April 6, 2007

Handi-Shims - Review

hs_side.jpgOne of the more interesting products we saw at this year’s JLC Live, was the Handi-Shim. We talked to the guys at the booth and they were pretty excited about their little multi-colored, reusable shims. In fact, they were nice enough to let us take a bag to test out. Well for about two weeks now, we’ve been using them for just about everything and we have to say that we’re very impressed. They are a quick, easy, and durable alternative to traditional shim shingles and because they are reusable, they make for an economic purchase as well.

The shims come in three sizes; 1/16” (red), 1/8” (white), and 1/4” (blue), and are 1-3/4” by 1-3/4” (we've also been notified that a fourth shim; green and measuring 1/32" is in the works). With such convenient sizes, just about any measurement can be achieved with a combination of these three. In addition, they are made so that you can easily snap each one into four smaller shims. This gave our bag of 30 the potential of being a bag of 120.

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April 3, 2007

Veto Pro Pac

veto_pro_pac.jpgThere are only a few options when it comes to finding a way to store your hand tools and have them easily transportable at the same time, and none of them are very good. We've had minimal success with the smaller sized doctor’s bag, but it was so tiny that it ended up overflowing and tools were always falling out when we picked it up. As an added bonus, our tools stayed in a jumbled pile and reaching for a wrench often took a few minutes of frustrating searching and untangling. So, recently, we switched over to the larger sized doctor’s bag, but even that has some critical problems. Now, we’ve got the room for our tools, but the bag divider doesn’t work. Essentially, we have the same problems we had with the smaller bag, except that now we’re not worried about leaving a Hansel and Gretel trail of hammers and screwdrivers everywhere we go.

We’ve also seen carpenters show up to the jobsite with their tools in ornate hand-made tool boxes. But not everyone wants to spent five weeks crafting a beautiful oak heirloom just so Mike, the summer help, can drop a Sawzall on it. Then, finally, there’s the dreaded five-gallon bucket with the bag insert. How pathetic is it when you see a woodworker carrying his beloved tools around in a plastic bucket? They’re tools, not Legos.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 15, 2007

Johnson Magnetic Post Level

johnson_post_level.jpg
Johnson Level and Tool offers this great little Magnetic Post Level for anyone who is planning on building a deck this summer. We think this tool is a worthy investment and, once you use it, you'll realize how much time you've been wasting getting those posts to sit plumb. No more days of getting one side perfect and...wait...wait....hold it...hold it...(slowly move the level to the other side)...wait...stop shaking.....wait.... Now, you can just strap this level to the post (with the elastic band that comes attached) and have both hands free for positioning and stabilizing. It's really a simple tool that takes a lot of the hassle out of the process, and at under $7, it's not going to break the bank.

The Magnetic Post level is made of durable plastic and has three easy to read vials.

At Amazon.com

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 13, 2007

How to Use a Hammer

John-Henry-Stamp.jpgDon’t laugh. We’re always surprised when we see what people do when they swing hammers. Even many carpenters hold the hammer in the wrong place or swing it the wrong way. If you use a hammer a lot, doing it incorrectly can put a big strain on your body, slow down your work, and with dents all over the coffee table you just made, it can cause a lot of frustration. We found a few articles on the subject; here, here, and here. But, essentially, they all say the same things:


  • Hold the hammer in middle of the grip. Don’t choke up on the head.
  • Swing from the elbow, not the wrist. This is probably the most important part.
  • When the hammer connects with the nail, make sure that the face of the hammer is parallel with the head of the nail. If it’s not, you’re going to end up straightening a lot of nails.
  • Let the weight of the hammer do the majority of the work.

If you're still having trouble with these concepts, check out Ed the Handyman.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 12, 2007

Starrett ProSite Miter Saw Protractor

Starrett_protractor.jpgStarrett has recently released a Miter Saw Protractor to ease the pain of perfect miter cuts. Using the tool is just a matter of placing the protractor on the angle you’re dealing with and then setting the saw to the angle that the protractor reads. That’s it. No more shaving off sliver after sliver till you get it right. The 12” protractor is made of aluminum and is also available in a smaller 7" model.

This looks like a great time-saving tool for anyone, but particularly if you do a lot of renovations on old houses and can't remember the last time you came across anything that was level, plumb, or square.

Starrett has a video of the Miter Saw Protractor in action.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 8, 2007

Metric Conversion Tables

metric_chart.jpgThe fellows at Woodcraft have gone through the trouble of creating a nice chart of commonly used metric conversions. The chart covers length, area, weight, volume, and temperature. Included are conversions from metric to customary and from customary to metric.

Like the glue chart, this is good information to have handy in the workshop.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 7, 2007

Plug Cutting Kit

plug_cut.jpgUsing wood filler to conceal ugly screw heads is tedious and unrewarding work. It’s time consuming and often takes more than one application. With tinted wood fillers, you are rarely lucky enough to get a color match and usually end up with visible spots on your finished product that detract from the look of the finished piece.

Your other option for filling screw holes is to use a plug. A plug is simply a piece of wood, the same size as the hole, tightly fitted and glued in place. Plugs are particularly useful on projects that are only getting stain, as opposed to paint. With a bit of care, you can match the grain of the wood and make your screw hole completely disappear. Or, you can make your plug out of a different kind of wood to simulate the look of a dowel.

There’s not much to plug cutting. Just drill out the correct sized hole, make the corresponding plug, glue it in, trim off the extra with a flush cut saw, and then to finish up, just give it a quick sand. After you’ve done it a few times, the process takes only a few moments.

We use plugs all the time. In doing so, we’ve come across a set of plug tools that we think would be handy for just about anyone with an interest in woodworking.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 5, 2007

Newborn 112D Caulking Gun with the Caulk Buddy - Review

newborn_caulkgun.jpgNewborn makes great caulking guns. They’re easy to use, relatively dripless, and have the right puncture and cutting tools needed to successfully open a tube of caulking. That said, it’s what comes with the Newborn 112D Caulking Gun that’s so fascinating to us. It’s a little plastic gizmo called the Caulk Buddy and it’s something of a revelation as far as applying caulk goes.

The Caulk Buddy is one of those products that you look at and immediately think, “What a dumb idea.” It’s this little thingy that you run over your caulking bead or the purpose of cleaning up the excess caulk and smoothing things out. We never had any real problems in the past using our fingers or a damp rag, so what’s the big deal? Well, we tried the Caulk Buddy and what we found surprised us.

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Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 1, 2007

Black & Decker introduces 8" Automatic Adjustable Wrench

bdwrench.jpgBlack & Decker has recently come out with this interesting looking tool. The 8" Automatic Adjustable Wrench opens and closes with the push of a button, allowing for a quick and easy adjustment, particularly in hard to see spaces. No more fumbling around with the crescent wrench while you're crammed between the toilet and the vanity.

The Automatic Adjustable Wrench operates on two AAA batterries which, according to Black & Decker, have a life span of about 650 cycles. It is made of hardened steel and is capable of delivering 220 ft-lbs of torque and is good for nuts up to 1 1/4" in size.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 27, 2007

ZipWall Spring Loaded Poles - Review

zipwall.jpgAre you sick of your family yelling about dust every time you do even the smallest project in the house? We are, or rather, we were until we discovered the Zipwall Spring Loaded Poles . Now we have the capabilities of putting up a dust barrier in seconds and containing all of our dust and construction debris in one area.

The standard ZipWall pack comes with two telescoping poles with a foot on one end and a safe, non-marring pad on the other. The principal is simple; clamp a sheet of plastic on the top end and pressure fit the pole from floor to ceiling. Viola! No more sawdust on the curtains.

At first, we felt this product to be a bit on the expensive side; a set of two goes for about $120, but when you realize how fast, easy, and helpful they are, it’s really a small price to pay.

Doug Mahoney at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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