Tools & Materials
Unique Tools of the Trades
Propane is Easier Than Gas
When it comes to portable generators and ease of use, liquid propane (LP) sure beats gasoline. Gasoline is a handy fuel, but it’s not without problems. Storing enough gasoline to get you through a several-day power outage requires constant vigilance. First you have to buy several 5-gallon gas containers and find a safe place to store them. Then you have to add stabilizer and ideally replace the gas after several months to make sure it’s still fresh when you need it.
Propane-powered portable generators solve these problems and more. You can store and use liquid propane (LP) indefinitely (it doesn’t go bad). Refueling is simple and safe; just replace the propane tank with a full one. Plus, you don’t have to worry about the carburetor on your generator getting gummed up with old gasoline.
Shingle Repairs Made Easier
Replacing damaged shingles is tough on super-hot days—the shingles are soft and tear apart. It’s not much easier on cold days—frozen shingles break in two if you pry them up too far. But the “Goldilocks approach,” waiting for the temperature to be just right, isn’t always an option.
The Roof Snake by PacTool International makes shingle repairs easier. Just pry up a little bit on the surrounding shingles to remove the nails that hold down the damaged one. Pull out the old one and slide a new shingle into place. Flip the tool around and insert a roofing nail into the nail slot. Slip the tool under the overlapping shingle, and (here’s the ingenious part) hit the tool with your hammer to get the nail started. Then pull the slot free and pound the nail in with the flat part. Because you don’t have to pound directly on the nail, the shingles don’t need to be pried up so far, making damage less likely. Pick up the Roof Snake by PacTool International online.
Wire Brush for Your Recip Saw
Reciprocating saw accessories have come a long way, and the folks at Spyder Tools have a lot to do with that. The newest kid on the block is a wire brush. Stick it in the end of your recip saw and scrub away dirt, rust and unwanted paint. You shouldn’t throw away the wire wheel for your grinder, but this setup is easier to control than a grinder, and because it’s portable and small, it can reach areas grinders can’t. There’s nothing better than finding a new use for an existing tool. You can get the Spyder Tools wire brush at home centers, hardware stores, and online. Buy one from Amazon here.
Batt Insulation Cutter
If you hang insulation more than a couple of times a year, the Shut-N-Cut is more than worthy of consideration—it’s a no-brainer. Here’s how it works: Attach the Shut-N-Cut to a table or sawhorse, lay a batt over it, clamp the batt in place, slide the insulation knife through the slotted clamping arm and get to hanging. No more kneeling on the ground or changing blades every 15 minutes. And no more pulling half-cut batts apart with your hands, throwing tons of nasty fibers into the air. The Shut N Cut is available online.
Did You Know You Owned a Power Scraper?
A Spyder Scraper blade transforms your reciprocating saw into a power scraper. These blades aren’t tough enough for concrete or tile demo, but they do a nice job of removing vinyl flooring or glue-down carpeting. One warning, though: A sharp Spyder Scraper blade will chew right through a wood subfloor. The trick is to keep the saw at a low angle and let the tool do the work—don’t push too hard.
The 2- and 4-in. blades are the most useful. The 6-in. blade causes more kickbacks, which will eventually destroy either the blade or your wrists. Spyder Scraper blades are not the tool to remove tiles from an entire gymnasium floor, but for smaller jobs, these blades deserve a spot in your recip box.
Not a Tire, Not a Wheel…It’s a Tweel
Hey pro landscapers…you’re going to love this. John Deere ZTrak 900 commercial mowers can now be outfitted with Michelin X Tweel Turf tires that won’t ever go flat and ride much smoother than pneumatic. The benefits are almost too obvious to mention: no more downtime repairing flat tires and much less bouncing around, which is a big-time back saver.
It will cost a bundle to upgrade to the X Tweels, but one set will last as long as three sets of pneumatics. And think of all the money you’ll save on chiropractic visits. Right now they’re available only for the commercial mowers, but this technology will be rapidly expanding. Check out the video and more product information on John Deere’s website.
Photo provided by John Deere
Flexible gear ties work great for securing tools for travel, but they come in handy for all sorts of other stuff, like holding a flashlight aimer for instance. The one pictured is made by Nite Ize and is available in many hardware stores and home centers.
Next, check out our story on the best new tools and materials from the Summer of 2018.
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