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Metal Working Tools

by adminpower

Have you ever gone to a metal fabrication shop? It is fascinating to see how they work the various pieces of metal. Bending, cutting, welding for a variety of purposes and a variety of different metals, although steel is the most common.

There are huge machines called brakes that bend thick sheets of metal. There are small hand versions that HVAC people use to create the ducts for HVAC systems. (By the way, if you didn’t know, HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.) That is fine for the thin metal sheets they work with. But for thicker metal sheets or even plates, these larger machines are able to use a lot of pressure and force to bend them.

Then they have torches that they use to cut metal as well as various types of saws, particularly band saws. Some even use lasers to do the cutting. There are also shears to make rough cuts.

Then there ways to fasten the metal together. There are drill presses to make holes in the metal that you can put rivets or bolts through. Of course if you are using bolts, you need to have taps and dies to make the threads in the hole if you want that. Or you can have a smooth bore and the nut and bolt hold things together.

Besides that, to join things, you can weld them. There is arc welding and TIG and MIG welding and many more. Different types of welding are used for different purposes and for different types of metals. You have to handle aluminum differently than you do steel.

Then you need to be able to finish things off as well. So there are a variety of grinders such as belt grinders to smooth off rough spots. Then there are tumblers for deburring and polishing. And of course lathes to be able to turn rods of metal into different shapes.

If you ever get a chance to go to a metal fabrication shop while they are working, it is very interesting. Even just the machines they use to move the heavy pieces of metal around.

Lumberjack Tools

by adminpower

You could say you have two forms of lumberjacks. The ones who log trees for paper and lumber companies and the ones who work for tree services companies and do tree removal and tree pruning.

Historical Lumberjacking

A hundred years ago, no one except the very wealthy would have thought about pruning trees. It was hard laborious work because it was all done with hand tools. Not that it is that easy now, but in comparison it is easy now. Or maybe, it is just as hard work, but they get more done in the same time because of the power tools.

Some of the hand tools you needed were a long handles falling axe and a crosscut falling saw. These saws had a handle on each end and a lumberjack stood on either side of the tree and pushed and pulled the saw. They had huge teeth an inch or two long.

They also used a sledge hammer and wedges. Once the saw was in a ways, they would use the sledge hammer to drive the wedge into the cut behind the saw to keep the cut open, so the saw wouldn’t get pinched by the tree which would make it impossible to move the saw or remove it.

Modern Lumberjacks

Modern lumberjacks still have axes but they primarily use large chain saws. There are even machines that will come along and grasp the tree, snip it like it was cutting a flower stem, then tilt it over and pull it through the grippers to take all the branches off and in just a few minutes you have a log readied to be carried out of the forest. It is very impressive to see. Kind of scary too.

Tree Service Companies

With the tree services companies, the requirements are a bit different. With modern lumberjacks, they can pretty much fell a tree any direction they want. They will try to avoid knocking down other trees, but they generally don’t have to worry much about damaging anything. Not true for tree services companies. If they drop a tree on a house or prize flower garden, the clients are not going to be happy.

Rather than just felling the tree, they normally have to take them down piece meal. They will climb the tree, and rope off so that if they fall, the rope will catch them. They will attach other ropes to limbs they are cutting and lower them to the ground instead of letting them fall. This way they can use the ropes to guide where and how they are going to come down to the ground. So bit by bit, they deconstruct the tree until it is just a stump.

Once that is done, they will probably use a stump grinder to take the stump down below ground level so you can put dirt over it and it will look better. Lumberjacks will just leave the stumps there to rot. They have no reason to do stump grinding.

So the tree service companies will use chain saws but smaller ones than lumberjacks who are typically cutting down larger trees, although not necessarily. They also use the ropes and possible tackle up in the trees whereas a lumberjack might use them to move a tree once it is on the ground but that is about it.

Household Appliances as Tools

by adminpower

This entry is a little offbeat. You may not think of a refrigerator, a stove, a washing machine or a dryer as a tool but ask the person who uses them the most. Even if people can’t afford new appliances, they consider them a useful enough tool to buy a used refrigerator, or a used washing machine and dryer or whatever they need.

Can you imagine not having them? A washing machine and a dryer is one thing, but a refrigerator and a stove? What would you do, start collecting wood to build a fire and cook over the fire? Or, the next step up, a wood stove that you would have to cut or buy the wood and then get the fire lit whenever you needed to use it. Can you imagine the heat that would generate in the summer.

Without a fridge, what would you do? Only buy canned goods and dried goods so the food wouldn’t spoil without a refrigerator? Or go to the food store every day to buy just what you need. Having a modern refrigerator is not only a time saver but also a money saver. A lot less food goes bad, so less has to be thrown out. Plus, you don’t need to be going to the store which takes time that you could be doing something else.

In many third world countries, people can spend up to a half a day each day going to get water and even then, frequently the water isn’t very good and makes them sick. Rather than spending lots of time getting food and water, we just open the fridge and turn on the tap. (Granted we do have to go shopping once in a while for the food) Then you pop the food in the microwave and a minute or two later you are eating. Or take a bit longer and put it on the stove or in the oven. The difference is staggering.

And now, in some cities you can just pick up your cell phone and order dinner and a hot meal made to order is delivered in half an hour. You have taken all of a minute to place the order. (Although, this may mean that you don’t need a fridge and a stove. Just get all the meals delivered.)

Easily ignored tools that should be a part of every garage tool box

by adminpower

Either you are a DIY enthusiast or not. A basic tool box is something every individual should have. You don’t want to run calling your electrician, plumber or mechanic for every minor problem. And even in the event that you need to consult these artisans. Some of your own tools may serve as a handy replacement or back up should they forget theirs or get it damaged in the course of working.  Traditionally, there are a couple of tools that easily come to mind like hammers, screwdriver, pliers and others. There are however some easily over looked tools which are quite indispensable as well.

Socket wrench

This should not be confused with the more common crescent wrench or adjustable wrench. This wrench is more applicable for large projects and is capable of staying fixed on a nut while screwing or unscrewing it. This makes it unnecessary to remove the wrench and fix it in again after every turn.

Impact Wrenches

This tool is a big plus when you have to deal with large nuts that are fast stuck or even beginning to rust. It’s often powered either by compressed air, electricity or hydraulic power and works by delivering stored energy from a rotating mass to the point of desired impact. This allows for maximum torque with less effort from the operator.

Vise grip (Locking) pliers

This is another tool that has a more common cousin which is the standard plier. While the standard plier is present in most tool boxes, most of us have experienced the difficulty of holding some particularly slippery or rough edged objects in place. The locking pliers provide a simple solution to this. Equipped with a bolt on one side, you can easily lock the object you wish to hold firmly in place with more force than regular pliers.


Many people erroneously believe that only plumbers and masons need the Level tool. However, tasks as simple as hanging a painting or setting up a detachable chair often require straightness. The level will help you achieve perfect horizontal or vertical position beyond what a cursory glance can do.

Meter rules and tape measures

You may not exactly appreciate the utility of this tool in your tool box until the need arises. Laying out a carpet, replacing a missing floor or roof board or sawing off a length of pipe are all domestic tasks that may need to be done at any time. These also require considerably precise measurements in order to carry out a clean and perfect job. A tape measure or meter rule will help to achieve just this and save you the extra costs of replacing improperly sized materials.

Cordless Drill

A cordless drill in your toolbox is a lifesaver whenever you have to make a neat hole either through wood or brick. You could select one with changeable drill bits and lithium ion battery and you can do all your drilling far away from an electric outlet.

Impact Drivers and Wrenches

by adminpower

Impact Drivers

An impact driver is a tool that combines a high rotational torque with fast-paced rotational tapping. It ensures the screw stays in place during rotation without spinning it out of the slots. An impact driver can be confused with the traditional cordless drill. It helps open or fix screws where they tend to be stuck. It achieves this by the trigger which allows you to stop driving consistently and pushes the screw further.



An impact driver is suitable for drilling holes and fastening screws onto furniture. In woodwork where assembly of various pieces is required, an impact driver works well in holding the pieces together with screws. While putting together frames or bookshelves you need set screws to ensure they remain in place.

They are applicable in constructing cabinets, wooden tables, and bookshelves. They come in handy when fixing permanent wood frames among other wooden items.

Impact Wrenches

It is a high rotational tool for loosening rusty nuts from vehicles or complex machinery. It has a unique hex opening compared to an impact driver, allowing it to fit sockets of various sizes. It also suits great devices such as wheel nuts. The hammering mechanism of impact wrenches provides concussive blows very quickly allowing lug nuts to loosen. Most impact wrenches use compressed air in combination with lubricating systems to allow effectiveness. Electric ones are available although they present a reduction in impact.


In Automotive industry

Impact wrenches are applicable when driving out rusty or firmly fixed nuts from cars or tracks. The wrench screws out the nuts by applying a high force between the bolt and the socket allowing it to loosen. They produce a loud whirling sound when operation hence it is important to use ear plugs for safety.

They are suitable for removal of wheels, disconnection of individual car parts and replacement of worn out screws.  They also apply to maintenance of large machinery and in complex construction projects.

Difference between Impact Drivers and Wrenches

Impact wrenches are heavier and bulky. They operate with more power compared to impact drivers. Impact wrenches have a square drive measuring ½” compared to impact drivers which have a hex drive measuring ¼.”

Impact wrenches are mainly used to loosen screws and nuts while impact drivers fasten nuts by driving them onto surfaces. Impact drivers apply in situations where standard drills can’t function well, while wrenches can perform general heavy duty purposes.

Impact drivers are practical for home use since they are compact and offer more torque than the usual cordless drills. They are easier to use and friendly compared to impact wrenches. Both impact wrenches and drivers perform by exerting concussive rotational forces where it’s difficult to drill or screw using the other tools.

Bottom Line

Impact wrenches deliver extra power compared to impact drivers when it comes to function. However, most people do not find much use of this powerful tool owing to it’s applicability to complex functions.  On the other side, impact drivers are suitable for more practical work around the home. They can be converted to wrenches and used with socket drivers.

Trenchless Pipe Repair

by adminpower

Sewer pipes (and water pipes) go bad after time. For sewer pipes, that can be especially true if there are trees nearby and the roots get into pipes. The problem is that most of the older pipes that need replacing are terracotta. With ground shifting or house settling or just age the terracotta can deteriorate over time. Since there are joints in the terracotta pipes the roots can grow through the joint or any crack in the pipe and as the root gets bigger it breaks up the pipe.

Traditional Sewer Pipe Replacement

The traditional way to replace a sewer pipe is to bring in a backhoe or other machine and dig a trench down to where the pipe is and then lay a new pipe. Nowadays the new pipe will probably be cast iron or more likely PVC or some other plastic. This creates a large pile of dirt in your yard, can destroy plantings and walkways, patios or decks and whatever else is above the pipe. So you not only have the expense of replacing the pipe but rebuilding the deck or patio and re-landscaping after the project is completed. Plus, the whole project can take a number of days.

New Trenchless Pipe Replacement

Usually, with this newer process, the whole job is done in a day. You don’t need to replant the lawn or shrubs or worry about walkways or anything else that you do with the traditional trench method. It is less expensive and the repairs are permanent (perhaps not in geological time, but for all practical purposes) and meet code.

2 Small Holes vs. One Giant One

Rather than making a large trench, all this method needs is a much smaller hole at the beginning and the end of the piping run. A drilling head is run through the old pipe, breaking it up and expanding the space so that a pipe of the same size can be pulled through. This new pipe conforms to code, has a 100 year lifespan, doesn’t leak and deflects roots and is chemical resistant.

Pipe Relining

Another option, instead of pulling a new pipe through, is to reline the old pipe. A lining is pulled through the pipe. Then an air bladder is blown up to press the lining out against the old pipe. The liner is saturated with an epoxy resin which dries in 3 hours. The diameter of the pipe is only reduced by 5 per cent but is now very smooth with no joints so the flow is better.

So, if you have problems with your sewer line, or water line, check around for the different options available. You may save yourself a lot of money and hassle.

3D Printing

by adminpower

3D printing is the new thing. The prices have come down considerably so that now you can buy them for as low as $350. Of course, there are others for $3,500 and for industrial purposes, much more than that.

What is a 3D printer?

Well normally, you think of a printer putting ink on a piece of paper. This is 2D printing since you just have the X and Y axes. (Technically even paper is 3D because it does have thickness but we are only considering the surface.) You can have dot matrix printers, laser printers and ink jet printers among others. The 3D printers are variations on ink jet printers.

Instead of printing ink through the “ink jets” they put out plastic or metal. This was developed first for plastics in the 1980s.  Some people also call it additive manufacturing.  Layer upon layer of plastic is laid down and cured with ultraviolet light. Because it is being built as you go, it is possible to create things that would be impossible to create in any other way unless you later glued or bolted parts together.

Cost benefit analysis

Generally it has been more expensive than creating something on an assembly line where the unit costs are very low because of the volume. However, the costs are rapidly coming down. Even so, there have always been cases where the expense is justified and cheaper than the alternative. A good example is in the car industry. In the past when they were working on a new car, they would come up with a design for a part and then have to get it tooled and made and it might take several weeks and be quite expensive. With 3D printing, they can just feed the specs into the computer and out it comes a short time later. It is not only cheaper than the alternative method of making the part, but it also saves a lot of time in the development process which also saves a lot of money.

Subtractive Manufacturing

Processes for metals have also been developed although originally they were called laser sintering and laser melting among other terms but it is now considered to be under the general 3D printing or additive manufacturing category. At first when people thought about 3D manipulation of metal they thought more about removing metal from what was there rather than adding metal. CNC milling would be an example of this. This concept is most commonly called machining but now is sometimes called subtractive manufacturing.

Sacrificial / Support Materials

Another twist that has been added are sacrificial or support materials. If you want to create 2 cogs for example, you don’t want them fusing together as you are laying down the layers. So, you can lay down more than one type of material, not just plastic or metal. The other material will separate or support the parts so they are in the right place and then when done can be removed. Ingenious, eh. Not unlike the masking and other techniques they use in creating computer chips and circuit boards.

We will go into other aspects of 3D printing or additive manufacturing in the future.

Window Glazing Tool

by adminpower

Tenants are a Pain with Panes

My tenants have broken out a couple of panes in the storm door yet again. This is the third time they have done this. They are a pain with the panes. This is an older style storm door made out of wood with small 12×13 panes. So I got the two panes and put them back in. Usually I scrape out the old window glazing with a flat screw driver and a chisel. The points are still there and I just bend them down, put the new piece of glass in and then bend them back up and put the glazing compound in.

Glazing Points

This time however, the points had come out with scraping or I did something wrong. So the glass was held in by just the new soft glazing compound which of course hadn’t hardened yet. So a day or two later the tenant called and said one of the panes had fallen out and broken.

I wasn’t sure where my glazing points were. Originally they were little flat triangles of metal that you shoved into the door frame to hold the glass in place. They were a pain to deal with. In the past, I think I broke a pane trying to get a glazing point in with a screwdriver or chisel when I was trying to push it into the wood. I must have pushed too hard the wrong way.

So, off to Home Depot to get more glass, glazing points and more glazing compound because my old little can had run out. Decided to get Plexiglas instead of glass. They don’t sell small cans of glazing compound anymore, at least at Home Depot they don’t. What I had to get will last me the rest of my lifetime and probably part of my kid’s lifetime.

Glazing Tool

OK, so this blog is supposed to be about tools. I am finally getting around to that. It turns out the guy at the store showed me a glazing tool. I didn’t know they existed. One end is flat and much stiffer than a putty knife so you can use it to push in the glazing points. The other end is bent in a 90 degree angle like a V so you can hold one side against the pain and have a nice steady angle for the glazing compound. A chisel and putty knife work just fine so I didn’t buy it.

Modern Glazing Points

When I went to put the new pane in, I was pleasantly surprised to see what glazing points look like these days. I have probably seen it before but had forgotten  about it since it isn’t something I do every day. They now have two little tabs bent out so that you can push the point in much more easily instead of trying to push in a thin little piece of metal.

So I put in the Plexiglas. On the piece of glass that hadn’t fallen out, I dug out a bit of the new soft compound and put in a point and put the compound back in place. Did that all the way around the pane. Neither one should be going anywhere anytime soon. If the Plexiglas one does, at least it won’t break.

ReThinking Guns

by adminpower

We are doing a mix of odd and interesting new tools and devices in this post. Hope you enjoy.

Battelle DroneDefender

This looks like some sort of crazy gun out of a scifi movie. It would fit in with Men in Black or Star Wars. It is designed to take down drones. There are so many drones these days that you never know where one is going to show up, possibly peaking in a bedroom window or spying on a company and trying to steal trade secrets, or perhaps spying on a government installation. It uses radio frequency disruption technology. Amazingly, it can disrupt the signal going to a drone from over 1,000 feet away. Without the signal going to it, the drone will drop to the ground. This is much better than trying to shoot it down. Shooting at drones is not a solution in most circumstances and you would need to be an awfully good shot on top of the other obvious problems.


OK, not table salt, this is a new type of gun. Hmm, this blog seems to be turning into a post about guns. Salt is interesting. The company’s website is saltsupply.com. They decided to rethink what a gun is and what it is needed for. You are not going to go hunting with this gun. It was designed to both protect you in your home, but also to protect whoever you use it against. It is designed to incapacitate but not kill any intruders.

The nice thing about this is that there are so many deaths where kids find a gun and shoot somebody thinking it is a toy and not realizing what they are doing. Or someone hears something, thinks it is an intruder and shoots the person who got up in the middle of the night for a glass of milk. This sort of thing happens all too often.

Salt fires a pellet that is mostly made of salt. It explodes on impact and immediately forms a cloud around the person that temporarily blinds them and constricts their airways making it difficult to breath. The great thing is that even if you miss the person and it hits a wall, it is still just as effective.

This is very important because when people are nervous, they tend to be lousy shots. So if you do have an intruder, you are likely to miss with a real gun and then they are on you and can take the gun and use it on you. With Salt, you can even fire and create the cloud before they open the door so they are incapacitated as soon as they walk through the door.

Old Tools

by adminpower

As one of the contributors to this blog, I thought I would tell you about some of the tools I grew up with. What is really freaky is that now I sometimes go to museums and see tools that I grew up working with. Although, that probably isn’t too surprising because until the explosion of power tools, your basic tools hadn’t changed all that much over the last couple hundred years. Even now, a hammer is a hammer.

Granted, there are a lot of variations on the basic tools, back then and now as well. Plus, people have always made tools for specific purposes. In archeological sites from only 100 or 150 years ago,  they find tools they recognize but also tools that they have no idea what their purpose was.

To give an idea of how things have changed I will tell this story on myself. A few years back someone gave me an intelligence test for entrance into the army in World War I. I figured it would be easy because I am well educated. Well, I came out at the level of imbecile. The reason was that many of the questions had to do with horses or current events. Things that most people knew then but not now. I did an online search and found some tests but not the same one. Apparently there were a number of variations that were used. The ones I just found weren’t that difficult although some had current events from that time era. Click here for an example. If you search, you can find many more variations.

I remember enjoying using a bit and auger with my father when I was little. You never see these anymore. People just use power drills. Another one you don’t see much of anymore are planes. They had a blade sticking a bit out of the bottom and you could take layers of wood off. Much faster than sanding. Once again, people now just use power sanders or planes and other tools that are powered.

One of the most unusual was a type of plane. Unfortunately it was stolen so I no longer have it. It was my grandfather’s. It was used for planing an edge, say perhaps a picture frame. But it would plane two edges or sides at once. Rather than being flat, the plane’s bottom was shaped in a right angle. The blade also had a right angle in it. So when you planed something, you would get a perfect right angle and two sides would be planed at once. Wish I still had it.