Stripper Roundup

Sorry folks if the title of this post misled you :). I was talking about wire strippers! Over the years i have seen a lot of posts asking about wire strippers. My favorite has always been the miller 100s. Occasionally i have had to try other brands but none of them measure up. After a recent forum post i decided to dig thru my tool bag and i found 4 pairs from different companies so i decided to post about them.

Yellow = Miller 100
My favorite. Made in Taiwan. This is the first time i had all of them side by side and i realize how much bigger the millers are. Another thing i noticed is that every other pair looks exactly the same.

Red = GB Electric
Made in Usa. These are nice because of the thinner handles they can close up tighter. The major problem with these is that every edge is sharp all the way around the tool. A couple of hours of filing could probably turn these into perfect strippers. I got them on the way to a service call i went to without my tools (was supposed to be off that day). Its like they didnt finish them. Some edges are sharp enough to cut your hand.

Green = Commercial Electric
Chinese made. Green handles are too thich and they are painted with a thick coat of black paint making them super hard to open and close. I tried sanding them down and soaking them in oil for a week but even after they loosened a little the handles still sucked.

Black = Wirepro
Just says “wirepro usa” so not sure where they are made. I actually forgot i had these. I used them for a solid year so they are broken in perfectly. The only problem with these are that the handles are like foam instead of vinyl. The material began to break down and the handles have holes in them and they slide right off.

The reason i love these strippers is because they never get dull…or if they do you never notice it because they don’t have a predetermined cutting depth. You use your finger as a gauge. Once you use them a few times it becomes second nature. They work very well and you can go much faster than you can with other wire stripping tools.

Triad Open Round & Sealed Round

Today i installed 20 of the Triad Open Round & Sealed Round speakers. These are their new speakers seen here. I installed a mix of open & sealed including 1 open & 1 sealed single stereo.

Installation went very fast. I had every area prepped and my tools & ladder ready to go. When they arrived i checked the packing slip and unboxed every pair and removed all packing. Once everything was unpacked i took the boxes out to the dumpster. I probably spent as much time unpacking as i did installing because the speakers were easy to install. Speaker terminals are “push” spring loaded. They are solid and lots of room for the 14 gauge speaker cable we have in the house. 3 screws with flip out tabs to hold them in place. They were a little bit of a pain because the ceilings all have 2 layers of 5/8″ drywall. The tabs give you just enough space to clear that so you have to make sure and dust out any small debris around the inside edge of your speaker cut out or they will miss it. With 1 layer of drywall this wouldn’t have been an issue at all. With 2 layers of drywall it was only an issue until the 2nd speaker when i realized i had to run my glove around the inside of the cut out to clear debris first. Speakers are nice looking (not that anyone will ever see them) and well made.

Magnetic grills are the shiz. I have installed thousands of speakers and let me tell you… the old style compression fit grills were a pain (especially sonance). I easily shaved 5 minutes per speaker because i didn’t have to screw around with the grill. 5 minutes might not sound like a lot but 20 speakers is 1 and 40 minutes saved.

The best part IMO is the new round only model. What i mean by that is that there is no rectangle or square version. They are all round. They have round and rectangle grills available for wall vs ceiling mounting. Each box only had 1 or the other. I think it would be cool if they included the round and the square in each box so you can decide which to use. This would make it easier for them and us to keep track of and stock.

The rectangle grill comes with these felt black corners. You have to put these on yourself. I assume they are not installed at the factory because paint would fill the grill holes wherever the felt exists. So basically leaving the felt off allows you to paint the grills (triad will paint grills at the factory FYI). These felt corners have to be installed or you will see the black/round speaker thru the grill. Leveling the in-wall grill is super easy because you can spin it around in a circle. You wont need your level until the end when you snap the grill in place.

Here are some iPhone4 pics i took of a pair i installed in a wall. This is the same wall seen in this remote central thread.

Speakercraft Paul Frank Julius – iPhone Dock – Dance Machine

My girlfriend just got her iPhone4s and wanted a new music dock so that she can listen to music in the kitchen. I decided to get her the Julius Dance Machine because its from Speakercraft and because its Julius! Either reason is good enough but combined they made it a no brainer :).

It arrived just in time… her phone battery was almost dead and she was able to use it to charge up. She said it sounds great and the rechargeable battery lets her move it around the apartment wirelessly.

Speakercraft Paul Frank Julius Dance Machine iPod Dock
Speakercraft Paul Frank Julius Dance Machine iPod Dock

Veto Pro Pac – Brand New Laptop Bags!

VetoProPac XL XLT Laptop Series
VetoProPac XL XLT Laptop Series

Last year i posted about the Veto Pro Pac LT-XL laptop bag. Veto Pro Pac has just released 2 brand new models. The LT and the XLT. Watch the video below. They have thought of everything! The stretchy pockets are great.

The major difference between the bags are that the LT has file folder slots on one side of the bag and the XLT has tool slots. The XLT would be perfect for a service tech or lead technician who does a little programming and needs a few hand tools for troubleshooting. The LT is a better fit for someone who specifically handles programming. I will get the LT so that i can replace my roller computer case and continue using my XL for tools. Another minor? feature i really love is that the outside of the LT and XLT are black. My XL is brown, which is fine but the black matches our company uniform (black pants and black shirt).

View the spec PDF by clicking here.

I could go on and on about these bad boys but i will leave it to the Pro… the Veto Pro 🙂 Watch the video below!

Bosch Daredevil Spade Bits

I am out of town (as usual) and had to pick up a sharp 1″ spade bit. I probably have 100 1″ spade bits because i always need them and they are either dull or in my other bag. I went to one source tool supply (local hardware store) to pick one up. The guy grabs an odd looking bit. Looked fancy so i assumed it would be expensive and i didn’t like the idea of the threaded tip. I assumed that the threaded tip would either just strip out or pull my bit in to close and cause it to seize up. I asked if he had something else and the only other 1″ bit was an expensive auger hole saw bit. More than i wanted to spend and it wasn’t the right tool for the job. I wanted to use the spade bit to do some “chopping”. A multimaster is a much better tool for this but i don’t have one with me.

The clerk said “The bosch is $3 and the auger is $30 so…” So… i bought the bosch :). Clerk says “i thought everyone would like these but so far no one wants to try them”. I get out to the job expecting the worst and my fears were confirmed. Pulled right in nice and tight and seized up. I try again and the same thing. I cant even get the darn thing to strip out to free it up because it keeps pulling into new wood. Than i had an idea… What if i change from 2 to 1.. slow it down a little. I slow it down and try again and it works perfectly. The bit did all the work and all i had to do was hold the drill. This has to be the best paddle bit on the market. I only drilled about 30 holes so i cant comment on life expectancy just yet but it was sharp for each of the 30 holes i drilled and every single one of them was effortless.

Photos below.

In-Ceiling Speakers – Taking a different route(r)

I am out in NY at a project that is still in the construction stage. All wire is pulled but it isn’t time for trim yet. I came out to get the lighting system fired up. When i got here i found all of our porch/deck speaker wires coming out of tiny holes instead of their brackets.

The ceiling for the covered outdoor areas are wood. Plywood then tongue and groove slats. 1-1/4″ depth with tons of nails. About half of the speaker locations had a hole large enough for me to get my hand inside so it was easy to figure out where the joists were. The other half were 1/2″ holes and took 3 times as long because i had to break out my old school tools/techniques to find the center of the stud. Ok i pretty much just used a solid piece of wire and spun it around until it hit something :). It did take 3 times as long because i wanted to be careful and of course the electrician mounted the lights and the fans up against a joist making it impossible to center speakers in some areas.

My first instinct was to break out the sawzall with a thin blade. Since the ceilings were painted and done this idea got thrown out. Second idea was a jigsaw. After counting the number of speakers (20) i decided that manuevering a jigsaw upside down was probably a bad idea. Third idea was to use a Labor Saving Device hole saw. I posted at Remote Central about it. A few people voted for the LSD product. A few for one from another company and one guy brought up the rotozip with a circle cutter. I have some experience with cutting speakers out with a rotozip. It works fine but the bit kept snapping and it was hard to keep the line straight after my arms got tired. The circle cutter might have made it easier. I didn’t think it would be a good fit for wood but it gave me an idea. A router!

I got a piece of furniture grade wood from the cabinet guys. Then i picked up an expensive hole saw and cut a template. I used a countersink bit to drill 4 holes in the template about 1/8″ from the circle cut out so that i could mount it to the ceiling. The speaker bezel/grille covers these holes. The router worked very well. I was able to cut most speakers out with 1 quick pass using a 1-1/4″ bit. The shank on 2 bits broke off when they hit nails. They were $25 each… ouch. Photos below.

Holy Hole Saw, Batman!

Had to cut in 7 pairs of Sonance Visual Performance VP65R XT in-ceiling speakers today. For an outdoor exposed porch over hang. Apx 1-1/4″ of wood. Plywood with bead board on top. it was already painted so i had to be super careful. I decided to use a router to cut the holes. The problem was creating a template for the router. I am out of town with a limited set of tools. I wasn’t getting any love from the other trades so i had to make my own jig. Found a real hardware store that had a giant Starrett 8-1/4″, $145 (ouch) hole saw in stock. Exactly the size i needed. They also had Veto Pro pac tool bags in stock. First time i have seen them for sale at any hardware store. When i saw them in the window i knew i found a serious hardware store.

Creating the template in 3/4″ plywood went well. Managing a hole saw that big is no joke if it gets away from you. At one point i had the idea to cut the speakers out with it but theres no way i could have done it. I attached my template to the ceiling and ran the router around cutting perfect circles for every speaker. The sonance speakers went in effortlessly. Sonance has always had their act together in terms of getting them installed but these Visual Performance speakers are crazy. The cover is magnetic and snaps right in place. One pain with previous models was that if you over tightened the screws your bezel would be distorted making it difficult to get the grill in. That problem has been officially resolved.

There is one last thing i would like them to address (and finally reach in-celing/in-wall speaker nirvana) and thats the spring loaded speaker cable terminals. I wish they would design them so you get a little pig tail that you connect to your speaker wire that then plugs firmly into the speaker as your putting it in the ceiling. The spring loaded terminals are fine but i hate trying to hold the speaker and push them in 1 by 1. It would be nice to have an easy “jack” to connect.

Back on topic :)… The crazy awesome giant hole saw…