CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder Review

Let me go ahead and save you a future head-ache. If you need to find a stud, just buy this. It’s one of those easy, no-brainer, purchases that rarely comes along. If you want to find a stud and keep as much of your money and time as possible, this is the ticket.

Let me explain how it works and you won’t need further convincing:

If you have a house of any age, you can be sure that whatever your walls are made of, that the material is attached to the studs with some sort of nail or screw. Some people glue drywall now, but I don’t think code anywhere permits gluing only, so there will always be nails or screws holding your wall material to the stud. Luckily for you and I, pretty much all nails and screws made in the last 500 years have been metal. This stud finder works by finding that metal with a magnet. It really is that simple. You move the stud finder along the wall until the magnet moves and then you’ve got your stud. To be sure, you move it lower or higher until you find the next screw. If you’ve actually found a pipe or wire, the magnet won’t release as you move it up or down. Screws or nails will only show up every 16” or so.

If you need more prodding, consider this: Once you’ve found a screw/nail, the magnet in the finder is actually strong enough to hold itself against the wall! You don’t even have to make a mark with a pencil or anything, just leave the finder hanging there until you’re done.

This would be a tough sell if it was $50 and you could buy an electric one for $15. But at $7.99 it’s about half the price of the cheapest (and least effective) electric finders available. Plus, it will never need batteries or break. Like I said, no-brainer. Link

 

Dewalt Lawn and Garden Tools

Dewalt is starting to become a brand that tries to cater to everything – possibly at the expense of losing some of its shine for quality in specific lines. That said, some of the products it’s coming out with are new, different, and actually pretty exciting.

One that I was most excited for is their 40V (“Max” – i.e., 36V) line of outdoor tools. Cordless has been the trend for many tools for a long time. Battery and motor tech have gotten better (li-Ion & brushless) and this has created ideal conditions to create cordless tools in areas that would not have been practical before. All said, I don’t think, in this case, Dewalt is just trying something as a gimmick, but actually entering a market that could possibly take off within other brands over the next few years.

In addition, Dewalt is actually starting to offer a 20V (18V) line this month for Lawn and Garden. Obviously, the 20V versions would be much less powerful but if you’ve already got a 20V charger and batteries the capital outlay would be much less. Unfortunately, if you’ve got some of Dewalt’s existing 36V batteries, they will NOT work with their new line for Lawn and Garden.

The Tools:

40V String-Trimmer (Weed Wacker) DCST990H1 & DCST990M1 Review:

DCST990H1

The string-trimmer probably has the most potential of the bunch if you ask me. The problem I have with gas powered trimmers is that the motor is held up high and therefore very loud in your ear. I can see these battery versions being significantly quieter. Also, a normal pro trimmer is about 12 pounds (without fuel) and the Dewalt is only 14 pounds WITH a 6AH battery – pretty impressive. It’s hard to say what the run time is, but it’s worth pointing out that a gas trimmer doesn’t exactly last forever before refueling either. Link

40V Blower DCBL790H1 & DCBL790M1 Review:

DCBL790H1

The blower also seems to have a good value proposition: A very high CFM (400) and top MPH (120). For comparison, the Stihl BG 86 (their most powerful hand held) has only slightly higher specs and is approximately the same weight. Noise levels are also good – under 65 dB (compared to 70 for the Stihl). Run time is another major unknown at this stage, but Dewalt seems confident across the line that these tools will meet the demands of professional landscapers. Link

40V Trimmer DCHT860M1 Review:

DCHT860M1

The trimmer I can’t see being a big seller. For one, they’re simply not used by landscapers as much as the first two. Secondly, trimming is one spot where if you get to a thick branch or some debris, you will actually need more power. A blower or string trimmer is going to work no matter what, but I can see power limitations affecting this trimmer. Dewalt did specify a run-time with tool of approximately 70 minutes, which is quite good. Link

The 20V counterparts are the DCBL720P1 (Blower) and the DCST920P1 (String Trimmer). These are brand new and I have not seen any feedback on their performance. Obviously, being in the 20V line is attractive to people who are already on that system, but the amount of power remains to be seen. I see these tools becoming popular with homeowners (vs. professional landscapers).

Overall, I think the concept of Lawn and Garden tools in a 40V (36V) battery configuration to be a good one. One downside for professional landscapers could be charging. If you’re driving from site to site all day, it’s not likely you will have a convenient place to charge your tools. Having to buy and lug 5 batteries per tool is not going to be appealing. Hopefully a large 12V vehicle charger is in the works, then I think these would be a home run.

Milwaukee 2691-22 Review

Two Christmases ago I received a gift card for Home Depot. I had recently killed my cheap Hitachi drill and decided I should get myself a new one. After doing some research I realized most drills are actually a best value if buy them in a kit of 2 (impact driver and drill). At the time, Boxing Day sales were in full effect and most of the big brands had their entry level, 18V kits on for $199. This would be my first big brand purchase of a battery powered tool so I wanted to make sure I picked something good, so I could buy compatible bare tools in the future. I think the manufacturers have caught onto this line of reasoning and sell their impact/drill combos as a loss leader to hook people onto the system. Obviously, if you already have 2 Makita batteries and you need a cordless whatever, you’re more likely to get a Makita whatever without more batteries and save yourself some money.

After some light research, I decided to get the Milwaukee kit. Nothing about the specific tools in particular helped that decision; it was just that Milwaukee has by far the most tools on a single 18v battery system. I haven’t done a complete analysis, but I would estimate they have approximately double the tools everyone else has on a single battery system. Apparently, every once in a while, this package comes with 4 amp hour batteries instead of 2. This would make a spectacular deal that I doubt others can match, so that would make any decision even easier.

What’s in the box:

My kit came with the 2 tools (2601-20 and 2650-20), 2 x 2-Amp hour batteries (48-11-1815), the charger (18V and 12V charger – it charges both!), and one relatively good quality cloth carrying case.

First Impressions:

Before using the tools you can tell they are pretty good quality (especially coming from a “home-owner” type Hitachi Drill). They have metal casings and the drill has a metal chuck – something I didn’t see on the Makita, Dewalt, or Bosch drills. The casings of both tools and the batteries have thick rubber bumpers. Both have pretty bright LED lights and the batteries have a power meter which is handy. I never use it, but it seems like the driver belt clip is pretty rugged. The little things you don’t really consider before buying make you feel like Milwaukee is actually trying to earn your business again and not just getting your money for the lowest cost possible. Even the LED stays on for a few seconds after you let go – surprisingly handy. Also, the warranty is 5 years and it doesn’t need to be registered. Most others are 1 or 2.

First Use:

You might call my first use a first abuse. The first thing I did was use a hex-to-½” socket attachment and change my wheels on the car. Surprisingly, the driver was able to loosen every lug. The tool is rated at 1400 inch-pounds of torque, which is 117 foot-pounds. My wheels are tightened to 90 foot-pounds so I thought it would be a stretch, but there was barely a struggle. After 4 wheels (20 lugs) the battery was half empty, but plenty of juice to put them back on without tightening all the way. If anything, if you’re planning on using the driver to change wheels, I would worry about over-tightening.

You’re better off to ease off and finish the job with a torque wrench. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an over-zealous tire changer, you know what a pain removing a seriously tightened lug can be.

After changing the wheels I took some 5” #10 screws and ran them through some lumber until the battery quit. I put it on the charger and it was fully charged in about 35 minutes. I could think of some instances where 35 minutes would be too slow (i.e., changing multiple sets of wheels quickly) but they make bigger batteries and these situations would be rare.

It was a couple months before I used the drill intensively for the first time. Again, Milwaukee might consider this abuse, but I was using a ¾” auger bit to go through a 5 ply beam. The beam was 3 2x10s sandwiched between 2 2×10 LVLs. This, surely, is above and beyond the design scope for this tool. However, the tool could drill 2 holes without much fuss before needing a re-charge. Once, the drill stopped midway and the battery meter was blinking. After a couple minutes it continued working, I think it probably over heated and automatically shut off – probably a good feature. This is another case where the battery life could be better, but the job probably called for a hole hawg or some other hole specific tool. It’s worth noting that I also tried a relatively new Makita corded drill (conventional wisdom being that corded tools are more powerful) and it couldn’t even get through the LVL.

After 1 Year:

One year in, and both tools still function excellently. I have driven over 10,000 screws with the driver (I’m rebuilding an old house) and have continued to abuse the drill. I have mixed 5 bags of concrete, around 10 buckets of mortar/grout/self-leveling compound and so far the drill has taken it all without failing. I have managed to drop the driver so much that some of the rubber has come off, but it still works without issue. The batteries also don’t seem to fit as tight in the tools, but that is not really an issue.

To sum up, I am happy with my purchase. At my work they did some trials of the Milwaukee Fuel line and I thought I might have made the wrong choice with the cheaper M18 but in the end I’m happy I didn’t spend the extra money (although the Fuel is undoubtedly a more rugged and more powerful tool). I haven’t bought any other tools from the M18 line yet but I intend to, considering the quality of this package.

If you’re interested in buying online, Amazon seems to have pretty consistent pricing (affiliate link): Milwaukee 2691-22

Dewalt DWS782 Review: DWS782 vs DWS780

Two weeks ago I got my hands on the DWS782, Dewalt’s new 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw. I am currently renovating an old house and used the project to rationalize purchasing some new power tools. Before I get into the nuts and bolts of this saw, let me tell you why I think this saw exists (pure speculation):

1) Dewalt wanted to come out with a 12” Sliding Compound that is substantially lower priced than the competition. The DWS782 is $399. Most others are $599+.

2) They wanted to physically distinguish it slightly from their existing 12” Sliding Compound (the DWS780).

3) By doing 1 and 2, they will attract more price-sensitive customers without cannibalizing current sales.

If this is the case, it’s a bold strategy. The “professional grade” brands want to capture the “cost-sensitive” market without diluting their brands – it’s a fine line to walk. In this case, the saw is priced even lower than Home Depot’s Ridgid (which is currently $450 and not generally considered a “professional grade” brand)*. And, if you look at the specs, it seems as though the only difference between the DWS782 and the much higher priced Dewalt DWS780 is the absence of the XPS system (which is basically an LED light). Has Dewalt confirmed that is the only difference between the two saws? No. Has the lower-priced saw been out long enough to reasonably conclude that is the only difference? Not quite. Did I feel comfortable with the risk and buy it anyway? Yes. In all likelihood, this is the exact same saw as the DWS780 but $200 less. At some point, if there’s enough interest, someone will probably take these apart and compare the guts – I don’t have the expertise (read: time or money) for that.

Okay, enough speculation. The facts:

In the box:

– The saw
– One carbide blade (32T)
– Lots of Styrofoam
– Dust sack
– Wrench
– Vertical material clamp
– Manual

Key Published Specs for the DWS782:

– Advanced dust collection system captures over 75 percent of dust generated
– 15-amp motor @ 3,800 RPM max
– Power cord is routed through the rail in the back, no interference with slide
– Compact and lightweight frame for portability
– Backed by three-year limited warranty
– Electronic brake
– Max cutting capacities: 6-3/4″ vertical, 13-7/8″ horizontal 7-1/2″ crown
– With fence: 16″ x 2″ at 90°, 12″ x 2″ at 45
– 49 degree max bevel (both directions) with detents at 0, 22.5, 33.9, 45, 49- Miter angles of 60 degrees (max right) and 50 degrees (max left)
– Adjustable detent plate and soft-lock for all non-detent angles
– There’s also a miter detent “override” which is for locking in precise angles

My Experience:

The most obvious physical thing about the DWS782, right off the bat, is that it’s a heavy brute. It’s about 55 pounds. I’ll be honest; I struggled to get it out of the box. Surprisingly, after some research, it’s lighter than all the competition (I’ve listed the weights below). Once you manage to get this out of the box you are faced with a very easy set-up. If you’ve used Miter Saws before, this will take you less than 3 minutes. If you haven’t used a Miter Saw before, I recommend at least reading the DWS782 safety warnings in the manual, but you’ll still be up and running in less than 10 minutes.

Three things to note at this point:

– If you’re cutting lumber, the dust sack will fill up very fast. Consider removing it or attaching a small dust collector/shop vac.

– It’s only a 32T blade (a difference, DWS780 vs DWS782) – it’s not going to be awesome for trim or other very precise, “smooth-cut” type work. You will need a more suitable blade for precision work (more teeth).

– If you didn’t already own or buy a stand, you will need to set this up on some saw horses or a table if you don’t want to work on the ground. I will say this, the closer the saw is to eye level, the easier it is to cut precisely. One the DWS782, the blade guard can get in the way of your sight a little when looking from above.

Naturally, having researched this beforehand, I wanted to test out all the possible deficiencies as soon as possible. The 2 big ones:

1) The sliding mechanism: On the DWS780, there were many complaints of a gritty slide when fully extended. To my delight, this was not an issue at all with my DWS782. From what I’ve read, it seems like this has been addressed with the DWS782, which is great.

2) Cut accuracy: I didn’t have to do any adjustments or tightening to the blade before using. It cut perfect out of the box. From what I’ve read, it’s possible that you will get one slightly off. I would suggest doing some test cuts before cutting something important. Adjustments are easy, but it’s nice when it’s perfect out of the box.

After confirming that I was not having either of the 2 common issues, I proceeded to start my work. So far, I’ve cut all sorts of material. Lumber up to 2×12”, ABS and PVC pipe (not a recommended use for a miter saw), some 1” plywood, and a little bit of trim. I’ve done mitered cuts, beveled cuts, and even a few compound cuts and it’s all been perfectly accurate and smooth, even with the stock blade. I’d be surprised if I ever have an issue with power with this saw.

Ultimately, as someone who will not use their saw every single day, I found it hard to justify the extra cost on other saws. The only feature missing is basically an LED light and I don’t perceive it to be lower quality than the DWS780. I am happy with the purchase and would recommend it.

Of course, a good place to get more reviews or to purchase is Amazon (affiliate link):

Dewalt DWS782

Other notes:

1) Interestingly, at the time of this review, this saw is not listed on the Dewalt website..

2) I’m writing this review from the perspective of someone who already knew they wanted a 12” Sliding Compound Miter Saw from a “professional grade” company. I don’t need to move my saw around a lot, so I wanted to get the biggest saw possible so I would never need to upgrade. If you don’t already know what kind of Miter Saw you need, then there are many, many, more options and price points.

3) Other weights and rough prices (Amazon or Home Depot):

Bosch: 77 pounds – $550
Ridgid: 70 pounds – $450
Milwaukee: 65 pounds – $712
Makita: 58 pounds – $598

-Please note, these prices are always changing.

*Ridgid is not a house brand in the truest sense. As far as I know, it is actually sold by TTI Group – which also sells Milwaukee and Ryobi. Home Depot is just the only place I’ve ever seen it sold in a Brick and Mortar store. It may be sold at other stores and I just haven’t seen it.