Coolest Homemade Hybrid Ladder

Have you ever thought about what makes a tool great?  Chances are descriptions like reliable, consistent, easy to use, and convenient come to mind, but the ability to serve multiple functions across a wide variety of builds and projects is the one thing that can make almost any tool seem great.  Multi-functional tools are great, but tools that have multiple uses that you dream up and create yourself, now those are the best.

I have a large shop across the street from my house that was included in the purchase of our home.  I have always dreamed of having a large shop and truth be told, we more than likely would not have purchased our home and property had the shop not been there.  Eager as I was to begin my numerous projects in my new shop upon moving I had to complete some much needed set-up and maintenance first.  All of the light ballasts that were attached to the 14ft high ceiling were bad and I needed to install a storage platform to get all of my junk out of our new dining room.  So to kill two birds with one stone, I combined the projects and built this…….

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What is this you ask?  Simple, it is a ladder/scaffold/storage platform/lookout tower/elevated stage hybrid……..On casters.  Before I built this bad boy I knew that I would have to figure out a safe way to change the light ballasts so I quickly began to research rolling ladders and quickly realized that I was not able to spend the money for one at the time.  My next bit of research was done on scaffolding and I quickly found out that I would not be getting a scaffold either.  Lastly, I logged on to check out the price of 14 ft A frame ladders and started to sweat as I was running out of options and could not work in the dark.

After finding out I would blow my storage platform budget on an A frame ladder to change the ballasts a light bulb went off (my shop remained dark though).  I ran to my computer and googled giant wooden rolling platforms (not my exact search term) and to my surprise, nothing.  A few wooden scaffold builds were found on various sites and YouTube, but I could find no evidence of anyone being dumb enough to try and make an 8x8x10ft tall wooden platform roll.  So with no instruction or guidance from the world wide web of information I headed to the home improvement store to get the materials needed to make my dumb idea a dumb reality.

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A look at the platform structure underneath.

The platform build was a piece of cake, it is just an 8×8 platform framed with 2x6s with joists 16″ on center.  The legs are 4x6x8s and were physically tough to attach to the platform with no help and not being cemented or bolted for stability, but other than having to get creative when bolting the platform to them, it was not exactly brain-busting.

The mental strain came with trying to figure out how I would attach the heavy duty casters to the bottom of each 4×6.  I could not lag screw the casters to the bottom because the bolt pattern on the caster’s steel plate was larger than the bottom area of the 4x6s, not to mention I am certain that all the weight on the lag screws would only strip them out and split the wood quickly.  I needed a way to bolt the casters to something that could support the bottom of the 4×6 and then be bolted through the 4×6 posts.  Below was my solution.

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I went to my scrap metal pile and grabbed some 2×4 rectangle tubing and some 7 inch channel iron and went to work.  I cut the channel iron and welded two pieces of it together so that it fit snuggly around the bottom of each 4×6 then I drilled three bolt holes through each.  I then traced the caster bolt plate pattern onto the 2×4 rectangle tubing and drilled the bolt holes in the tubing.  I welded the channel to the top of the rectangular tubing, bolted the casters to the bottom, and installed my brackets onto each one of the 4x6s.

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I ran out of correct length bolts for the last bracket, that explains the eye bolt haha.

It has been a few years since I completed this build and I have plenty of junk piled up on my ladder/scaffold/platform, but it is holding up great.  I do not roll it around very often but every time I do it works great.  Changing the ballasts and bulbs at 14ft is a piece of cake when you have the comfort of a 64 square foot area to work on.

I am not suggesting that you attempt to recreate this build, but if you do or know someone that does here is some info and advice, I am not responsible or liable for any accidents, brace the crap out of it,  and please send me pictures when the build is complete.

I do suggest however, that if you are building a rolling  work bench, table, or  platform that is much closer to the ground, you check out these casters that I used for this project.  Each caster has its own brake and each individual caster is load rated for 1000lbs.  They have held up great and I consider them to be a steal at under $60 for all four.

For more product information, reviews, pricing, and specs on these casters click here. 

My ladder/scaffold/storage platform has served me very well and saved me money on having to both buy a ladder and build a storage platform in my shop.  I know that it is not beautiful, but it is super multi-functional, and that was the goal I was looking to achieve.  below are a few more pictures of the beast.  Thanks for reading.

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Thanks again for checking out my site!

Jake with tool-school.com

Derelict Dagger: Make a Knife from Trash

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Before the knife pictured above became the knife pictured above it was an old lawn mower blade, some scrap aluminum rod, and old wood flooring.  Admittedly the knife is not perfect, but the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Talking to my buddy that owns a lawn service one day he mentioned that he goes through a lot of lawn mower blades each year and instead of throwing the old blades in the trash he had begun to save them to use in various welding projects.  I was impressed to learn that he had some me in him by saving something hoping to later find a use for it and asked him if I could have a spare blade to make a knife with.  He brought me one about a day later.

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Lawn mower blades are hardened steel but are often frowned upon by knife-makers due to a lack of knowledge of the exact metal composition.  I am not a professional blade smith so I was just eager to have some metal to practice my skills with.  It made a clean, very sharp blade.

Since mower blades are already hard I did not heat treat the metal after shaping the knife, I just made sure to keep from overheating the metal when grinding, filing, and sanding the metal so I did not compromise the integrity of the metal.

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The handle is made from a one foot piece of old oak flooring that I pulled up during a flooring project a while back.  I should have thrown it away or burned it, but I knew a use for it would come to me some day.

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The process I used to make the knife was as follows:

  • draw knife shape on mower blade
  • use angle grinder to cut out rough shape
  • bench grind sides of knife smooth to get knife shape, constantly dipping knife in water to keep cool
  • File in edge profile
  • belt grind edge bevel
  • cut flooring to handle size/shape
  • drill holes into handle scales and knife tang (metal handle of knife)
  • apply epoxy to tang and wood scales
  • insert pins through handle scales and tang
  • peen pins to mechanically secure wood scales to knife tang
  • clamp and let dry

You can check out the tools used to make the knife using the links below.  In reality I just needed the angle grinder, files, and one belt sander to make it, but the other ones were convenient.

DeWalt Angle Grinder

Wen 1″ Belt Sander

Wen Bench Grinder

Chicago Electric 1″ Belt Grinder

Skil Drill Press

Round File

Flat File

I know that this knife would not win any beauty contests but it is very satisfying to know that I was able to turn things that should have been sent to the landfill long ago into something that looks good and has a practical use in this world.  It was not the first or last knife that I have made, but it was one of the most enjoyable.  With just a little time and patience you never know what you can do with an old pile of scrap.

Thanks for reading.  If you found this article to be educational, informative, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Have a great day!

Jake with tool-school.com

 

 

 

6 Tools To Make Pressure Washing Easy

Residential grade gas pressure washers like the one pictured above have become very popular tools for homeowners in the last twenty years or so.  Typically pumping between 2 and 3 gallons of water per minute, and producing between 2000-4000 psi, a quality gas powered washer can be purchased anywhere from $250-$500 at most home improvement stores.  The uses for these machines are numerous ranging from house washing to paint stripping.  Though new washers typically come with all accessories required to go to work, below are six inexpensive accessories that will make your pressure washing projects easier, quicker, and more efficient.

  1. Spray Wand Quick Connect

The aluminum male nipple with the black plastic sleeve screws on to the threaded piece that your spray wand hose typically screws to.  The brass female quick connect threads onto the bottom part of the spray wand hose and connects to the aluminum male nipple that is threaded on the pump.  The purpose of these accessories is to not only make disconnecting the wand hose quicker, but also eliminates the need to screw and unscrew parts to remove the spray wand from the machine, greatly reducing the risk of stripping the threads on the wand hose and pump.

2.   5-in-1 Hose Nozzle

This 5-in-1 hose nozzle has worked great for me.  I built my own pressure washer a few years ago and only had a few tips for it that I ended up losing due to having nowhere to store them.  I figured I would give this 5-in-1 a try but I did not expect much from it.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how well it works.  It adjusts from 0, 15, and 40 degree spray angles and also has a soap and flush mode.  Adjustments are made by simply depressing the button on top and rotating the head to the desired spray mode.  It has all the functions that I need for my pressure washing jobs and has held up very well.

3.  Garden Hose Quick Connect

The brass part with the male nipple on the left in the picture simply threads into the threaded part of any garden hose while the part on the right threads onto the part of the pressure washer pump that the garden hose typically threads onto.  The piece that threads onto the pump does not need to be removed from the pump once installed, greatly reducing the chance of ruining any component of the costly washer pump.  To make this quick connect even more effective you can buy a hose to dedicate to your pressure washer that way you will never have to screw or unscrew a hose when pressure washing again.

4. Quick Connect Wand Extension

This quick connect wand extension gives you an extra 33 inches of reach for cleaning eaves, gutters, and high windows.  It is a great compliment to the fifth tool mentioned below.

5.  Gutter Cleaning Attachment

This attachment has a nice bend with two heads that shoot water to either side for blasting leaves, dirt, and debris from gutters.  Coupled with the wand extension above, this setup will allow you to clean gutters safely from the ground opposed to dangling off of a ladder.

6. Pivoting Coupler with Nozzle Tips

The pivoting coupler with quick connect and spray nozzle tips allows you to adjust the spray angle to wash those hard to reach areas.  Though I discussed my love for the 5-in-1 nozzle earlier, it can be helpful to have the smaller individual tips for times when you need to access areas in tight spaces.

For additional product reviews, pictures, and specifications as well as pricing simply click on the product link or picture in this post.

For a ton of great information and comparisons of pressure washer models and brands check out this article from bestdrillreviews.com.

Thank you very much for reading.  Please be sure to like, comment, share, and follow tool-school.com.  Have a great day!

Jake with tool-school.com

12 Affordable Tools All Homeowners Need, but Many Do Not Have

This is a short list of great tools that many handy homeowners have in their tool bag or workshop but may be absent from the bags and garages of the average homeowner.  It is always nice to have the right tool for the job and these tools can certainly make a project far less stressful.

  1. Kreg Rip Cut

This tool attaches to just about any circular saw and allows for very quick adjustments and rip cuts of boards and plywood.  Adjustable from 2″-24″, this great little device eliminates the need for chalk lines, straight edges, and steady hands to make many rip cuts in a short amount of time.  This thing was a life summer for my subfloor replacement project last summer and will be called to duty again this coming summer when the project resumes.

2. Submersible Water Pump

I have used this little fountain pump to literally bail me out on a few projects.  Removing water from a broken washing machine, an old hot water tank, and from a hole that kept filling with water as I was trying to repair a water line in my yard recently are three examples.  You may not use it often, but when you need it you will be thankful that you have it.

3. Wet/Dry Vacuum

I love my shop vac.  From home to vehicle to shop there is really nothing more that you need for cleaning up dust, water, and debris.  I can (and probably will) write an entire post about the usefulness of a wet/dry vac, it is an all around great tool.

4. Hammer Drill

Hammer drills like this one are really two tools in one.  They can be adjusted to function as a typical drill/driver or switched to hammer drill mode for a simultaneous drill/hammering action which allows the user to drill into brick, cement, and mortar.  A hammer drill is a must have tool for anyone with brick features in, on, and around their home.

5. Bench Vise

Bench vises come in a variety of sizes and styles and can range from $25 – hundreds of dollars depending on brand and type.  Regardless of size, a solid bench vise can make many difficult tasks easy by lending you a super strong third hand to grip materials.  From cutting, drilling, tapping, and threading metals to carving spoons as shown in this how-to article, a bench vise can be useful for just about any project.

6. Fire Extinguisher

I believe the need for this tool is self-explanatory.

7.  Electric Hand Plane

From trimming sticking doors to flattening lumber hand planes both manual and electric have a ton of uses around the house and shop.  You can learn more about the WEN brand of tools here.

8. Pancake Air Compressor

Inflating tires, pools, inner-tubes, and air mattresses are some very practical uses for a pancake compressor, but there are also a number air tools that can be purchased to use with these compressors as well.  I have a large stationary compressor in my shop but still own a small pancake compressor due to its convenience and portability.  They are powered by standard household outlets which make them great for cleaning tools and equipment around the house as well.

9.  DeWalt Angle Grinder

I specifically recommend DeWalt’s angle grinders because I have been burned by several cheaper angle grinders in the past.  I have put my Dewalt through hell and it has yet to let me down.  Angle grinders are great for cutting, shaping, grinding, and sanding metals and some wood working attachments are available for these versatile little tools as well.

10. Oscillating Multi-tool

I just added this tool to my arsenal about a year ago and have kicked myself for waiting so long to do so a few times since.  This thing will not only except a number of different blades and attachments that will allow you to sand and cut just about any material known to man, it will also allow you to do so in some very tight spots and at some very weird angles.  It is another one of those tools that made my subflooring job exponentially easier.

11.  Hand Riveter

Hand riveters allow for the fastening of many different thin materials and sheet metals quickly, easily, and without the need for power tools.  Rivets also come in aluminum which allows for a strong hold of materials without being susceptible to rust.

12.  Hand Truck/Dolly

From moving appliances, furniture and boxes in, out, and around the house to hauling bags of mulch and ready mix around the yard, a dolly can make life much easier.  It seems that I am called upon to help a family member or friend to move every few years and my dolly always makes the trip with me.  It is not an item that I use daily, but when I need it, I love it.

Thank you very much for reading.  For more information,  pricing and reviews of these tools simply click the link next to each one.  All comments, likes, follows, and shares are greatly appreciated.  Work safe!

Jake

Tool-school.com Mentioned as Top 21 Home Improvement Blog for 2018

I want to give a big thanks to bestdrillreviews.com for listing tool-school.com as a top 21 Home Improvement blog of 2018.  If you are in the market for a cordless drill check out their site for a ton of useful information and comparisons.

bestdrillreviews.com

This Little Light of Mine….

Last summer I began a whole-house subfloor replacement project that took me to hell and back.  I was only able to replace about 20% of the subflooring  needing replacement, but I learned a lot and developed an efficient system for doing the job so when it resumes this summer I expect that completion percentage to drastically increase.  If I had to guess I would say that I spent 30-40% of my work time last summer discovering which tools and what strategies I needed to employ to get the job done most efficiently.  One tool I came across that proved to be a literal bright spot in a summer full of darkness and gloom was the Lighthouse Beacon 1000 Super Bright LED Headlamp  from Outdoor Pro Gear.

I actually bought this headlamp, and a headlamp of a different brand at the same time in an attempt to avoid being left in the dark should one or the other not hold up to the tasks I intended it to accomplish.  In a rare stroke of good luck on my behalf I ended up really liking both lights as they both have features that the other does not.  Though not an apples to apples, there really is no comparison, the Lighthouse Beacon quickly became my go to light.

With its zoom focus beam, high/ low and strobe settings,  rugged construction, and excellent battery life, the Lighthouse Beacon Headlamp is a steal at its price point.  It spent hundreds of hours illuminating dark rooms and hallways as I replaced subflooring last summer and spent many more in the damp, cramped, moist, and muddy crawlspace under my house with me as I trenched, plumbed, pumped out water, and installed a moisture barrier.  Though I punished this little light last summer I was not kind enough to give it the winter off, it guided me through numerous jobs both wet and dry, outings in the woods, and rainy nights putting out the trash to the road and remains as reliable as the day I removed it from the box.

Surely everybody knows a “flashlight” guy or gal, the type of person that seems to collect anything that illuminates the space immediately in front of them, I am definitely not that guy.  Before I bought this light the brightest thing going in my house was a plastic piece of junk that I swore made a room darker when its button was switched to the on position.  I now have a great appreciation for this little light after it went to hell and back with me and proved to be a valuable tool that can make a job a lot easier to complete.

If you find yourself facing a project, outing, job, or activity where hands free illumination is needed, the Lighthouse Beacon will definitely shine some positive, reliable light on the situation.  Check out the link below for pricing information and more customer reviews on the Lighthouse Beacon Headlamp.

Lighthouse Beacon Headlamp

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Turn Logs to Lumber With This Inexpensive Tool.

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logs

The Timber Tuff Lumber Cutting Guide is a great, inexpensive tool enabling the transformation of just about any chainsaw into a lumber mill.  This lumber cutting guide allows you to make boards, beams, and slabs from logs of various sizes, dimensions, and species.  It is a great addition to any woodworking shop both home and professional.  What makes the Timber Tuff lumber cutting guide such a good addition to the tool bag compared to others is its price, which comes in at just under $25(US).  Other companies, such as Haddon, make very similar guides at very non-similar prices.  The comparable Haddon lumber cutting guide will set you back just under $110(US).

lumber cutting guide

I personally own the Timber Tuff Lumber Cutting Guide pictured above and have used it quite a bit over the last few years.  It does require a few pieces of dimensional lumber to glide across when cutting, but setup is rather simple and straightforward.  Milling your own lumber is fun and rewarding and allows an added aspect of uniqueness to your woodworking projects.  For more information on pricing, specs, and customer reviews I have attached links to both the Timber Tuff and Haddon lumber cutting guides below, as well as a link to a video demonstration of the guide in action.

Timber Tuff Lumber Cutting Guide

Haddon Lumber Cutting Guide

Timber Tuff Cutting Guide Demonstration

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I am an Amazon affiliate and do get a commission for orders made through my links with no expense to the buyer.  I appreciate any clicks and orders as they go a long way in helping me to further develop my site.  I would not endorse any product that I do not or would not use myself.  Thank you!

Life After Impact

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As I planned and prepared for the construction of a deck on the bayou behind my shop a few summers ago I made a decision that I have benefitted from time and time again since, I bought an impact driver.  The project would require hundreds of screws to be driven  and the thought of pre-drilling hundreds of holes only to have to go back and install fasteners in them afterwards was absurd to me.  Cue the Ryobi impact driver.

ryobi impact

An impact driver differs from a drill in that it has more torque as well as a hammering action that allows screws and lag bolts to be driven into thick, dense material.  These features also eliminate the need to pre-drill holes when installing screws and fasteners.  Impact drivers are not recommended for precision work such as furniture or cabinet making, but are excellent for general construction applications due to the time saved by eliminating pilot holes without splitting the lumber.  I have driven thousands of fasteners from 1/2″ wood screws to large diameter 7″ lag bolts with my impact and it continues to pound and twist hardware into wood with ease.  Project life is definitely sweeter with an impact driver in the tool box.

Although I now consider the impact driver to be a necessity in my tool arsenal, it does not eliminate the need for a conventional drill.  As previously mentioned a conventional multi-speed drill works best for precision jobs and fine woodworking.  I personally own and frequently use both.    When shopping for any cordless tools I would recommend giving the Ryobi 18v line of tools strong consideration.  I became a Ryobi tool owner due to the affordability of the products and ended up becoming a Ryobi tool lover.  Compared to many other tool brands they are fairly inexpensive and the line offers a wide variety of tools that are compatible with the same batteries.  From high-powered spotlights to portable air compressors and angle grinders to leaf blowers, I have yet to be let down by a single Ryobi tool.

Check out the links for pricing and customer reviews on the Ryobi 18v drill and impact driver.

Ryobi 18v Impact Driver

Ryobi 18v Drill

Ryobi 18v Drill/Impact Driver Combo with Batteries, Charger, and Case

Thank you for reading, please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share!

Jake

Wreincarnation: The Definitive Proof.

The fear of throwing something away or getting rid of something that I may one day have a use for is an ever-present force in my daily life.  No matter how useless or tattered an item may seem, or actually be, I struggle.  Do not get me wrong, I do not cling to old pizza boxes and cat turds as if they were ancient family heirlooms as seen on TV, but if it is wood or metal, I struggle.  So of course when I came across an old combination wrench with two broken ends as I was organizing my shop a few months back I quickly bypassed the trash can to deposit it in my tbd bin.  Fast-forward a few months, and Voila!

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With a little forging, sanding, and file work I was able to turn the old broken wrench into a knife for splitting wood and small logs/branches for use in my numerous wood working and carving projects.  I have only used it a few times thus far but it works extremely well for splitting smaller timber.  Although this hunk of metal has seen its first life come and go, I think that it will see just as much use and even more appreciation in its second.

If you are looking for a good source on knife making check out this knife-making beginner’s guide .  It has a lot of good info for making knives out of various new and used materials.

 

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When Pigs Fly….

flying pig 1flying pig 5

At some point in my life my mom fell in love with, and began to collect, flying pigs.  My entire life she has been ultra creative, crafty and quite handy.  As a serial diy’er she also has a great appreciation for the creativity and craftiness of others.  I do not know if I got this trait from her genetically or if it was a product of environmental learning, but I do know exactly who my passion to make, build, craft, and create came from.  The greatest benefit of sharing this quality with my mom is that it often affords me the opportunity to have a lot of fun creating, opposed to buying gifts for her come birthday and Christmas time.  Some years back I began to learn a little welding and with my mom’s birthday a few months away I saw a good opportunity to put my developing skills to use.  I made this flying pig for her out of some old metal that I had around my shop and had a lot of fun doing it.  It is not perfect, but I did not want it to be.  I wanted it to look hand-made and somewhat crude and it does indeed.  My mom loved this gift and has it proudly displayed in the foyer of her house as shown in the picture above.  With a little creative thinking, time, and effort anyone can make gift giving more enjoyable for not only the recipient, but themselves as well.  Below are a few more pictures of the porky present.

flying pig 3

flying pig 2

flying pig 4

Below are the tools that I used to construct this flying pig.

DeWalt 4.5 inch Angle Grinder

WEN 6 inch Bench Grinder

Ryobi 18v Drill

Lincoln AC Stick Welder

Metal Cut Off Discs

Grinding Disc

Flap Disc

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Jake with tool-school.com