Off the Beaten Path at IBS 2011 (Part 1)

IBS 2011 – Day 1

My favorite thing about the International Builders’ Show each year, as I mentioned earlier this week, is the chance to see lots of cool new ideas and products in one place. After one day, I can already say that this year’s show didn’t disappoint.

Tool Box Buzz reported earlier today on the debut of Paslode’s impressive new fastening system for floor sheathing, and there are more big stories still to come from the show. Those certainly deserve their share of attention. But what I found exciting was the discovery of big ideas that were a bit off the beaten path, cool products from companies that don’t usually find themselves in the spotlight. Let’s take a look at some of those, starting with…

The Original Tool

Of course, I’m talking about Prometheus’ gift to the humans, the one that changed everything – fire.

In the pantheon of things we toolhounds like, fire ranks at least Top 5. If fire is good, then big fire is even better. Still better is a big flame that’s safe enough to put on your back porch. The Bellagio Patio Torch from Napoleon uses either propane or natural gas to produce a 4′ flame that’s both eye-catching and practical. The whole point of the flame produced by the tower-like torch is to provide warmth for outdoor entertaining on cool nights, and Napoleon’s design does a great job of it and does it safely. The flame itself is enclosed  in a glass tube, and the cage surrounding the flame tube stays cool to the touch to prevent accidental burns.

Coming Soon to a Garage in Your Neighborhood

Long before the world became cluttered with bits, blades, cords, straps, carts and duct tape, true tool aficionados were eyeballing each other’s garages. Since then, perhaps no other single garage embellishment has been the object of more neighborhood envy than Craftsman’s tool chests and work benches. OK, this doesn’t really pass the “off the beaten path” test. But who among us hasn’t fantasized about a garage outfitted with the iconic red and black Craftsman storage units since we first saw them in holiday sale circulars when we were kids?

Speaking of garage fantasies, I’ve also dreamed for a long time about a garage floor that’s great looking, durable and clean. As if Quikrete’s products hadn’t already come to my rescue on enough occasions, my garage dream may soon come true, thanks to their new Epoxy Garage Floor Coating Kit. The kit comes with everything you need to give your garage floor a professional-grade epoxy finish, beginning with water-based epoxies that minimize odor and simplify application. There’s also an instructional DVD in the kit, as well as a jar of color flakes to duplicate the trick-looking finish shown in the photo. The whole kit is well designed, and the product seems like a breeze to use.

A Forstner Bit That Can Do What???

My jaw just about hit the floor the first time I saw the new Rover Bit from Bad Dog Tools in action today. At first glance, most people would write off the Rover as a simple Forstner bit, but there’s nothing simple about it at all.

Rover incorporates all the best qualities of a Forstner bit, an auger bit and a spade bit into a single bit by utilizing a unique carbide/titanium/cobalt design. And this dog knows some nifty tricks. Just as the name suggests, the Rover bit is named for its ability to rove through materials when the hole being cut isn’t a straight shot. It can actually change directions during the cut, which is great for routing wires and quickly drilling pocket holes. Check out this video and see for yourself: Rover Demo on YouTube.

Don’t know what kind of material you’ll be cutting today? No problem. Rover’s training included lessons on cutting clean, flat-bottomed holes in soft woods, hard woods, laminates, solid surface countertop materials and even aluminum. What if you run into a hidden nail while cutting holes into existing walls and beams? That’s when Rover really bares his teeth and plows through it. Better yet, if you ever dull, break or chip a Rover bit, the folks at Bad Dog Tools will sharpen or replace the bit for you free-of-charge. That’s confidence! And from what I saw today, their faith in the tool is deserved.

The Last Word on IBS: Day 1

Maybe I’m nitpicking, but all I’ve heard for the last three years from outside observers and past attendees is that IBS visitors are no longer interested in power tools. As a result, most of the major power tool manufacturers have pulled out of the show. The one place visitors can still see, touch and try the latest power tool innovations is the Lowe’s booth. Based on the crowd I saw in the booth today, I’d suggest that maybe there are still a few power tool users left at IBS. No Tool Buyers at Builders' Show?OK, I know budgets are budgets, and the economic outlook for residential construction hasn’t improved much recently. That’s totally understandable. But couldn’t the National Association of Home Builders collaborate with the big brands in power tools and accessories to come up with some creative ways to get them back to the show? IBS was a much more exciting experience a few years ago when the sounds of saws and nailers and drills gave the show its soundtrack.

Make sure you come back tomorrow for part 2 of my Off the Beaten Path coverage of the International Builders’ Show. I’ll share insights on something called “oil canning,” a very clever product that fixes a hole and a way to turn your standard reciprocating saw into a veritable multi-tool.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

Todd Fratzel is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz, and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of Home Construction & Improvement.

@tfratzelTodd Fratzel

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1 Comment

  1. […] path” coverage from the 2011 International Builders’ Show continues (see part one here), I find myself suddenly concerned about oil canning. What’s oil canning, you ask? Well, I […]

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