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National Hardware Show

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Sun. Highlights

The first day of the National Hardware Show in Chicago brought a few surprises and more than a few sore feet. On Sunday, WOOD magazine managing editor Jim Harrold and I spread out across the 1.3 million square feet of display space at McCormick Place and barely made a dent in it. By the time the show ends Wednesday, we'll have visited about 2000 booths, searching for the most promising new woodworking products on the planet. In the meantime, here are just a few of the new things we saw Sunday.

Although they're not exhibiting at the National Hardware Show, Black & Decker representatives started the first day of the show with a hearty breakfast and a side order of new power tools. Clearly tired of being considered the "disposable" tool, B&D expanded their cordless Firestorm brand with a cordless reciprocating saw and a 12-volt "3-in-one" tool. This tool features a single power supply that accepts three interchangeable heads: a jigsaw, a sander based on their popular "Mouse" design, and a drill/driver (not shown). Because the battery hangs forward of the tool's handle and trigger, I expected it to feel much more front-heavy then a cordless drill. While it felt somewhat imbalanced, It wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. The jigsaw head features a quick-release blade-holder, and the sanding head felt as aggressive as the "Mouse." The 3-in-1 will retail for about $100.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical when a Black & Decker rep told me their new RTX tool would outperform the leading high-speed rotary tool. But the proof was in the pudding, or threaded rod, in this case. The RTX tool makes a couple of nice improvements on Brand X. For example, I cut the same piece of 1/4" threaded rod with both tools, and found I could cut the rod in about half the time with the RTX. Also, the collet lock is designed to prevent accidental locking of the collet while the tool is running. You'll find the general-use version of the RTX at department store for about $59; a woodworker's version includes a flexible shaft and a different set of accessories more geared to power carving, and will sell at home improvement centers for $10 more.

You've seen those plastic devices you put on top of a garbage can to make it act like a cyclone dust separator, right? Jet Equipment and Tools plans to eliminate the middle man by creating a dust collector that fits on any 30-gallon garbage can, as shown left. The 110-volt 1 hp motor pulls 650 cfm, and is expected to sell for about $300 when it arrives in woodworking stores this winter. This version is still in the prototype stage, so we couldn't test it at the show. But look for us to test it and include our findings in an upcoming issue of WOOD magazine.

If your sawhorses aren't the right height for your height, you might find yourself hunched over like Quasimodo by the end of a project workday. But these new folding sawhorses from Zag adjust in height from 30-37" (photo left) to suit you.

The horses also extend width-wise from 40-48" (photo right) with one flick of the wrist to fully support sheet goods. The horses set up in a heartbeat and will hold 1,000 pounds when set at its lowest height; at 37", it'll hold 800.

So, how much will they set you back? A pair of these Zag sawhorses including a pair of v-groove accessories (not shown) will cost about $50 when they come out in October.

Continued on page 3:  Mon. Highlights


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