TOOLS

FINALLY, A COMPANY has come to the market with a portable wet-dry vacuum that can handle shop and machine shed cleanup jobs conveniently and quickly. DeWalt's DC500 is the first cordless/corded, portable, 2-gal. wet-dry vacuum designed for contractors. It runs off 12-, 14.4- and 18v battery packs (not included), or it can be plugged into a 120v AC electrical outlet.

The powerful little vac will pick up concrete dust, fasteners, wood chips, drywall and other debris. Using a DeWalt 18v XR+Pack battery, the DC500 has enough run time to collect up to 200 lbs. of drywall dust or 100 gal. of water. For unlimited run time, the vacuum automatically switches to AC power when plugged into an outlet.

DeWalt says it even made maintenance easy with a washable vacuum filter made of Gore, which traps 99.7% of dust particles. To empty any liquid in the tank, a user simply needs to unscrew the cap instead of removing the entire canister lid. The vacuum includes a detachable 6-ft. hose that can be connected to the exhaust port to turn the vacuum into a blower. The vacuum is portable, with a compact design and onboard storage that keeps the hose, cord, wide nozzle and crevice tool together.

Suggested retail price for the DC500, including wide nozzle and crevice tool attachment, is $99. Contact DeWalt at 800/433-9258, visit www.dewalt.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 216.

HAND TOOLS

A UNIQUE TOOL to solve the frustrations of warped and crooked boards took the most votes in the hand tool category. The BowJak is tapped in next to a bowed board, and with the leverage from a pull handle, it straightens the board before it is hammered into place. The operation takes only a few seconds.

The BowJak closes gaps up to 2¼ in. wide and will work in any position because it weighs only 26 oz. It also can be stored with its handy tail hook.

The BowJak is available at hardware stores, home centers and building supply stores.

Price: $37. Contact Vaughan & Bushnell Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 390, Hebron IL 60034-0390, visit www.vaughanmfg.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 217.

BUILDINGS AND EQUIPMENT

USEFUL INNOVATIONS rise to the top, like the Perma-Column item we wrote about last winter. The laminated post attached to a ready-made concrete footer ended up with the most votes of any of our FinOvation Award winners. The commonsense design and convenience of the Perma-Column drew big interest. But our readers are not the only ones interested in the columns. Sales have exploded, and the company now has four franchised shops producing Perma-Columns around the Midwest, according to Phillip Stoller of Perma-Column. This is quite a leap for a company that just started in 2002. Stoller reports that the farm market has given the product its best reception. “They know that concrete will outperform wood,” he explains.

A Perma-Column consists of a 10,000-psi concrete column that is buried below grade. A U-bracket welded to the column's rebar structure holds the wood column along with ½-in. through-bolts. The system is sized to accommodate three- and four-ply 2 × 6 columns and three- and four-ply 2 × 8 columns. Prices range from $50 to $100/column.

New this year are replacement Perma-Columns (PC6600) that may be used to replace rotting poles and posts. Price: $60 to $70/post.

Contact Perma-Column Inc., Dept. FIN, 400 Carol Lane, Ossian, IN 46777, 800/622-7190, visit www.permacolumn.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 218.