Top tools for successful installs
May 8, 2019 | 10:46 am CDT
Most efficient installers maintain a ready installation tool kit stored in the installation vehicle. That’s lots more efficient than raiding the shop for everything you need every time you go to the job site. Rolling, stackable toolbox systems make it easy to move tools from truck to work zone, and segmented drawers or dedicated pockets make it obvious if something is missing when you pack up at the end of the day. 
Here are some more quick tool tips: Rather than carrying a bunch of screwdrivers, one driver with a magnetic head that takes the same interchangeable bits as your cordless drill driver saves space. Store tools and related jigs or fixtures together as they will be used, making sub-kits for special tasks, such as leveling boxes, scribing cabinets, or installing pulls. 
Following are some special tools not in every installer’s kit but might be worth considering: 
Try a Japanese ryoba instead of conventional handsaw; it provides both rip and crosscut teeth and typically makes a finer, cleaner finish cut working on the pull stroke. 
Blue masking tape works great for scribe lines. Tape the entire edge of the cabinet to be scribed, then mark the line right on the tape. The line is easier to see, and the tape protects the cabinet when cutting to the line. The blue-type masking tape also comes off cleanly without residue. 
Cabinet lifting and propping devices can make it so one person can work more efficiently and safer if you are trying to keep from hiring extra help.
Following is a sample roundup of portable installation tools suitable for jobsites:
Grizzly has introduced its Pro lineup of professional 20V cordless tools and accessories. The lineup includes a half-inch hammer drill, a quarter-inch impact driver, a 3/8-inch impact wrench, a 6-1/2 in. circular saw, a reciprocating saw, a jigsaw, an oscillating tool, a 4-1/2 in. angle grinder, an inflater with LCD Panel, a Bluetooth speaker, and a USB adapter.
Bosch says its GKT13-225 track saw is an easy-to-transport tool that’s ideal for making table saw-quality cuts on sheet goods like laminated particle board and plywood. Weighing at 9.8 pounds, it features an adjustable track guidance mechanism, a single pivot point for bevel cuts from -1 to +47 degrees, a plunge mechanism, and a dust extraction design that the company says helps deliver a clean work environment.
DeWalt’s new six-tool Atomic compact series adds to the 20V Max system and is optimized for use in tight spaces, for overhead work, and for long periods of use. Scheduled for release in increments throughout 2019 and 2020, the complete series will include a drill/driver, an impact driver, a circular saw, an oscillating multi-tool, and a reciprocating saw.
Milwaukee Tool has expanded its line of compact tape measures with new auto-lock tape measures. They feature a blade that automatically locks once its extended to the users’ chosen length and depressing the lock mechanism retracts it. With nylon bond blade protection and a five-point reinforced frame for drop protection, the tapes are available in 16 and 25 foot lengths.
Bora Tool says its new Speedhorse features quick-deploy and quick-collapse legs, and non-sequential leg folding, which allows for the use of a lever on each end to fold the legs. Each individual unit can support 1500 lbs and the pre-drilled metal top allows users to screw in a two by four as a sacrificial top to save saws and sawhorse from damage.
Rockler’s new convertible benchtop router table provides multiple setup and mounting options and allows a user to switch from table routing to handheld routing and back without having to change the baseplate.
Available at Harbor Freight Tools, Pierce is a new line of professional-quality pneumatic nailers that has been engineered and manufactured to meet the same performance and durability standards of industry leaders according to the company. Pierce nailers feature drive power, low drive recoil, and balance to reduce arm fatigue, jams, and downtime. The line includes the Pierce framing nailer, the Pierce roofing coil nailer, the Pierce 15 gauge finish nailer, and the Pierce 18 gauge brad nailer.
Available from Fasco America, a member of Beck Fastener Group, the LignoLoc is a collated nail made of European beech. The nails can be driven into wood without having to pre-drill and are designed to fuse perfectly with the surrounding wood, forming an inseparable bond known as lignin welding. With a diameter of .145 in., LignoLoc nails are currently supplied in lengths of 2, 2-1/4, and 2-1/2 in.
Castle Inc.’s new Castle 100 pocket hole machine is a portable screw pocket power tool that allows professionals to create the distinctive Castle six degree low angle screw pocket. The screw’s pilot hole is drilled from the opposite side allowing for a tight fit, so there is no accumulation of waste or tear out. Included are a 9/64in. drill bit, a 5/16in. router bit, an Allen key, router wrenches, and a Wilton C-clamp.
Empire Level, a division of Milwaukee Tool, has upgraded its True Blue rafter, framing, and combination square lineup. The company says its new squares are designed with an array of best-in-class enhancements, such as permanent laser etched markings and advanced scribing features, for maximum life and accuracy. The next generation line includes seven and 12 in. Hi-Vis laser-etched rafter squares, the Hi-Vis laser-etched framing square with permanent laser-etched markings, and combination squares in 6, 12, and 16 in.
Festool’s new STL 450 surface inspection light features a form factor that puts light close to the surface to illuminate various surfaces to view flaws and defects with 1,500 lumens and a color temperature of 5,000K. Designed for use in a broad range of applications, it features impact-resistant, non-marring, full-body protection and can be used as a hand-held device or mounted on a tripod.
For more tooling information, visit the Machinery and Supplies product section of

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editor of FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.