Ladders & Scaffolding
Drill Bits & Accessories
Steep roofs can
make otherwise simple tasks like installing a vent flashing or
ridge cap into a huge project. Setting up the necessary roof
jacks and dragging up planks can take more time than the actual
job. A great solution is the Chicken Ladder from Lynn. The
tubular steel ladder hooks over the ridge and rests on the
roof. Because the roof provides support, the ladder's weight
can be kept to a minimum. It's more comfortable to use than a
standard ladder with a ridge hook because the rungs are spaced
farther from the roof. The 6-foot hook section can be combined
with other 6- or 14-foot bottom sections and joined with bolts
and wing nuts. A 6-foot hook with a 14-foot bottom section
weighs about 40 pounds and has a suggested price of $350.
Lynn Ladder, 800/225-2510,
scaffolding, the kind favored by painters, drywall finishers,
and maintenance personnel, has great capacity and excellent
stability, but the weight of the steel sections can make them
hard to move around, especially from one job site to the next.
Lynn now offers the AMP6 Aluma-Pro aluminum maintenance
scaffold. The 6-foot-long scaffold fits through a 30-inch door
and has a 500-pound load rating. It's adjustable in 2-inch
increments from 3 to 6 feet tall. Best of all, the entire
platform (without toe boards or rails) weighs only 80 pounds.
It sells for $345.
Lynn Ladder, 800/225-2510,
Proper footwear makes
construction safer and more efficient, and your stepladder
should sport the right footgear as well. Louisville's Brute 375
industrial stepladders are now wearing what the maker calls Da
Boot. The non-marring boot surrounds the fiberglass rail for
increased stability and rigidity. Da Boot's open back allows
inspection of the fiberglass rail for cracks and splits. The
type 1AA (375-pound duty rating) is available in sizes from 4
to 12 feet. A 6-footer retails for between $79 and $89.
Louisville Ladder, 800/666-2811,
Show Your Colors.
Enough of boring
yellow and orange. Werner's new FiberGraffix Series industrial
ladders come in a cool-looking, patriotic red, white, and blue
scheme. The new line is available in both step and extension
styles. Type 1 (250-pound rating) stepladders are available in
6- and 7-foot sizes, and 1A stepladders (300-pound capacity)
come in 6- and 8-foot heights. Both duty ratings feature tool
trays, pinch-proof spreaders, and slip-resistant steps. The
type 1A extension ladders come in 24- and 28-foot lengths and
have reinforced slip-resistant rungs and adjustable footpads.
Additional styles are planned for the near future. The type 1
6-foot stepladder has a street price of about $60.
Werner, 724/588-8600, www.wernerco.com.
Drill Bits &
Drilling With Jack Rabbit Speed.
If you're looking for the slickest way to predrill and drive
screws without two drills, the Jack Rabbit beats every other
system I've seen. Like an ordinary quad driver, the tool drills
a pilot hole and countersinks in one step. But unlike a quad
driver, an adjustable brass stop prevents overdrilling, and the
soft metal dissipates heat better, making it less likely to
burn or mar delicate surfaces. Instead of hard-to-find taper
bits or the flat-sided twist bits of other countersink systems,
the Jack Rabbit uses ordinary twist bits. You might expect the
bits to slip or spin without a flat side, but the tool's unique
design holds them firm. After drilling, the outer sleeve
removes easily, revealing a standard-size, hex-shaped driver
bit. Unlike ordinary countersink and boring bits that require
odd-sized plugs, the Jack Rabbit's countersink is designed for
easy-to-find 3/8-inch plugs (the #12 size calls for 1/2-inch
plugs). The kit even includes a removable, high-powered magnet
for holding screws. The Deluxe Kit includes four bits that work
with #6 to #12 screws. It's a great tool that's easily worth
the $60 price tag.
Jack Rabbit Tool Co., 800/445-5969,
inexpensive, spade bits are probably the best way to drill
medium-sized holes. Bosch recently added a new twist to
high-speed drilling. Its new RapidFeed Spade Bits use a
self-feeding screw tip to make drilling faster with less
effort. Six-inch bits are available in sizes from 1/4 inch to 1
1/2 inches. Sixteen-inch bits are available in 3/8-inch to
1-inch sizes. According to the manufacturer, the bits drill
three times faster than standard spade bits. A 6-inch,
six-piece set (3/8-inch to 1-inch) sells for $16.
Bit for Sawing.
When I first saw
this product in a Lee Valley catalog, it seemed too good to be
true. In the past I've had little success enlarging holes by
working a drill bit horizontally. But the Saw Drill does what
it claims. After punching through the material, you can
actually use the bit to cut. It doesn't cut as fast as a jig or
spiral saw, but it works well for enlarging holes in plywood
and paneling. According to the manufacturer, the bit's titanium
coating makes it last longer and cut faster. You're not going
to use it every day, but at $7 it seems like a good thing to
keep in the drill case.
Lee Valley Tools, 800/871-8158,
About ten years
ago, I bought a Santronics AC Sensor (part no. 3115), and I use
it constantly. The pen-sized tool has earned a permanent spot
in my toolbelt because it's fast, easy to use, and takes up a
minimum of space. Instead of holding two probes on potentially
dangerous bare conductors, you just touch the detector to the
wire's insulation and the tool glows red if it's hot. The slim,
tapered end also fits into receptacles and bulb sockets. Quite
simply, it's a great tool. Not only does it make remodeling
safer, it saves time. Two AAA batteries provide power, and, at
$20, it costs about half of what it did ten years ago.
You don't usually think of hats keeping you
cool, but according to its manufacturer, the EvapCool Hat from
Gorgonz will keep your head comfortable during the hottest days
of the year. After you douse the inside and top of the cap with
water, the rather ordinary-looking ballcap's special fabric
evaporates the water to keep your head clear and cool. A
watertight interior liner keeps the inside dry. It comes in
navy blue and khaki and costs $25.
Gorgonz, 410/534-6320, www.gorgonz.com.
Although it looks
more like an athletic shoe, the Phoenix Oxford from Dickies has
all the makings of a good work shoe. Steel toes and shanks
prevent injuries, and a padded collar and tongue make kneeling
down more comfortable. As in the best running shoes, an
air-filled chamber under the heel keeps a spring in your step
even after eight hours. The shoes are available in three
colors, in men's sizes from 7 to 13. They cost about $66.
Dickies Footwear, 877/795-2410,
I see more and
more carpenters wearing work gloves all the time on the job
site, and for good reason. The new generation of gloves offers
excellent protection with a minimal sacrifice in dexterity. The
latest offering comes from Milwaukee. The new gloves have an
impact-absorbing foam to prevent fatigue when running
high-vibration tools like recip saws and demo hammers. They
also have silicone fingertips that help with grip. Ventilated
backs make them comfortable in all weather. Maybe the best
part, the simple black color with tasteful lettering doesn't
look as silly as offerings from other makers. The retail price
is about $20 to $24.
Milwaukee Electric Tool, 800/729-3878,
rails don't have to be a huge production. The Safety Boot is an
easy-to-use temporary safety rail system meant to protect
workers from falling down stair openings or off balconies. The
plastic boots receive ordinary construction-grade 2x4s, and
they can be screwed directly to the floor surface. According to
the manufacturer, the Boots' high-impact polymer will last for
years. They retail for about $23 each.
Safety Maker, 800/804-4741,