I learned about this switch in the comments section of Cool Tools for a different, timed switch.
Our home has a bunch of outdoor lights on two separate switches. I had swapped out the incandescents for LEDs (CFLs don’t work outside here in the winter outside and will wreck themselves), but we still wanted to automate all of them. Installing light sensors & timers was not the solution I wanted, but, until I saw the comment for these, I didn’t know what we needed.
These switches are ideal: Find the lat/long degrees (easy on the Internet) and date/time of your location, and the internal astronomic table “knows” when dusk & dawn are in your area, year round. We wanted ours to come on at dusk, go off at midnight, so a simple extra program step, and we’re done. It’s coming up on two years since I installed them and, even with a few power interruptions later, we’ve still yet to touch them again.
These switches coupled with LED “bulbs” give us good, reliable, inexpensive outdoor light that we don’t even have to think about. Wonderful.
When we moved into our house in 1999, it came filled with stuff. There was an old lady who was retiring so she didn’t need to take the weed-whacker and snow-blower to the retirement home, so she just left everything and they were obviously people that loved really good perennial tools. One thing they left was this thing called Door Ease, which is a stick of wax for unsticking drawers. I thought, “Oh, that’s cool,” and then one day five years later I had a sticky drawer and I said, “Wait I have the technology!” so I went downstairs and got my Door Ease and it hasn’t stuck since.
[Learn about the other tools Gareth inherited in our podcast interview with him. - Mark Frauenfelder]
We have kids and pets in our house, and everything from chocolate milk to vomit has seeped its way into our upholstery and carpet. The best way we’ve found to get rid of odors and stains is an enzymatic and bacterial cleaner called Anti Icky Poo.
Designed to get rid of pet urine odors, it seems to work on just about any organic odor or stain. We dry and clean the affected area as well as we can with paper or cloth towels, then thoroughly saturate it with the cleaner. The general strategy is to get it to the depth of the offending material so that it can break it all down – too much is better than too little – then keep the area from drying out while it does its work.
It works best on fresh stains, but by systematically injecting the liquid deep into foam fusions with a syringe and needle, we rescued a love seat that had been banished to an unused bedroom – both odor and stain gone. We’ve even had success removing dog urine stains from untreated hardwood floors.
It has a not unpleasant cover scent, which doesn’t seem to be related to its breakdown power.
We’ve been painting all the rooms in our house and when we finish I save a small container of it, like a cup’s worth, in this little bottle and then just stash it in a drawer of whatever room we painted in. If you drill a hole or remove a painting and pull a nail out, you can spackle it and paint it over with the paint in this bottle rather than leaving big jar somewhere rusting away.
[[This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast with Gareth Branwyn. See all of Gareth's picks here. – Mark Frauenfelder]]
I have a spinal cord injury and this simple plastic gadget holds the keys similar to the way a folding knife holds the blades. It enables me to unlock doors with a minimal amount of effort due to increased torque.
This sander is in every Home Depot in the country and it is average for its primary intended job. But it is excellent as a super-scrubber for tough cleaning jobs: bathtub rings, crusted on pot and pans, outdoor grills, and camping gear.
Ryobi sells kitchen-type nylon scrubby pads in increasing levels of roughness from light duty to heavy duty, that just stick on. The sander is small enough to get into pot and pans but big enough for quick cleaning of very wide expanses. It is a go-to tool for tough cleaning. When used with a lithium battery it will last longer than I can and it shares batteries with the rest of the Ryobi tool line.
This is an outstanding fireplace tool, which I have owned for about 8 years. We have a fire in our fireplace every night in the winter. This tool is long enough to rearrange the fire over the top of the firescreen, making it much more convenient to maintain the fire. By blowing through the tube, you can get coals going very quickly.
We also have a small bellows, but it does not generate nearly as much flow as I can with the Blo-Poke. This tool is beautiful to hold, to use, or to look at. It will last forever. At $154, the cost is high, but I think it is worth it to own a tool this beautiful. I have given several as gifts, and the people love them.
I’m a big fan of this big fan.
I bought my first Vornado Air Circulator in 2007 and have had it running for THOUSANDS of hours. Not long after that I purchased a second one for another room — that too has run flawlessly for (what I estimate is) well over 7,000 hours.
At the low setting it emits a very quiet white noise that I find rather pleasant AND it works just as advertised: it keeps the air in the room moving/circulating.
The the big selling point (to me) is this: The Vornado, “Saves energy by maximizing the performance of heating and cooling systems. When you use a Vornado Air Circulator, you will not have to set your summertime thermostat as low or your wintertime thermostat as high.” (From the product guide.)
Yes. Affirmative. Ya. True.
Installing a door knob is a tricky job, and having to install a new lockset on my daughter’s bedroom door was proving head-poundingly frustrating until the guy at the hardware store sold me this nifty template. Basically, this template idiot-proofs the installation of a door knob.
You screw it to the door where you want the knob, use the included hole saws to cut the holes for the knob and latch and it’s done! This kit costs only a little more than the hole saws you’d have to buy to do the job anyway, and it’s lots cheaper than buying a whole new door if you mess up the job. The two tricky bits are remembering to screw the template to the door, and making sure that the hole saws are tightly screwed to the arbor of the drill. There are more expensive kits with higher quality materials, if you’re planning to install a lot of doorknobs, but this one will probably last me a lifetime.
As your basic all-thumbs carpenter, I really need a device like this!
I installed this item on my sixteen foot garage door about a month ago. It’s snowing outside today here in Denver, but my overhead door is snugly sealed, despite a two inch gap on one side of my door. What is a Snirt Stopper? From the website:
We have designed a garage door bottom seal and threshold seal that mounts to the inside face of the door instead of the bottom, this gives you the ability to adjust the seal up or down allowing you to match any unevenness (up to 2 inches) of shifting floors and garage doors.
Snirt Stopper is the inventor’s euphemism for stopping “snow and dirt.” Actually, it also stops rain, leaves, grass and anything else that might otherwise blow inside your man cave.
There is nothing else like this “tool” on the market, and I found it buried fairly deep on the web by deep searching “garage door gap solutions.”