Tools: Cool Tool Innovations
As you may already know we are tool lovers from the word go, and both of us are completely and totally fascinated by innovations that make any tool easier and more convenient to use. Getting the right tool for the job isn’t always as simple as you might think. For example: As far as we are concerned the most powerful and durable circular saw on earth is manufactured for use by carpenters. But, unless you are a carpenter yourself — or full time tradesperson such a tool would probably not be the sensible choice for you. And there are many reasons why. Basically tools made for the “trades” or for “commercial use” are usually overkill for most DIY’ers, hobbyists and part time fix-it buffs. Here’s why:
- Commercial grade tools reside at the top of the food chain when it comes to price. You’ll pay through the nose for one no matter what type of tool it is.
- To make a commercial tool durable enough to take a beating 24/7 it is made of materials that make it incredibly heavy. If you aren’t professional weight lifter this can be a real problem.
- They are also large and bulky. Besides being heavy they are big. Literally — really big – large! Not meant for use in tight places.
- Commercial tools require frequent maintenance. Sure it will last longer if you can easily change the brushes and/or oil, but who wants that in their life.
- Commercial grade tools are far more powerful than the kinds that are needed for most home projects. But all that power can also be a problem. Sometimes a tool can be more powerful than is safe for “regular folks”. Carpentry, for example, is an extremely physical vocation. Most carpenters are incredibly strong. Keeping a high powered saw from kicking back (and cutting something) or a heavy duty drill from twisting a wrist off is a FULL TIME job for even the strongest tradesperson. In fact the danger of being cut by a circular saw is always foremost in the mind of the person using the saw.
- Versatility is another problem with the tools the pros use. Most pro’s tools are job-specific. One tool is purchased for one job and one job only. Eight tasks eight tools – O.K. if you have a large work shop and storage area. Keep in mind that “tool nut” and master carpenter Norm Abrams’ Yankee work shop is bigger than his home.
Bottom line…one person’s castle can be another’s prison. When it comes to tools the best is what most suits your needs. 24-volt battery operated power tools are best left to those who need wrist-twisting power. On those rare occasions when you need that kind of power – rent. The rest of the time 9-, 12- or 14-volt tools offer a varied range of power (depending on the task – and they are generally lighter-in-weight and easier-to-store. These are the ones that you will want to search out.
Here’s what to look for:
- Buy a well known brand. Tool manufactures that have been around forever are not there because they make junk. A well known brand will usually insure that you get a well made tool that will offer more than reasonable lasting quality. You certainly don’t want a tool that will fall apart before you get it home.
- It must be reasonably priced – comparatively speaking. For the price of a commercial grade circular saw you can purchase several home-grade tools.
- The tool must be light in weight – again – this is a relative comparison. If you are a carpenter or a weight lifter your perception of heavy will be substantially different than that of someone of normal stature. The tool should be one that you yourself can easily lift. Keep in mind that each time you use a tool the longer you operate it the heavier it gets – no matter how light it seems when you begin it is always heavier at the end of the day. Here’s a great test: Grip the handle of the tool and hold it out at arm’s length. Keep it there for about 20 seconds or more. Once you’ve experienced this test you’ll be even more cautious as you shop.
- You want a tool that will do the job, but you don’t want one that will do a job on you.
- Buy entry level tools first time round. They are inexpensive and will give you a chance to test your skills not to mention an opportunity to survey frequency of use. You can always step up to mid-range durability if need be.
- Make sure that you get the very most versatility you can for every dollar you spend. For example: one tool company offers a single power unit that can drive multiple tools. A tool of this type can be a real space saver and a money maker for the home team. The drive motor actually powers 5 different tools: 1) an electric screwdriver/drill, 2) a jig saw, 3) a detail sander/polisher, 4) a router, and believe it or not, 5) a circular saw as well. Hey, finding tools for home repairs doesn’t have to be brain surgery.
So, keep in mind that the fascinating looking tools that a carpenter uses can be a problem for a person of average stature and strength. Both of us have had our wrists twisted – and that was back in the days when we were both in peak condition. As we get older (and hopefully wiser) we tend to look for the lightest tool that will effectively do the job and one that has good balance and ergonomic construction.