This portable cordless inflator has stood the test of time in Maxwell’s trials. It inflates everything from air mattresses to tires. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

This portable cordless inflator has stood the test of time in Maxwell’s trials. It inflates everything from air mattresses to tires. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

Houseworks: Three tools that boost post-holiday ambitions

I don’t know about you, but January always fills me with a sense of energy and enthusiasm for the hands-on part of my life. New projects seem more inviting, my workshop will get a good cleaning, and I’ll take stock of my tool collection to see if there are things I should add. If the post-holiday period makes you feel this way too, then I have some tools to suggest that have clearly made it into my personal hall of fame. I think you’ll really like these.

DEWALT 20V MAX cordless inflator

This doesn’t look like much but it’s a powerful source of air for inflating all kinds of things, including automotive tires.

I’ve used it for several years and it has never let me down.

The cordless inflator uses the same 20 volt batteries as other tools in the DEWALT cordless lineup, it’s sold without batteries or charger to keep the cost low and because many users already own these.

Inflating car and truck tires is the most common use I’ve put this tool to and three things stand out in my experience. First, it’s fast. This thing moves a lot of air in a short time. Second, it’s exceptionally portable. I keep a large, fully charged battery in the inflator as it sits ready to use in our vehicles, either in the driveway or during a road trip. The third thing I like about the DEWALT inflator is how foolproof it is. Turn it on then tighten the air hose onto the tire valve. One digital gauge shows the air pressure currently in the tire, and the other gauge the target pressure you dial in. Hit the ‘Play’ button and the thing fires up and keeps running until the target pressure is reached. Actual pressure delivered is usually within 0.1 pounds per square inch of what you wanted, or it’s exactly spot-on. Batteries last a long time with this thing, too.

Irwin Quick-Grip Clamps

These are now a classic. They come in many sizes and lengths, and though they deliver moderate amounts of clamping pressure for woodworking and other tasks, that’s not their main claim to fame. What I really like about these is how you can use them one-handed. Hold the parts in question with one hand, then sneak up and tighten the jaws down with the other hand. Are the clamp jaws way to wide for a particular task? Simply keep pumping the handled with one hand and the jaws will grow progressively closer together until tension begins to be applied.

Another unique use for Quick-Grips is as spreader clamps. Pull the jaws off the central steel rod, flip them over, then slide them back on. With jaws facing outwards, pumping the handle makes the moveable jaw move outwards, pushing instead of pulling. Uses for Quick-Grips in spreader mode are often different, but I was using this feature recently while boring a 6” diameter hole through 9 inches of solid stone wall. By suspending the big, heavy drill from ceiling joists it took the weight off me, and then pushing the drill forward using a long Quick-Grip in spreader mode made a heavy, awkward job much faster and more pleasant.

DEWALT DCF850 1/4 in. Cordless Impact Driver

This one is brand new. Impact drivers are hand-held power tools that are much better at driving woodworking screws than cordless drills, and the DCF850 is the latest offering in a race that tool manufacturers have been involved with for a while.

When it comes to impact drivers, the shorter the body from front-to-back, the easier it is to use the tool. The DCF850 is insanely short from front to back – a mere 3 7/8”. Lots of power and super easy to handle, too.

Steve Maxwell always looks forward to getting new tools. Visit him online at BaileyLineRoad.com and join 32,000 people who get his Saturday morning newsletter each week.

 

This brand new model of impact driver is exceptionally short and maneuverable, measuring only 3 7/8” from front to back. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

This brand new model of impact driver is exceptionally short and maneuverable, measuring only 3 7/8” from front to back. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)