Monster Oscillating Tool
The most common complaints about oscillating tools are slow speed and a lack of power. Dremel has addressed these issues with the aptly named 'Velocity.' This tool boasts a 7-amp motor, while most oscillating tools are in the 2- to 3-amp range.
The oscillation angle has been increased to 5 degrees so you can remove more material with every pass of the blade. The tool kit even comes with a blade big enough to cut the occasional 2x4, but don't throw out your circular saw just yet. This beast is heavier than most other oscillating tools and has a thicker handle, so if you have small hands or do a lot of overhead work, this may not be the tool for you.
The Velocity is equipped with a control foot that flips down and acts as a guide when you're cutting sheet materials. The foot helps keep the blade at a consistent depth in the material and can prevent cutting too deep into walls, ceilings and floors, where pipes and wires may be lurking near the surface. The tool comes with a bag, three blades and sanding accessories, and it sells for $180 at Lowe's.
Cordless Glue Gun
Black & Decker has transformed a useful tool into one that's super handy. Its new 20V MAX Cordless Glue Gun feels like a real tool in your hand. And it heats up in 90 seconds.
Unlike most glue guns, which lie on their sides, this model stands up straight, keeping the business end out of harm's way. And as the name says, it's cordless! It runs off a Black & Decker 20V MAX lithium battery and has a run-time of up to three hours. You can buy just the tool online for $40 or get the tool and battery for $80.
An Innovative Hole Saw
Spyder Products has been around for less than 10 years and has already come up with several industry-changing tools. And its new hole saws are packed with a ton of features. The Rapid Core Eject system makes removing the core as easy as pushing a button and pulling down on the saw blade. The carbide-tipped blade shown here rips through wood as if it were cardboard and can even drill through concrete!
You can also enlarge existing holes. For example, if you need to enlarge a 2-in. hole into a 3-in. hole, just install a 2-in. hole saw inside a 3-in. hole saw. The 2-in. saw acts like a guide instead of the drill bit ? that's impressive! An arbor and one carbide-tipped 2-1/2-in. blade cost about $25 at Lowe's.
Craftsman Sliding Miter Saw
Every toolmaker makes a version of the 10-in. sliding miter saw. What makes Craftsman's saw unique is its ingenious offset rail system. The sliding bars on most sliding miter saws take up a lot of room?in your shop and in your pickup.
This saw takes up no more room than a conventional miter saw but has all the advantages of a slider. I used it to trim out an entire room, and it performed just as well as the $500 slider I have at home. The detents are firm, the levers and locks are convenient and intuitive, and the pivoting action is smooth as butter.
Because it's compact and lightweight, it doesn't have the solid feel and heft of a $500 saw, but at $230, it's less than half the price. It's a great saw for weekend warriors and pros alike. Find one at craftsman.com or at Sears or other Craftsman retailers.
Travis Larson, Senior Editor
Milwaukee Brushless Drivers
We love Milwaukee's new impact driver and hammer drill: brushless motors for longer run-times, Milwaukee's best batteries and all the bells and whistles (LED lights, power meters, belt hooks, etc.). We've used these tools hard for a few months now and they haven't let us down. We were particularly impressed by the impact driver's speed selector, which can give you better control when it's set for slow speed.
The two tools are available as a set, with two batteries and a charger. Plus, you'll find lots of other pro tools that use the same excellent battery platform.
Attention Basement Remodelers...
And anyone else who drives lots of concrete screws. You might want to throw some money at the Irwin 1881131 Impact Performance Series Concrete Screw Drill-Drive Installation Set. (If you shop around online, you can find it for $40 or so.)
This nine-piece set contains everything you need to drive the most common concrete screw sizes: four drill bits, a drive sleeve, two hex drive bits and two Phillips drive bits. The drive sleeve makes it simple to shift from drilling to driving in seconds. Check it out and find a retailer at irwin.com.
User-Friendly Miter Saw Stand
I was fed up with my old miter saw stand, so I donated it to one of my adult sons (always a great excuse for a tool upgrade), and bought myself a new one. I wanted one with wheels so I could roll it into the corner of my garage with the saw still attached. I also wanted a stand less complicated than a Rubik's Cube to unfold, and one that wouldn't pinch my fingers in the process. I decided to go with the Craftsman Quick Lift Gravity Stand. All you do is push one foot lever to fold it up and the same lever to unfold it?nothing could be easier.
When you do want to remove the saw from the stand, the quick-release brackets (which fit most saw brands) hook on the front rail first and then click onto the back rail. My other stand was the exact opposite, and I nearly broke my back every time I mounted the saw because I had to bend way over the stand supporting the full weight of the saw and brackets. If you're looking for a user-friendly saw stand with all the features, check out Craftsman's Quick Lift Gravity Stand. It retails for about $190.
Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor
Lenox recently added a curved recip blade to its already impressive lineup. The curve helps change the angle of attack on every stroke, which speeds up cutting. It's similar to the orbital action on many reciprocating saws. These blades are not intended for dainty scrollwork?they're most useful when you have a whole bunch of aggressive cuts to make. Lenox Gold Power Arc Curved Blades are available at Lowe's, tool suppliers and online. A five-pack costs about $22.
Big Blade, Deep Cuts
Cut?flip?cut again. That's how we have to cut a thick post or beam with a regular circular saw. Maybe the cuts line up, maybe they don't. With the new 10-1/4-in. worm drive saw from Skilsaw, you can cut through thick materials in one clean pass. The saw has a cutting capacity of 3-11/16 in., and it weighs only 16.45 lbs. (less than some 7-1/4-in. worm drive saws.) The motor is powerful enough to plow through the toughest laminated veneer lumber. This beast of a saw, called the Sawsquatch, costs about $449 online.
Ever More Powerful Cordless Yard Tools
Not that long ago, battery-powered outdoor equipment was a promising idea, but not all that practical. But battery technology has improved, and the power of modern lithium-ion batteries has grown substantially. First there was 18 volts, then 36 volts, then 40, 56 and now even 80 volts from a single battery! When you combine these honkin' big batteries with new motor technologies, you get tools that compete favorably with their gas-engine cousins. Chain saws powerful enough to cut 18-in. logs all morning. Mowers you can use for huge yards. Trimmers that will run longer than you can.
And boy, do we love the benefits. Reliable push-button starting, quieter operation and no messing with gas (or worse, mixing gas and oil!). You'll find most of the major manufacturers making these next-generation tools: Echo, Ryobi, Oregon, Kobalt, Craftsman, Stihl and Greenworks. Each offers many tools that take the same batteries: mowers, trimmers, chain saws, blowers, pole trimmers, hedge trimmers and more. The new 80V battery from Greenworks will even run a snow blower! Cordless tools cost more up front, but they are super-handy! If you've ever doubted that battery-powered tools would pack enough power for you, give these new ones a try.
A Superior Air Hose
I've been using a Flexzilla air hose for about five years now as I build our summer home. It's seen me through framing, sheathing, roofing, siding and trim. This hose is as good as it gets: It lies flat with absolutely no coil memory. It's soft and doesn't mar woodwork but is tough enough to use on the roof. It coils easily, and the bright color makes it easy to spot, so you're less likely to trip or run over it. It's one of those rare accessories that I would instantly replace if I ever lost it. The 50-ft., 3/8-in.-diameter version costs about $35 at home centers and online.
Ken Collier, Editor in Chief
A Sawhorse and Then Some
The Centipede is a multi-legged, portable support base that folds out in seconds and is as versatile as it is funky looking. It can function as a workbench, tool stand, table base, or as a pair of good old-fashioned sawhorses. It's not only perfect for construction but also handy on a camping trip, tailgating or anywhere you need a stable platform. The two sizes both come with quick clamps to cinch down sheet goods, and X-cups designed to hold 2x4s. The 2 x 4-ft. model can support 1,500 lbs. The 4 x 8-ft. version can handle 3,000 lbs.! They're available at Lowe's.