STAFDA (Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association) is one of the best shows of the year. It gives us the chance to see a lot of good friends along with some of the latest innovations. And not all of it comes from the big names. With so much to see and concrete on the brain thanks to the silica dust rule, I wish I had another day to get around to more booths. With sore feet after two days on the floor, I was ready for more. But even with the limited time, we saw some exciting products. So without further ado, here are our picks for the best new tools at STAFDA 2017.
We covered the entire show on Facebook Live as we moved from booth to booth. While we picked out our favorites from each stop, check out the video to see everything we did!
Best New Tools at STAFDA 2017
Makita AWS (Auto-Start Wireless System)
The heavy hitters don’t always wait until STAFDA to show off new products, but Makita packed 20 new ones in this year. The center of the booth contained AWS – Auto-start Wireless System. A Bluetooth chip in both the tooth and dust extractor communicate to let the dust extractor know when the tool powers up. It’s just like the auto-start feature you use with corded tools, just with cordless capability.
Four cordless tools have the capability: the 10″ Miter Saw, 5″ Angle Grinder, Plunge Cut Saw, and 1-9/16″ AVT SDS-Plus Rotary Hammer.
Diablo Recip Blades
Diablo had a lot to show off across the board this year and several could have made our best new tools at STAFDA 2017 list. However, it’s the recip blade department that makes the biggest leap. With a full range of carbide blades for wood and metal, there are several new categories. Wood is still holding firm with a carbide nail-embedded blade and pruning/clean wood blade for really fast cuts.
But in between that and metal cutting, there’s now a general purpose blade. The idea isn’t to replace wood or metal blades. Rather, it gives Pros an option when they spend time cutting a variety of materials throughout the work day.
Diablo also moves into medium thickness metal blades with a 10 TPI design that’s perfect for 1/16″ to 1/8″ metal cutting. Thin metal cutting (less than 3/32″) uses a carbide strip to create a 20 TPI design.
Southwire Made in America Tools
Made in America is something we all like to see on our tools and Southwire is making sure you have options in their lineup. The new series features six key tools for electricians to start with and there are plans to expand beyond that. Here’s what’s currently in the lineup:
- 9″ Cable Cutter
- 9″ Side Cutting Plier
- 9″ Terminal Crimper Cutter
- 8″ Diagonal Cutting Plier
- US Compact Wire Stripper
- US Ergo Wire Stripper
Milwaukee is making big strides in plumbing and lighting, but storage reaches across all the trades. Packout is the system Milwaukee will be building on for a while with eight products to work with. The variety of storage options add to the versatility and there’s Nothing But Heavy Duty durability built in. Here’s a breakdown:
- 10″ Tote
- 15″ Tote
- 20″ Tote
- Compact Organizer
- Jobsite Organizer
- Small Tool Box
- Large Tool Box
- Rolling Tool Box
Hey – who’s giving the product tour???
Hitachi 18V Pinner
Hitachi’s latest generation of cordless tools have been pretty outstanding – especially that Triple Hammer Impact Driver. In fact, the impact driver is so good that Metabo is coming out with their own version. Another area Hitachi is knocking it out of the park is with cordless nailers. Of course, we all know how well their pneumatics do on the jobsite and they’re taking the lead on the cordless side as well. While the 18V framing nailer is a hit with our crew, we’re really looking forward to the 18V pinner. At this stage, Hitachi has one of the most comprehensive lines of cordless nailers and there are no plans to kick back and relax at the top.
The Skilsaw 13-Amp Reciprocating Saw with Buzzkill Technology (let’s just stick with Skilsaw Buzzkill) is outstanding on vibration, but a little low on power for demo crews that need to work fast. Skilsaw has their 15-amp model on the way and showed off a cutaway to let Pros see just how their counterbalance system works. It’s more than just a forward and back counterbalance, it’s also up and down. The result is vibration reduction you’ll notice on the jobsite.
Oh yeah, and there’s a really big circular saw on the way. Like more than 16″ big!
Klein Cross Line Laser
Klein continues to focus on the electrician, but one of their latest products crosses over multiple trades. Their new cross line laser uses three AA batteries to keep it simple. You get horizontal and vertical beams along with up and down plumb spots. But one of the most exciting things to talk about is the price – you’ll find this one in the $150 range.
Senco Smart Board Master
Senco is bringing over a couple of units you’ll find over in Europe currently. The Smart Board Fixer and Smart Board Master give you a way to nail exactly where you need to without spending all day on your knees. Once you get the setup done, the machine takes over and automatically fires each nail at a predetermined distance. The Smart Board Master is the beefier version and will set you back $5000. But it’ll save your knees and allow you to keep working.
Murray Kruger (@KrugerConstruction)
If you’re not following Murray Kruger yet, he’s one of the good guys that have a presence on Instagram primarily. He definitely knows tools, but what really sets him apart is that epic beard! Check out his reaction to our review!
So Did You Catch that Chalk Reel?
We love it as well! The CE Tools SnapBack Chalk Reel has a lot of innovation going on with the design. Inventor Dan Lemcke set out to bring the very best every chalk reel had to offer and put it in one unit along with some bonus features. But what stands out more than anything else on the SnapBack is its ability to… snap back. A spring in the clip pulls the mechanism back and when you release the tension, it jumps off the material so you can reel it back in. No more walking to the other side of the roof to get your clip back!