved Truck Box

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Since I rarely leave the house aside from travel for work and farm related business (I mean, everything I love doing is here, so why WOULD I leave really??) my new employee Isaac quickly commandeered this truck box and uses it on a daily basis. He keeps his laptop, a handful of tools, and all his receipts and hour sheets in it to keep them organized and protected. The molded top is great when it’s sitting in his passenger seat, because stuff he sets on top of it don’t roll off when he hits the brakes a little too quickly, and a bonus is he’s now got all his important stuff all in one place and hasn’t left his laptop or his day planner here all month! For $50, it’s not something I personally needed (also, in Seattle, I’m always a little wary of soft storage options for anything… hey! Maybe I could put it in the 45 gallon tote!!), but for someone like Isaac, who is always on the go and wants to keep his stuff safe and well kept, this little bag has come in quite handy indeed.

Posted on July 28, 2019 .

Reaching New Heights with Gorilla Ladders

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 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.

The addition of two 4.5’ Dual Platform Hybrid Ladders has made a pretty significant change in the workflow around the farm. First of all, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m pretty short. Adding a compact, sturdy ladder to my woodshop has allowed me to take WAY better advantage of my 15’ ceilings. I’d also like to mention the width/depth of the steps. Once you’re on the top step, you’ve got a comparatively huge surface area to have a solid footing.

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In the short time we’ve had these ladders, we’ve certainly put them through their paces. They proved invaluable hanging new fascia, painting the tiny house, and picking summer fruit around the homestead.

Are these $50 ladders a good investment?

Absolutely. They are sturdy, well built, and, quite frankly, a bargain at $50. They aren’t the heavy finger pinchers I grew up using. They are light, compact and have already proved their worth here many times over.

Posted on July 26, 2019 .

Steel Demons and Salmon Ladders- Yep, You heard me.

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 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.

A few weeks ago I got the harebrained idea to put a salmon ladder a’la Ninja Warrior in my blacksmithing shop. Well, actually I got the idea a few years ago, but finally brought it to fruition. As it turns out, I’m (not surprisingly) a horrible ninja warrior, and, while I can CRUSH some regular pullups, I can’t even move the bar. Some might call that a failed experiment, but I like to think of it as a wonderful talking piece, and a fun party trick for my much stronger friends to show off when we are forging in my new smithy together.

In my newest YouTube video, you can watch me using the Diablo 7-1/4” 48 TPI Cermet Steel Demon Ferrous Metal Cutting Saw Blade in a REGULAR circular saw to cut down my 1/4” thick steel stock. Very few sparks, very clean cut, and almost no heat. All parts are warm, but not hot to the touch. This, my friends, is an incredible technology. The toxic dust and fire hazard (not to mention safety concerns) with using abrasive cutoff or chop wheels is no more. With the release of the cermet technology from Diablo, I sold my metal abrasive saw and jumped in with both feet into the cermet pond. It cuts faster, cleaner and cooler than any other option apart from specialty metal bandsaws. The ceramic and metallic teeth blend provide high heat tolerances and increased hardness for superior wear and ultimate cutting life. The tooth design provides burr-free finishes that require no rework.

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This $30 blade can turn any circular saw into a metal cutting machine. Is it worth the investment?

Absolutely. Several times over. If you do fine work with your circular saw, I might recommend you keep a separate saw in your arsenal to use for metal work, but if you’re careful about metal-chip cleanout moving back and forth from metal to wood, you should be totally fine. To put it bluntly, I am unendingly pleased with this technology and more than a little excited to continue exploring it!

Posted on July 24, 2019 .

New Fascia with the help of Diablo blades

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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.

I think by now you all know that I use Diablo blades fo just about every spinning tool I have. They are affordable, are made with quality and integrity, and are easily and widely available. That’s a pretty winning combination for me, especially considering how much of my time is spent making large pieces of wood smaller!

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The Diablo 12” 44 tooth general purpose saw blade is no exception. We ran about 5,000 linear feet of fascia board between the miter saw with the 12” blade and the circular saw with the 7-1/4” 36 TPI wood and metal carbide saw blade this past week as we replaced rotten wood and got ready to install new gutters on all the buildings on the farm. That simple change has added a HUGE amount of curb appeal to the house and solved a whole lot of our water issues near the building foundations.

Manufacturer claims on the 12” blade say it’s TiCo Hi-density special blend carbide teeth provide a razor sharp edge and 5x longer cutting life. I don’t really have a scientific test for that, but the blade cuts fast, cuts clean, stays sharp, causes very little blowout and has served me well thus far. It’s nice to have a multi-purpose blade in my miter saw because we use the saw for SO many different tasks. From furniture building to framing, our saws and blades really get put through their paces as we renovate and rebuild this place from the ground up.

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As we are moving back and forth from demo to rehab, the wood/metal carbide saw blade is also really handy to have in the circular saw. The tooth design provides impact resistance for cutting wood with nails as well as adding durability for clean cuts in metal as well.

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Posted on July 23, 2019 .

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 .