Wise Buys: One-Person Panel Handlers
Why buy? Handling 4x8' sheets of plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF), or other sheet goods by yourself -- especially 3/4"-thick sheets that can weigh nearly 100 pounds -- can be tricky, cumbersome, and unsafe. So we decided to see which panel handlers deliver the (sheet) goods. Whether made of plastic, steel, or aluminum, they all proved sturdy enough to lift a sheet of 3/4" MDF. Three models lift from beneath the sheet; one lifts from the top edge. While you need to position the panel handlers in the center of the sheet for balance, for photo clarity we placed them at the end to show how they work. (For a shop-made panel carrier, check out our free $2 plan.) For tips on handling sheet goods by yourself, see a free 6-minute video at woodmagazine.com/videos.
Stanley Panel Carry #93-301
Thickness capacity: 1-1/2"
Made entirely of a sturdy plastic, the Panel Carry's handle angles about 10° to keep your knuckles from rubbing against the panel. (Still, a softer or textured grip would be better.) Even though it adds 14-1 /2" to my reach, I still had to stoop low to get in position to lift, while resisting the temptation to lift with my back. And I had to keep my other hand on the top edge of the panel for balance -- more so than with the other models. Despite this quirk -- and the fact that I wish it was longer -- the Panel Carry is a good low-cost way to move sheet goods. I bought mine at The Home Depot.
-- Tested by Jeff Mertz, Design Editor
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