After sinking hundreds of square-drive and star-drive screws on a recent deck job, I'm sold on the star-drive format. Both types of screw sockets are designed to prevent cam-out, but no matter how hard I leaned on my cordless driver, the square-drive bits repeatedly climbed out, which wore out several bits while leaving sharp burrs on the screw heads. I drove all of the star-drive screws with zero cam-out and little bit wear. That's why the Screw Products booth attracted my attention. The company offers a wide range of star-drive screws (including stainless-steel and composite-decking ones) and will sell direct if you can't find a retailer in your area.
Screw Products, 877/844-8880, www.screw-products.com
Strong-Tie's Quik Drive PRO300S stand-up auto-feed screwdriving kit comes with an unusual new decking nose clip that centers each screw over the joist below while placing it 3/4 inch from the edge of the deck board. The kit costs $369 and includes a DeWalt or Makita screw gun. The decking nose clip (QDDECKCLIP-RC), which you can buy separately for $33, also fits the Quik Drive PRO200 and PRO250.
Simpson Strong-Tie, 800/999-5099, www.strongtie.com
At the Rockler booth, VP John Otto set four Bench Cookies on a sawdust-sprinkled work bench, placed a board on top, and then belt-sanded with 60-grit paper. The board didn't move. Not only are the lightweight rubber-faced pucks a quick substitute for clamps and stops, but they also protect the bottom of your workpieces and create clearance for edge-routing and finishing. They're sold at Sears, Lowe's, www.amazon.com, and elsewhere under the Bench Dog Tools brand, and at www.rockler.com under the Rockler brand. A four-pack costs $12.
Rockler, 800/279-4441, www.rockler.com
IMMI's crash-tested CargoBuckle Ladder Rack Tie-Downs mount permanently to most lumber racks. To secure a load, you push a button and lift the ratcheting lever, pull out the web you need, push the lever back down to prevent the web from retracting, throw the web around the load and hook it to the reel, push the button again to automatically take up the slack, and then ratchet the web tight. To release, you push the button and lift the lever, unhook the web, lower the lever, unwrap the web, and then push the button again to retract the web back into the reel. Both operations take seconds. Visit the website to watch the video. The tie-downs (with mounting brackets) cost $100 per pair.
IMMI, 888/937-4626, www.cargobuckle.com
The SkatePlate rolling base plate replaces the stock plates on Skil and Bosch 7 1/4-inch wormdrive saws. It's designed to make cutting easier - as well as friendlier to delicate surfaces like doors and plastic-laminated shelves. The frame is made of a glass-fiber-reinforced urethane resin and holds two replaceable polyurethane rollers that spin on shielded ball bearings. The rollers lift the plate a hair above the work surface and help steer the saw in a straight line. If you need to cut curves, you can pop the rollers out in seconds. The optional SkateGuide rolling rip fence is 2 inches longer than normal for ripping stock up to 12 inches wide. Made in the U.S., the SkatePlate costs $70 and the SkateGuide $20.
Woodman Tools, 888/828-4852, www.woodmantools.com
Double-Take Recip Blade
No, there's nothing wrong with the photo. Lenox's Diamond double-tang recip blade is designed to cut cast-iron pipe, tile, stone, plaster, fiber-cement siding, laminate flooring, and other abrasive materials. Lenox also makes a single-tang version but says it has found that only part of that blade wears when cutting pipes. Flipping the new blade doubles its life, the company says. Two sizes are available - 9 inches and 11 inches - for about $16 and $22.
Lenox, 800/628-8810, www.lenoxtools.com
Cool Carpet Seaming
The KoolGlide Pro-W carpet-seaming tool is an alternative to the traditional hot seaming iron, which at its worst can distort, discolor, burn, and drip glue on the carpet. With the KoolGlide, you simply install a special tape under the carpet seam, then move the tool over the top of the carpet rather than directly on the tape. The tape's adhesive is activated remotely, by induction heating. The bond can be reversed minutes or years later for rework or repair. Retail price is $400.
KoolGlide, 888/486-6342, www.kool-glide.com
Most masonry bits can't bore through rebar without damaging their carbide cutters. When you hit rebar and have to get through, your best bet is to switch to a rotary rebar cutter, gnaw through the steel, and then switch back to the masonry bit. Bosch now offers SDS-plus rebar cutters for rotary hammers and straight-shank ones for hammer and rotary drills. Both types come in 12-inch lengths with diameters ranging from 3/8 inch to 1 1/2 inches. You also can buy 18-inch-long straight-shank rebar cutters with 1/2-, 5/8-, or 3/4-inch diameters and straight-shank 6-inch and 12-inch extensions. The cutters cost up to $66.
Bosch, 877/267-2499, www.boschtools.com