13 must-have tools for 2008

Whether you're dropping hints or treating yourself, here is 2008's choicest workshopper selection

By Douglas Thomson

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Putting together this year’s most innovative tool picks was more challenging than usual because there has been such a bountiful crop of great gear coming from manufacturers lately. There were two common traits shared by the tools included in this year’s group. The first is price point. Judging by the price tags we’ve seen lately, it’s obvious many tool manufacturers have been busy trimming their prices. I mean, who would have imagined that less than two years after this hot battery technology was rolled out we’d see lithium-ion power assembled in a four-piece kit for $350? And the trickle-down of seriously high-tech tools into the average DIYer’s toolbox is also quite remarkable. Take the Ridgid SeeSnake for example: just a few years ago, this kind of technology was available only to contractors who could afford to shell out several thousand dollars for a drain-inspection camera. Now that same technology is available for about $250.

Snake Charmer Camera

Everyone we showed the Ridgid SeeSnake to instantly thought of about five ways they could use this cool little micro-inspection camera for their next reno project. Check out the insides of your walls to locate wiring, plumbing or studs. Peek under your floors, into ducts or down your drains. You name it, and the high-resolution camera at the end of the 3′-long cable sends what it sees to a 2 1/2″ colour screen. Improve the view with two LED lights on the camera lens that are adjustable with a dimmer dial. And if the standard cable isn’t long enough, optional extensions are available. Ridgid SeeSnake: $250, www.ridgid.com or 800-769-7743

Portable suction

If you’ve ever used a shop vacuum for anything other than a brief cleanup, you already know they aren’t exactly a joy to use. Sure, they’re powerful, but if you try to move one around anywhere other than a wide open space, you’ll usually topple it over at least once during your travels. In fact, they’re so awkward to manoeuvre that I rarely ever use them anywhere else but in my workshop. All that will change when you get a hold of the new Ridgid WD2450 vacuum. Why is it better than its predecessors? First, there’s no cord! It’s powered by a battery-either the 18-volt nickel cadmiun or the 24-volt lithium-ion that come with Ridgid drills and other cordless tools. Second, it’s a wet/dry vac, which means it’s the right tool for cleaning up all kinds of stuff-inside the shop and even inside your house. Grab it and take it easily to wherever your messes abound. Ridgid WD2450: $130, www.ridgid.com or 800-474-3443.

The Perfect Paint Brush

Good trim paint brushes can be hard to find. At least, they were until the new Styletto line of brushes appeared on the market recently. Their unique tapered shape makes them perfectly suited for painting details such as trim, moulding, window frames and the cutting-in of the corners of a room. They can make short work of painting around toilets and other fixtures too. But the brushes are more than just an efficient new shape: they have a comfortable wood handle, stainless-steel ferrules and polyester bristles, making them suitable for both latex and oil-based paints. Another great feature: they’re Canadian-made. Styletto brushes: $10 to $15, www.styletto.com or 800-363-9396.



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Oct. 17, 2012

8:31 pm

I am replacing a router - a Black and Decker 3.5 horsepower half inch - that just pooped out, sounding like the last screw in a bucket when I turned it on. Found out, upon inspection, that the main brush support was made of plastic, and it simply snapped. Cross B&D off the tools to buy list. I also have a Ryobi 2.5 Plunge router that is awkward to set up, and lacks a simple micro-adjustment. So I am looking for one of your tool reviews on routers. I have a collection of CHW going back to 2001, I think, but haven't searched 'em as I am hoping for an on-line connection that'll be faster. Any suggestions?


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