Each year at the Milwaukee New Product Symposium (a fancy way of saying New Milwaukee Tools Media Event) we see some interesting things. Fortunately, we can talk about 99% of those things, though there are a couple areas that were off limits for dissemination to our Pro audience until August 1…then we can let the remaining cats out of the bag. This year, the company introduced over 80 new Milwaukee tools for 2015 and 2016. And really there are way more than 80 actual products—for example, the entire Shockwave Generation 2 driver bit line is just one of the 80+ new tools. So, as you can imagine, this would be a rather lengthy article…which is why we need to break it up. This first part will deal with the new Milwaukee hand tools for 2015 and 2016. We’ll likely release a series of additional articles over the next several weeks to help show you all of the latest tools we saw at the event. As always, for an advance peek, check out our existing coverage on Facebook and Twitter.
To ease us in, I have to give a brief summary of what we did on the first day of the event—and that started with a tour of the Milwaukee Tool facilities.
Touring the Milwaukee Tool Facilities
It had been a while since we toured the Milwaukee Tools facility—7 or 8 years, in fact. Since that time they’ve done a lot to expand their rapid prototyping and accessory testing. In fact, we saw a lot of new innovations and machinery in both areas, from entirely new built-out sections of the facility dedicated to engineering and design teams to brand new large multi-axis CNC milling machines like the Mazak Integrex i-200.
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t also point out that we caught a glimpse of one of our articles on the company’s wall of fame!
Milwaukee One Key
We really can’t tell you anything about this, but I thought I’d tease it anyway. This was the thing we’ve been Tweeting about in the weeks leading up to the event. Unfortunately, it’s still under embargo until August 1, 2015. When that lifts we’ll have a dedicated article detailing all the things this new technology represents. The first evening was all about One Key, and we’re excited about what it represents for construction tool-users everywhere.
OK, now onto Milwaukee Hand Tools! The first area we got to see was dedicated to Milwaukee hand tools. Tim Albrecht, Bobby Shaw, and crew showed off a ton of new Milwaukee hand tools from plumbing to electrical to HVAC and more. This was clearly a huge area of growth for Milwaukee this year, and it will be fun to review some of these tools in the coming months (and believe me, we’ve got our eyes on more than a few that we want to test out).
The Milwaukee Cheater pipe wrench provides the leverage of a 24″ pipe and the capacity of an 18″ wrench—all with the accessibility of a 10″ wrench. There are two extension handles included to give you the option of a 10″ wrench (no extension), 18″ (short handle), and 24″ applications (long handle). The tubular handles slide right into the tube of the wrench handle. The new Cheater pipe wrench is designed for pipe up to 2-1/2″ in diameter. This is going to be a new favorite as it replaces three tools in one, saving time and money—and giving you greater access in the process. This wrench launches in February 2016.
Milwaukee Adjustable Wrenches
This new adjustable wrench comes with a more comfortable grip and a brand new redesigned thumb screw that holds its position better once set. It has a few more turns than a traditional adjustable wrench, but the trade-off is greater precision (check out the laser-etched markings on the jaws) and a better hold. It’s also really smooth to adjust—we like it a lot.
Milwaukee Basin Wrenches
The new Milwaukee Tool basin wrenches have a comfortable handle (inspired by a doorknob), with a torque lock system that lets you place a screwdriver inside as needed to get additional leverage. You can also place a 3/8″ ratchet into the bottom to give you even more flexibility and greater turning speed. These will be out in November 2015.
Redesigned Milwaukee 6-in-1 Pliers
With the Milwaukee 6-in-1 pliers you had the first long nose pliers and wire stripper in the same head. The second generation 6-in-1 combination pliers adds 8 gauge wire cutting support for dryers and ranges (so the full cutting range is now 8-20 gauge). While the existing and second-gen 6-in-1 combination pliers are also forged, Milwaukee added a new model for stripping non-metallic wire. The new forged non-metallic wire stripper for 14/2 wire and 12/2 wire also cuts 14 and 12 gauge solid wire. The design has also shifted to a curved cutting blade to allow for cutting fatter wire. In this series, Milwaukee Tool also added a lightweight wire stripper to round out the line. The new pliers and wire strippers will all come out in March 2016.
Milwaukee InkZall Liquid Paint and InkZall Metallic Markers
The Milwaukee InkZall line is expanding with a metallic marker that combines the acrylic nib with a metallic paint for high contrast on black pipe or other dark surfaces. They’ve improved the dry time for these new InkZall markers as well and have also provided heat resistance for hotter climates where these pipes get well over 100 degrees. The Milwaukee InkZall liquid paint marker and Milwaukee InkZall metallic markers round out the line to allow the company to put its mark on virtually anything. These markers are very new and will be hitting shelves around February 2016.
Milwaukee Insulation Knives and Duct Knife
Milwaukee says their insulation knives are up to 4x sharper than the kitchen knives most people use to cut pipe insulation, and the steel used in these blades will hold their edge far longer. They also offer these new insulation knives in both smooth and serrated options, and both come with a plastic sheath to allow you to toss them in your kit without fear of…well, you can imagine. These knives (and the duct knife below) are close to production and should be out in August of this year.
They also have a new duct knife that has a full tang that goes all the way through the handle. It won’t break, no matter how hard you push or pry on it. It also includes a sheath for easy (and safe) carry. If you ask us, it looks like a sort of boot knife, particularly with the plastic belt clip holster.
Milwaukee Fastback 3 Knives and Assisted Open Knives
The Milwaukee Fastback 3 takes the same technology as the Milwaukee Fastback 2 utility knife and original Milwaukee Fastback knife and provides room to carry 4 spare blades—all at the same thickness as the Fastback II. There’s also a new 45 degree cut feature that locks the angle for easy pull cuts. Not content to stop there, a new Compact Milwaukee Fastback knife lets you carry around the utility blade knife in a much thinner profile to get the same cutting ability with less bulk. The Fastback expansion will be fully available in March 2016.
We also saw a new Milwaukee spring assisted knife which comes in RealTree camo. It has a much smoother open and seems a marked improvement on the line—in addition to being came, which is just cool. This Camo Fastback knife is out in August.
The new Milwaukee carry knives are made with D2 steel and use a frame lock. They also include a spring assist open and Milwaukee makes these knives with a 4-position belt clip for left or right tip-up or tip-down carry. The new tactical spring-assist knives are also offered in 2-1/2″, 3″, and 3-1/2″ sizes.
Milwaukee Work Gloves
We thought the new Milwaukee work gloves looked fantastic, and it will be cool to see how well they hold up. They feature ample knuckle protection along with an integrated terry wipe on the back of the thumb and a “Smart Swipe” knuckle that’s good for unlocking your phone without having to remove your glove or hit it with your potentially grimy fingertips.
Milwaukee Job Site Organizers
Unlike many job site organizers that clip together but have to be detached for access, the new Milwaukee job site organizers clip together, but allow you to open stacked containers without having to disengage them. Milwaukee also built “no-travel” bins to keep parts separated and also included screw mounts in the lips of the bins so you can mount them easily right where you’re working. These organizers are also weather sealed to keep the contents protected. We saw a bunch of washers played in one of the containers—at which point the entire organizer was lifted over assistant product manager Matt Vargo’s head and shaken. Not a single washer migrated to any of the other bins. While these under-$30 organizers have been out since May, this was our first up-close look at them.
Milwaukee Chalk Reels
The new Milwaukee chalk reels use a 6:1 retract ratio and a new planetary gear system (four central gears with a large surrounding gear on the handle) with a StripGuard clutch that prevents tearing when you’re reeling in the chalk string. Milwaukee claims you simply can’t strip out the gears—and you won’t easily ruin the string if it happens to get caught up or snagged on something. As an added bonus, a thin line chalk reel model offers more dust retention, though the trade-out is a less visible mark (better for indoor use or a more sensitive remodel). These should hit the streets February 2016.
Milwaukee Tape Measures
With some new tape measures, Milwaukee will now have two lines and 30 total tapes. With the general contractor tapes they widened the base and allowed for less movement—such as when placed on an angled roof, or when you simply bump it. They also gave it enough stability that you can maneuver it from the extended tape side when needed. We got to see Milwaukee drop 30 pound weights on these tapes from around 4′ in the air, simulating a 30 foot drop onto concrete. While some other very popular tapes were destroyed, the Milwaukee tapes came out unscathed. The new 30 ft and 35 ft tapes will hit the market in September 2015.
On the premium MEP line (mechanical, electrical, plumbing) they included a wider tang, dual-sided printing, and a blueprint scale. These also have finger stop gap technology to let you manually slow the tape on retract. All of Milwaukee’s tapes include their nylon coating for durability.
And of course you’ll be able to buy all of these new tools when they come out from our friends at: