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Toolbox, continued

Siding Tools

Cutting and Marking Made Easier.

Skip the chalk lines and combo squares, now you can cut window and door openings, as well as final courses of siding, with a time-saving specialty tool from Malco. The Sider's 1/8-inch graduated slots receive a utility knife and make quick work of long parallel cuts. The aluminum template is available to match most vinyl siding profiles, including double 4 and 5, dutch lap 4 1/2 and 5, and triple 3. The stainless-steel marking gauge sells for about $16.

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Malco Products, 800/328-3530, www.malcotools.com.

Take a Brake.

Setting up and carrying a bulky metal brake can be the hardest part of bending and installing trim metals and flashing, especially when you're working by yourself. The Quick-Start Brake Rack mounts your Tapco or Van Mark metal brake to your truck's ladder rack, which not only saves space in the bed of your truck, but also creates a convenient work station. According to the manufacturer, the Brake Rack makes your expensive metal brake harder to steal, as well. It sells for about $230.

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Brake Products Co., 610/941-4333, www.brakeproductscompany.com.

Siding Saw.

Installing ten squares of cedar shingle siding on my new addition has made me appreciate my Bosch model 1660 24-Volt Cordless Circular Saw more than ever. The 6 1/2-inch saw has really proved its merit cutting shingles for gables and dormers. It stays up on the scaffold with me, and the huge pack provides enough power to last all day. The intelligently designed blade guard almost never gets hung up on the skinny cedar shingles, and a cool depth adjustment shows where the blade is set with only a quick glance. I'm sure this saw would work equally well for clapboards, vinyl, and fiber cement. I found it on the web (www.toolsteal.com) as part of a reconditioned three-tool kit (model 3960CFK) that includes the saw, 1/2-inch drill, flashlight and two batteries for under $300.

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Robert Bosch Tool Co., 877/267-2499, www.boschtools.com.

Better Snips.

I don't know about you, but I think typical aviation snips should last longer than they do. Keepers bend and break, springs lose their spring — and few things are more annoying than being perched high up on pump jacks with a set of shears that can't make the cut. If you're ready for a higher-quality product, check the offerings from Klenk. Their models MA72010 and MA72000 Siding Shears are perfect for vinyl siding. Large handles and serrated jaws require less cutting effort, and fine points allow the jaws to get closer to rolled edges. They sell for about $21 and $32, respectively.

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Klenk Tools, 800/327-5619, www.klenktools.com.


Cold Weather Gear

Supreme Socks.

When builders and remodelers talk about cold feet, they're often referring to customers who change their mind about a project after getting a bid for the work. But if your cold feet come from socks that aren't doing the job, you might consider a pair from TechSpun. Favored by members of the U.S. Special Forces, Environmental Sock Systems are comfort-rated for temperatures down to -40°F. The wool-polypropylene blended socks are matched with a comfortable liner that wicks away moisture and prevents chafing. According to the maker, the socks are not intended for people who can be content with a bag of tube socks from Wal-Mart. They're made for people who simply can't afford problems with their feet. The socks start at $16 per pair, and liners sell for $7.50.

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TechSpun, 800/392-8500, www.techspun.com.

Breathing Room.

On a cold day, good gloves can make the difference between getting things done and going home early. Gorgonz makes a complete line of gloves for people who have to wear gloves to do their jobs. The gloves have special features for improved dexterity and grip, plus extra padding at the knuckles for protection. But perhaps the coolest feature is what the manufacturer calls the Exhale Heating System. Gloves in this product line have a small mouthpiece near the cuff that channels your warm breath to your fingertips. I've tried them, and they work great. They cost about $35.

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Gorgonz, 410/534-6320, www.gorgonz.com.

Manly Earmuffs.

Earmuffs might not be the manliest of work wear, but whining about your ears hurting won't do much for your image, either. If you have enough faith in your masculinity, you might try a set of Earwarmers from Gorgonz. The adjustable muffs are available not only in several colors of fuzzy fleece, but also in brown duck, so you can make a coordinated ensemble with your barn coat or insulated coveralls. Prices start at $15.

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Gorgonz, 410/534-6320, www.gorgonz.com.

High-Tech Long Johns.

Even in temperatures well below zero, you can be quite comfortable with Duofold's Varitherm Base Layer long underwear. The product is available in four weights — expedition, heavy, medium, and light — to match any temperature and outdoor activity. The high-tech knit polyester fabric helps you adapt to changing weather or activity level by moving moisture away from your skin. Aside from its excellent insulating properties, the product is very comfortable and extremely well made. Expedition-weight garments sell for about $37 per piece; all the others sell for about $16 per piece. I think it's the best long underwear available.

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Duofold, 800/994-4348, www.duofold.com.