Download PDF version (6993.4k) Log In or Register to view the full article as a PDF document.

14. Get a Grip

Swanson Tool's new Savage brand GripLine tape measures have a distinctive rotating magnetic blade hook that can grab rounded edges and the curved surfaces of cylindrical objects up to 2 inches—or even more—in diameter. The sample I tried at the Swanson booth easily pulled measurements from 2 1/2-inch black iron pipe, 2-inch PVC pipe, a chain-link-fence post, metal conduit, and a metal stud. The tapes have nylon-coated blades with a scale on both sides, a spring-loaded lever-action belt clip, and a blade standout of 81/2 feet. They come in lengths of 16, 25, and 30 feet and cost from $17 to $24. Swanson Tool Co., 800.291.3471,

15. Easy Driver

When I spotted Channellock's Code Blue 13 'N 1 ratcheting screwdriver at the show, it reminded me of the terrific Megapro multi-bit screwdrivers that I've been using for years. They have a patented bit cartridge in the handle that makes it exceptionally easy to select and install a bit. You just pull out the cartridge until it stops, rotate it to find the bit you need, pop out the bit, push the cartridge back into the handle, and insert the bit into the shaft. That normally takes only a few seconds. The shaft doubles as a 1/4-inch hex driver.

Not surprisingly, it turns out that Channellock's screwdriver is made by Megapro. Its cartridge holds six double-end bits that have various slotted, Phillips, Torx, and square-recess tips. The double-duty bits can also be chucked into an electric drill. The screwdriver's dual-composition grip and rugged 28-tooth ratchet enable you to apply up to 225 inch-pounds of driving torque. Cost is about $35. Channellock, 800.724.3018,

16. Lighter Ladders

DeWalt and Werner both introduced Type IA D-rung fiberglass extension ladders that use lightweight composite rails to reduce the weight. DeWalt's 24-foot model DXL3021-24 and 28-foot model DXL3021-28 weigh 45 and 53 pounds, respectively. Werner's D6400-2 series of Lightweight Performance (LP) ladders come in lengths of 16, 20, 24, and 28 feet and weigh from 32 to 53 pounds. Overall, both companies' ladders weigh roughly 12% to 15% less than equivalent ladders with standard fiberglass rails. Prices top out at around $570 for the 28-footers. DeWalt, 800.433.9258,; Werner, 888.523.3371,

  • Credit: Michael Reisinger

17. Compact Mag Drill

In case you missed it, California builder Sim Ayers wrote about his Hougen HMD904 portable magnetic drill in (Dec/13). Using annular cutters, the tool can quickly bore holes up to 1 1/2 inches in diameter in steel up to 2 inches thick. Ayers uses it to bore holes through steel I-beam flanges and steel plates to make mechanical connections that satisfy the seismic requirements of the California Building Standards Code. The tool costs about $925 and weighs 27 1/2 pounds.

Fein's new Slugger brandJHM ShortSlugger portable magnetic drill can bore holes up to 1 3/16 inches in diameter by 2 inches deep, costs $700, and weighs just 22 pounds. At only 11 inches tall, it also squeezes into tight spaces. In fact, according to Fein, the ShortSlugger weighs less, costs less, and is more compact than any other model in its class. Like the Hougen, it's made in the U.S. Fein, 800.441.9878,

18. Fast and Clean Sanding Discs

Diablo's new 5-inch hook-and-loop universal sanding discs have a unique 12-hole pattern to allow through-the-pad dust collection with all five-hole and eight-hole random-orbit sanders. According to Diablo, a series of two-minute, third-party sanding tests revealed that, on average, 80-grit samples of its new discs removed 54% more material from hard maple and delivered 49% better dust collection than 80-grit samples from its three leading competitors. Diablo said it achieved these results primarily through the optimal distribution and orientation of its ceramic-based grains and the distinct layout of its small and large dust holes. The 60-grit to 220-grit discs are sold in packages of four, 15, and 50, as well as in two 7-piece project packs. Prices range from about $5 to $20 per pack. Diablo, 800.334.4107,

19. Potent Cordless Multi-Tool

A recurring theme at the show was that many of the latest cordless tools with brushless motors perform as well as their corded counterparts. At the DeWalt booth, though, I was told that its new cordless model DCS355D1 brushless 20V MAX XR oscillating multi-tool actually outperforms its new corded model DWE315K. Powered by a 2-amp-hour battery, the cordless version shares several key features with the corded one, including an extra-large "Dual Grip" variable-speed trigger, an accessory system that allows you to quickly swap out attachments by squeezing a lever, and an LED headlight. The kit costs about $200 and has one battery, a charger, a universal accessory adapter, a contractor bag, and various cutting and sanding accessories, including a guide that allows you to adjust the depth and height of your cuts. The bare tool (model DCS355B) costs about $130. DeWalt, 800.433.9258,

20. Foam-Slicing Saw Blades

Once, on a large industrial job, I had to cut truckloads of rigid foam with a table saw, and I will never forget the odor and clouds of clingy dust that were generated. Bullet Tools' new Centerfire circular saw blades look to be a brilliant solution to those problems. The blades have a knife edge rather than saw teeth, and they quickly slice through rigid foam panels (including foil-faced varieties) and insulating concrete forms, leaving factory-smooth edges—without creating a dust storm. The 7 1/4-inch blade costs $60; the 10-incher, $90. We'll take the two blades for a spin in a future column. Bullet Tools, 800.406.8998,