Best New Tools
The editors' guide to choosing and using the latest hand and power
tools from the International Builders' Show.
The International Builders' Show is the premier place to get a sneak
peek at the coming year's hand and power tools before they hit the home
center shelves. In this gallery, the tool editors of This Old House round up
the products you'll want to add to the toolbox in the coming months.
This tool drives nails up to 3½ inches long, yet fits comfortably in your palm—showing the ergonomic versatility of compressor-driven tools. With no motor to power the action, the 2.8-pound Palm Nailer can squeeze nails into tight corners, toe-nailing framing members or fastening joist hangers with either your right or left hand. Available September '07 for approximately $79, www.ridgid.com
The 8-pound Fuego circular saw weighs in about 2 pounds less than its competitors, thanks to a smaller motor and blade. Most corded circular saws use 7½-inch blades, but this one's skinny 6½-inch blade moves through rough cuts in framing lumber or ripping sheet goods with little binding in the kerf. A vent positioned to blow dust away from the marking line keeps you cutting quickly and accurately. Approximately $140, www.ridgid.com
With a waterproof, LED-lit camera at one end of a flexible 3-foot cable, and a 2½-inch color LCD screen at the other, there isn't much the See Snake Micro can't find behind a wall, in a duct, or down a drain. You can fit the tip with a hook, a magnet, or a mirror for periscoping around blind corners. Approximately $220; www.ridgid.com
Great as belt sanders are, we find their bulk and heft limits where you can use them. Not so this miniature 5 3/4-pounder. Its 2½-inch-wide belt lets it slip easily into tight spaces to, say, sand a floor flush against a baseboard, trim a sticking door edge, or smooth a stair tread. Approximately $120; www.portercable.com
Unless you're the kind of homeowner that thinks a poured concrete slab makes a nice weekend project, Max PSI's rebar-tying tool probably won't be on your Father's Day wish list. Nevertheless, it was too cool to pass up. Fit the gun's jaws over a rebar intersection, pull the trigger, and a second later a tie flies out and twists up to hold the pieces in place. Think Spider-Man. Approximately $2,450, maxusacorp.com.
Skil's new all-in-one work table has 4 optional insert plates that accept an inverted jigsaw, sander, router, or drill: you just move the work across the table with the tool fixed in place beneath. Two halves of the tabletop part to open a channel for a circular saw to slide through, clearing the way for the blade while guiding it at the same time. Another downdraft attachment turns the table into a vacuum. Approximately $140, www.skiltools.com.
Like a souped-up stud finder, the Multi-Detector finds things behind walls and tells you not only where they are, but also what they're made of and how deep they lie. It senses ferrous or non-ferrous metals, distinguishes between live and neutral wires, and can find steel up to 4 inches deep in concrete. When you've hit something, the big circle changes from green to red, and you can mark the spot with the golf pencil stored in a built-in nook. Approximately $99, www.boschtools.com.
Bosch's 10.8-volt impact driver weighs only 2.2 pounds, yet delivers enough torque to fasten a lag bolt in a concrete block. With a work-illuminating LED tip, 6 inches in length and height, and a 30-minute battery charger, the Impactor makes you wonder why your other drivers have to be so bulky. Approximately $199, www.boschtools.com.
In the past, table-saw blade guards helped keep you safe but often made it too difficult to see what you were cutting. (And how safe is that, really?) This new one's translucent shield lets you keep an eye on the cut. A second feature curbs kickback, and another prevents the blade from binding in thick material. Approximately $600, www.boschtools.com.
Contractors won't miss the backbreaking hoist of the miter saw from the truck to the sawhorses, and homeowners will finally have a good way to store their bulky saws when they're not in use. The gravity-rise miter saw stand, taking a cue from well-designed portable table saws, collapses into a wheeled pushcart for transport or storage. In use, it self-levels and supports material up to 16 feet long. Approximately $270, www.boschtools.com.
The Gforce glass-polishing gun looks like a cordless driver with a buffing pad on the end. It removes scratches, water scale, paint overspray, acid etched graffiti and other imperfection that would otherwise ruin a piece of glass. Approximately $1,595, www.glasweld.com.
Only one lithium-ion cell powers this tiny 1.1-pound screw gun, optimizing its weight, size, and maneuverability. The 4-volt tool works in pistol- or stick-drive positions and the 21-position clutch switches between 200 and 600 RPM. Though it's meant for screws, the driver can also drill small pilot holes. Approximately $120, milwaukeetool.com.
A new line of metal-cutting Sawzall blades is cryogenically treated—they heat the blades, form them, then freeze them—producing a uniform tooth edge that resists chipping or dulling even in hard metals. The makers claim the cobalt-infused blades stay sharp up to 50 percent longer than the competition. Approximately $15 for a pack of 5, www.milwaukeetool.com
This nibbler attaches to the chuck of your drill and shears sheet metal as you slide it through the jaws. Hand snips can bend up the work piece, but the Bad Dog cuts in cleanly with no exposed blades or jagged metal edges. Approximately $170, www.baddogtools.com