Wise Buys: One-Person Panel Handlers
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Wood Magazine

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

Stanley Panel Carry #93-301

Thickness capacity: 1-1/2"

Editor test-drive:
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

To learn more:
800/262-2161; stanleytools.com


 

The Pocket Troll

The Pocket Troll

Thickness capacity: 1"

Editor test-drive:
I've had back surgery in the past, so I know how critical it is to lift with your legs instead of your back. With the Pocket Troll you only need to lift the sheet an inch or so to get the steel shoe under the bottom edge, then slide the sheet until it's centered. (Avoid setting a sheet down on the lip of the shoe; it took a bite out of an MDF sheet when I did this.) I had to stoop just a couple of inches and then lift with my legs, keeping my other hand on the top edge to steady it. The steel handle features a durable, grippable rubber sleeve. I'd like to see the handle angled away from the panel to avoid rubbing my knuckles. The Pocket Troll measures 29" long when extended and only 9" folded.
-- Tested by Chuck Hedlund, Contributing Craftsman

To learn more:
800/448-0822; telprodirect.com


 

The Troll

The Troll

Thickness Capacity: 11/2"

Editor test-drive:
The wheeled Troll is a real back-saver. It's made of stout but lightweight steel, and the 5"-diameter wheels are solid plastic. After you center a panel in the 9-1/4"-long rounded channel, you balance and guide it by holding the panel's top edge -- no need to hold the handle at that point. To get over a door threshold or power cord, simply grab the Troll's handle and lift. (Although, I wish the handle was thicker than the 3/8"-diameter steel bar for less bite into my fingers.) The 28"-long Troll required me to bend my legs slightly (I'm 5'11") to lift it.
-- Tested by Marlen Kemmet, Managing Editor

To learn more:
800/448-0822; telprodirect.com


 

Gorilla Gripper

Gorilla Gripper

Thickness capacity: 3/8 -- 1-1/8"

Editor test-drive:
Gorilla Gripper grabs panels from the top edge with self-adjusting aluminum parallel jaws covered with a resilient, rubbery material. Grasping the handle and stooping to bring it to shoulder height feels natural, and that means you can't help but lift with your legs, ensuring less back strain. It also makes it easy to adjust the balance of the load without having to fully lift the sheet. Once the panel is elevated, you can easily maneuver it around corners. To carry a panel upstairs, I simply shifted the grip forward, and then to the rear for going downstairs. Although its price topped our test, I equate it to one chiropractor visit, something I, hopefully, won't have to do again.
-- Tested by Jan Svec, Contributing Craftsman

To learn more:
800/423-5008; gorillagripper.com


 

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