The Milwaukee® 14’’ Breaker (MXF368) is now here. The Breaker is the latest installment of the MX...
Construction products—the tools of trade and equipment that get the job done—have a certain rugged quality associated with them. Built with an underlying durability, they’re safeguarded against extensive wear and tear, unpredictable and often harsh weather conditions, and generally constructed with sturdy materials that last.
In delivering on this expectation, at Milwaukee®, we pledge, “Nothing but HEAVY DUTY®”. Because contractors and professional tradespeople expect their tools to not only stand up to heavy use, day in and day out, but also to perform, provide more productivity, and last for years to come.
For example, I don’t have to tell you that sensitive electronics, such as costly tablet devices, aren’t the most conducive to sudden, unpredictable drops and falls that are a common occurrence on an active jobsite. That’s one reason the M18™ 120’ and 200’ Pipeline Inspection System comes with the option to add a Wireless Monitor that combines form with function—a durable outer body, including a rubber over mold and screen cover, and a water resistant, daylight readable display that protects against outside elements while also delivering a precise, clear image, whether you’re outside, on a roof, or in a dimly lit basement.
But why wouldn’t you use the heavy-duty construction products you use on the jobsite, off the jobsite, in your day-to-day off-duty life, whether that’s around the house, in the backyard, or on that camping trip you’ve been meaning to take? Or, on the opposite side of the coin, why wouldn’t an average consumer find value in these durable products for their passion projects as well as in more tangential applications?
In this article, we’d like to answer these questions by exploring the ways you might use construction products in applications that are generally seen as more pedestrian. Certainly, these are some of our favorite construction products to use. But quickly, to cut to the chase: While, sure, professional-grade construction products, like tools and equipment, do come at a premium, they also afford far more than you’d typically expect to get out of a consumer-grade product—namely, power and durability.
Without further preamble, and for the TL;DR folks, here is a list of our 11 favorite construction tools and products to use on, and (for the sake of this article) off, the jobsite:
Who doesn’t need a drill? From installing cabinets and shelving to assembling furniture, there is no shortage of instances where a drill would be useful to have around the house.
Product recommendation: While we’re usually partial to One-Key compatible products like the gold standard M18 FUEL™ 1/2” Drill/Driver that offers unique in-app functionality like custom drive control and anti-kickback, something like an M12™ 3/8 Drill/Driver is a relatively low-cost, powerful drill that can do just about everything you’d need to do around the house.
It’s always a good idea to fill a toolbox (see section #4 or this article on PACKOUT for more information on storage solutions) with some common household items.
Here are some of our favorite hand tools most likely to be seen on jobsites but also which we like to have in our at-home toolkit:
It's worth nothing: There are plenty of other easy-to-misplace hand tools worth keeping track of with small tool tracking solutions, like our asset ID tags used in conjunction with an asset tagging system like One-Key to keep a trace/visibility of where your stuff wanders, or even better, just as YouTuber Charlie Berens documented, the tools you lend out to friends (and all too frequently you rarely see returned) which can be scanned in and out to document the process of tool lending, just as a construction inventory manager would document the flow of equipment leaving and returning to the tool crib.
Certainly, there is a tailored tool of trade for everything you might be doing in the yard—from trimming hedgesto whacking weeds, to sawing trees and pruning those hard-to-reach places where a full-size chainsaw would prove cumbersome. But the topic of this article, naturally, is not what specific outdoor power equipment items we recommend for each task, but rather, which construction products we use outside of construction projects. With that in mind, we have to recommend the gold standard the SAWZALL® reciprocating saw, specifically the cordless Sawzall. Why? To start, its portability that adds to its versatility. Just as we revel in its frequent appearances in our favorite construction TV shows, from kitchen gut jobs to sawing coupes into convertibles, it’s just as at home doing yardwork like cutting down branches from uncooperative, overhanging trees.
Certainly, there is a tailored tool of trade for everything you might be doing in the yard—from trimming hedges to whacking weeds, to sawing trees and pruning those hard-to-reach places where a full-size chainsaw would prove cumbersome. But the topic of this article, naturally, is not what specific outdoor power equipment items we recommend for each task, but rather, which construction products we use outside of construction projects. With that in mind, we have to recommend the gold standard, the SAWZALL® reciprocating saw, and specifically the cordless Sawzall. Why? To start, its portability adds to its versatility. Just as we revel in its frequent appearances in our favorite construction TV shows, from kitchen gut jobs to sawing coupes into convertibles, it’s just as at home doing yardwork like cutting down branches from uncooperative, overhanging trees.
Specifically, we recommend the One-Key compatible version, which features custom cut control for slower or faster max speed, shorter or longer trigger ramp up, and cut brake control, which will shut the tool off in bind up situations to prevent injury or damage to materials. 3 on-tool customizable modes, plus access to the mode library which enables virtually endless combinations to be backed up to the cloud and applied to any of the modes as you see fit, makes this a highly versatile tool. But if that was not enough, we added more power (fastest in class cutting), shaved about a pound off the previous generation for a lighter weight package and less fatigue (a reinforced battery connection makes it also noticeably smoother), and it’s been optimized with water-resistant and anti-corrosion properties to make it the most durable Sawzall reciprocating saw yet. Add a WRECKER™ carbide teeth blade optimized for wood and any of the yardwork you put it through will be as smooth and effortless as a knife cutting through butter.
Runner-up: If you already own a HACKZALL® Recip Saw, you might find it a decent stand-in for a pruning saw, with its one-handed design making easier to control in tight spaces. For fore power, though, you might consider a dedicated pruning saw.
PACKOUT storage can be used for anything from storing those around-the-house hand tools and power tools we mentioned like a traditional toolbox to more creative outlets—gigging musicians, for example, might find the modularity a welcomed versatility to safely transport anything from snare drums and miscellaneous percussion instruments to guitar effects pedals, cables, sound equipment, and the band’s merchandise booth (from those hard-rocking t-shirts to the merch guy’s cashbox). Just fill with some foam and measure your cutouts, then use one of these versatile utility knives to make your precision cuts and then use integrated bottle opener to have a celebratory beer!
Additionally, the recently announced PACKOUT first aid kits (available in compact and larger versions) are two products I’m particularly excited about. The first aid kits I’ve had in my various apartments and homes have left a lot to be desired: Either made of soft fabric, which when unzipped leads to everything falling out and having to be carefully repackaged together lest risking items falling out when zipped up; or out of hard plastic, though with no semblance of organization, compact to a fault with everything jammed in there like a toybox full of Hot Wheels™ cars. PACKOUT offers organization, like fishing tackleboxes or those insect collection kit projects you’d have to do in grade school science class, where each insect and its precise classification needed to be compartmentalized. These PACKOUT first aid kits offer similar compartments for organization, the sturdy construction that will keep everything securely in their appropriate inner chambers, and they offer the added benefit of the modularity offered with the PACKOUT system. That means they can just as easily be attached to other PACKOUT products, like coolers I'll mention in a later section of this article (which could come in handy at Drive-In theater nights or camping or fishing trips), or under a kitchen or bathroom sink or in a drawer or under the seat in a vehicle. The possibilities are endless!
Milwaukee heated gear is extremely popular, particularly among Milwaukee Tool employees (myself included) who find these products often selling out faster than they can be stocked.
We’ve even spotted celebrities, like adored legendary X-Files television writer and creator of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan, sporting a Milwaukee heated jacket (pictured below, as seen in: The Road to El Camino: Behind the Scenes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix).
With that in mind, Milwaukee heated gear is an excellent stand-in or replacement of regular winter clothing, especially for winter recreation where on-demand heat is a welcomed convenience. E.g.,
Some of our favorite uses of Milwaukee heated gear take place leading up to the winter months: motorcycling. Milwaukee Tool has a healthy presence of motorcycle enthusiasts, many of our engineers former Harley-Davidson employees. That said, heated gear goes a long way to lengthening your riding season by allowing you to ride longer into colder months, more comfortably, just before it becomes unbearable.
There’s also a healthy market for heated gear, both offered by the major motorcycle manufacturers and in the aftermarket. But a caveat is many of these heated gear solutions require complicated power harnesses and controllers that are unique to that one item, or they need to be inconveniently hooked up to your bike’s battery (hence, not wireless).
Milwaukee products help solve this, offering interchangeability with other products within the given product’s battery platform (M12 or REDLITHIUM USB rechargeable). Amusingly enough, it seems like riders are starting to catch on, just like above-mentioned celebrities.
Semi-famous motorcyclist enthusiasts and riders alike who gravitate to Milwaukee heated gear for a viable cold-weather riding solution include Rust Valley Restorers reality TV star Avery Shoaf (seen below as pictured on Season 3, Episode 3, “The Basket Case,” of Rust Valley Restorers on Netflix, riding a restored, vintage Harley while wearing a TOUGHSHELL™ jacket.)
A personal favorite of mine (seen below under my riding helmet) is the WORKSKIN™ MID-WEIGHT COLD WEATHER HARDHAT LINER. This product certainly works, as designed, under a hardhat on a frigid winter jobsite, but it also doubles as an excellent under-helmet liner, keeping your ears nice and toasty, for late riding season, cold-weather motorcycling, when 40-50 degree temperatures send chill winds through you like an icicle plunging directly into your forehead. I suppose a full-face helmet would also help keep the harsh, frosty air out of my face, too, but alas, that’s not my style.
Second and last, before I wrap up this section, on a quick aside (not related to cold-weather riding specifically but as long as we’re on the subject of construction products that are also useful off the jobsite), a couple products motorcyclists should consider:
At Milwaukee Tool, we love our tunes. On the One-Key team, we have two dedicated Slack channels, one for the entire team to drop in their favorite earworms (great for getting exposed to all sorts of unique styles!), and another that I’m the proud creator of that is for musicians to share their inspirations of the week. There’s even a full-fledged Milwaukee Tool Shed Band that regularly graces our company’s YouTube channel with classic crowd-pleasing covers like the Jackson 5.
Jobsite radios bring the much-needed gift of music to the job and help envelope trades in the tunes most harmonious to inspire productivity for them. Heck, we even wrote a whole blog about classic construction songs! But there are also so many other uses for jobsite radios. An emerging theme with the products included in this list: Durable, water-resistant radios will come in handy and keep the choruses crooning, as well as the general, if intangible, feelings music inspires coursing through listeners’ veins even in a rainstorm, which might stimulate serendipitous singing in the rain.
They also come in a variety of sizes and features. But here are our general recommendations.
This little radio/charger unit is insanely useful, and so is its volume (without distorting whatsoever). Useful features: Like the product name suggests, you can charge your phone using the USB port located on the back.
But aside from a simple user-interface that makes it easy to find stations, program up to 10 presets, and overall quality sound, I find the fact that it doubles as just speaker pretty darn useful.
This means I can listen to the radio or connect via Bluetooth® and load up a Spotify playlist or artist page. Additionally, it’s obviously super heavy duty and water- and debris-resistant, which is conducive to all of these possible uses:
When you picture a “high voltage” rock show, with guitar solos squealing over booming drums, driving bass, and vocals that scream attitude, you might think of a wall of Marshall guitar cabinets stacked on top of each other, or at the very least a full- or half-stack turned up to 11.
The PACKOUT™ radio + charger unit is precisely what you need if you want you’re looking for high power (as one One-Key team member suggested) to DJ a party. Plus, built with the modularity of the PACKOUT system, you can build your own PACKOUT half- or full-stack. You can try using the PACKOUT configuration tool to see what your stack might look like!
There are generally two things wrong with traditional accessory power supplies, power sources, power banks, power bricks, or whatever you want to call them: 1) size, and 2) functionality are hindered.
Let’s start with size. Traditional options have had a large footprint. Generally bulky, the word “brick” comes to mind, awkward and unwieldy, taking up far too much room and motivating jeers from less sympathetic friends. Even the ones that advertise being “thin” or “ultra-compact” (or particularly egregious “portable”) offer the lowest conceivable degree of portability.
Moving to functionality. Traditional offerings have pretty narrow feature sets. They charge, charge, charge, then die, having to be recharged through a legacy wall charger or with a more future-forward (albeit notoriously temperamental) wireless charging dock. This is all fine and dandy, except when it comes to range. While some offer impressive bullet points on their product listings pages, most are physically hampered having to be recharged manually into a wall. This may seem, at first blush, impossible to fix, but if we look to consumer battery brand titans like Energizer and Duracell, solutions for this problem have long existed with the entrance of rechargeable batteries (which replaced disposable options) that can be easily swapped in and out and recharged in advance to accommodate any needs.
Enter: The REDLITHIUM™ USB Charger & Portable Power Source.
This product solves both the size and the functionality problems, creating a much smaller footprint for easier (and truer) portability, as well as more functionality (and modularity) building off the replaceable and rechargeable mantra, while infusing Milwaukee Tool innovations in battery technology (similarly seen with our M12™, M18™, FUEL™ and MX FUEL™ battery platforms that offer interchangeability between a wide and ever-evolving range of products within each platform) to offer an ingenious way to increase the range of your power supply when you need it most. On top of this, it offers more versatility and adaptability, providing ways for you to get more use out of the batteries that power your power supply, for example, than solely to charge your phone, by swapping them into other REDLITHIUM products.
If we put the footprint of the into context with other power supplies/power sources, as discussed above, the REDLITHIUM USB Charger & Portable Power Source walks away with it. For reference, I can close-fist this product (and my hand size would be considered by most small for a man).
For additional context, when I measure products on portability, I like to put them through what I call the “theme park test,” what I could realistically (and comfortably) carry on my person for a day at a theme park. For example, “Could I fit X product(s) in my pocket(s), along with my glasses, and anything else (keys, wallet, etc.) on a rollercoaster so that I don’t lose it while experiencing a 100 foot+ drop, simultaneously exhilarated and disoriented?” A similar test would be a “motorcycle test”: “Can I fit the previously mentioned effects in my pockets while operating a motorcycle that has literally zero storage, completely impractical but equally thrilling?”
With that regard, this product, balled up with an iPhone accessory USB cable (or, theoretically [insert manufacturer accessory cable here] for you Android users) easily fits in my pants front pocket, or back pocket, with room to spare. But the size is just the cake—the icing is the swappable batteries that are interchangeable with other products in the REDLITHIUM line, meaning you can increase the range and versatility you’ll get out of this product (which we’ll discuss in the 2nd benefit section below).
The unique benefit of using a REDLITHIUM USB power source, beyond its small footprint, is twofold:
Alternatively, if you need even more on-demand power, two runners-up:
There is plenty of at-home uses where construction jobsite lighting would hugely useful.
Just as the PACKOUT jobsite + radio we mentioned is great for DJing large events and parties, or how its little brother (the more compact radio + charger) is plenty loud enough for sourcing some tuneage at a gazebo afterhours cocktail party, task lighting like our various generation and battery platform ROCKET™ tower lights, RADIUS™ site lights, and ROVER™ flood lights offer a way to provide lighting for countless occasions and applications, whether inside or outside.
It’s also worth mentioning that the One-Key compatible rocket tower, as well as the One-Key compatible radius compact site light, packs extra functionality, able to be operated from a distance via the One-Key app, should you for example wish to engage a light or adjust its brightness as the night gets darker but don’t want to leave an engaging conversation. You can also put them on schedules to automatically turn on at a given time, just as some smart homes offer as a security or convenience feature.
Jobsite vacuums & fans offer to keep apartments clean and well-ventilated (especially those older buildings that don’t have AC during hot summer months).
The M18 3-in-1 vacuum (pictured below), for example, provides a compelling way to clean up an apartment, attached as a backpack with less effort than using more traditional push vacuums that also are harder to get into small spaces.
Meanwhile, M12 and M18 compact vacuums offer the smaller profile (and the cordless innovation expected of Milwaukee products) that would be of particular use for cleaning out personal vehicles. I put special emphasis on the cordless nature of these products here considering how frequently corded shop vacs are used for this purpose. How unwieldy is that process, am I right? You have to wheel the vacuum and its restricted attached hose around, one door of your vehicle to the next, often creating trip hazards and knotting extension cords you have to yank on awkwardly to get the vacuum where you want it to go. Or worse, the industrial vacuums found at do-it-yourself carwashes. You have to dole out quarters, then try to vacuum as much as you can, with a hose permanently affixed to the structure, before your time expires; then, if you haven’t finished, cough up more, or use the change machine to break your, hopefully, smaller bills you happen to have on your person. The compact cordless vacuums put these issues to rest at last—get the compact vacuum where it needs to be, with multiple included attachments for the precise area you’re cleaning.
A recently announced item in the PPE category are kneepads, which are certainly useful to contractors who spend a lot of time installing flooring and cabinets, while they’re knelt over and putting weight on their knees for an extended period of time. To prevent long-term damage to knees over a career, kneepads are essential.
Outside of construction settings, the free-flex kneepads in particular, which offer “lightweight comfort” and easy on- and -off adjustable straps, seem to be a decent contender for settings like inline rollerblading or skateboarding.
Last but certainly not least, there’s a reason why car key finder apps are so popular among the masses: It’s easy to misplace your keys, a particular nuisance when you’re running late and need to be somewhere important. Community Bluetooth® tracking offers a way for a network of app users to, in a sense, act as your virtual search party, pinging a location update on your item whenever a device with the app installed comes within range of your item. The One-Key app, as an example, offers millions of location updates per day.
But while consumer-grade products have their strong points, construction-grade Bluetooth® trackers like our TICK™ Tool and Equipment Tracker offer more durability, with weather-, water-, and dust-resistances that are useful to items that may wander out of your house.
An example: Major manufacturers of consumer-grade Bluetooth trackers like Tile™ and Chipolo™ even offer support for keeping an eye on pets (see: Tile blog entry, Chipolo support article). While this may seem like a silly novelty, tagging your pets with a Bluetooth® tracker actually makes a lot of sense. Keep in mind, the microchips we get injected as a precaution in our cats and dogs in case they get lost are not real-time trackable. You need to rely on a good Samaritan who finds your wayward furry friend to read the instructions on your pet’s microchip tag on their collar that says to call a number or search a long number in Google to “reunite me with my family.” On the other hand, in the unfortunate case that your pet’s collar gets lost, that good Samaritan will also have to good sense to take the animal to a nearby shelter or vet to scan them for a possible microchip. The addition of a Bluetooth® tracker makes sense as it gives you a proactive way to check and see the most recent location updates on your animal. A construction-grade Bluetooth® tracker adds the extra durability to keep the functionality intact even if, god forbid, your beloved pet gets lost and caught in the rain, sleet, or snow.
Can you imagine if Shadow, Chance, and Sassy (or at least one of them) been equipped with a Bluetooth® tracker? Better yet, a construction-grade Bluetooth® tracker? Perhaps they’d be Homeward Bound a lot sooner, and not traumatized by the incredible journey they took to be reunited with their owners?
In summation, construction products have their benefits on, and off, the jobsite, and with these products expected to survive harsh jobsite conditions, their use at home is only a welcomed presence with their superior performance and durability the gifts that will keep giving.
As a reiterative reminder, these products do come at a premium, but they also afford far more than you’d typically expect to get out of a consumer-grade product—namely, the superior power and durability we mentioned above.
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