Category Archives: DIY

Don’t buy that power tool until you read this first.

What do you look for when you are buying a new power tool?

Do you buy it because of the brand name? How about the color or that all of your power tools are Acme tools? Do you buy it because it is the cheapest? Many people buy it based on the advertisements they have seen, but no one manufacturer hits it out of the park on every tool they make and if you believe that, well their advertising has paid off!Power Tools in a grid
You see, every manufacturer feels the need to capture the entire power tool market. Instead of focusing on what they make best, they just keep pumping out tools of all sorts. Don’t get me wrong, many of their tools are good, but do you want a “good” tool or the best tool for the job?

I have been repairing power tools and selling replacement parts for them for over 20 years. I see what works and I see what breaks on a regular basis. The worst thing is to have a power tool break in the middle of a job or that weekend project, only to find out that there are no replacement parts for the tool. You’ve got yourself a nice boat anchor.

Key points when looking for a new power tool

There are several factors to consider when buying a power tool and I list what I feel are the most important below.

  • What have other people said about the tool? Are 80% of the reviews good. As you know, you can’t please everyone, so look for a tool that gets good reviews from most people.
  • Will you be using this tool every now and then or is this tool going to help you earn a living? If so, then you need something that is built well enough to stand the rigors of the jobsite. Think about what would happen if it fell off of a sawhorse. Will it withstand some rough handling?
  • Does the tool feel good in your hands? If you are a lefty, then they do actually make left handed circular saws and a few others, so look into these.
  • Look online at tool repair part companies such as ours, and look at the older models of the brand and type of tool that you are looking to get. Are most of the parts still available or are most of them NLA (no longer available). If not, then when it breaks, you will have to buy a new one.
  • Normal wear an tear items like brushes, belts, nose guards for trim nailers and blade clamps for reciprocating saws have to be easy to get to and replace.
    Four Power Tool Parts

Air Compressors and Pressure Washers

For other tools like air compressors and pressure washers, you really need to know how often you intend to use these. There are basically two types. Homeowner grade and pro grade. No which one you are getting. Are your workers going to check the oil in an air compressor or should you buy an oil free air compressor because you know they will never check the oil? Don’t buy an air compressor based upon the highest pressure it produces, this is a marketing scam. Look for the cfm it produces at a certain psi. Something like 5.4 cfm @90psi is how you want to compare them. Oil bath units last longer. Again, look for replacement parts to make sure that the company has a history of providing parts.

Pressure washers start at around $225 for a homeowner unit to well over $1,000 for a day in, day out unit. There are basically 3 types of pressure washer pumps. Wobble, Axial Cam and Triplex. Wobble pumps are entry level and usually if they go bad, you just replace the entire pump. Axial Cam pumps are better and Triplex pumps are the best. Of course, you know that you get what you pay for. The psi rating is important as well. All of them require a gas engine or electric motor to power them so make sure that this part of the pressure washer is reliable.

Well, this should get you going. Don’t buy a tool just because of the color or the brand. Do a little research first and you will end up making a great purchase that will get the job done and last for years to come.

Cool tree swing ideas

My daughter wants a swing in her backyard for her daughter. I started thinking about the different ways that I could create it, so I started searching the web for all kinds of ideas.

It appears there are some safety basics.

    • Tree Type: The branches of a sturdy hardwood tree are best for a tree swing – oaks are ideal but use what you have. Avoid fruit trees, evergreens, or trees that split easily.
    • Branch Size: A tree swing needs a horizontal branch at least 8” in diameter that is no more than 20’ off the ground….ideally.
    • Branch Condition: The branch chosen for a tree swing must be healthy.  (Really, I was going to use a rotten one.) Inspect the branch from trunk to tip, and avoid branches that show any signs of infestation, disease, splitting, or narrow connections to the main trunk. And above all, don’t use a dead branch! (this must be a list for sadists)
    • Clearance: The branch should be large enough that the swing can hang at least 3’-5’ away from the trunk without the branch bouncing. (darn, they take all the fun out of it)

This is what I found in my search for the different styles of swings.

The next issue is how to attach it to the branch. If you can find a nice strong horizontal branch, that is one thing, but what if none of the trees in your yard have these ideal branches? Do you go out and buy a cheap steel swing-set? I went back to the web and came up with different ways to attach the rope to the tree branch. This is what I came up with below. If you have some better ideas, share them with us. The branches on the trees in my daughter’s backyard are over 25′ high and I’m going to have to find an extension ladder to install this. When I was young, I just took a big bolt, tied the rope through the bolt hole and threw it over the branch. Next, I simply tied a great slip knot and slid the end of the rope through the slip knot, but my aim isn’t as good as it used to be and the next door neighbor might get a bolt torpedo through his window!

So, which swing do you like best and which method of attaching it to your tree has worked the best as well?