There is not a lot of glamour in woodworking.
When you build furniture, you end every day tired, dirty, and more often than not, sweaty. It’s the pieces you make that get the photo shoots, spotlights, and praise. So when Woodworking Network asked me to fly to the World of Concrete event in Vegas to cover the Bosch tool booth, all I could say was, “I'm ready for my close-up".
World of Concrete, as you can imagine, was massive. There were jungles of scaffolding, seemingly miles and miles of poured concrete in every luster you could dream of, and a never ending amount of obscenely large construction equipment. Positioned in the entrance to the outdoor portion of the event rising above it all (literally and figuratively) was the Bosch Booth. Protected from the Vegas sun by a wall of branded red and blue shipping containers, crowds milled around surveying and demoing new offerings and old favorites. Fresh off a plane from New York, still relishing that my feet were not covered in snow for the day, I began my tour of what Bosch had to offer.
Being World of Concrete, a majority of the booth was dedicated to concrete and larger scale construction tools that being a wood guy writing for a woodworking crowd I will not get into. I do have to mention the Speed Clean Bits though and I suggest you look them up. I would have no day-to-day use for them, but they worked so well and looked so good I might just get one to hang over my fireplace to admire.
I saw the measurement section of the booth and headed that way, imagining the newest version of the lefty righty tape measures. I was greeted by what I can only describe as a slow motion laser tag match. Every tool on that wall, and there were many, was sending out its laser and measuring or marking something. They had everything from digital readout levels, to floor evening tools, to tripoded beasts that can measure a 1,000’ without breaking a sweat and have a built in car alarm system if someone decides they want yours.
However, what really caught my eye were the GLM 15, GLM 35 and GLM 40. They are not going to replace your tape measure for the 3” shop measurements, but take them to a job site and it’s a new world. The GLM 35 and GLM 40 were the more feature heavy of the three. With a range of 120’ and 135’ respectively, there is no need to ever bring a 2nd guy to measure on site again. And with an accuracy of 1/16” it’s probably more accurate than a tape anyway. You get real time readouts and (here is where I had to ask them to repeat themselves) they find the area of your space with only two clicks of the button and the volume with three. The GLM 40 even has the ability to store up to 10 measurements. All that and they fit in your pocket better than any legitimate length tape measure I have ever had.
Moving over to the accessories section, I took a look at their new Daredevil™ lines. I had already picked up a pack of the Daredevil™ spade bits before I had gotten this invite. They are good and I’ve been happy working with them, but I didn’t see a life changing difference between them and my old spade bit set. Now the HMD200 Daredevil™ Hole Saw that was on display is a different story. It has large teeth instead of the standard small multi-tooth build that is more common. This, along with the premium carbide teeth and thin-kerf design, actually make it cut faster. It also cuts 50% deeper than a regular hole saw, 2-3/8”. Now this isn’t a big deal for the regular shop cutting through ¾” and 1”, but the design of the teeth leaves space going up the sides. Gone are the days of having to stick a screwdriver into the tiny upper holes to pop out the wood caught inside. I can simply get it from the side. I know it’s a little thing, but the less annoying things I have to worry about in the shop the better, and getting wood out of hole saws is definitely up there.
On my way over to the wireless charging section I had thoughts of space aged futuristic devices. What I saw really let me down. It looks like a standard charger, the only difference being that instead of having to turn the battery over you can leave it right side up and let the inductive charging take over. Maybe it was my initial let down of the way it looked or I could have been a little off after breathing in concrete dust from the hundreds of booths jack hammering away, but I admit I zoned out a little as I was shown the more technical aspects of the wireless charging. After the demos concluded I was about to walk away when suddenly it hit me.
Why hadn’t I made the connection before? Earlier I mentioned how I would love to minimize all the annoying shop issues and here was the answer to possibly the most annoying one staring me right in the face. If your shop is anything like mine you have a charging station on a wall with a few chargers there. In addition, for each cordless tool you have at least 2 or 3 batteries as your backups for when you run out of juice. You might have already made the jump, but bear with me here. With the wireless charging there is no need to remove the battery from the tool to charge it. I’m going to repeat that, no need to remove the battery from the tool to charge it. Picture this: with a regular battery you walk over to your charging station, start charging a battery, put in a new one (or realize they are all dead and have to wait for a charge),then walk back. Now picture what it’s like with the wireless charging. Instead of a charging station, you have a charger on every work table in your shop. Instead of having the tool just sit there when you put it down, you put it on the charger and then when you want to use it again you pick it up. As long as I put it down in the holder, there is no extra step between charging and not charging. This means that for every tool I have I will only ever need one battery, and I will never run out of charge. Game changer.
Perhaps my favorite, and most unexpected, part of the Bosch booth was the people. The only interaction most of us will ever have with a tool company is working with their products. It’s easy to think of Bosch as a factory somewhere assembly lining our tools, and it is (I have not been blinded by the glitz of Vegas to forget this). But behind every one of those tools is a product manager. These people, and I meet many of them, are the idea creators and innovators for each tool. I thought they would be boring, number driven, without a sense for the tools in a real world work environment. What I found was that behind each tool there is a man or woman who you wouldn’t mind sitting down with over a beer and talking about your latest project, and I did just that. Just know that they will know a lot more tool part numbers than you will, but then again I guess that’s their job.
Now I have a shop full of many different tool brands and after this trip I am not going to go back there and throw out everything that doesn’t have a Bosch logo. I haven’t been brainwashed to think that Bosch is now the only company that can make great tools. I went to the show with a mindset that I would give an honest review of what I found, and the truth is I found tools that I think are smart, innovative, and work well. All backed up by a team of people who really want to bring you great tools.
Last but not least, I did get to look behind the curtain and I’d bet all my chips that you are going to be really excited about what they have in store. Forgive me, it was Vegas.
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