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Review: Milwaukee’s summer tool harvest

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Milwaukee Tools has made a yearly habit of surprising even the most skeptical tool junkies with innovative new products and remarkable improvements on existing ones; and this year was no exception. Whether you’re building new structures or maintaining older ones, or keeping machinery and vehicles in good working order, here are a few of the standouts from Milwaukee’s New Product Symposium this month.

Auger bits

Boring large bolt holes in timber to build fences, pole barns and other out-buildings can be an arduous task, but Milwaukee’s new SHOCKWAVE Lineman’s Impact Auger Bits (available in September) work faster and last longer than anything you’ve ever experienced. Although they were designed specifically for working on utility poles, they have obvious applications for other jobs. They’re also meant to be used with a heavy-duty impact driver — the Milwaukee M18 FUEL Impact Driver is an obvious choice. (An impact driver won’t torque your arm out of its socket if the bit snags, like a standard drill/driver can.) The bit features an aggressive feed screw and PTFE coating for speed and smooth boring and extraction.

TORCH blade

Standard metal-cutting reciprocating saw blades may be cheap, but they can also be a pain to change when they wear out, which is often. And that’s one of the reasons why they’re often sold in bulk. The new TORCH with Carbide Teeth blades (available in September) cut quickly through cast-iron, stainless steel and other alloys with 50-percent longer life than standard bi-metal blades and they cut much faster, too. A demo of this blade competing head-to-head against a standard blade was a real eye opener. The TORCH was able to cut through the same material at more than twice the speed of the standard blade.

Combination wrenches

Somehow, Milwaukee managed to improve the tried-and-true box/open-end combination wrench. Their new Combination Wrench sets (available in September) feature I-beam handles, improved gripping surfaces and color-coded ink-filled ID labels that make telling the difference between metric and standard SAE wrenches quick and easy. Both seven- and 15-piece sets will be offered in convenient storage cases.

Fixed-blade knife

Folding lock-blades knifes are compact and convenient in warm weather but when it’s cold and you’re wearing gloves, their convenience becomes a liability. Milwaukee now offers two fixed-blade knives; the Fixed Blade Knife with a 4-inch stainless-steel blade, and the HARDLINE Fixed Blade Knife with a 5-inch AUS8 blade (both will be available in October). Both have full tangs and are equipped with molded sheaths.

Heat gun/soldering iron

If you often find yourself working on machinery, truck or tractor wiring, a heat gun and a soldering iron are indispensable tools. And if you’re working in the field, nothing could be better than cordless versions of these tools. The M18 Compact Heat Gun (coming in September) and the M12 Soldering Iron (October) provide corded performance with cordless convenience using Milwaukee’s 18-volt and 12-volt battery systems, respectively. Both are extremely compact and reach their operating temperature in about half the time of corded tools. The soldering iron is also articulated with a three-stop pivoting head, so it can easily access hard-to-reach areas.

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