A Workshop’s Best Friend

The angle grinder is one of the most versatile tools in any workshop.  Part chop saw, part grinder, and part sander, there are no metal working projects in my shop that do not rely heavily on this tool.  Angle grinders come in a variety of sizes and with numerous power output and rpm ratings.  The most common sizes are 4 1/2 inch, 7 inch, and 9 inch grinders, with the 4 1/2 in being most common,  and these numbers reference the diameter of the disc, or wheel, that can be run safely by them.

Disc types for angle grinders are numerous and although some discs are multipurpose, many times specific discs are designed to perform specific functions or for specific materials, like the metal grinding disc pictured above.  Not only can other discs  be bought to cut, polish, sand, and grind metals, but wood working attachments have become more common for angle grinders as well.  With the introduction of wheels designed specifically for carving and sanding wood, like the carving attachment pictured below, the ever-useful angle grinder has managed to become even handier.

The angle grinder’s usefulness stretches even farther than wood and iron working, there are also discs sold specifically for concrete and masonry applications like the one pictured below.  Whether cutting into a brick wall, concrete slab, or mortar, this tool definitely comes in handy for those DIY stone and masonry jobs.

If anyone knows the value of an angle grinder it would have to be welders.  Primarily used in metal fabrication, the angle grinder is just as important as a welding machine itself in insuring a quality weld.  From material preparation and beveling to grinding down a weld, the angle grinder definitely beats hand filing to accomplish the same task.

For anyone looking to begin welding as a hobby or career I would strongly suggest buying a good angle grinder such as this one and learning how to use it before even buying a welding machine.  I have learned from personal experience that buying a cheaper grinder will only find you on the market for another grinder in the near future.  My DeWalt 4.5 inch angle grinder cost a little more than $80 when I bought it close to a decade ago, and after hundreds of hours of use it is still going strong today.  The cheap $35 grinder that I bought from a well known big box store prior to purchasing my DeWalt did not even make it through its first job.  I would also encourage any beginning welder to check out this article on how to get started without spending a fortune.

Below I have linked to a few useful angle grinder attachments as well as a few sources on angle grinder use and safety.

OSHA Angle Grinder Safety

How To Use an Angle Grinder

Metal Cutting Discs

Paint Stripping Discs

Metal Grinding Discs

Sanding/Flap Disc

Wood Carving Attachment

DeWalt 4.5 inch Angle Grinder

Thank you for reading!  Please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share on social media.

Jake with tool-school.com

Just A Spoonful Of Maintenance

I have written several articles such as this one on how and why to make your own wooden spoons and utensils.  It is a great hobby and introduction to woodworking.  Like any woodworking project, a successful spoon creation does not end with the final passes of sandpaper over wood.  To ensure that your hand crafted wooden utensils live the longest life possible, there is some very quick and easy maintenance involved.  Below is a short list of tips that will extend the life of your wooden spoons, spatulas, rolling pins, and cutting boards many years as well as keep them beautiful and more sanitary.

  • NEVER PUT A WOODEN UTENSIL IN THE DISHWASHER!!!!!
  • Wash utensil in warm, soapy water.
  • Never let it sit or soak in water.
  • Pat dry with a towel after washing.
  • Let it air dry completely after toweling.
  • Apply a light coat of cooking oil or food safe mineral oil at least once a month.

The spoons that I sell are sealed with either food safe mineral oil or vegetable oil that can be purchased at any grocery store, but walnut oil is great for sealing wooden kitchenware as well.  I avoid the walnut oil on spoons that I sell due to potential nut allergies of buyers.  If nut allergies are an issue I would recommend using the food safe mineral oil or vegetable oil.

Though most wooden kitchen utensils are undoubtedly store bought and mass produced, these maintenance tips apply just the same.  In fact, every store bought wooden utensil that I have purchased in the past few years has come unsealed from the store, leaving it completely unprotected from water damage and bacteria.  Coating a wooden spoon with oil not only seals it off from water intrusion, it also acts as a barrier to food bacteria penetrating and thriving inside of the wood of the utensil.

Aside from water and bacteria protection, sealing wood with oil often improves the aesthetic appeal of wood.  The video in this article demonstrates how oiling an unsealed spoon can really change the look of the spoon for the better.  In the video a liberal amount of oil is used because it is the first time the wood has been sealed, but for a monthly resealing of utensils generally a tablespoon or so of oil is all that is required.

DSCF6554
Unsealed
DSCF6560
Sealed

No trick photography or sucking in of the gut was used in the before and after pictures above, I promise.

Whether you buy a spoon from me, from your local kitchen shop, or make your own, these tips are certain to add years of useful life to any and all of your wooden kitchen utensils.  It can even extend the life of your wooden tool handles as well.  Below are links to a few products that I recommend to get the job done, the walnut oil is great when allergies are not a factor, and the mineral oil would definitely be my go-to product if they are.  There is also a link to an article that will take you step by step through making your own wooden kitchenware works of art.

Walnut Oil

Food Grade Safe Mineral Oil

How to make a wooden spoon with basic hand tools.

Thanks for reading!  Please be sure to like, comment, follow tool-school.com and share this article on social media.

Jake

Today Is Earth Day 2018!

Each year since 1970 the 22nd day of April has been celebrated as Earth Day.  Each year various events are held on this day to encourage and demonstrate support for the protection of the environment.  There are numerous ways to celebrate and honor this day each year, some of which will not only benefit the health of our planet, but could benefit the health of your wallet as well.

trash pile

Over the past 6 years I have made between $3,000 and $4,000 in my spare time by selling metals to various scrap yards in my area.  I kind of got into the practice of selling “junk” for money by chance when an in-law of mine asked me to remove a bunch of old metal from his yard and take it to sell at a local scrap yard.  I agreed and was sort of astounded when I left the recycling center with over $200 cash in my pocket.  I was hooked.

 
For probably the next two years I did not pass a piece of metal on the side of the road or at the edge of someone’s yard without stopping and loading it up in the back of my truck.  I also checked the “free” section of Craigslist daily for people offering free scrap metal for its removal.  I can not count how many washers, dryers, microwaves, and refrigerators I have loaded into the back of my truck and taken to the scrap yard, but I have counted plenty of extra money from doing so.  I have even been able to buy a brand new utility trailer using money earned strictly from selling scrap.

 
As mentioned earlier selling scrap metal for extra money is not the only perk to the practice, it is also a big help to the environment.  Recycled metal requires far less processing in order to get it into a useable state than new ores of the same metal require.  This streamlined processing results in far less energy being used to achieve the same result.  According to the American Geosciences Institute, recycled iron and steel requires about 72% less energy to refine than that of the mining and processing of raw iron ore, and there is an 80% reduction in energy use with recycled lead versus newly mined and processed lead.  The AGI also states that in 2017 the amount of aluminum recycled in the United States saved enough energy to power over 7.5 million homes compared to the amount of energy that would have been used to mine and process the metal from raw aluminum ore.

DSCF6318

Pictured above are a few metals commonly sold at metal recycling centers.  These metals are aluminum, brass, iron, copper, and batteries that contain lead.  Nonferrous metals (metals that do not contain iron such as copper, brass, aluminum, and lead) are usually the bigger money makers per pound, while ferrous metals (metals containing iron) are typically paid for by the ton.  To differentiate between ferrous and nonferrous metals simply place a magnet on the metal, if the magnet sticks to it, it is ferrous, if the magnet does not stick to it, it is nonferrous.  Magnets are attracted to iron and as stated above, nonferrous metals do not contain iron.  Retractable magnets like this one are super helpful for differentiating between ferrous and nonferrous metals.  Recycling prices of different metals can fluctuate often and vary from state to state, country to country, and continent to continent, the environmental benefits from recycling metals however is consistent world wide.

For recycling locations near you click the link to access Earth911’s recycling center database, it is a very useful resource Earth 911 Recycling Center Locator.

For the best information on the internet on how to make money recycling just about anything, click this link to Mike the Scrapper’s YouTube Channel.

Below are some recycling tools and equipment that will either help make you money, save you money, or both.

Stackable Recycling Bins

Can Crusher

400 Watt Solar Panel Kit

50 Watt Solar Panel Kit

Rain Barrel

Compost Bin

Folding Limb Saw

This hand saw is awesome for salvaging downed limbs for wood working projects.

Stainless Steel Water Bottle

Wire Stripper

This wire stripper makes recycling copper and aluminum wire much quicker and easier.

Solar Powered Cell Phone Charger


Home Windmill

Scrap Metal Business Success Book

Thanks for reading!  To learn more about any of the products featured in this article simply click the product link or picture for customer reviews and additional product information.

To learn more about Earth Day and its history click this link to the EPA’s Earth Day Website.

It would be great if you would like, comment, follow, and share tool-school.com posts on social media!  Have a great week!

Turn Your Old Cooler Into A Portable Air Conditioner

A few years ago I was fixing up an older Jeep Cherokee XJ and when she was finally up and running a problem was realized.  It was June in South Louisiana and the Jeep’s a/c system was leaking Freon.  With no room in the budget for a/c repair or replacement I took to the internet to see what could be done for me to drive my baby without sweating bullets.

My first stab at staying cool was by purchasing the RoadPro 12V Tornado Fan.  Though it was pretty loud, the fan was quite strong and very impressive.  The conditions inside the Jeep were definitely improved, but I knew that I could do better.

Back to the internet I went, more specifically to YouTube, and this is where I found my second, and final temporary solution to my Jeep a/c issue.  I discovered that you can make a portable air conditioner using only a fan, a cooler, ice, and some PVC pipe.  I happened to have all three laying around so I was good to go.  Below are the tools I used to make my portable a/c and the steps involved in the build.

TOOLS

Jigsaw or Oscillating Multitool

Hole Saw

Electric Drill

Silicone Adhesive

THE BUILD

At the end of this article I have posted a link to the video that inspired my portable a/c build.  I put my own spin on the project by using different components than the one seen in the video due to the fact that it was what I already had on hand.

DSCF6648
Trace the outline of your fan onto the top of the cooler.
DSCF6637
Using a jigsaw or multi-tool cut out the hole for the fan.
DSCF6647
Using a hole saw or multi-tool cut out a place for your PVC pipe.

This is where the cool air will exit the cooler.  If this particular cooler had enough area on the lid to put a PVC 90 degree elbow on top I would have place it there, but I put the pipe on the side due to the smaller size of this cooler’s lid.  If you put your exhaust pipe on the side of your cooler do not put it too low, as the water from the melted ice could leak out through the exhaust pipe if it is too low.

DSCF6645
I used a rubber gasket and silicone to seal the exhaust pipe then added two screws for good measure.
DSCF6646
The silicone is really all that is needed to seal and hold the pipe in place.

Your new portable a/c is practically done.  Just place some ice in the cooler and the fan in its hole, plug it in, and enjoy the constant cool breeze.

DSCF6642
Your portable air conditioner is complete!

I will be the first to admit that this is not the sexiest contraption in the world,(it was not always this dirty) but it is literally a very cool project that is a lot of fun to complete.  I was skeptical at first but this thing rode in my passenger seat and worked great.  Believe it or not I actually had temperature readings in Fahrenheit ranging from the upper 40s to the lower 60s exiting the pipe.  The large variance in temperature was due to the amount of ice and type of ice used (packs vs. cubes).

Chances are you have everything you need to make your own portable a/c already laying around your house as I did, but if you do not but would still like to undertake this fun little project I have linked to some affordable components below.

48 Qt. Ice Chest

110V Fan

12V Vehicle Fan

Oscillating Multi-tool

Or you could just splurge for a store bought portable a/c unit like the Black and Decker 8000 BTU Portable A/C.

Here is the link to the YouTube video that inspired my own portable cooler a/c build.  Portable A/C Video

Thank you for reading.  Be sure to like, comment, follow tool-school.com and share this post on social media!  Have a great week!

Jake with tool-school.com

DIY Two-Ingredient Wood Stain

DSCF6634

As I was sitting down to write this post my wife made it home from work just in time to burst my bubble, the explanation follows.  I have written several articles like this one discussing spoon carving and make quite a few wooden kitchen utensils.  Though I enjoy the natural look of the wood when finished I have seen spoons that have color added to them that look great and wanted to figure out a food-safe method of adding color to some of mine.  After researching and experimenting with homemade vinegar-coffee stains, I decided to get creative and make my own type of stain by subtracting the coffee and using a vinegar-food coloring mix to stain wood.  After testing my creation I felt brilliant.

DSCF6593
Piece of Pecan with all four colors applied to it.

Being the humble creative genius that I am I allowed my wife to dwell inside of our home upon returning from work about two and a half seconds before bragging about my ingenious concoction and you know what she politely said?  “Oh cool, that is how you make Easter egg dye.”  Womp-Womp.  Even though I am not that bright, or aware of how the most popular food coloring agent in the history of the world is made, I spent too much time and made too much of a mess to not share this process with you regardless.

Below are some pictures of pine that I stained.  The left is unstained, the right is stained.  Each stained piece is just a mixture of a liberal amount of food coloring and white vinegar.

DSCF6629
Blue
DSCF6627
Green
DSCF6625
Yellow
DSCF6624
Red

DSCF6597

DSCF6599
I tried the homemade stain on different types of wood just to make sure that it would show up well on more than just pine, and it did. Pictured from top to bottom is Elm, Oak, and Pecan.
DSCF6630
Unbeknownst to me at the time, this is probably my only semi-original stain idea. This is a mixture of paprika and water that turned the wood a pretty orange color.

Whether you use food coloring and vinegar or paprika and vinegar to stain wood it can definitely add a nice colorful flare to your woodworking projects, especially those projects designed for child or kitchen use.  From spoons and cutting boards to kids blocks and wooden toys, it is nice to be able to add color to projects without sacrificing safety.

If you do not want to reinvent the wheel as I did, you can just opt for some Easter egg dye and call it a day.  I honestly did not know that vinegar and food coloring, when combined, enhanced woodworking projects as well as the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  I learn something knew everyday.

Below are a few more nontoxic options for staining and finishing wood.

Food Safe Wood Stain

Butcher Block Oil & Finish

Easter Egg Dye

White vinegar

Food Coloring Variety Kit – 12 Pack

Thanks for reading!  Be sure to like, comment, follow, and share on social media.  To learn how to make your own wooden spoons check out my tutorial How to Carve Spoons With Basic Hand Tools.

Did You Know that Amazon Can Mow your Lawn, Clean your Windows, and Mount your TV?

 

lawn mowing

I love Amazon and the convenience it offers to buy and receive pretty much anything we could want without ever having to leave the comforts of home.  From tools to produce there are only a few number of things you can not purchase through the site, and apparently that number is shrinking .  From lawn maintenance to electrical wiring, and mounting a television on the wall to computer repair,  Try Amazon Home Services offers a variety of home maintenance tasks to be purchased from their site.  They do all of the leg work in finding qualified, insured, and reputable professionals, you just order the service.

The link below will take you to a complete list of services, customer reviews, professionals in your area, and more information on the services that can be purchased through Amazon.

Try Amazon Home Services

15 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for Handy Moms

I will go ahead and let you know that this is not a list of pink and purple tools for mom made by brands and companies no one has ever heard of.  This is a list of 15 legitimate tools and gadgets that any gender into DIY projects would benefit from having at their disposal.  I have bought tools for my own mother in the past that may not have been cute, but they are definitely reliable. All but one of these tools can be purchased for around $100 or less. So if your mom is not scared to get her hands dirty and tackle a project, read on.

1. Worx Cordless Hydroshot

Not as strong as gas pressure washers, but much stronger than a garden hose, the Hydroshot is a light and portable option for cleaning jobs around the house and shop.

2. Deebot Robotic Vacuum

This vacuum has made the lives of my wife and I a lot easier.  With three little ones running around our floors get abused daily, thankfully deebot shows them a little love every afternoon without either of us having to lift a finger.

3. Black and Decker 20 Volt Max Project Kit

This is a great all around tool kit to have around the house.  Complete with drill and battery, this kit has the tools needed to complete numerous home projects.

4. Aberg Best 21 MP Camera

The only thing better than a job well done is a job well done that can be shown off to your friends and family.  This camera is light, inexpensive, and has great reviews.  Before and after shots of projects are always fun to compare.

5. Worx Aerocart

The Worx Aerocart is the Swiss Army Knife of wheel barrows.  With all of the functions of a typical wheel barrow this tool also has added ergonomic and hauling capabilities that most do not.

6. Echo Dot

Get how-to and DIY information at the sound of your voice.  With all of the interactive capabilities of this little gadget you can play music, answer calls, and control your lights and thermostat without leaving the couch.  This thing is incredible.

7. Ion Tailgater

Play music, sing karaoke, listen to the radio, charge your phone, connect via blue-tooth, all things that can be done with this little speaker.  We actually have two at my house and bring them with us just about every time we go outside.

8. Black & Decker 7 1/4″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

This is a sturdy little saw.  It can cut 2×8 lumber at 90 degrees and 2×6 lumber at 45 degrees.  It is more compact than 10″ and 12″ miter saws making it lighter and more easily transported from site to site.

9. Keter Folding Workbench

Rated to hold up to 1000lbs and folding up for easy transport and storage, the Keter workbench is a great work surface at home and on the go.  It even comes complete with compatible work clamps.

10. Tack Life 50 ft Laser Level

This level offers horizontal and vertical cross beams that will project from up to 50 feet away.  This is a must have tool for anyone hanging pictures, trim work, or baseboards.

11. Black and Decker Power Hand Saw

This is a very handy little saw that can cut anything from dimensional lumber to tree limbs and branches.  For “tweener” jobs that are in the middle of chainsaw and handsaw this tool works great.  It does not have the power of a chainsaw that may be intimidating to some, but still makes pruning and cutting a lot quicker and easier than going at it with a handsaw.

12. Keter Cool Bar

This 7.5 gallon cooler is great for outdoor gatherings and holds up to 60 cans or 40 bottles with ice.  The top is collapsible which allows for this to function as a closed cooler and there is a built in drain plug at the bottom of the cooler.  With three colors and two styles to choose from this would be a great addition to any backyard or outdoor function.

13. Bosch Compact Lazer Distance Measure

The Bosch Compact Lazer Distance Measure allows for accurate measurements without the need for a tape measure up to 65 ft (in reality it is probably more like up to 40 ft.).  The beauty of this product is that one person can get multiple measurements from one spot without the need for someone running around from point to point with the other end of the tape measure.  This tool allows measuring to be an accurate one person job.

14. Rockwell Blade Runner

If a small table saw had a baby with a jigsaw, this would be the baby.  The Blade Runner is a nice lighter duty craft and hobby saw that cuts through just about any type of material someone would want to cut.  The Blade Runner’s sub 15 lb weight allows it to be easily transported to and from different jobs and it sets up quickly and easily.

15. Husqvarna Automower

I will start by saying I believe all moms deserve this, but the ones that receive this must truly be special.  This is the only product on the list that is well above the $100 mark that I was trying to hover around and under.  This particular model is rated for about a 3/4 acre yard and is sophisticated enough to automatically cut your lawn every day of the week if you so desire.  There is some initial set up labor that is required to get this thing self sufficient, but once it is done you are golden.

For additional information, reviews, and pricing on the products listed in this article simply click the product picture or link and it will take you directly to the product on Amazon.

Thank you very much for checking out my site.  If you are a mother, have a mother, or know a mother that is a serial DIY’er I would love to hear about you/her and see some pictures of your projects.  Feel free to email me some pictures and info about your projects so I can post them on my site or contact me through my tool-school.com page on Facebook.  I hope that you all have a great Mother’s Day!

Jake

jakestoolschool@yahoo.com