DeWalt DW304PK Specs
Strokes per minute: 0-2,800
Stroke length: 11/8 inches
Length: 171/2 inches
Weight: 7.0 pounds
Street price (includes plastic case):
DeWalt Industrial Tool Co.
Some time ago, JLC sent me a DeWalt DW304PK recip-saw kit to
test. I had it for a couple of months and used it for general
demolition and cutting rebar on new construction and remodeling
In most ways, the DW304PK is like any other recip saw. It has a
10-amp motor, a 11/8-inch stroke, and a variable-speed trigger
that allows you to cut anywhere from 0 to 2,800 strokes per
minute. And like other saws from DeWalt, it's equipped with a
large spring-loaded release lever that makes it especially easy
to install and remove blades.
Unusual Blade Clamp
What's really different about this model is that the blade can
be installed in four different positions. Usually you have only
two choices: teeth facing up or down, with the blade parallel
to the grip. The DW304PK, however, has an extra slot that
allows you to install the blade sideways — that is,
perpendicular to the grip (see photos, below).
The saw's four-position blade clamps
allow you to install blades facing up, down, left, or right.
Here, the blade is in the sideways position (top), but the slot
for the vertical position is clearly visible. Cutting flush is
easier when the blade is in the side position
At first, this feature struck me as just a gimmick, but it
proved to be quite handy in certain situations. For instance,
because the blade is only 1/2 inch away from the top of the saw
in the sideways position, you can cut flush to the floor
without bowing the blade quite as much as you would otherwise
have to. A good example of this kind of flush cutting would be
moving or removing a stud wall by cutting the nails that hold
the bottom plate to the floor. With the DeWalt recip saw, this
task is somewhat easier.
The extra blade slot also makes it possible to vary your grip
position, because you're not locked into cutting parallel to
The DW304PK is a good but not a stellar performer. It has ample
power for common cutting tasks. At 7.0 pounds, it's a little
lighter than the saws I normally use. A lighter saw is good for
overhead work and in tight spots like crawlspaces, but it has
been my experience that heavier saws absorb more vibration.
This saw vibrates a lot — so much, in fact, that it's
uncomfortable to use.
Unlike some other models, the DW304PK does not have an orbital
cutting function — but this was not a negative for us. It
cut with plenty of speed, and I'm not sure that orbital cutting
really helps anyway.
The tool comes in a plastic case with metal latches. You can
stow the saw with a 6-inch blade installed, but only if the
blade's in the regular slot.
There is one feature I wish the saw had: an adjustable pivoting
front shoe. Since the shoe on this saw is fixed, you can't work
different parts of the blade, and it's hard to control the
depth of penetration while plunge-cutting.
A pivoting shoe would also make it easier to maintain full
contact with the work.
If you're looking for a light compact saw that gets only
occasional use, the DW304PK is worth considering. But if you
want a heavy-duty saw to use every day, I'd recommend buying a
heavier model that vibrates less and has an adjustable
Scott Dornbuschis a remodeler in North Branch,
Planes & Rasps
planer makes fine-tuning an extension jamb or taking the hump
out of a framing member fast and easy. Cordless models can
speed things still further. The Ridgid R848 31/4-inch cordless
power plane has a spiral-cut blade that the maker claims offers
less resistance (for longer runtimes) and produces smoother,
faster cuts. The tool comes with an 18-volt battery, a charger,
a chip-collection bag, and an edge guide — but the
coolest feature is a little kickstand on the tail end that
allows you to set the plane down with the blade still turning.
The R848 sells for about $100. Ridgid, 866/539-1710,
Lightweight Block Plane.
As far as
I'm concerned, a high-quality low-angle block plane is
indispensable for stain-grade finish work. Carrying the
standard-size version around on your tool belt all day,
however, can be a real drag. Fortunately, there's a lightweight
alternative: the Veritas Apron Plane. Weighing in at 14 ounces
— about half the weight of an ordinary block plane
— the tool performs just as well as its heavier
counterparts, according to several finish carpenters I spoke
with. It comes with either a high-carbon steel blade ($69) or
an A2 blade ($79). The company also offers a split leather
holster ($14.50). Lee Valley, 800/871-8158,
about every carpenter I know has a four-way rasp, nobody seems
to be very happy with the tool's performance. A better version,
the Shinto Wood Rasp, hails from Japan. Not only does this tool
have both coarse and fine cutting blades, but the cutting
surfaces go all the way to the edge, allowing the user to get
into corners — not a possibility with standard four-way
files. The Shinto wood rasp is available online from Japan
Woodworker for about $30. Japan Woodworker, 800/537-7820,
Premier Painter's Pole.
nothing worse when you're trying to paint a ceiling or a tall
wall than a wiggly, wobbly extension pole. Purdy claims its
Professional Grade Extension Poles are flex-free and have the
tightest, most secure push-button locking system available. The
fiberglass-covered aluminum poles extend in 6-inch increments
and come in five sizes from 2 feet to 16 feet. Prices range
from about $20 to about $47. Purdy, 800/547-0780,
Frustration-Free Caulk Gun.
wouldn't think designing a functional caulking gun would be
that tough, but the ones I've used fall into two categories:
bad and worse. The notable exception is Tajima's Convoy Lite.
This lightweight caulking gun has a fiberglass-reinforced
plastic frame that won't rust or bend, and unlike every other
so-called dripless model I've tried, its unique plunger
actually stops dispensing caulk when you release the handle.
Despite one drawback — tube changes require two hands,
which poses a real challenge when you're on an extension ladder
— the Convoy Lite is without question the best caulking
gun I've ever used. The 1/10-gallon model sells for $17; a
one-quart model doesn't exist, unfortunately. Tajima,
For fast coverage and a
great finish, many pro painters suggest painting doors and
other large trim areas with a roller and then back-brushing.
While a conventional-size roller and pan will work for this
task, the ideal tools are a 3-inch roller and a handheld paint
pail like Wooster's Pelican. The polypropylene cup incorporates
a deeply ribbed 51/2-inch-wide by 41/2-inch-long roll-off area
and a built-in rare-earth magnet that holds your brush.
According to the maker, the strap — which adjusts
automatically — provides a comfortable fit for most
hands. The Pelican costs about $15; a three-pack of liners
costs $3.50. Wooster Brush, 800/392-7246,
It's frustrating and dangerous to work with air hoses and
electrical cords tangled underfoot. On my jobs, I avoid this
hazard by using Cordpros (BurkTek, 800/700-6784,
www.cordpro.com). Each of these handy
donut-shaped storage accessories — essentially giant
reels — holds one cord or hose.
To use a Cordpro, you pry the flexible-plastic top and bottom
halves apart and feed your cord through a hole in the flat
plastic divider inside. Next, you wind the cord around the
device's perimeter; it slips inside like string into a yo-yo.
You can store the entire cord or merely "shorten" it, letting
the ends hang out. I leave out as little hose or cord as
necessary to do the work, and keep the rest stored neatly out
of the way. As a result, my job sites are a lot less cluttered
than they used to be.
The author stows an air hose by wrapping
it around the perimeter of the largest Cordpro, the CP-XL
(top). The sides of the Cordpro spring open, allowing a hose or
cord to slip inside (bottom).
The CP-100 model holds up to 50 feet of 12-3 cord — more
if the cord is thinner. The container measures about 13 inches
in diameter and has a grommet for hanging on a nail.
The super-size model, the CP-XL, holds 150 feet of 12-3 cord or
50 feet of 1/2-inch air hose. It's about 16 inches in diameter,
and in addition to a hanging grommet, it has a carrying
I've seen Cordpros at a couple of different woodworking trade
shows and have purchased a few of the devices at each one. They
are also available for purchase on the manufacturer's Web
The CP-100 costs $13 plus $9 for shipping, and the CP-XL costs
$24 plus $9 shipping. Since larger orders require only a slight
increase in shipping charges, it makes sense to buy more than
one if you opt to mail-order.
Roberto Ramirez is a
remodeler in Moraga, Calif.
Ridgid R82233 Right-Angle
Ridgid R82233 Specs
Weight: 5 pounds
Rpm: 0-2,200 variable speed
Torque: 700 inch-pounds
Length: 15 inches
Width: 4 inches
Street price: $170
Ridge Tool Co.
With its small, light housing and incredible amount of torque,
a cordless impact driver is the ideal tool for driving lags and
deck and drywall screws and for tightening bolts.
But even though a cordless impact driver has a smaller housing
than a cordless drill, there are still lots of places it simply
won't fit, which is why Ridgid has introduced a 12-volt
right-angle version, model R82233. I've been using this tool
for about three months now and have discovered that there's a
lot to like about it.
Power and Control
Powered by a 12-volt nicad battery, the R82233 generates about
700 inch-pounds of torque. That isn't as much as a conventional
cordless impact driver's 1,000-plus inch-pounds, but it still
easily tops the 200 produced by a 12-volt right-angle drill. I
found that the tool had plenty of power, easily driving
3/8-inch lag screws. It accepts 1/4-inch hex-shank bits and
keeps them secure by means of a locking collar.
A large lever-type trigger makes the
R82233 impact driver easy to operate in almost any hand
position, which is important when you can't see exactly what
A paddle-type switch controls the 2,200-rpm variable-speed
motor. I really liked the large switch because it made it easy
to operate the tool in just about any hand position. A sliding
reverse switch is located right below the trigger.
This is the kind of tool that, once you have it available, you
find useful for all kinds of projects. For example, I was
recently installing a closet system in a Cape-style house. The
hanging track was being placed at the top of the wall beneath a
sloping ceiling in a space only about 4 inches deep.
Ordinarily, a tight space like this would mean using hex-head
fasteners with a conventional ratchet, but the R82233 was
perfect for the job. I'm sure it spared me at least an hour of
turning screws by hand.
As with other impact drivers, the R82233's impact action
doesn't start until the clutch detects sufficient resistance to
make it necessary. That means you can use this tool for
occasional drilling, provided you have a hex-shank bit and
don't apply too much forward pressure. When you push too hard,
the tool starts impacting, which slows drilling considerably. I
used it to make a few holes during a bath remodel because the
tool was within reach, but it won't replace a right-angle
Designed for tight spaces, the tool needs only about 31/2
inches of clearance, making it great for joining cabinets and
working in narrow stud cavities.
This is a well-made power tool and works exactly as advertised.
The only drawback I found was that you really need two hands to
use it — one to hold on to the housing and one to apply
forward pressure to the driver bit. Unfortunately, you don't
always have two hands available, so the only alternative is to
start the screw one-handed and then switch to a two-handed grip
to finish it off.
The R82233 is a specialized tool, and it's one you could
probably survive without. Nevertheless, having one to turn to
when you find yourself in tight situations definitely trumps
wasting time with improvised solutions. Do-it-all remodelers
and the mechanical trades should find the tool especially
valuable — it would be a godsend for installing
If I could have only one cordless impact driver, I'd buy a more
conventional T-handled model. But if I could afford more than
one, I'd certainly consider getting an R82233 for those
inevitable situations where space is at a premium.
With one battery and a case, the R82233 costs about $170.
— Patrick McCombe