Sunday, April 27, 2008

More Power!

As an early birthday gift, I received what every man desires... power tools.

Let me set the wayback machine about six years when we were in our previous house. The linoleum in the kitchen was not only in sad shape but also included a dated design in atrocious colors. Our solution was to install laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring is not difficult to install, although it can be a bit time consuming here and there. One of the tools I purchased for this adventure was a trim saw. It is a 12v cordless circular saw with a 4" blade. (maybe it was 4.5" or 5" but it was smaller than the standard 7-something inch circular saw.) This little gem was a life saver! It was lightweight, made quick work of sawing through the boards, and the battery lasted all day.

About two years ago, I was charging the battery when my charger fried (literally - there were blackened bits inside). I took the battery to work where I had access to a multi-volt charger for these exact batteries and learned that the charger had taken the battery with it.

I checked the local hardware stores and learned that the world of cordless power tools had moved beyond the post-style battery and on to the slide-on battery and neither a compatible battery nor charger was locally available. When I checked online, the cost of a multi-voltage charger and a replacement battery was as much as a new saw. Not having immediate use for the saw, I did not purchase a new one and eventually ended up selling the battery-less saw I had in a garage sale.

Fast forward to last month when we got a deal on laminate flooring. We were now much closer to our dream of putting laminate flooring into the living room so I've been keeping my eye out for another trim saw. I have an old, heavy, full-size, metal, corded Skil circular saw but if I'm going to do this, I want the convenience of a smaller, cordless saw. I've looked at the local home improvement center but all I can find are full-size saws.

So that brings us to yesterday (Saturday). We ended up in Oklahoma City visiting my Mother-In-Law. At one point, my wife went to Home Depot to have a key made. When she returned she reported that she was told by an associate that HD no longer carries the small trim saws. He suggested some items they did carry and also suggested a retailer who might still carry the small trim saw.

Later, we went to dinner and stopped by Lowe's to see about having a different key made that HD was not able to duplicate for us. While we were there, I went to look at the tools just to see what was available. B&D makes an 18v 6.5" circular saw that was selling for $58.99. It is also available in several combo kits. As I was looking (seriously, JUST looking) at the B&D saw as well as several other, more expensive options, we noticed the sign that all combo kits were 20% off with one exception that I will get to in a minute. The smallest B&D combo kit that Lowe's carries includes the saw, a drill and a flashlight for $99. With the 20% off, that makes it about $20 more than just buying the saw.

I decided to locate an associate to see if they carried any of the small trim saws and I was just missing them and to ask a few more questions. I had to hit one of those page-for-help buttons and wait for an associate. As I waited, I saw the wife and MIL looking at the saw, the small combo kit, and a larger combo kit. I knew they were deciding which was the best value but, mind you, *I* was still just looking.

The associate was very helpful. He said that they did carry one of the small trim saws in a special combo kit from DeWalt that included the saw, a drill and something else (it may have been a reciprocating saw) for $199... but they sold out within 30 minutes of putting them on the shelf and all of the stores statewide were showing negative inventory. Mind you, this kit included over $600 worth of tools if purchased seperately. It was a damn good value. It was also the kit that wasn't included in the sale.

Next thing I know, my MIL has hijacked the associate and is saying something about not believing the $99 B&D combo kit includes a battery charger but points out that the $139 combo kit shows a dual-battery charger in the picture. I try to tell her that no tool company is going to sell a cordless tool combo without a charger to which she replies, "You never know with some of these companies." So she has the guy open the larger kit and prove it includes the charger. Before I know what's happening, she offeres to buy me the larger kit for my birthday. I take a quick look at the display tools and tell her yes.

Now, I am one step closer to installing our laminate flooring.

No comments: