A look at the latest instruments and gear for sheet-metal contractors

Sheet-metal contractors really love their tools. You can see it at the shop or jobsite, where some workers are almost as possessive of their well-worn tools as if they really were a part of them. You can see it at trade shows, where sales staffers enthusiastically and proudly show their latest products. Sometimes the refinements are small, but that doesn't matter, as long as it makes the job go quicker or more easily.

Here is our annual roundup of some of the new tools and test instruments that have crossed the editor's desk in recent months.


Wiss compound action snips make cutting easier and extend blade life, according to its maker, Cooper Hand Tools. A special "wave" pattern serration on the upper and lower blades is responsible for the easier operation, officials say. Wiss snip blades are made using the investment-casting process, a manufacturing method that produces highly consistent parts. Computer numerically controlled (CNC) machining is then used to create extremely uniform, wave-shaped serrations that cannot be duplicated manually. All Wiss compound action snips feature similarly cast and machined blades, resulting in lower cutting effort and extended blade life, officials say.

Cooper Hand Tools Customer Service, Lufkin Road, P.O. Box 728, Apex, NC 27502; (919) 362-1670. www.cooperhandtools.com


The Illinois Glove Co. says its SilverBack Magnetic Powered Gloves can help ensure tools, fasteners and other small parts are not lost. The gloves have Zeta6 magnets mounted on the back of each hand. The gloves are made from suede, making them soft and durable, officials say. The gloves are ideal for industries such as HVAC, where repetitive tasks are required.

Call (800) 767-4016. http://www.silverbackgloves.com


Klenk Tools' says its new space-saving Stak-N-Totes are ideal for organizing, storing and transporting small parts, fittings, screws, nuts, bolts, tools and more, while taking up less space in your warehouse or shop.

Made of premium-grade galvanized steel, Stak-N-Totes are strong, durable and corrosion resistant, company officials say. When stacked, each Stak-N-Tote tray's angled sides provide convenient viewing and easy access to items stored in the tray below. Each Stak-N-Tote has a built-in handle, which provides easy lifting and stacking on the jobsite. Six tray configurations allow storage of different size objects.

For a catalog or the location of the nearest distributor, write to Klenk Industries Inc., 1016 Ninth Street S.W., Canton, OH 44707; call (800) 327-5619 or see http://www.klenktools.com on the Internet.


Lista International Corp. offers preassembled, modular tool-crib cabinets for storage of perishable tools. These tool crib cabinets are ideal for storing drills, taps, reamers, fasteners, hand tools and cutting tools. Perfectly suited for machining centers and metalworking shops of all sizes, according to company officials, Lista's tool-crib cabinets are available in two heights. All cabinet drawers feature a 440-pound load capacity. They can be inserted in any combination or sequence in the cabinet housing, and are easily rearranged at any time without special tools, company officials say.

Lista International Corp., 106 Lowland St., Holliston, MA 01746; call (800) 722-3020; fax (508) 626-0353; e-mail sales@listaintl.com or see http://www.listaintl.com on the Internet.


This product was unveiled during January's AHR Expo. Empire Machinery & Tools Ltd.'s Programmable Top Shaft Control eliminates the need to manually adjust the upper roll on the CMZ-7R Power Rotary Machine. Computer-controlled top-shaft positioning with a PLC-controlled air-over-hydraulic system allows for incremental movement with precise repeatability, according to Empire officials. Ideal for production runs, this control turns the CMZ-7R into a semiautomatic machine that produces consistent parts every time.

The machine will be on display at booths Nos. 430 and 432 during the 2004 Canadian Mechanicals Exposition, March 25-27.

Contact Empire Machinery & Tools Ltd., Winnipeg, MB R3H 0V5, Canada; call (204) 779-7791; fax (204) 779-7796; see http://www.empire-machinery.com.


The Mag-Tape 25-foot measuring tape features a magnetic tip that sticks to metal surfaces for fast, hassle-free measurements, even when used by just one person. Company officials say you'll never have to say, "I'll hold and you measure." The Mag-Tape's tip acts as a second person, gripping tightly onto steel or iron.

The Mag-Tape also has a thick rubber boot. It provides users with a no-slip grasp and protects the case from damage if dropped. In addition, a built-in stopper absorbs the impact of the returning tape.

Tape's nylon-coated steel blade is resistant to abrasion and rust.

For more information, write Ideal Industries Inc., Becker Place, Sycamore, IL 60178; call (800) 435-0705; fax (800) 533-4483 or see http://www.idealindustries.com.


Testo Inc. has added the TestoView, a lighted fiber-optic visual inspection tool, to its lineup. The tool is ideal for exploring hard-to-see areas such as those encountered by HVAC technicians. Typical uses include diagnosing blocked air-conditioner evaporator coils (the hidden cause of many overcharged systems) and examining heat exchangers from the inside out. Plus, it can be used for feeding thermostat wires, checking for ductwork clearance and many other daily HVAC and industrial tasks.

Testo Inc., 35 Ironia Road, Flanders, NJ 07836; (800) 227-0729; fax (973) 252-1729; http://www.testo.com.


Midwest Tool & Cutlery Co. has a color catalog of its many brands of tin snips available. Models include aviation, Kush'n-Kote and other specialized hand tools such as notchers, crimpers and snap-lock punches.

Midwest Tool and Cutlery Co., P.O. Box 160, 1210 Progress St., Sturgis, MI 49091; (800) 782-4659; http://www.midwestsnips.com.


Metabo Corp. now has a rotary hammer with a pistol-grip design and 5.2-amp motor, which provides more comfort for operators and more efficient drilling, company officials say. The BHE22 includes a quick-change, three-jawed keyless chuck for easy accessory installation. A large knob allows users to change from percussion-with-rotation drilling to rotation-only, even if operators are wearing gloves.

Metabo Corp., 1231 Wilson Drive, West Chester, PA 19380; (800) 368-2264; fax (800) 638-2261; http://www.metabousa.com.


Fluke Corp. recently added six new temperature probes to its SureGrip line of ergonomic accessories. Designed for HVAC professionals and others who use digital thermometers and multimeters with temperature functions, the models include soft rubber handles and an easy-to-grasp shape. Probes range from 4 to more than 8 inches in length and a range of minus 40°C to 1,090°C (minus 40°F to 1,994°F).

Fluke Corp., P.O. Box 9090, Everett, WA 98206-9090; (888) 492-7542; fax (425) 446-5166; e-mail fluke-info@fluke.com.


Fieldpiece Instruments Inc. now offers the ASH2 Superheat Accessory Head, which allows refrigerant and temperature to be measured simultaneously. After measuring suction-line temperature and pressure, it can calculate and display the actual superheat, which Fieldpiece says is important because an air conditioner with the correct superheat will run more efficiently. The head works on all Fieldpiece modular instruments. The ASH2 comes with a thermocouple that plugs into the unit and attaches to the suction line.

Fieldpiece Instruments Inc., 580 W. Central Ave., Suite A, Brea, CA 92821; (714) 257-9060; fax (714) 257-9069; http://www.fieldpiece.com.


B&K Precision Corp. now offers the Model 879 Dual Display Auto Ranging LCR Meter. The lightweight, battery-powered and hand-held unit measures capacitance, resistance and inductance in four test-frequency ranges. Features include min/max average, relative mode, tolerance test and more. A tilt stand provides viewing flexibility.

B&K Precision Corp., 22820 Savi Ranch Parkway, Yorba Linda, CA 92887; (714) 921-9095; fax (714) 921-6422; http://www.bkprecision.com.