Product Reviews

  • GTA 26 – Stihl

    The GTA 26 garden pruner is one of those products that does not fit within existing categories of outdoor power tools. It features a 4” guide bar with a traditional saw chain but is not like any traditional chain saw. The pruner is designed for pruning trees and shrubs, but performs such clean cuts it can also be used on woodworking projects or timber-based construction.

    The GTA 26 10.8V battery offers up to 25 minutes of run time and weighs only 3.1 lbs. It’s small size and light weight can easily be used with one hand until you remember this is a chain saw capable of inflicting serious harm. STIHL designed a unique two-handed system that can best be described as an upside “cup and saucer” hand placement—one hand on top the second on the handle/trigger. This design gives excellent control during operation.

    All of our testers could not stop commenting about the overall versatility and endless applications of the GTA 26. One of our female testers does not feel comfortable using a traditional chain saw and does her tree pruning with large shears. Over time this has become more difficult and strenuous. The GTA 26 with its small size, light weight and ease of use were a game-changer for her. This is one of those tools you did not realize you needed until you use it, and then you cannot imagine working without it.

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  • FSA 57 – Stihl

    The FSA 57 is a battery-powered line trimmer designed for the typical homeowner use. The FSA 57 has numerous features making trimming quicker, convenient and less strenuous for the user. The trimmer is extremely lightweight at only 7.5 lbs with an adjustable shaft and handle. This helps to eliminate the back strain some users get when using heavier non-adjustable trimmers. The ability to customize the height and handle angle also provides an ergonomic feeling while in use.

    The FSA 57 battery has up to 20 minutes of run time and since it’s part of the AK Series the batteries are interchangeable between equipment. One common complaint among traditional trimmer users is the battle with feeding the line. STIHL has designed a trimmer head called the AutoCut® head, which feeds the trimmer line with a simple tap on the ground but also does not require the user to disassemble the head when it’s time to reload the line.

    Our testers were extremely impressed with the adjustable shaft and handle to accommodate user height. One tester raved about the bump guard, which is a metal flip guard that limits the cutting range for trimming around obstacles. This particular user has a vinyl fence and has done some damage in the past when the trimmer string came in contact with the fence. The FSA 57 is an excellent and versatile trimmer that coupled with the ability to swap batteries within the series makes it a perfect entry point for homeowners.

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  • RMA 510 V – Stihl

    • tool.

    The first self-propelled battery-powered mower within the AP Series, the RMA 510 V is more than just a battery-powered mower. It also offers innovative ideas, making lawn mowing a convenient user experience. The absence of a gasoline-powered engine means the user just has to squeeze one lever, which activates the blade. Squeezing the second lever engages the self-propelled drive and the mowing process is underway.

    The 21” deck has a 20” cutting width powered with a 36-volt battery, enabling it to mow a 2,583-square-foot yard on a single charge. For homeowners with larger yards, the RMA 510 V offers a second battery storage compartment to easily swap out the battery to continue mowing. The adjustment of the deck is also simple and controlled by a single lever and has seven different cutting heights. Controlling of the self-propelled speed is also done with a single lever and gives the user a range of speeds between 0.6 mph and 2.8 mph.

    Our testers found the RMA 510 V a versatile and feature-packed lawnmower. It’s minimal noise allowed one of our users to mow their yard first thing in the morning, which with a traditional gas-powered would have created a noise complaint from neighbors. The RMA 510 V can do anything a traditional gas-powered mower can do, but only quieter with instant start-up, no exhaust smell and minimal maintenance.

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  • Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener


    Work Sharp, a Darex brand, teamed up with Ken Onion to design the most advanced at-home knife and tool sharpening system that anyone can use. For those not familiar with the name Ken Onion, he is a custom knife builder and the youngest inductee to the Blade Magazine Hall of Fame.

    The Ken Onion Edition Knife & Tool Sharpener is designed to sharpen all knives including, pocket and hunting knives, serrated blades, kitchen knives, scissors and high-end steel tools. The sharpener uses adjustable sharpening guides, a variable speed motor and flexible abrasive belts to deliver professional, razor-sharp results at home. The sharpening guides are also adjustable from 15º to 30º to sharpen at any desired angle.

    Initially, the Knife & Tool sharpener appears to be complex, but it is obviously made of high-quality materials. Addressing ease of use, Work Sharp provides an outstanding quick-start guide and operators guide with simple-to-follow directions and illustrations—click here to view. Click here to watch a complete demo video featuring Ken Onion as he explains the important features.

    Living in South Florida provides us access to top outdoorsmen, where a sharp knife is not just nice to have, but a necessity. Fisherman, hunters or outdoor enthusiasts spend hundreds of dollars on high-quality blades and want to maintain their investment. All of the testers raved about the speed of sharpening, flexibility to sharpen numerous blade styles and ease of use. After a few uses, one of our testers decided to sharpen his wife’s prized professional chef knives. He joked that she was so impressed it has become part of his “honey-do” list. 

    The Work Sharp Knife & Tool Sharpener is an outstanding addition to any sporting goods department. The packaging is outstanding and clearly describes the benefits, which makes merchandising a breeze. 

  • Magnetic LED Light


    Product #2:
    Magnetic LED Light

    The Lumax Magnetic LED light is one of the items where we say “why didn’t I think of that?” Anyone who has turned a wrench fixing a car, motorcycle, boat or tractor, knows getting light into tight spaces is often difficult if not impossible without a third hand. Many of us have been forced to utilize the flashlight-in-the-mouth trick, which is not a great option.

    The LED light attaches to any metal surface—including most hand tools—using two powerful magnets, and the extremely bright light illuminates even the darkest of spaces. The light is powered by three L736F replaceable button-cell batteries and weighs just 0.25 oz. Click here to watch a video highlight of its many uses.

    We provided a professional mechanic, a maintenance worker and an amateur shadetree tinkerer with samples for their review. At first glance, most questioned the purpose or usability. However, after one use all shared the same opinion, raving about the functionality, design and virtually unlimited uses. As one tester put it, “This is a tool you did not know you needed until you tried it.”

    Considering the compact size of the LED light, merchandising the product at retail could be a challenge. However, Lumax has you covered with a high-visibility counter-top display that calls out the benefits of the product. 

    The Lumax Magnetic LED Light is not only an excellent addition to any toolbox, but a must-have product when working in confined spaces with limited visibility.

  • Crescent 2-in-1 Extendable Layout Tool

    Apex Tool Group

    Crescent, a division of Apex Tool Group, recently launched an innovative take on the square with the launch of the EX6 2-in-1 Extendable Layout Tool. The EX6 is designed to replace the 7” and 12” square often carried by most tradesmen with one 7” square featuring a 6” foldout extension, creating a 12” square.

    The EX6 is constructed of solid aluminum, reducing weight and providing protection against the elements. The laser-etched markings increase visibility and resist the inevitable wear and tear. The aluminum design also offers one additional feature: limiting heat retention for roofers and other hot-climate workers.

    The foldout extension is controlled by a simple quick-access thumb lock. The lock is essential to keeping the extension securely closed during use and for easy storage. The hinge is constructed of the same high-grade durable aluminum, ensuring longevity. The EX6 also comes with a limited lifetime warranty for added peace of mind. Our testers consisted of a commercial roofer and a few active woodworkers. The testers immediately questioned if the hinge would impact the performance of the EX6. Those concerns were quickly put to rest after feeling the high-quality construction of the square and seeing no give or flex when opening or closing the foldout. Each tester also commented on the weight saved by the aluminum construction. The collapsable design allows for storage in traditional work pouches, eliminating time searching for the 12” square.

    The Cresent EX6 is an excellent addition to any DIYer or tradesman’s toolbox and an outstanding option for customers looking to simplify jobs and tools. 

  • Smart Lock – August Home

    August Home has released its 3rd generation Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro, building on its already popular smart lock. In the past, I have written articles covering the explosion of the smart home market, which has been experiencing double-digit growth year after year and showing no signs of slowing down. The smart lock is one of the most popular categories in the smart home market, just behind smart lights and appliances. In theory, the market is everyone with an exterior door.

    All smart locks provide a varying level of control to gain access to the home either by a manufacturer app, internet connection or a keypad. However, one common requirement is the replacement of the existing door lock and/or deadbolt. This is just one area where August Home’s Smart Lock and Smart Lock Pro differ from the competition. Both models install on the inside of the door and attach to the existing deadbolt in just a few minutes. This unique application allows even renters to install a smart lock without impacting the existing deadbolt key of the landlord.

    August locks are controlled by a free smartphone app for both iOS and Android using either an internet connection (optional Wi-Fi bridge required) or Bluetooth®. Once the Bluetooth setup is complete the user can either open the app to unlock their door or automatically unlock once the phone comes within Bluetooth range. This last feature is extremely useful when coming home with a handful of groceries and not having to fumble for a phone or keys.

    The locks can also be set to auto-lock once the door is closed. While most smart locks provide auto-locking, August adds DoorSense™ technology. This sensor prevents the lock from deploying the deadbolt before the door is closed, which can lead to door jam damage.

    The app also enables guest access for family, friends or other trusted people. Guest access is an excellent feature if the owner needs to provide temporary access to the house for either a contractor or short-term renter without having to issue physical keys. The app also displays door opening and closing activity by the assigned user. The locks communicate with Alexa or Google Assistant enabling voice control to lock, unlock or check the status of the door lock. Click here to watch a complete overview.

    We provided our testers two versions of the August Smart Lock: with the Wi-Fi bridge and without the bridge. The bridge provides remote access to lock while non-bridge locks can only use Bluetooth for control. Both groups raved about the ease of installation, set-up and the ability to maintain their current deadbolt.

    Another feature that jumped out for our reviewers was the ability to automatically unlock the door upon approach. One test was a mother of two who “rarely has a free hand” to grab keys or phone. The door sensor was also a popular aspect, as one tester had a bad experience with another smart lock that automatically deployed the deadbolt before the door was completely closed and slammed into the jam, causing damage.

    If you have been on the fence about bringing smart products into your store because of fear of ever-changing technology and being stuck with the outdated product, the August Smart Lock is a great entry point since it utilizes common Bluetooth communication technology and can be installed utilizing the existing deadbolt lock.

  • Duracell Optimum

    Duracell recently launched a new premium line of AA and AAA batteries under the name Duracell Optimum. The Optimum line features “extra life” and “extra power,” enabling a flashlight to shine brighter and longer. Optimum’s enhanced performance is driven by a new proprietary cathode system that outperforms even Coppertop. The technology is one of the biggest innovations for alkaline batteries in the past 50 years.

    The battery technology is just one feature that sets Optimum apart from other batteries. The packaging also underwent a redesign. The new package features a slider pack with a resealable storage tray featured in the following videos: slider packsealable tray. While I doubt many people give too much thought to battery packaging when purchasing, the new design does replace the old Ziploc bags found in many closets and bags.

    As any parent can attest, batteries are in virtually every device. You don’t even realize some of these devices have batteries until they stop working (e.g. wireless mouse, toothbrush, gaming controllers). The gaming industry has exploded over the past decade with more than 2.5 billion gamers worldwide and 75 percent of American households have at least one gamer. The gaming market represents a staggering 22 percent of battery demand.

    Batteries powering toys or other devices are great, but sometimes we rely on them for the basics during electrical outages caused by natural disasters. Living in a hurricane-prone area, our testers were more than versed on the critical role batteries play. We asked them to test the batteries in high-output, high-draining devices such as flashlights, communication devices and even a medical device. 

    All reported their devices either performed better or longer compared to traditional batteries. During testing in the office, we found similar results when running our non-scientific test using two flashlights, one with Optimum and one with Coppertop left on all day. The flashlight with Optimum appeared to be brighter at the beginning of the test and for a longer duration before dimming. Our test results were supported by Duracell’s own data. Optimum performed better for a longer period of time and maintained in the peak performance zone.

    Both Optimum AA and AAA are available in 4-, 6- and 12-count packaging. Optimum creates a new level of premium battery performance and is a perfect solution for customers looking for a battery offering peak performance and longer use.


    VamPLIERS® JAWZ 7-1/2” Curved Jaws Screw Extraction Locking Pliers easily remove stripped, rusted, security, specialty, torx, low-profile truss screws, nuts and bolts.

    Vertical serrations bite and grip the screw head without slippage. Gripping vise remains closed securely while pliers are turned.

    Quick-release feature enables you to unlock the pliers at once. Also equipped with anti-slip elastomer handles for safety.

    Perfectly fit serration maximizes contact with no slippage.

    Vampire Tools | 949-748-0552

  • Peel-Tek® 150 Liquid Masking Tape

    Peel-Tek® 150, a multi-surface liquid masking tape, removes the frustration caused by paint bleeding through traditional tape applied to rough or porous surfaces such as brick, stucco, cement and untreated wood. Peel-Tek can also serve as a temporary protective coating for both porous and non-porous surfaces and simply peels off cleanly when done. 

    Peel-Tek starts as a turquoise color liquid with the consistency of yogurt and dries to a rubber-like protective coating. It can be applied with a roller or paint brush to almost any surface and dries in about 15 minutes depending on the thickness applied. Once dry, Peel-Tek can stay on for as long as required with no adverse effects and still be easily removed. If applied in an exterior location with UV exposure, it should be removed within five to seven days.

    Since Peel-Tek is a new masking method, there is a small learning curve when compared to a simple roll of tape. The company’s website offers numerous videos demonstrating various applications on job sites and includes various pro tips. Click here to view. One video features the product used in combination with masking paper to protect from overspray.

    One of our pro testers had the opportunity to utilize Peel-Tek in combination with masking paper when spraying a room with a rough surface. He typically would have applied tape with clear caulk to prevent the paint from bleeding onto the protected surface. He was able to reduce his initial preparation time and produce the same high-quality edge, with the added bonus that clean-up work was simple and easy. The product’s benefits proved an excellent combination of reducing his overall time on the job and increasing profitability.

    While Peel-Tek is an ideal product for your painting contractors and homeowners, it has endless applications in crafting. Since it can be applied to almost any surface, its application is only limited by the user’s imagination. 

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