Repurpose An Unused Kid’s Toy To Improve Your Golf Game By 5+ Strokes

toy box

In case anyone is curious I will go ahead and let you know that I am no Stephen Hawking, in fact, I am no Bill Nye the Science Guy, or even Beakman.  With that out of the way I will also tell you despite my lack of credentials in the scientific community I am a big fan of sample size.  An example of the use of sample size in my daily life is student behavior, as a coach and teacher I can see a student perform a similar negative behavior 9 times and apologize when issued a consequence each and every time only to commit the same or similar offense a tenth time.  In these cases I have all the samples I needed to know that the apology meant nothing and the behavior was likely to occur again.  I believe that most logical human beings allow sample size to shape how they see and view a particular person, place, thing, action, or event even if they are not aware of what to call it.  With all that said, there is a phenomenon in my life (and millions of other lives) that renders the belief in sample size importance useless, golf.

Like millions of other humans on Planet Earth I love golf, but I hate it.  I can play 18 holes on any given day and leave the course feeling like pre-scandal Tiger Woods and return to the course the following day, with all of the confidence in the world, and leave feeling like Tiger Lilly, it is frustrating.  Sample size means nothing to me in golf, I can hit 100 shots, 99 of which are garbage, but that one good shot keeps me thinking that I am on the cusp of “figuring this game out”, and I am clueless as to why.

rodney-dangerfield-caddyshack

Prior to last month I had not played golf in about two years and had been itching to do so for some reason since about Easter.  With the end of the school year in late May I quickly took advantage of my less busy schedule and headed to the local golf course to play.  I have played in spurts over the last 15 years with several layoffs of a year or more in that span but typically shoot in the low to mid 90’s with an occasional mid to upper 80’s score when playing consistently over a few months so I was not surprised that I shot a 101 in my comeback debut.  Despite my poor score I hit enough decent shots to hook me back in.

driving range

My next four rounds saw me shoot a 97, 93, 96, and 98, which gave me a 5 round average of 97.  Though not horrible scores, the amount of decent shots that I was hitting led me to believe that I could do better if I could just get in some consistent practice but the nearest public range was 45 minutes away and not very practical to visit daily.  This is when I knew that I would have to get creative, so I did.

After checking the prices of golf practice nets online I knew that I had to have something hanging around my house or shop to use that would save me the 50-300 bucks being charged for the nets on the internet.  It did not take long for me to remember my kids old disassembled trampoline and safety net stored in our garage and it was on from there.

DSCF6733

I admit that it is far from beautiful, but it has been effective and I did not have to spend a dime.  This one is hung from a tree branch by rope and the sides are tied off to a tree and fence.  Though not aesthetically pleasing, it is tucked away in the corner of my backyard where only those in the backyard can see it.

DSCF6734

The trampoline material is pretty much perfect for hitting with golf balls.  It is hard enough to withstand the abuse of the golf balls but also soft enough to cradle the balls to the ground without them flying back at you.

DSCF6735

My homemade setup has allowed me to hit hundreds of practice shots that I would otherwise not been able to due to the distance between my house and the nearest driving range.  I can even practice while hanging out with my wife and little ones in the backyard (they like using it too).

The proof that my sketchy looking backyard driving range works is in my scores.  I mentioned the first five rounds that I played this summer (pre-trampoline range) saw me shoot a 101, 97, 93, 96, and 98 for an average score of a 97 per round.  I have played an additional five rounds of golf since setting up and routinely practicing on my trampoline golf net and have shot rounds of 87, 91, 89, 95, and 87 for a round average of 89.8.  My upcycled trampoline mat has improved my game by just over 7 strokes per round!

Of course not everyone has an old trampoline mat at their disposal and there are more expensive and aesthetically pleasing tools that can be bought instead of made to improve your golf game and I have linked to a few below.

optishot complete 2 simulator

10×7 Golf Net

10′ Practice Net

Netting For Homemade Golf Net

Practice Putting Green

Hitting Mat (So you do not tear up your yard)

Thank you for reading!  If you found this post to be helpful, entertaining, or informative please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share tool-school.com on social media!

Jake with tool-school.com

 

Advertisements

Simple Bandsaw Maintenance Trick: Changing the Tire

The vertical bandsaw is an awesome tool that serves many functions in a home workshop.  Whether cutting plywood, plastic, or even some softer metals such as aluminum, the vertical bandsaw makes quick work of many types of materials.  I have discussed my pleasure with the price and performance of my WEN 10″ Bandsaw in this previous post, but I also have an older Craftsman 12″ bandsaw/sander that I have used for a few years now as well.

DSCF6717

Though a good saw, the particular Craftsman bandsaw that I was given (pictured above) had seen its better days in terms of aesthetics and working features.  With no miter gauge, rip fence, or instruction manual, it seemed that this saw’s potential in my shop would never be fully realized and that is why I ended up getting the WEN saw.  Nevertheless, a new blade was all that was required to get this donation up and cutting wood shapes for a variety of projects.  I even found some sanding belts that fit the saw on ebay and have sanded a good bit with it too.

After meeting expectations for a few years, the old Craftsman eventually lost a tire from one of the pulley wheels rendering it basically useless.  No sweat, after some internet research and a stop by amazon , my new tire was in the mail and on its way to South Louisiana.  Upon arrival I quickly followed the advice of many internet users and let the new tire soak in very hot water for about 10 minutes, grabbed a screw driver, and headed to my shop to install the new part.  It was not as simple as I had hoped.

DSCF6716

After a few annoying attempts at installing the new tire per internet advice, I quickly got creative and added a step that saved me both time and headache and did not require me to remove any wheel from the saw.  The process is discussed below.

HOW TO CHANGE A BANDSAW TIRE WITHOUT REMOVING THE PULLEY WHEEL

Tools Needed:

-slotted screw driver

-new bandsaw tires

-two small C clamps

-bucket or bowl of very hot water

THE PROCESS

Step 1

Soak the new urethane tire(s) in very hot water for 10-15 minutes to enhance elasticity

DSCF6718

Step 2

Make sure that the pulley wheel is free of dirt, debris, and old tire remnants

Step 3

Remove the new tire from the water and clamp it very lightly to the bottom of the pulley wheel in two places (tighten the C clamps just enough to hold the tire in place, overtightening the clamps can damage the pulley wheel which is often made of aluminum)

DSCF6712

Step 4

Once clamped, simply pull the tire up and around the remainder of the pulley, using the slotted screw driver as a guide if needed.

DSCF6713
This is just a reenactment shot of the installation. Obviously I did not try installing this tire with the blade on.

Step 5

After getting the tire on, go around the wheel ensuring that the tire is seated correctly around the entire pulley.

DSCF6714
The finished product.

If you follow these steps with the installation of a new bandsaw tire you will not only eliminate the need for removing the pulley wheel from the saw, but you will also save time and knuckle-skin in the process.  After the 10-15 minute soaking of the new tire, this process should take a maximum of 5 easy minutes to complete using these steps.

NEVER WORK ON A BANDSAW THAT IS PLUGGED IN, TURNED ON, OR HAS AN INSTALLED BLADE, DOING SO COULD RESULT IN SERIOUS INJURY OR WORSE.

P.S.  If you have a Craftsman 12″ Bandsaw/Sander similar to mine in the pictures, the link below will take you to the exact replacement tires needed for your saw.  It took a decent bit of research for me to put my thumb on what I needed, so I hope that it will save you some time.  Also included is a picture of the packaging.  These particular saws take 80″ blades that can be up to 1/2″ in width.

Craftsman 12″ Bandsaw/Sander Replacement Tires

DSCF6720

 

Thanks for reading!  If you found this article to be helpful, informative, or entertaining please be sure to like, comment, follow, and share on social media.

Jake with tool-school.com

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.

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…….

DSCF6342

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.

DSCF6343
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.

DSCF6338

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.

DSCF6339
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.

Please be sure to like, comment, share on social media, and follow tool-school.com.

DSCF6337DSCF6340

DSCF6341.JPG

Thanks again for checking out my site!

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

DIY Home Air Conditioner Maintenance

If you are anything like me you find yourself getting sucked into a riveting infomercial from time to time.  No matter how useless the product may be to you, or how cheesy the pitch, you just cannot change the channel.  One of the classics that wasted my time on more than one occasion was the ad for the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie and BBQ Oven.  According to the product’s super enthusiastic pitch man, this rotisserie oven practically cooked supper for your family, your only role in the process was to “Set it, and forget it!”   The idea of setting it and forgetting it did not intrigue me in those days as a bachelor as it does now a father of three, soon to be four, youngsters, but would I really trust a heat-generating electrical appliance to behave unattended anyway?

Unfortunately many of us treat our homes as the infomercial pitch man encouraged us to treat his rotisserie oven, just “set it, and forget it”, when we should be tending to it as if we were deep frying a Thanksgiving turkey.  With so many components and systems in modern homes there are so many things that can malfunction and affect other systems in the home negatively.  As homeowners we tend to assume the best for our new appliances, hvac (heating, ventilation, and cooling) systems, structures, and additions, so much so that we leave many of these things unattended and uninspected until there is a noticeable reason to pay them any mind.  This article will discuss a few proactive approaches to home hvac system maintenance that can save you a ton of time and money in the future on reactive solutions.

Below are a few proactive measures that you can take to ensure that you get the most from your home cooling system for years to come.

  1. Outside Components

outside ac

Outside Compressor Unit

  • Routinely check for and remove debris from in and around the outside components of your hvac system
  • Rinse the fins of your outside unit with a garden hose at least twice per year.  Never pressure wash the unit as the strong water pressure could cause damage to the delicate aluminum fins.
  • Straighten bent fins using an a/c fin comb tool.
  • Check unit with an I beam level to ensure that it is level
  • Have unit inspected and serviced by a professional before the hot season when it will be in use

Inside Components

DSCF6566

Inside Coil, Blower, and Return

  • Change your air return filter at least once per month
  • Insulate drain lines to avoid water damage from drain line condensation
  • Install a drain line clean out port like the one pictured below and ensure that the line is not clogged at least once per hot weather season.  I have seen these lines get clogged to the point that water will overflow from the drain pan and flood the flooring of a home.  It is not pretty when it happens.  These lines can be cleaned out by using a wet/dry vac to suction out the obstruction.

dscf6567.jpg

Believe it or not, these few simple maintenance practices can save you a bunch of time and headache in the future.  I actually had to replace a portion of my house’s subfloor due to water damage from condensation dripping onto it from the a/c condensation drain line.  Had the previous owners of my house taken the time to perform the routine maintenance discussed in this article I would be a few thousand dollars richer today.

Regardless of the age of your home’s hvac system I urge you to forgo the “set it and forget it” mentality.  Your home’s a/c system should be tended to like a pan of hot grease and not a slow cooker.  Remain attentive and proactive in the care of your hvac system and you will get the most from it with as little headache as possible in return.

Below are a few additional resources for the maintenance and care of your hvac system that are very helpful and informative.

Essential Maintenance for an A/C Unit

DIY A/C Maintenance and Repair

A/C and Refrigeration Repair Made Easy

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

Jake