On The Level - The Home Improvement Blog
About our bloggers
Contact our bloggers

To splurge (on safety) or not to splurge?

Tuesdays With Tommy: Table Saw Safety

Statistics tell use that tens of thousands of table saw accidents occur every year in the U.S. While these facts weren't enough for California to pass a law requiring all newly manufactured table saws to include special (but costly) safety equipment, it still should be enough to give any aspiring woodworker or DIYer pause, especially when in the market for a new table saw.

Currently there is one stand-out table saw safety product on the market called Saw Stop. This device brings the saw to a sudden halt when the blade comes into contact with human flesh. (Watch the video of a guy who actually tests the technology out on his own hand. Crazy.) Is it worth the money? One user asks Tommy for his opinion.

The Problem

Amos from Maine: I want to get a table saw but my significant other is pushing me to get one with Saw Stop. The problem is, that costs more money than I'm willing to spend. Are there other technologies like Saw Stop that do the same thing that are cheaper? Aren't most of the amputations that happen on table saws preventable just through safer practices and more attentiveness? I'm basically trying to find out if I REALLY need to spend the money on this safety device.

The Answer

Tommy: They call them accidents for a reason.

I always thought that good working habits would always save me from cutting myself. But about 5 years ago I was cutting a small piece of wood and basically lost my attention. I ran my thumb across the table saw blade. I had a cut down the length of it. Basically I filleted my finger. I needed twenty stitches.

I cut myself on a Sunday and got a Saw Stop on a Monday. And to me, knowing I won't have to go through that pain and suffering and damage to my hand is worth a million times what the Saw Stop costs.

Now I know that it's basically the only technology available right now, but I also know other companies are coming out with them. I'm not familiar with them at this time. I also know they're working on similar safety devices for other tools in the shop. And when they do, I'll get those, too.

So, take that as you will. I'm not here to endorse a product, but now you know my story and you know what I think.

Compressors Recalled Due to Fire Hazard

Over 450,000 DeVilbiss air compressors were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission due to a fire hazard. The air compressor motor can overheat, presenting a serious fire hazard. At least three reports of fire damage have been submitted, but there have been no reported injuries.

The recalled compressors were sold under a number of brand names, including Crafstman, Delta Shopmaster, DeVilbiss, Husky and Porter-Cable.

The complete list of model numbers can be found on the CPSC recall page.

Be sure to check your compressor to see if it is affected by the recall and if it is, unplug and stop using it immediately. Information on what to do if your compressor has been recalled can also be found on the recall page.

The Zadok Hammer Pad makes pulling out nails safe on wood.

A Safer Way to Pull Out Nails

Ever notice how pulling out nails with a hammer claw leaves marks on the wood? Donald Shenk did, and he decided to do something about it. A skilled craftsman with a commitment to building more efficiently with wood, Shenk saw an opportunity to give the building and DIY world a badly-needed innovation and seized it.

The result was the Zadok Hammer Pad, one of those amazing creations that has the two qualities of a brilliant invention: 1) it is dead simple and, 2) everyone will wonder how they ever lived without it.

The image tells all. The Hammer Pad is little more than a rubber pad that slips over the claw and head of a claw hammer, protecting a wood surface when the claw is used to pull up nails. Each pad retails for just $5.75. Dead simple. Dirt cheap.

What's the worst way you've damaged your walls with a hammer?

DeWALT Drill/Impact Driver Combo Kit.

Product Review - DeWALT 18V Lithium Ion Compact Drill/Impact Driver Combo Kit

Review of the DeWALT 18V Lithium Ion Compact Drill/Impact Driver Combo Kit came at a good time for me. In the middle of a move, the drill was called upon for a number of tasks, including door hinge screw removal and replacement, wall-hanging screw removal, wall-hanging pilot hole drilling and wall-hanging screw "installation." Not necessarily professional grade tasks, but there would be enough action that I could test out battery life, drill weight (lightness is one of its selling points), bit speed and chuck performance. Unfortunately I haven't had the opportunity to test out the Impact Driver (yet), so this review will be limited to the drill.

To start, the kit's two lithium ion batteries would need to be charged before the drill could be used. DeWALT claims a 30-minute charge time for each 18V Lithium-Ion battery (which are compatible with all DeWALT 18V power tools built since 1996). Lo, 30 minutes it was for each. 60 minutes later and my new drill was ready to go.

Accompanying the kit were a slew of Impact Ready Hole Saws (not used), a 7-piece Impact Ready Drill Set (used) and a set of screwdriver bits (used), complete with a pivoting bit tip holder that I didn't use "on the job" but played around with a bit.

For the simple job of removing the door hinge screws, the DeWALT Drill was certainly up to the task. The Drill has more than enough power and 17 torque settings to adjust for the job. Changing out the screwdriver bits and bit tip holder was easy and quick enough, and though I did notice a slight wobble, it wasn't an issue when unscrewing. The same went for when screwing door hinge back into place. The Drill comes with a dual speed range (0-500 RPM and 0-1700 RPM) which can be changed by sliding a rather prominent switch at the top of the drill. For the purposes of my job I never had to come out of the first speed.

At the new place, I used the drill with a 5/32 drill bit to punch some pilot holes through the drywall. I kept a keen eye out for any wobble. The earlier incident was either a one-off or in my imagination, as I never noticed it again. The handy LED installed just above the trigger is a nice touch, and one I notice on more than a few drills these days.

My only frustration stemmed from the playing around with the pivoting bit tip holder. Once I put a screwdriver bit in, I couldn't get it out. It took a pair of pliers to remove the stubborn bit. A minor nuisance, but one nonetheless. The pivoting bit holder itself is a useful accessory, making hard to reach screws easier to access. After a day of drilling, I'm not sure which had more life: my arm or the battery. The benefits from the drill's lightness seem matched only by the longevity of the batteries. Two notable pros that this drill has going for it.

In summary, the DeWALT Drill/Impact Driver Kit is a worthy purchase, particularly if you have use for both tools. If you don't need the Impact Driver, stick with the Drill.

The Kit retails for $279.99 at Sears.

This 7-setting showerhead from Moen makes a great last-minute gift.

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Scrambling with some last-minute shopping? Fret no more--we have picked out a few choice items from our Holiday Gift Guide that are available at national store chains or for sale online with 1-day shipping. All you have to do is drive there, purchase and wrap or--even easier--browse, click and BOOM! Shopping done.

1) Yes, we've hyped the Propane Gauge a little bit, but what can we say?
Propane Gauge
It's a must-have for any barbecuing enthusiast. Imagine never running out of gas just as the grill marks are settling in. Or better yet, imagine running out of gas with 20+ hungry guests expecting your famous blue-cheese burgers and grilled zucchini slices. Scary thought, right? For $25, that situation can be avoided forever.

Sockets are kind of like pairs of socks. The one you want can never be found. With the ReadyWrench, your loved one can replace that maddeningly incomplete socket set with just one hand tool, complete with 16 socket sizes. $30. Holster not included.

3) Every winter I curse the cold Canadian air blowing down from the north. I know I'm not alone.
Heated Gloves
For that loved one with extra-sensitive extremities, consider gifting this pair of battery-operated Heated Gloves. $50 for warm hands in the dead of winter? Yes, please.

4) If traditional corks have been replaced by "fakes," shouldn't the traditional corkscrew follow?
Electric Rabbit Corkscrew
Enter the Electric Rabbit Corkscrew. No more hand twisting, pulling, or tugging of any kind. The corkscrew locks into the bottle and pulls the cork straight out--real or plastic--in seconds. Because not all good things should be waited for.

5) "Do all" tools are sometimes regarded with healthy skepticism by handy folk.
Dremel Oscillating Multi-Max
Every now and then, though, a multi-tool comes along with serious cred. The Dremel Oscillating Multi-Max walks that walk, swapping project hats with ease to tackle all the cutting, grinding, scraping and sanding that your fixer-upper can throw at it. Just don't plan on seeing its gift recipient for some time, at least until after a few test runs.

6) Last-minute shopping never looked--or felt--so thoughtful. This brushed nickel showerhead from Moen (pictured above) can wash away all those Holiday stresses in 7 different spray pattern ways, and it will look good doing it, too. A spiral-pattern spray face ensures that the whole body is enveloped in water--regardless of the setting. An easy-to-use spray selector quickly changes the showerhead from "Relaxing," to "Invigorating, to "targeted massage, to any of the other four settings and back again. No wonder it's part of the Inspire line. You'll look inspired, too, for picking it up as a last-minute gift for your loved one. Available at Lowes for just under $50.

They Hammered Out a Deal They Hammered Out a Deal

Who is the Biggest Tool....

Looks like the little fish just ate the shark.

In a deal announced today, Stanley Works is buying Black & Decker for $4.5 billion. And Stanley Works CEO, John Lundgren is being named CEO of the combined company.
According to the companies, the deal views the housing market in a comeback stage and the DIY and construction markets in a lagging position.

The merge is good news for the folks at Stanley's headquarters in New Britain, Connecticut where the combined company will be based, and bad news for headquarters employees at B&D in Towson, MD where the companies have stated most job cuts would be based.

While both tool manufactures, the companies have little overlap in product lines and expect regulatory and and shareholder approval shortly.

This was a huge tool purchase. Here is my question:
What was your largest tool purchase and was it a good investment?

Astronaut Mike Massimino, wearing space gloves, practices using the power screwdriver. Photo courtesy of NASA.

Harsh Environment for Tools

If there's one place you need specialized tools, it's in outer space. So it was interesting for me to read about tools NASA designs and how NASA designs them. After trying out a variety of tools in area hardware stores, one NASA engineer decided to use the handle design on a DeWalt cordless drill for a new power screwdriver. The same engineer also used concepts behind air wrenches used by NASCAR pit crews to remove tires in building the screwdriver.

Next Page

About  | FAQ  | Contact  | Sitemap  | Privacy Policy  | Terms of Use  | Help

© 2017 Renovate Your World LLC