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Stanley has introduced several innovative hand tools lately, including the FatMax 17-ounce Anti-Vibe Framing Hammer (model FMHT51244) and 25-foot Auto-Locking Tape Rule (model FMHT33338). Terry Goodrich, a hands-on Oregon framing contractor who employs 12 to 20 carpenters and frames up to 200 single- and multifamily houses per year, evaluated both of these tools for us.

ANTI-VIBE FRAMING HAMMER

Stanley’s first Anti-Vibe hammers came out in 1998 and tamed shock waves with a perforated steel core in the handle and a vibration-damping tuning fork at the end. The new FatMax Anti-Vibe Framing Hammer still has a tuning fork, but it also has a shock-absorbing rubber collar between the head and the handle. In addition, it has two layers of shock-absorbing rubber in the grip on top of a high-impact polypropylene jacket that runs the length of the handle directly over the steel (which protrudes just below the head to protect the hammer body against damage from overstrikes). The head weighs just 17 ounces, continuing the trend toward lighter steel heads designed to compete with pricier titanium ones. A magnetic nail starter makes it easier to start nails with one hand.

“I didn’t expect to like this hammer,” Goodrich says. “I’d already gone from a 32-ounce framing hammer to a 28-ouncer to a 22-ouncer to reduce my wear and tear, and couldn’t imagine framing with a 17-ouncer. But I love it. It has plenty of driving power, great balance, and a comfortable grip, and I appreciate the nail starter. I’m now using the Anti-Vibe full-time.”

The FatMax Anti-Vibe Framing Hammer sells for about $40.

AUTO-LOCK TAPE MEASURE

Auto-locking tape measures normally have a spring-loaded bottom lever that you squeeze when extending the blade and release to lock the blade. Squeeze again and the blade retracts. Stanley’s new 25-foot FatMax auto-­locking tape measure simplifies that procedure. It locks automatically when the blade stops extending; to release or retract the blade, you simply press the top-forward release button. To override the auto-lock, slide the same button up until it clicks.

The new two-piece blade hook is also unique. According to Stanley, most framers like oversize hooks that can grab edges from the top, bottom, or sides, while finish carpenters like standard hooks because they don’t get in the way. This tape has a standard hook along with a removable, oversize hook attachment that stores in the tape body and snaps onto the hook rivets when you need it.

“I like the new tape’s auto-lock and override,” Goodrich says. “But the bottom edge of the blade hook is flush with the base of the tape measure, which makes it hard to hook the edge of a material without extending the blade first. That extra step wastes time, and it drives me nuts. I’ll stick with my other FatMax tapes for now.”

The FatMax Auto-Lock 25-Foot Tape Rule costs about $25.

JLC.