On their own, most power tools are useless. Try using a drill, reciprocating saw, or impact driver without an accessory. It might as well be a Christmas tree ornament. This year, drill/driver bits really take center stage. Improvements in impact rated bits and holding fasteners in place caught our attention. We’ve also got boring bits that have been optimized for cordless use along with drill bits that are impact rated. Check out the most innovative accessories that make our power tools deliver powerful results!
2015 Pro Tool Innovation Awards: Accessories
Winner – Grinder Wheels: Cutting
Makita Ultra-Thin Cut-Off Wheels
What they said: Thinner for faster, more efficient cutting (ideal for cordless angle grinders) Makita Ultra-Thin Cut-Off Wheels are engineered for faster, more efficient cutting with an angle grinder. At only .032” thick, the ultra-thin design requires less energy, which means improved battery life when used with cordless grinders. The Makita Ultra-Thin Cut-Off Wheels have a 60 grit abrasive for cleaner cuts, with Zirconia Aluminum construction for cutting ferrous metals including stainless steel. They are ideal for making cuts in metal and stainless steel pipes, sheet, and channel. Available in Type 1 (flat) and Type 27 (depressed center)
What we say: Thinner is better when it comes to cut-off wheels for a grinder. Less surface contact with the metal means there’s less stress on the tool, allowing it to work faster and more efficiently. The trade off has always been that thinner wheels break easier in high stress applications. Makita has found a way to decrease the thickness of the wheel while maintaining strength.
Winner – Blades: Reciprocating Saw, Metal
What they said: Diablo’s Steel Demon industry-first, carbide-tipped reciprocating blades are changing the game for metal cutting. Whether you’re cutting mild steels or extreme metal alloys, these blades slice through the material, saving the professional time, money and effort. This Game Changer blade is radical improvement in cutting all metals as well as expanding new applications that other reciprocating blades have not been able to cut before, such as cast iron, stainless steel, and high strength alloys. These blades are extremely versatile, providing premium performance for construction pros, remodelers, electricians, plumbers, and even first responders for vehicle extrication. Now available in four lengths 4”, 6”, 9” & 12”.
What we say: It’s not just the fact the Diablo Steel Demon blades are cutting through materials that you would have never used a reciprocating saw on before – it’s the fact that they do while still boasting a crazy-long life span! Sure, they’re more expensive, but a look at the cost per cut puts Diablo blades on our tools time after time.
Winner – Blades: Circular Saw Specialty
What they said: Sized for 10″ table saws and 7-1/4″ hand held saws, these are the only circular saw blades which produce a high quality cut on EPS, XPS, and Poly-ISO foam without the mess. The Centerfire Circular blades have a patent-pending design which slices foam rather than sawing or melting like conventional methods.
Improved for 2015, these blades are now even more effective with a high tech ceramic coating. This coating, developed for advanced firearms and performance engines, reduces the force needed to push the blade through foam and practically eliminates foam residue & dust, making your job that much easier.
What we say: Bullet Centerfire Blades Foam Cutting Blades won a Pro Tool Innovation Award last year and we’re excited that they’ve taken it a step further with the ceramic coating. With dust already nearly eliminated in the previous generation, the new blades help reduce the work load on your saw.
Winner – Cutting Guides/Plates
What they said: This Saw Plate is sturdy, easy to use, stable, and safe. With three different connecting points to your circular saw, it’s rock solid, staying straight and true, and allows you to cut with precision and confidence. It can be used with the Bora WTX Clamp Guides (and along with the Bora Rip Guide 542007), but if you already have another manufacturer’s clamp guide / straight edge, the adjustable channel will ensure a perfect fit (up to 3-1/2 inches). You can also use it on any circular saw. You get precise, track saw accurate cuts, at a fraction of the cost of traditional track saws.
What we say: The next best thing to owning a track saw is having an accessory that allows you to use your circular saw like one! We love that we can use our existing straight edges and don’t have to add the cost of a proprietary track to make it work.
Winner – Drill Bits: Auger
Star-M International WoodOwl Nail Chipper Auger Bit
What they said: WoodOwl Nail Chipper Auger Bits feature a Tri-Cut design which consists of three precision-ground cutting heads and three flutes engineered for optimum performance. Compared to an 18″ standard ship auger, Nail Chipper bits are 35% lighter. Three cutting heads balance this perfectly concentric bit and minimizes the kick-back often felt with single-edge auger bits. Instead of pulling and pushing nails out of the way, Nail Chipper bits chew through nails. Fully hardened and parkerized, these bits are impact-compatible and have 7/16″ quick-change shanks. WoodOwl Nail Chipper™ Auger Bits come in various diameters from 3/8″ to 1-1/2″ and lengths of 7-1/2″ and 18″.
What we say: WoodOwl Bits enjoy a great reputation in woodworking circles thanks to the precision and clean cuts their bits offer. What really sets the Nail Chipper bits apart is their ability to actually chip the nail to pieces while still leaving a clean hole.
Winner – Drill Bits: Metal
What they said: Milwaukee Tool introduces the latest innovation in twist-drilling technology with their new line of RED HELIX Titanium SHOCKWAVE drill bits. Engineered to stay sharper longer, the new bits feature a Variable Helix flute geometry for faster material removal, a Chip Breaker to decrease heat build-up and a 135° split point to prevent walking. Milwaukee Shockwave Impact Duty Titanium Drill Bits with Red Helix are specifically engineered for use in impact drivers. Featuring the Red Helix design, the Titanium offering can be used in all drilling applications to give up to 3X life versus Black Oxide Drill Bits.
What we say: Milwaukee redesigned the Shockwave line across the board and made some radical changes from the first generation. These impact rated drill bits deliver excellent results drilling in metal by utilizing design features to eliminate walking on startup and reducing heat that leads to premature failure.
Winner – Drill Bits: Wood Boring
What they said: WoodOwl OverDrive bits are designed for cordless drills to extend battery life by 40% over standard drill bits. The unique, chamfered cutting edges produce accurate, extremely clean holes with minimal blowout. The brad-point also makes these bits perfect for use in drill presses for easy starts and stops. OverDrive bits are 6-1/2″ in length, fully hardened and come with 1/4″ quick-change shanks for impact compatibility. There are 7 sizes available from 3/8″ up to 1-1/4″, plus 3-piece and 6-piece sets.
What we say: When we tested WoodOwl OverDrive bits, we were impressed with how fast they cut compared to spade bits that cover roughly the same diameters. Like their reputation whispers, these bits have an incredible degree of precision in their design that leads to a very clean cut.
Winner – Driver Bits: Extensions
What they said: WoodOwl SworDriver™ multi-length extensions are the first adjustable extensions in the market and come in short and long versions. The length can be adjusted with one hand with a simple pull of the collar. The short version (part #05317) offers three adjustable lengths of 8″, 10″ and 12″. The long version (part #05318) offers six adjustable length options of 14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″ and 24″ for the ultimate hard-to-reach areas. Both versions come with 1/4″ quick-change shanks. MSRP for the short and long versions are $36.58 and $54.88, respectively.
What we say: You won’t find a lot of adjustable length accessories designed for your drills for good reason – moving parts connecting to the business end typically create a weak point for failure. WoodOwl gets around this by locking the adjustments in place solidly at specific stops. When it comes to choosing between buying ultra-long bits or having an extension that fits my full range, give me the SworDriver!
Winner – Driver Bits: Impact Rated
Milwaukee Shockwave Impact Duty Driver Bits 48-32-5003
What they said: The new generation features an optimized Shockzone geometry to provide up to 30x longer life and absorb 3x more torque vs. other impact bits. The new generationof SHOCKWAVE driver bits include a variety of bit tip sizes, lengths and kit configurations of Phillips, Square, Torx, Slotted, ECX & Hex driver bits. Designed to deliver maximum life, each bit is optimized with a unique Shockzone geometry in varying lengths and thicknesses to absorb torque in all applications. The Precise Fit Custom Machined Tip prevents stripping and reduces wobble for the best fit in the industry. Made of Custom Alloy76 Steel, a proprietary heat treat process maximizes resistance to wear and shock.
What we say: Generation 2 Shockwave bits are the ultimate “I’m not going to be like my father” accessories. Although the last generation was good in the right applications, there was a lot of grumbling among users. These new bits are completely dialed in and are strikingly different than the previous generation. When we got our hands on them, we noticed the tips are so well designed that when the bit finally fails long after the competition, it’s breaking in the Shockzone the way it was designed to. And yeah, these take a lot more torque than others before failing.
Winner – Driver Bits: Kit
What they said: With 48 screw driving bits, the Universal Magnetic Bit Grip Collar and the Magnetic bit holder/driver guide, you are set for all your screw driving needs. The Universal Magnetic Bit Grip Collar holds screws securely for one-handed operation and quick bit changes. It can also be used with all standard bits (2″ and longer) from all major brands.
What we say: The bits that come with this kit from Hammerhead are great for any user, but it’s the Universal Magnetic Bit Grip Collar that you really want! This will screw onto anyone’s 2″ (or larger) standard bits and hold the fastener tight to the bit. Other fastener holders are out there, but this is the best we’ve seen!
Winner – Drill Bits: Masonry Hammer
Milwaukee MX4 SDS-Plus 4-Cutter Carbide Bits
What they said: The new MX4 SDS Plus 4-Cutter Carbide bits are meant for applications in which the user may encounter rebar. Available in 3/16” to 1-1/4”, MX4 bits will deliver up to 4X longer life in rebar, 20% more holes per charge, and 30% longer life. For added utility, MX4 bits will feature a variable helix to increase debris extraction, a centering tip for exact-spot drilling, and wear marks to show when the bit no longer meets ANSI requirements. In addition, breaker points will pulverize material more efficiently leading to up to 40% faster drilling than the competition, and reinforced flutes will minimize vibration.
What we say: There’s a lot to love with the MX4 bits. For a company that prides itself in bringing cordless tools to the jobsite where only corded models live, it makes sense that they’re making accessories to pair with it that are more efficient. We love the variable helix design that strays from the norm to help make that efficiency a reality.
Winner – Drill Bit Guides
What they said: The portable Standard V-DrillGuide has 6 common holes, plus 11 additional holes that allow people to bore perfectly straight holes in awkward locations without the hassle of a cumbersome drill press! The whole guide is made from alloyed steel that is heat treated for durability, allowing a long-term tight tolerance for drilling. The ” V-groove” is found on the bottom of the drill guide and ensures perpendicular alignment on round and cornered material. Easy to use: hold the drill guide on the material with the ” V-groove” side resting on the drillable surface, clamp and drill. The drill guide has 17 hole sizes to use and a metric size also available.
What we say: Big Gator Tools hit a homerun with the V-DrillGuide on several levels. First, the guide plus a clamp or two set up perfect holes without a drill press, even on corners and round work pieces. They back their build quality with a lifetime warranty and it’s a Made in the USA product. At $28 ($30 for the larger diameter size), this is one accessory that’s a no brainer.
Winner – Tap Guides
What they said: The portable Standard V-TapGuide answers the call to accurately guide hand tapped threads on the inside of a hole to accept a machine screw or bolt. If you start every hole straight, it will help prevent tap breakage and increase the tap life. The ” V-groove” is found on the bottom of the tap guide and ensures perpendicular alignment on round and cornered material. The entire tap guide is heat treated for strength and durability. The tap guide holes are sized for ANSI Standard Ground Hand Taps. The Standard V-TapGuide has 9 holes and can accommodate 32 different Standard Ground Tap Sizes Metric size also available.
What we say: Whether you’re preparing new threads for a screw, repairing damaged threads, or enlarging the diameter, Big Gator Tool’s V-TapGuide will help ensure that they’re going in straight. Hand tapping is tricky enough and this takes some of the guesswork out as well as allowing for corner and round holes to be tapped. Like the V-DrillGuide, the V-TapGuide is Made in the USA and carries a lifetime warranty.
Winner – Drill/Driver Attachments: Collated Driving
What they said: The Simpson Strong-Tie Quik Drive BSD200 is an auto-feed screw driving system specifically designed to fasten metal decking to steel framing using Simpson Strong-Tie Strong-Drive XL Large-Head Metal Screws. Strong-Drive XL Large-Head Metal Screws have been engineered as a 1-for-1 screw replacement option for pins in steel decking. The patented Quik Drive auto-feed mechanism provides hands-free screw advancement, eliminating the need to handle individual screws. Unlike welding and powder actuated tools (P.A.T.), no special inspection or certifications are necessary, making the Quik Drive system a convenient alternative to other methods of attaching steel decking. The extension enables stand-up-and-drive fastening to save time and reduce worker fatigue.
What we say: Metal decking to steel frame fastening is no picnic no matter which method you choose to go with. We love the fact that screw installation reduces the number of inspections we have to arrange. The extension offering stand up use is a time and back saver. We also like not having to sub-contract a welder or worry about OSHA concerns surrounding powder actuated fastening.
Winner – Fasteners: Subfloor
What they said: Selena USA’s TYTAN Subfloor High Yield Adhesive features innovative collapsing gel adhesive technology specifically formulated for installing subfloor, and other horizontal wood panel applications, such as roofing. The collapsing gel adhesive technology provides superior yield, maximum strength and gap filling on horizontal applications, and its squeak prevention properties are far superior when compared to leading traditional cartridge applied subfloor adhesives. Because of its high yield formulation, just one 29-ounce can ($18) of TYTAN Subfloor High Yield Adhesive replaces TWELVE 28-ounce traditional adhesive cartridges. It also comes in 12oz ($7) and 20oz ($10) cans with a straw applicator.
What we say: You have to see this in action to really appreciate the chemistry behind it. If you’ve got a gap thanks to warping in your subfloor, it’s going to squeak once those fasteners start to loosen. Tytan Subfloor High Yield Adhesive nails it with its ability to fill gaps rather than just adhere. The fact that the 29 ounce can replaces a case of the other stuff will raise a lot of eyebrows in the flooring industry.