Marni Jameson: What’s cool in tools for summer 2017

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Marni Jameson: What’s cool in tools for summer 2017

Marni Jameson: What’s cool in tools for summer 2017

Looking around the tool show in Atlanta, I quickly grasped that I was the most unlikely person there. Surrounded by tool bloggers, tool testers, tool reviewers and other tool aficionados, I stood out frozen in place like the waterproof flashlight on display beaming from inside a block of ice.

As I cruised the aisles, I tried to blend in, which was difficult in my pink leather jacket. (What was I thinking? If you ever go to a tool show, wear plaid.)  The sounds of saws and drills filled the air, which was so thick with testosterone I felt my voice starting to change. All around me crowded booths bustled under banners blazing tool brands that reminded me of my handy dad: DeWalt, Diablo and Dremel; Ryobi and Ridgid; Milwaukee and Makita.

Though I gravitate toward shows featuring furniture and fabrics, art and antiques, I forced myself to attend Home Depot’s spring tool innovation event because tools are, after all, what make our homes come together. And I could stand to learn a few things about them.

Fortunately, Charlotte Gooding, blazing the trail for women as senior merchant of tools for the retailer, guided me through the aisles with laser precision, focusing my attention on what was new in the world of tools. Apparently, that’s a lot.

“About 80 percent of the improvements made in tools in the last 30 years have happened in the past 10 years,” Gooding said, “and we expect even more in the next three.”

All around us, tool pros were buzzing about advances in lithium power sources, ergonomic design (for smaller hands, yeah!), brushless motors and intelligent tools.

We rounded a corner to find a fellow in the DeWalt booth extending a heavy-duty tape measure that is 13 feet long instead of the typical 9 to 10 feet.

“So, when you’re measuring a wall for drapes, the tape doesn’t keel over and bonk you on the head?” I ask. Gooding nods. This seems eminently practical.

With Father’s Day in mind, I asked Gooding to take me on a deeper dive into the improved world of tools. Here’s what’s new:

Better handling. Tools today are not only for the big and strong. More are designed for hands of all sizes. Today, more women and seniors feel comfortable gripping power tools, which have come down not only in size but also in weight. “Nobody asks, ‘Do you have that tool bigger, heavier and with a cord?’ ” Gooding said.

Cutting the cord. Move over, alkaline. Lithium batteries are revolutionizing cordless power tools.  Rechargeable lithium batteries last longer, weigh less and run cooler. Plus, lithium-powered motors don’t have to work as hard so tools last longer.

Brushless motors. Apparently, cool tools are desirable because the biggest reason tools fail is heat, experts say. Until recently, power tools had gears that touched or brushed against one another, creating friction, which caused wear. New tools use brushless technology. Magnets propel the gears, so they don’t touch. This improves performance and increases lifespan.

Intelligent tools. Meanwhile, over at the Bosch booth, a representative is drilling into a cinder block, demonstrating multi-grind technology at the expense of our hearing. He paused the action to explain. A new impact driver and drill can sense what material you’re boring into, and will self-adjust its speed and torque accordingly. My eyes must have crossed, because he made this simpler: “That means you can use the same head for many materials so you don’t have to buy as many.” Got it.

Next thing I knew, I was donning a pair of safety goggles, wielding a lithium-powered drill like the best of them, and showing a large block of wood who was boss. Just like one of the guys.

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Published at Wed, 07 Jun 2017 21:00:47 +0000