One of the best things about our work is when we get to visit with tool manufacturers and try out new tools and see what the future holds for the industry. This week I was in Milwaukee to see what the Big Red Machine was bringing out for 2011. For plumbers, Milwaukee has some great new cordless products coming your way. The No Hub Coupling Driver eliminates the need for T-handle wrenches, it’s faster and the tool is calibrated for both 60 and 80 pounds of torque and automatically shuts off at the selected setting. After using the t-handle method and Milwaukee’s M12 unit, the Milwaukee tool will pay for itself very fast. I will post about those later. Matt and I will be covering the 12 volt Cordless Tools early next year and I think Milwaukee has more in this voltage than any other manufacturer.
Accessories departments are finally getting the love they deserve. Milwaukee’s new drills are impressive. The Speed Feed bit had all of us ooohing and ahhhing. It really is fast.You can also see where I drilled directly into the heart of a knot and it handled this with no problem. The time savings using this bit as opposed to the traditional flat bits can be as much as 10 times. For an electrician, this is a huge efficiency when drilling in studs. Milwaukee also introduced a quick change arbor that fits all brands of hole saws. This tool-less arbor allows for faster cleaning and change outs. I used this and it made plug removal fast. I also sampled the tungsten carbide hole saws and they worked well. The segmented hole saws cut fast and the continuous tungsten carbide hole saws offer a smooth cut in materials that require this type of cutting edge. On the continuous hole saws, Milwaukee employs an open back to allow for easy plug removal. I like this feature. When Starrett introduced its plug removal method, I felt as though finally someone was addressing this major drawback to using hole saws and its nice to see other manufacturers also addressing this issue.
Not in the tool category but it ranks high on the coolness factor is the M12 heated soft shell jacket. Great product and like the Henry Ford’s Model-T black, it is available in a variety of colors as long as they happen to be red. Apologies to Packer fans, Yankee Fans and Auburn fans who wouldn’t be caught dead in red articles of clothing, maybe a top layer of clothing is in order because I think this will be a great hit. I suggested a black version with the Milwaukee script logo in Red. I was shot down.
I am finishing up the plumbing article and one of the items I will be reviewing is Milwaukee/Uponor PEX system. In Milwaukee I had the chance to demo the system. This is one device that plumbers using PEX will run out and buy once they try it. The speed and ease of using the tool will allow a plumber to use apprentices to make up perfect connections with little instruction time. If you have used the manual tool, you will want to go ahead and sell it before the Milwaukee Cordless versions reduce their value. There is no comparison here. I will go out on a limb here and say that if a homeowner is wanting to replumb his house and use PEX, buy Uponor Pex and fittings and buy the Milwaukee M12 PEX Xpander. The M12 handles up to 1″ and this will take care of most residential applications. The cordless advantage over using the crimp method that i use, is the tool’s compact ness. Using a PEX crimper in a tight area can require yoga-like contortions due to its length. I also like the flame-less installation. PEX joints hold up better than CVPC over time. CVPC has a tendency to develop leaks when work is performed that might disturb the welds by moving or twisting the pipe. For these reasons, we feel PEX holds cost advantage over copper, and better functionality than PVC and CPVC. PEX is flexible and needs fewer fittings. PEX handles extreme temperatures better. The Milwaukee M12 Pex Xpander tool makes installation a no brainer. Tool costs is easily offset by what it would cost to have a plumber do the work. And a DIY-er with basic skills can easily make these connections. No chemicals are involved. No flame or heat is necessary. It is idea for a homeowner.