by Patrick McCombe

Slammin' Driver

If you don't have time to screw around, Milwaukee's new 14.4-volt cordless impact wrench is engineered to deliver up to 117 foot-pounds of torque to drive lag or deck screws with relative ease. The new tool has a handle that's smaller in diameter than comparable units from other makers, to better fit the user's hand, and the compact, 7 1/2-inch length allows you to get it into tight spots. At 2,500 impacts per minute, the 2,200-rpm motor will drive twice as many lag screws as a cordless drill on a single charge, according to the manufacturer. The line includes a 3/8-inch socket drive (model 9082-22), a 1/2-inch socket drive (model 9083-22), and a 1/4-inch hex drive (model 9081-22). The kit includes two 2.4-amp-hour batteries, a charger, and a plastic case for about $250.

Contact: Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., Brookfield, Wisc.; 800/414-6527,

Stand Aside, Mortals

Although the name and the claim may sound like they belong in a superhero comic, the Mighty Man Wall Lift is designed to enable you to pick up a 40-foot exterior wall by yourself. The secret is an electric winch that makes standing walls as easy as using an automatic garage door opener. The lift weighs about 70 pounds and can raise a framed and sheathed wall in about a minute, according to the manufacturer. The tool stops automatically when the wall reaches vertical, and the kit includes safety straps to keep things from going too far. A kit suitable for 8-, 9-, and 10-foot walls goes for about $2,600.

Contact: Advanced Building Products, Shamokin Dam, Pa.; 877/925-5438,

From the Land Down Under

Routers typically either work well in a table or they don't, but the Australian-built Triton router promises to work equally well table mounted or hand held. The toolmaker is new to the States, but they've been building power tools down under for 25 years. The plunge router is their newest woodworking tool. Turning the large handgrip adjusts depth and can bring the 1/2-inch collet proud of the base, making adjustments and bit changes easier than with other routers. The depth adjustment knob can be disengaged for normal plunging action, and a separate micro adjustment knob can fine-tune your settings. The router also features a shaft lock, electronically controlled variable speed with soft start, and an effective dust-collection system. The 3 1/4-hp plunge router with an edge guide/circle cutting jig sells for $329.

Contact: Triton, Massena, N.Y.; 888/874-8661,

Clean, Cold Caulk

Working outside in all temperatures is something contractors are familiar with, but most caulks and sealants aren't so versatile. Pro Series SBR-100 Siding & Window Caulk is formulated to work in temperatures from 0ºF to 100ºF and maintain its bond under "most weather conditions," according to the manufacturer. Intended for use as a window, door, and siding caulk to prevent air and water infiltration, SBR-100 is supposed to repel the dirt and discoloration that plague oil-based and butyl compounds. The new formula is available in over 100 colors to match most siding and can be painted after curing. A 10-ounce tube costs $2.

Contact: OSI Sealants, Mentor, Ohio; 888/445-0208,

Low and Dry

Eliminating foundation water entry is a tall order, but Hollow Kick Molding is said to drain water before it's a problem, no matter where it comes from. The rectangular plastic pipe is installed between the basement slab and foundation wall and is designed to direct water out of the living space and into a subfloor drainage system. The system can be installed before a slab pour or retrofitted by cutting the floor along the foundation. Prices start at $1.03 per linear foot, with discounts offered for volume purchases.

Contact: Boccia Bros., Garden City Park, N.Y.; 800/491-1750,

Unique Valve

With Jomar's Add-A-Valve, you can install an emergency shutoff valve without turning off the water and with full line pressure. The valve features solid brass construction and stainless fasteners. It takes about 30 minutes to install and includes air-test fittings, so you can be sure that the valve body won't leak before you start putting holes in the pipe. The Add-A-Valve fits copper tubing from 1/2-inch to 2-inch and starts at $137 list. The Jomar website offers an installation video to show you how it works. The company also makes an Add-A-Valve for steel pipe.

Contact: Jomar International, Madison Heights, Mich.; 800/865-6627,

Holey Shovel

I recall digging in western Pennsylvania's notoriously wet and sticky clay. Tossing a shovelful often meant flinging the shovel along with the wet sludge firmly stuck to the blade. The Toolite Shovel features strategically placed, pea-sized holes drilled throughout the blade to decrease its surface area and presumably keep mud from sticking to it. According to the maker, the holes are small enough to prevent soil from sifting through. The U.S.-made tool has a pro-duty fiberglass handle with a comfort grip, and you can start slinging slop with it for $40.

Contact: Toolite Inc., Ashtabula, Ohio; 800/833-2495,

Go With the Flow

Round flex duct has its uses as well as its limits. Quadroflex rectangular and oval ductwork can be bent in any direction and twisted 90 degrees to go around obstacles and fit in tight mechanical chases. Seams are interlocked, folded flat, and knurled for airtightness. Quadroflex saves time and eliminates the need for costly custom ductwork in tricky installations. Depending on shape and size, prices run from $2.00 to $3.50 per lineal foot.

Contact: Clevaflex, Cleveland, Ohio; 216/941-6505,

Durable Beacon

Finding a flashlight with a functional switch, batteries, and bulb is like finding a bag of money. It doesn't happen very often, and, inevitably, somebody else lays claim to it. The Lightwave 2100 flashlight is distinctive looking enough to discourage mistaken ownership, and an LED bulb sips at the current, allowing the three AA batteries to last about 14 times longer than those in a standard flashlight. The bulbs are rated for thousands of service hours, and the housing is protected from impacts by a rubber overmolding. The hi-tech flashlight sells for $35.

Contact: Lightwave, Alpharetta, Ga.; 678/393-9072,

Fan-tastic Summer Breeze

The I/O, remote-control indoor-outdoor ceiling fan can be used on porches or in other covered areas where dampness might raise havoc with an ordinary ceiling fan. Fifty-two-inch acrylic blades and a 150-degree blade angle generate more airflow than comparable models, and the high-torque motor features three forward and one reverse speeds. The canopy can be mounted on sloped ceilings up to 30 degrees -- a 7/12 pitch -- and is available in appliance white or brushed aluminum. The suggested retail price is $660.

Contact: Regency Ceiling Fans, Fenton, Mo.; 877/712-1960,

Deadman Support

Good reliable help is tough to come by, especially if you're hanging ceiling board, but a Quick Support 3+ will hire on for a one-time fee of $40. The handy deadman-style pole features a lever on the chuck to extend the support to ceiling height automatically and allow the device to be repositioned and tensioned with one hand. Ball joints enable its use on sloped ceilings, and no-skid surfaces keep everything in position while you work.

Contact: Euro Trading Group, Clio, Mich.; 810/564-9390,

Cover Your Cleavage

If your customers wish you'd leave a little more to the imagination and you're tired of being the butt of job-site jokes, you're ready for a Longtail T. Designed to keep your backside under wraps while you work your tail off, this otherwise ordinary-looking T-shirt is 3 inches longer than standard to help it stay tucked in. The 100% cotton tee features taped seams for comfort, comes in gray, navy, and orange, and includes a left-hand chest pocket. It costs about $10.

Contact: Duluth Trading Co., Belleville, Wisc.; 800/505-8888,

Remote Reminder

Car keys get misplaced and birthdays forgotten, but the garage door will no longer be left open. Using wireless technology, the LiftMaster Wireless Garage Door Monitor uses a red light to tell you the door's open and a green light to indicate it's closed. A sensor on the door's track communicates with a receiver that you can keep on the kitchen counter, on the nightstand, or in any convenient location. Additional sensors enable the receiver to monitor more than one door. A single-door monitor sells for $39.95.

Contact: The Chamberlain Group, Elmhurst, Ill.; 800/282-6225,

Big Brake Through

The only good thing about moving a full-size brake may be getting a sense of your new helper's strength as he carries it from the truck. Malco's new Mini Brake is a lighter-weight and cost-effective alternative to most job-site metal-bending tasks. It can handle sheet metal up to 22-gauge and 4 feet wide. Any length is possible because the tool doesn't have a fixed throat. Extra wide feet provide good stability, and a heavy-duty cam-over clamping mechanism holds the metal securely. Companion legs for the Mini Brake are sold separately. With a street price of under $300, the Mini probably won't brake the bank.

Contact: Malco Products Inc., Annandale, Minn.; 800/596-3494,

Duk and Cover

A shower niche is a nice selling touch, but you can pour an awful lot of time and money into creating that hole in the wall. The guaranteed-waterproof, one-piece ABS plastic Duk Liner is simple to install and tile over. The ready-made niche comes in three sizes and can also be used to house inset shutoff valves -- or knickknacks elsewhere in the house. List price starts at $35.

Contact: Curtis Resources, San Diego, Calif.; 888/821-2545,

PVC Outdoor Fixture Mount

Generally, I'm happy to avoid anything having to do with landscaping or gardening, but I'd make an exception for the Gard-N-Post. The 20-inch-tall PVC post is designed to mount an outdoor light fixture and includes a space for a GFCI receptacle on its side. The plastic post comes in four integral, string-trimmer-proof colors, includes a cap for use without a light fixture, and lists for $16.

Contact: Arlington Industries, Scranton, Pa.; 800/233-4717,

Technicolor Treads

Finding the elusive end of the rainbow may be as easy as climbing to the attic (pot of gold by others). Rainbow Attic Stairs feature an innovative scissor action that simplifies the pull-down process. Integral toggle-style steel hangers and a 2-inch self-finishing flange on a welded steel frame should make installation a snap. The R-15 foam-core door has double weatherstripping and a recessed pull-down latch. The stairs have a rated capacity of 330 pounds; they come in four ceiling heights and three rough-opening options. Prices start at about $600.

Contact: Shelter Products, Mamaroneck, N.Y.; 877/369-6996,