6955-20 12-Inch Sliding Dual-Bevel Miter Saw
Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp.
Street price: $690
At 65 pounds, the Milwaukee 6955-20 is a big miter saw — but
big material calls for a big saw. Like most saws in its class,
moving it requires two hands.
Though the 6955-20 is weighty, it’s not unwieldy. In fact,
it’s surprising how smoothly the saw operates. Its head rolls
like a dream on slide rails, and its soft start reduces the initial
jolt of the 15-amp motor.
The saw has a couple of features to help with precision. A
1/10-degree miter-angle fine adjustment makes it easy to change a
miter angle just slightly and then accurately repeat it. And
although it’s a simple idea, my favorite feature might be the
two lights, one mounted on each side of the blade. I’ve
always thought carpenters deserved to see their cut lines,
especially when existing light is bad.
When it comes to actually cutting through wood, this saw is a
winner. Right out of the box, the 90-degree crosscut needed no
adjustment. It has all the usual detent settings and can easily
crosscut 2x12s and 1-by up to 14 inches and can miter a 2x10. The
12-inch blade will cut nearly 5 inches deep across most of the
crosscutting range of the saw.
Because the motor is placed above and behind the blade, the saw can
cut full 2-inch stock 6 1/2 inches tall. I’m not sure when a
deck builder would need this capacity, though, unless for an
occasional inside job working with big base molding.
The saw’s bevel adjustment is in the rear, which at first
seemed like it might be less convenient than having it in the
front, as some competing saws do. However, the large, flat lever
handle was easy to engage and disengage, and the rear bevel
adjustment proved to be no inconvenience at all. The beefy
3/8-inch-thick steel depth stop is reassuring for a saw this size
and flips out of the way for intermittent use. Its thumbscrew
adjustment feels secure and comfortable.
Worth noting is dust collection that actually collects sawdust
— not everything but most of it — which is a big
improvement over saws I’ve used in the past.
I don’t have much to nitpick about. The blade guard whacked
my thumb a few times as I lowered the blade until I learned to keep
out of its way. And the manufacturer-supplied, 60-tooth, ATB blade
was nothing to brag about, though it was fine for framing material.
But all in all, the Milwaukee 6955-20 is a great new saw.Chris Green is a remodeling contractor in New
Clamp Holds Hangers While You Nailby Mike Guertin
HangerPal Joist Hanger
Street Cost: $5.95 plus shipping
Some of the most useful tools I carry in my tool bags are the
simplest: a hammer, a mini pry bar, a knife, a pencil, a pair of
pliers, a screwdriver — and now a HangerPal.
A HangerPal is a U-shaped piece of spring steel that clamps metal
hangers to joists in a flash. For years, I held hangers with one
hand and shot in nails from a metal-connector gun in the other.
With every trigger pull I wondered when my luck would run out and
I’d get a misfire in a finger. Sure, I could drive in the
hanger tangs for a temporary hold, but the opposite side always
seemed to pop off when I fired in a nail.
The HangerPal eliminates that safety problem and speeds production.
The ends of the U are flared and slip right up from the bottom of a
hanger that’s positioned around a joist end. A stiff push
with your hand seats the HangerPal, clamping the joist hanger in
place whether you’re driving nails pneumatically or by
The slender spring-steel rod snuggles right up against the flanges,
so it doesn’t obstruct any of the nail holes. It takes three
seconds to position and clamp the joist hanger with the HangerPal
and one second to remove it.
You could make do with just one HangerPal, but I find working with
three or four lets me clamp on a series of hangers within reach of
my gun and nail them all off. Then I set up on the next group of
My only gripe is the color — black. Drop your HangerPal in
deep grass and you’ll be hunting for a while. I got wise
after losing one the first day out and painted the remaining three
Mike Guertin is a carpenter in East Greenwich,
Lightweight Titanium Utility Bars
TiBar 12 and TiBar 16
Street cost: TiBar12, $170; TiBar 16, $250
Yeah, they’re expensive. But you know what? They’re
lightweight — and I suspect I’m not alone in having
reached an age when strapping on my toolbelt means that by the end
of the day my legs hurt and my back aches. Shaving ounces is a
My regular old steel cat’s paw weighs a pound, and my flat
bar weighs 1 1/4 pounds. The TiBar 12, at 15 ounces, weighs in only
slightly lighter, and the TiBar 16 — at 2 pounds —
weighs more; however, the TiBar is more versatile than either of my
steel bars and can do the job of both.
A TiBar pulls nails the same way a cat’s paw does: You drive
the sharp end of the bar into the wood under the nail head. Also,
it has a second puller that works like a flat bar for nails whose
heads are proud of the wood. And finally, a set of parallel jaws
fits around 2-by stock, providing a grip to lever twisted joists
Both TiBar models have a hammer head as well; the one on the TiBar
16 has a replaceable steel face. I’m a bit dubious of the
hammer head, but then again, why not? I’m sure that my
tendency to use the tool in hand for the task at hand means it will
see some service.
Clearly, given my mission to lighten the load in my toolbelt,
I’m not going to carry both of these tools around. For
building decks, though, tossing my cat’s paw and my
flat bar in favor of a TiBar 12 seems a no-brainer. It’s
lighter than its big brother and perfectly suited to deck framing.
And it takes a smaller bite out of my wallet, the one place I
don’t mind some extra weight. — Andy