Posted by John on March 19th, 2014
One major addition to our blog that I’ve absolutely been itching to do is add a proper Tools page. About a month or so ago, I added in our new menu bar with some new pages and I put in a placeholder page. Well, this week I finally got an opportunity to publish the completed Tools page. You can check out the new content my clicking on the “Tools” link in the menu bar or by clicking on this big link here:
My goal is to keep adding to this list all of the tools I use for my various projects. So far, I’ve gotten a good start on some basic recommendations for woodworking tools. In the future, I’d like to add tools for Electrical, Plumbing and HVAC work as well.
So this is what I’d like you to do. Take a look at my list and if you think I’m missing anything, leave me a comment in this post and tell me. Tools can be very personal items, so I do expect some people to take exception to some of my choices. No problem. Would love to get some feedback or start a conversation about our favorite power tools, brands, etc.
Posted in Tools. Tagged in ,tool recommendations, tools
Posted by John on March 21st, 2013
Hey everybody! Hope your week is going well. We’re very close to wrapping up our built-in project. Next week we should have some solid updates for you. If you’re getting a little lost in the details, hang in there. We have a LOT more furniture builds planned over the coming months and while I can’t go too much into detail yet, I can promise you that we’ll be sharing some detailed how-to’s for all of those projects. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to add some carpentry skills to your DIY resume.
A couple of days ago, a blog-friend of ours, Whitney from Drab to Fab Design, posted about all the beautiful decor and furniture she picked up on Craigslist. That got me thinking. I should do a post on how to buy power tools on Craigslist and Ebay. Lord knows I’ve bought my share of tools from random people.
Here are some pointers that I try to follow…
1. Avoid buying tools that get heavily used by most people. If you’re going to buy a cordless drill that you want to keep for a good number of years, buy a new one. If you REALLY want to buy a used drill, then at least make sure it’s gently used and comes with multiple batteries and a charger. A beat up drill can burn out pretty easy. What other items are heavily used? Depends who you’re buying from. It would be helpful to ask how much action the tool has seen and you can generally get a sense of the material condition of a tool just by looking at it.
2. Tools that people rarely use can be bought for big savings. If you’re a DIYer you may be guilty of this yourself. You have a project that uses a specific tool that after you’ve used it once, you may never use it again. I actually did a whole post on the tools I rarely use. These are major “jackpot” items since the seller probably expects to take a hit on it compared to what was paid for it. Buying a tool for a specific task even if used can be cheaper than renting it if you need it for a few days or weeks. What kind of tools are these? Floor nailers, framing and roofing nailers, cement mixers, tile saws, post diggers, welders, jointers, planers, scaffolding, etc. The best part about buying single job tools is you can probably resell them again for at least what you paid for them or maybe more if you get a deal.
3. Look for sales from people who are moving or retiring. A few years ago I stopped by a sellers house to buy a jointer and ended up leaving with the jointer, a dust collection system and a spindle sander. Did I need the extra tools? For the price he wanted to get rid of them, definitely. Since he was moving, he didn’t want to hold out for extra cash from a buyer that may not happen.
4. Look at the new version of the item first. If you want to buy a used miter saw, for example, check out the latest model on the manufacturer’s website and try to get a used one that resembles it, especially if you don’t know how old the used item is. As I’m sure you’re aware, some sellers will try to get rid of a table saw they bought in the 90s. While it may be okay, it probably has way more use than you want. Stick with the recent models.
5. Make sure it works before you buy it. If it has a cord, plug it in. Seems like a no-brainer, but.. you know. Check the power cord for electrical tape. If it looks like the wiring has been repaired, you should probably skip it.
6. Make sure you can carry it. A lot of the larger power tools like table saws or band saws are deceptively heavy and oversized. Before you roll up to a purchase in your sedan, make sure you can put it in your car. You generally don’t want to goto a purchase alone anyway, so bring someone who can help you lift the parts. You should be able to find the tool’s weight and dimensions somewhere online so you know what you’re in for.
Most importantly, be careful! There are a ton of weirdos out there!!
Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,tools
Posted by John on November 19th, 2012
Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week already? Ridiculous! What’s even worse is we’ve already started decorating for Christmas. Yikes. It feels like it was Labor day just a couple of weeks ago! We have a lot of fun Christmas activities planned per our usual holiday traditions. There’s a ton to look forward to. There is, however, one thing I dread every year and that is Christmas shopping. I’m not a fan. I never know what to buy Lisa. It’s easier if she just tells me. I can only imagine at least some of you suffer from the same ineptitude when it comes to buying gifts for your loved ones. To help you out, Lisa and I are going to do back to back posts on what gifts we recommend this holiday season. Yay! I’ve written a post picking a bunch of gifts for the men in your life and Lisa will recommend gifts for the ladies. We’re just trying to make life easier for everyone. Plus, it’s fun to write lists.
Christmas Gifts for Guys 2012
1. Black Ops 2. Of course! It’s the most exciting violent video game release since Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops 1. I’m all-in on this game. This is literally at the top of my personal Christmas 2012 wish list. Last year I made the switch from the COD franchise to Battlefield 3. This year, I’m looking forward to getting back to Black Ops. Is this an annoying gift to give your boyfriend or husband? Maybe. Does it beat watching golf and college football all day. Yep.
2. A Cordless Drill.
If he doesn’t already have one of these, get him one. These drills are a thing of beauty. I use one on nearly every DIY project I attempt. Porter Cable also has a great 2 for 1 deal. You can get a cordless impact driver and cordless drill for a pretty reasonable price. Once my cordless DeWalt dies (if that ever happens in my lifetime), I’m going to grab a cordless impact driver.
3. A Miter Saw. These saws rule. We have a sliding compound miter saw and I can’t live without it. This Hitachi is a pretty basic unit, it’s just a compound miter, but it’s a great entry model. If you’re up for something with a little more versatility, a sliding compound miter saw gets the job done.
4. Beer of the Month Club. This is a great gift. If the beer is delivered right to your door, you don’t even have to stop playing Black Ops 2 to go out and buy some. It’s a perfect. Plus, guys are usually parched after using their cordless drill and miter saw all day. For real though, a relative gave me a beer of the month club membership for Christmas a couple years ago and it was sweet. There are 3 month, 6 month and 9 month options depending upon your budget.
5. North Face Etip Gloves. What a clever idea. You don’t need to take your gloves off to use your touch screen smart phone or iPad. Ingenious! This is a great idea for regular skiers or anybody who spends a lot of time outdoors.
6. A Kreg Pocket Hole Jig Kit. This is a DIY blog. We’re going to recommend a lot of home improvement products. This may be my favorite. We’ve built a ton of stuff using pocket holes… our first home’s kitchen cabinets, our garage shoe organizer, the dining room, on and on. This is such a smart and easy to use system. Great buy for any guy, but really anyone at all interested in DIYing.
Neck ties. Lots of neck ties.
I’m pretty sure the guys on your shopping list won’t complain about any of the items above. Unless they hate DIYing, video games, outdoors and have a gluten allergy. Then it’s pretty much a bust.
***Full disclosure: Lisa and I are members of Amazon.com associates. If you purchase any of the items above, we get a small kickback. If you’re interested in joining Amazon Associates, go to Affiliate-Program.Amazon.com ***
Posted by John on September 28th, 2012
Hope everyone is having a good week. With these days getting shorter, it’s becoming harder and harder to get work done outside. It’s tough to stay motivated. There are still a few outdoor tasks I’d like to take care of before it gets too cold.
One of the car related projects I’m going to try to knock out this weekend is restoring my headlights. You can use a corded or cordless drill for the required sanding, but I’ll be using a 90 degree die grinder, which is a pneumatic or air powered tool. This maybe the fifth or sixth different air powered tool I’ve used and talked about since I started blogging. I think it’s about time I discussed air tools and compressors. I’ll break this into two posts.
What You Need to Know About Air Compressors
If you’re planning on doing a good amount of home improvement and carpentry projects or you’re thinking about restoring a car or just doing some regular maintenance on your daily driver, you may want to purchase an air compressor. Air powered tools range from nail guns to impact wrenches and paint sprayers and can make whatever job you’re working on much, much easier. Nearly all air powered tools require a separate air source, which are generally air compressors. Air compressors come in a variety of sizes, capacities, configurations and price and it’s important you select the proper one for your job.
The best way to select an air compressor is to figure out what air tools you’ll be using and then you can narrow down your options further.
1. Pancake compressors. These smaller units are perfect for nail guns that aren’t going to be used in constant repetition. They’re lightweight and portable. They’re ideal for smaller jobs like installing door and window trim or hardwood floors. They’re also powerful enough for large framing nailers if you’re nailing 2x lumber. I used a pancake compressor and a framing nailer to build the walls for my shed and I’ll use it again when I refinish our basement. They cannot be used for spraying paint with an HVLP gun since these compressors are fine for small bursts of air, but not for prolonged uses. The price is usually pretty reasonable, running around $100-$300, although you can definitely find them cheaper on craigslist. Most often than not, if you buy them new, the air compressors come in kits with two or three nail guns. Pancake compressors are usually maintenance free, but have a shorter lifespan than ones that actually require maintenance.
2. Two tank compressors. I don’t think they’re called two tank compressors, but that’s what I’m going to call them. These are higher end versions of pancake compressors. They’re a little more powerful, a little pricier and are commonly used by contractors. They require regular maintenance, but can last longer than the pancake compressor. Generally, they still have the same tool usage restrictions, i.e., you shouldn’t paint with it. If you find a gently used model on ebay or craigslist, you may be in luck.
3. Large air compressors. These rock. They’re large for a reason. They can hold large amounts of air and are ideal for garage tools like impact wrenches for taking off lug nuts or painting cabinets or furniture with a paint gun. They can take multiple air tool connections so you and your friends can frame that basement wall up with a couple guns at the same time. The downside? They’re heavier and pricier. However, you can find new ones for roughly the same price as a new two tank model.
So that’s the basic variety of air compressors out there. I’d recommend a pancake compressor for you typical home DIYer if you’re thinking about picking one up.
Do you own a compressor? Are you thinking about getting one?
Posted in Garage and Tools. Tagged in ,air, air tools, compressor, Garage and Tools, pneumatic, tools
Posted by John on June 12th, 2012
Another busy work week here! Thankfully, I’ve found some time to write a couple posts. I have not had a ton of time this week to read or comment on my normal reads. Hopefully I’ll get some more free time later this week. Sucks!
After we finish up the last wall in the dining room, it’ll be time to build a router table. I initially thought I’d be building one before I began the paneling. Figured I’d build it in February! Ha! That never happened. One of the biggest challenges to remodeling and DIY’ing, in my opinion, is making accurate guesstimates for finishing projects. It takes a lot of practice and experience to properly gauge how long it will take to complete a project. I’ve been wrong so many times with guessing project time that I’ve learned to be more realistic with planning. I’ll be optimistic in my thoughts, but what I commit to verbally is much different. Lisa has even learned to stop asking when I’ll finish something. I’ve learned to stop providing a time or date in the first place. We’ll finish a project when we finish it. This raised panel project is no different. The last time we committed to finishing a home project was during our flooring work in the family room. We wanted the floors installed in time for our daughter’s first birthday party. Even for that project, to make sure we didn’t run afoul of our schedule, we gave ourselves more than a month to add the flooring. So when it comes to schedules, I try to tread lightly.
So, where was I? Oh, right, a router table! While I haven’t finished nailing down the design yet, there are some basic elements that I want to incorporate.
Here’s my design requirement list. Hopefully, whatever I come up with will meet these goals.
1. Size and height. Much like the workbench project, I’d like a router table that is comfortable to work on. Ideally, the work surface will be large enough to accommodate whatever I throw on it. For this paneling project the pieces I’ll be milling are about 2′x2′ so the router table top should be able to hold these for machining with ease.
2. Simple Design. You can tell by the two photos above that there is a wide range of options when it comes to router table design. The first table is a more basic design that can be purchased online. The second is a home made version that offers an all wood construction an adds a ton of storage. I’m going to try to build mine from plywood, but stick to a more basic structure. I don’t want the router table to be a major project. It’s just a tool.
3. Cost. I’d love to use only the scrap wood I’ve got lying around. I don’t want to spend really much of anything on this project if I can avoid it. I think I have enough plywood and melamine left over from the workbench project that I can get by. We shall see.
4. Safety. One thing I may pony up for is a paddle switch like on the wooden router table shown above. I don’t want to have to reach up under the router table to turn it off… especially considering how fast these things turn!
5. Mobility. I’m probably going to add wheels so I can move it around the basement. I’ll try to either make it light or modular for easy disassembly. The MDF panels are likely to be milled outside considering how many I have to machine. That will prevent the basement from filling up with dust! Keeping the table’s weight low will help with bringing it up and down the steps.
So that’s what I’m thinking. And I promise to have it all finished by tomorrow night. Completely. Done. No doubt about it. I promise.
Hope your week is going well. Do you have issues with estimating projects?