A Day With Brian Fuller

This summer my coworkers and I were able to spend a day with Bryan Fuller. Bryan may be best known for his TV show “Two Guys Garage” , but has also worked with Chip Foose on “Overhaulin” and has also showed off a badass bike rebuild on “Café Racer”. Bryan is a seriously talented fabricator and a restoration expert.

The good folks at JET Tools and Equipment were awesome enough to arrange this visit for us. During the day we spent at Bryans Atlanta shop Fuller Hot Rods, Bryan and the JET team took the time to explain in detail how all their metal cutting, shaping, and turning tools worked. We had the opportunity to use them, test them, and learn everything about them.

This was a seriously awesome experience. During the day we got invaluable insight from Bryan who uses these tools everyday. He was able to give us tips and tricks the pro’s use.

If you are looking for great metal working tools or wood tools too, I strongly urge you to consider JET tools. From personal experience and advise from the pro’s, I can guarantee that you will be happy and your JET tools will give you many years of great service.

For more tips, click here to check out Bryan’s Book.

Here are a few pics of us getting to play.

 

 

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Impact Wrench, Driver, Hammer Drill, What Do I need?

For Pros, it’s easy, but I hear a lot of people asking about the differences between impact drivers, impact wrenches, hammer drills, and drill drivers. It can really get confusing. Hopefully this will help to break it all down.

Impact wrenches are tools that have a square head to accept sockets. They are used for removing lug nuts or driving lag bolts. These tools vary widely is size and strength, so be sure to get one that will have the power you need to drive the bolts you have. Be sure to check the specs for torque on these tools, and make sure you get a high capacity battery as these application require a lot of juice.

Impact drivers are a more light duty tool. These tools have a 1/4″ hex quick connect on the end and accept standard insert tips for nut drivers or screw driving bits. They are great for running screws like installing drywall, metal studs, and home projects.

A hammer drill is a tools designed to drill through concrete. Most can also be used as a standard drill as well without the hammer function. This tool should typically only be ordered by someone needing to drill through concrete, but occasionally are used by pros who need the heavier duty capacity of the hammer drill without the hammer function.

Standard drill-drivers are the typical workhorse of cordless drills. The usually have a 3 jaw chuck that can accept any drill bit or driver bit with a shank diameter up to 1/2″. These are great for standard drilling through wood and metal and for basic screw driving applications. For someone looking for their first tool, this is where to start.

SDS: Decoded

SDS, Plus, Max, Spline, Hex…what’s the deal? Why are there so many different options? Which one do I need? While selling tools, I have heard these questions probably more often than any other, so I’ll try to break it down for you here.

In the beginning, there was SDS. Bosch introduced the Special Direct System (SDS) Drills to the market in 1975, and since then all the other major manufacturers have gotten on board with their own SDS compatible versions. SDS tools differ from regular hammer drills because the drill bit hammers within the chuck as opposed to the entire chuck moving. This provides for more efficient operation and more power than conventional hammer drills.

Next came the evolution of SDS to SDS Plus. SDS Plus bits work in both plus and standard SDS drills. SDS and SDS plus bits are 10mm shanks inserted 40mm into the chuck.

After Plus came SDS Max. SDS Max drills are even more heavy duty that the SDS Plus. They use an 18mm Shank and are inserted 90mm into the drill chuck. The bits are not compatible with SDS plus, but Plus bits can be used in a Max drill with an adapter.

Also there is Spline. Spline tools technically don’t use the SDS system but have very similar specs and uses to the SDS max tools. The bits are not cross compatible but adapters are available to interchange spline and max bits.

So, after these explanations, which one do you need? The tool, either in their name or product description, will say, for example; “Bosch 11224VSR 7/8-in SDS-Plus Bulldog Rotary Hammer”. What this means broken down is: Bosch = Brand, 11224= model number, VSR=Variable Speed Reversing, 7/8-in =max through hole diameter in concrete, SDS-plus = type of bits accepted, and rotary hammer= the tool will drill, hammer drill, or hammer only. But what does this mean for you?

The max through hole diameter, the type of bit accepted, and the type of tool are the most important things you need to know. If you often need to drill 2″ holes through floors or walls to push conduit through, you need a drill rated at 2″, but if you only drill 5/8″ holes for anchors, you can buy a drill with a lower max through hole diameter, because you don’t need as much power or torque. Similarly, the SDS-plus is a lighter duty tool than SDS-max and provides less torque and less power for a lighter duty job, where SDS-Max is heavy duty for serious drilling or demolition. Finally there is the type of tool; Most rotary hammers will drill, hammer drill or chisel, but a demo hammer will only chisel but not drill.

Last but not least, there are Hex hammers. These tools like spline drives are not technically SDS but provide a similar function. Hex bits are used for heavy demolition in breaker hammers and demo hammers and are not for drilling. They are available in 3/4″ and 1 1/8″ shanks. The 1 1/8″ hex bit is the size most commonly used in jack hammers in the 35-80 lb class.

I hope this helps clarify the differences in the tools and bits available, but if you still have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Click here to see the full line of Bosch SDS Rotary Hammers.

Click here to see the full line of Bosch SDS Bits and Chisels.

Batteries 101

By now everyone has heard of Lithium-Ion batteries, but there still seems to be plenty of confusion in the market. Is Lithium-Ion really better than the Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries we have been using for the last 20+ years? Let me assure you that Lithium-Ion batteries are engineered with far superior technology. But in order to appreciate the extent of this technology, you will need to forget some of what you’ve already learned about batteries.

To start, let’s back up. Ni-Cad batteries were the technology of the 70’s and 80’s. These batteries provided adequate power, but due to their chemical composition they are heavier and bulkier and have a shorter overall cycle life over their lifetime. Much of this is attributed to the “memory” in Ni-Cad batteries. When a Ni-Cad battery is placed on a charger without being properly drained or removed from a charger without being properly charged, it creates a “memory.” This is essentially a point on the battery that when recharging in the future it will not surpass, eventually making the battery only capable of holding half a charge and sometimes less.

At this point it’s important to clarify proper Ni-Cad charging and use: a battery should never be completely drained since this can damage the cells. A battery should always be charged when you notice a decrease in performance. For example, if you have drilled 100 holes and they only take 2 or 3 seconds each, and then hole number 101 takes 4 or 5 seconds, that is clearly a decrease in performance and an indicator that it’s time to charge the battery. You should not continue to use it until it will not drill at all, and NEVER tape the trigger down to allow the tool to run until it cannot run any more. Furthermore, you should never charge a Ni-Cad battery while it is hot. After using it strenuously for several hours, a battery can heat up. Heat is the number one killer of batteries. Always allow the battery to cool before placing it on the charger. Finally, never pull a battery off the charger until it has completed the charging cycle. If you follow these simple steps your Ni-Cad batteries will last much longer.

Now for Lithium-Ion. Some of the basic battery principles still apply. Heat is a also an enemy of Lithium-Ion batteries, but an advanced charging system like Makita’s, for example, actually has a computer chip inside the battery and a built-in cooling fan inside the charger. Therefore, while other Ni-Cad batteries may take several hours to cool before they can be placed on the charger, but some, like the Makita 18V Lithium-Ion system actually starts cooling the battery immediately once it is placed on the charger with its built-in cooling fan. This allows Makita 18V Lithium-Ion batteries to boast the fastest recharge times in the entire power tool industry. The Makita 18V LXT battery (part # BL1830) will charge in 30 minutes and the 18V Compact battery (part # BL1815) charges in only 15 minutes. That is four times faster than traditional 18V Ni-Cad batteries.

Lithium-Ion batteries have some major advantages over the Ni-Cads of yester-year. They are much lighter than their older counterparts and much smaller too, yet they pack the same power. The new chemistry and technology in these batteries will now hold a charge for months and even years while sitting idle on a workshop shelf waiting for their next use, instead of depleting their charge, so you can be confident when you are ready to work, your tool is too. Ni-Cads have a slow drop in power when reaching the end of their charge, sometimes giving the appearance of having a charge, only to get to the top of a ladder and realize that there was nothing left. The Lithium Ion batteries of today hold essentially 100% performance through the entire charge and then quit completely when they run out. This leaves no question of whether the battery is ready to be charged, or if you should try to run a few more screws.

Lithium-Ion batteries do not have “memory,” but you should still follow these basic guidelines during use. Do not over-discharge the battery before recharging. This means that once you notice a decrease in performance, place it on the charger. While it will not hurt a Lithium-Ion battery to sit on the charger until it is time to use it, it is not required to do this to have a charge when you are ready like you probably experienced with your older Ni-Cads. Once you have charged the battery, you can be sure it will be ready to go when you are, so remove it from the charger and be confident in the superior technology you have purchased.

I hope this helps to clear up some of the confusion over the new battery chemistry and technology, but if you still have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.