Advice on How to Choose the Best Cordless Tools in Todays Crowded Marketplace

Advice on How to Choose the Best Cordless Tools in Todays Crowded Marketplace

The indispensable cordless tools, how did we ever get along without them? If your cordless tools are more than a few years old maybe it is time to take a look at the new breed of tools available.

The most noticeable advancements have been in the battery life, charging time, ergonomics, and torque. If your cordless tools are more than a few years old, maybe you should consider taking a look at what’s new in the market. Over the years it’s been my experience that when it comes to cordless tools, you actually get what you pay for! This does not mean you need to purchase the most expensive tool on the shelf.

So maybe you have decided to take a look for yourself? There are many factors to consider when it comes to cordless tools. Will it be used all day long or only once in a blue moon? If you are a homeowner and only use cordless tools around the house for minor projects and repairs, there is no need to buy the top of the line tools. However as I stated before you actually get what you pay for, with this in mind I would strongly recommend staying away from the cheaper tools.

Let’s just pretend you are driving past the local Mega-lumber/roofing/tool store when you suddenly remember you have been wanting to stop in and check out a new cordless drill. You arrive in the tool aisle and you see a 25 ft. long shelf, three levels deep, with nothing but cordless drills. Aqua blue, black, bright orange, light green, putrid green, red, yellow, amongst others which I can not identify. Where does a person start?

Here are a few ideas to help get you started. Ask your dad, brother, brother-in-law, co-worker, father-in-law, or local handyman. Still do not have an answer, then please read on.

Battery strength is one of the most important factors when choosing any cordless tool. Be wary when evaluating battery strength, higher voltage batteries are not always the best. The type of battery plays a big factor in how the drill will perform over a period of time Nick-Cad (Good), Lithium-Ion (Best). Amp/hr is where the cheaper tools fall on their face 1.4 (bad) 2.4 (good).

Chuck size is another factor in determining the purchase of a cordless drill. For the average homeowner a 3/8″ should be fine, however for heavier work a 1/2″ drill should be considered.

Torque means how hard can the drill twist, the higher the better.

Weight of the drill can actually give you a good idea of how well its built, after all, steel gears are heavier than plastic ones.

Color can also tell you quite a bit about a drill, specifically, where it is manufactured. Aqua blue (Switzerland), red (Czech), yellow (Mexico), and sometimes the name will even give it away, Nissan etc.

Aqua blue is my color of choice. I realize there is no comparison between a watch and a cordless drill, but by the same token, there is no comparison between a Swiss watch and a Chinese watch either.

I purchased a cordless tool combo-kit of the 18-volt aqua blue variety in the late summer of 2006. The bag contained a quick 30 minute charger, two 2.4 amp/hr batteries, sawzall, circular saw, flashlight, drill, and a jigsaw. I took it home and fully charged the batteries as the manufacturer recommended. Within a couple of days I had to drive approximately 1,500 3″ screws in treated lumber. My new aqua blue drill performed this task with room to spare, something that would have sucked the blood out of my yellow drill. As of this writing I have no complaints about my aqua blue tools, and would recommend them to everyone.

As far as I know there are no longer any cordless tools manufactured in America and until such a time my hat is off to the Swiss and aqua blue! More information is available on my website.

Rickie Bell of this article has 28 years experience working in the highly competitive housing market of the west and southwest suburbs of Chicago as a carpenter. His job titles have included Master Roof Cutter, Apprentice, and everything in between. Most of his experience is in the high end custom home marketplace, including all aspects of fine homebuilding. For more information go to my website.

Home Building – Columns & Millwork

Home Building – Columns & Millwork

Whether you use columns as an aesthetic design element or give it a supporting role—your home will be greatly enhanced by fitting columns into your architectural plans. Since ancient times columns have graced private homes as both decorative and structural—supporting a wall or roof.

Although the classical designs of ancient Greek and Roman columns are as popular today as ever, don’t feel bound to build the expected, since manufacturers of pre-made interior and exterior columns offer homeowners many different shapes, styles and sizes to choose from. In addition to a plethora of off-the-shelf designs, you can have your columns custom made.

There are three classic orders—think styles—of columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. The Doric order was the earliest of the Greek columns and are the heaviest and thickest. Ionic columns are known for their ram horn capitals and they were the first to use decorative bases. The most complex column is the Corinthian order, which are slender (most architects refer to them as the “female” column), topped with an ornate decorative capital and entablature. They also have a base and plinth, which is basically a tapered ledge that meets the floor. Keep in mind all orders can by custom changed to architectural specifications.

Wooden Columns

Wood columns are a wonderful architectural addition to any home because they add a sense of class and distinction to your home’s overall appearance both inside and out. They are easy to install and can be carved in any shape or style and painted to match or stand out from your home’s decor.

Wood columns should be made of only the finest woods like mahogany, poplar, cherry, pine, oak, maple, and redwood. Most wood column suppliers and manufacturers can carve both round and square columns in sizes consistent with classic proportions, as well as custom shaft diameters for special projects. Wood columns can also be smooth surfaced or fluted with ridges—whatever suits your artistic vision.

If you use hollow wooden columns, they must be vented to prevent built-up moisture from condensing on the inside and rotting the wood. Proper ventilation requires an opening at both top and bottom. To determine the amount of ventilation you will need, divide the column’s diameter (or width) in half and convert to square inches. For example, a 10-inch-diameter column needs five square inches of vent opening at the base and another five square inches at the capital. To keep insects and small critters from making a home, your vents should be blocked with copper screens.

Fiberglass Columns

The preferred material by builders and architects for columns is fiberglass because it offers an attractive look that is more impact-resistant than wood. Like wood they are available in both a round and square shape with a choice of smooth or fluted surfaces. Today’s fiberglass columns are manufactured not only to aesthetically replicate the classic column forms but they are also strong enough to serve as structural, load-bearing columns.

There are so many manufacturers to choose from when it comes to fiberglass that it is important for you understand a bit about how fiberglass is made so you can find a reputable column provider. Fiberglass is actually little glass threads which are spun into thin strands that can be woven into a strong, durable material which is impervious to heat, rust and many other extreme elements. Fiberglass columns are not only made of fiberglass but a compound made by combining fiberglass and plastic. These two materials are heated and then molded into the desired column shape. Basically the plastic provides the structure and the fiberglass provides the strength and durability.

The benefits of fiberglass columns are:

* They can be shaped and painted to give any desired look
* They are weatherproof.
* Insect and critter proof.
* More impact resistant than wood.
* Usually come with a lifetime warranty—check with your manufacturer.
* Easy installation.
* Impervious to moisture, which is great if you live in an area that experiences high humidity.
* Load bearing fiberglass columns can support up to 30,000 pounds.
* Lightweight and require very little maintenance.

Precast Stone Columns

The tradition of classic beauty in architecture is carried on today through pre-cast stone columns rather than natural stone columns. New technology allows builders to create pre-cast stone columns that have the look and strength of ancient Roman columns but without the drawbacks of using natural stone columns. The biggest difference between pre-cast stone columns and natural stone columns is cost. It is much cheaper to pour a stone column into a cast than it is to chisel it out of a giant stone slab.

Another benefit to pre-cast is you don’t have to worry about hidden cracks and crevices. However, if you don’t want a smooth looking column you can have your column designed with a weathered look. Pre-cast stone columns can be manufactured in one piece shafts or in halves and sections to surround steel supports.

Interior Architectural Columns

While the Ancient Greeks and Romans used columns first for support and second for aesthetics, today’s builders and designers have the luxury of using columns solely for the purpose of decoration. Modern construction materials can now support the weight of a roof without placing a column every six feet. Now you can have columns placed anywhere you please. If you want to give the illusion of a bigger space, the careful placement of interior architectural columns can achieve that look. Conversely you can divide a large room by having your designer create two separate spaces without closing off the room with a wall. This is a great idea if you want to divide your living areas but don’t want to break up the grandness of such a large living room.


The price of adding columns to your home will depend on the size and material of the column, its load-bearing capacity and the amount of detailing. A plain, eight-inch-diameter, eight-foot-long wooden column in pine, hemlock, or fir costs about $160. Double that price for one made of redwood or cedar. A comparable column in fiberglass starts around $200 or more for a plain, round eight-footer. Installation will add to the price, but it’s worth every penny to give your home, porch or entryway the grand look of a Greek temple.

Architectural Millwork

Architectural millwork is the easiest and most affordable way to give your home a unique look. Millwork is traditionally defined as woodwork, such as doors, window casings, and baseboards that are ready-made by a lumber mill. Today, millwork refers to many other prefabricated architectural products, particularly those made from polyurethane and fiberglass to create unique columns, balustrades, arbors, crown molding or any other design element you might want to create or recreate. Millwork allows you to duplicate a home from your favorite period – say Victorian, Greek Revival, Colonial or how about recreating a room from “Gone With the Wind.” Whatever you can imagine, you’ll be sure to find a millwork product on the market today that will turn your vision into a reality.


If you really want to give a room a new look or add to your exterior, then you’ll want to check out corbels. With their growing popularity, more and more designs are available for you to choose from. Corbels are available in solid wood, polyurethane and stone. The preferred material is wood, because it’s hand carved and can be painted, stained or glazed to add to your home’s decor. Most manufactures have their own line of corbels to choose from, but you can always have one custom designed. Corbels can be used almost anywhere, but generally you’ll find them used as stand alone on cabinets, furniture, pilasters, door panels or over doors or as support for shelves and mantels.

Ceiling Medallions

Ceiling medallions are a popular way to add class and sophistication to any formal room. Unlike ceiling domes, which are larger and recessed, a medallion is smaller and usually edged with intricate patters that resemble moldings and capitals. Medallions are available in fiberglass, plaster or wood, however fiberglass is fast becoming the preferred material because it easily mimics the look of wood or plaster, but without the worry about it cracking or splitting. Because it is lightweight it doesn’t require extra reinforcement in your ceiling structure like wood and plaster may. While you may love the grand look of a medallion, be sure your home can handle such an extravagant piece.


Moldings are one of the details that can really add to the exterior and interior look of your home. The majority of moldings are made from either polyurethane synthetics or simple wood. Most home designers are choosing polyurethane over wood because it is almost impossible to differentiate between polyurethane millwork molding from painted wood molding. The long term benefits of using this material is that it won’t split, rot or peel like wood will. When it comes to base moldings, it is very durable and can handle daily wear and tear. Despite all the benefits of polyurethane, many people still hold their aesthetic allegiance to wood over synthetics and will take on the added burden of maintaining wood moldings. If you’re a wood purist, be sure that you use high quality wood and have it treated to help prevent rot and insect damage especially on your exterior. When it comes to size and shape there is no limit to the amount of choices available in molding. A good rule of thumb when choosing crown molding, base molding, or window casing is to stay with a pattern, no matter how tempting other selections may be, that matches the architectural style of your home. If you find yourself overwhelmed by all your options, call up your designer for guidance.

Tammy Crosby-Editor, Dream Designs

Fighting Plant Enemies


The devices and implements used for fighting plant enemies are of two sorts:

(1) those used to afford mechanical protection to the plants;

(2) those used to apply insecticides and fungicides.

Of the first the most useful is the covered frame. It consists usually of a wooden box, some eighteen inches to two feet square and about eight high, covered with glass, protecting cloth, mosquito netting or mosquito wire. The first two coverings have, of course, the additional advantage of retaining heat and protecting from cold, making it possible by their use to plant earlier than is otherwise safe. They are used extensively in getting an extra early and safe start with cucumbers, melons and the other vine vegetables.

Simpler devices for protecting newly-set plants, such as tomatoes or cabbage, from the cut-worm, are stiff, tin, cardboard or tar paper collars, which are made several inches high and large enough to be put around the stem and penetrate an inch or so into the soil.

For applying poison powders, the home gardener should supply himself with a powder gun. If one must be restricted to a single implement, however, it will be best to get one of the hand-power, compressed-air sprayers. These are used for applying wet sprays, and should be supplied with one of the several forms of mist-making nozzles, the non-cloggable automatic type being the best. For more extensive work a barrel pump, mounted on wheels, will be desirable, but one of the above will do a great deal of work in little time. Extension rods for use in spraying trees and vines may be obtained for either. For operations on a very small scale a good hand-syringe may be used, but as a general thing it will be best to invest a few dollars more and get a small tank sprayer, as this throws a continuous stream or spray and holds a much larger amount of the spraying solution. Whatever type is procured, get a brass machine it will out-wear three or four of those made of cheaper metal, which succumbs very quickly to the, corroding action of the strong poisons and chemicals used in them.

Of implements for harvesting, beside the spade, prong-hoe and spading- fork, very few are used in the small garden, as most of them need not only long rows to be economically used, but horse- power also. The onion harvester attachment for the double wheel hoe, may be used with advantage in loosening onions, beets, turnips, etc., from the soil or for cutting spinach. Running the hand- plow close on either side of carrots, parsnips and other deep-growing vegetables will aid materially in getting them out. For fruit picking, with tall trees, the wire-fingered fruit-picker, secured to the end of a long handle, will be of great assistance, but with the modern method of using low-headed trees it will not be needed.

Another class of garden implements are those used in pruning but where this is attended to properly from the start, a good sharp jack-knife and a pair of pruning shears will easily handle all the work of the kind necessary.

Still another sort of garden device is that used for supporting the plants; such as stakes, trellises, wires, etc. Altogether too little attention usually is given these, as with proper care in storing over winter they will not only last for years, but add greatly to the convenience of cultivation and to the neat appearance of the garden.

As a final word to the intending purchaser of garden tools, I would say: first thoroughly investigate the different sorts available, and when buying, do not forget that a good tool or a well-made machine will be giving you satisfactory use long, long after the price is forgotten, while a poor one is a constant source of discomfort. Get good tools, and take good care of them. And let me repeat that a few dollars a year, judiciously spent, for tools afterward well cared for, will soon give you a very complete set, and add to your garden profit and pleasure.

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It covers:

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Fixer-Upper Investment: Fix It or Dump It?

Here are several steps to take in order to properly determine whether the fixer-upper house that has caught your attention deserves a seal of approval or a thumbs-down sign:“Location, Location, Location” is Still the Mantra

It doesn’t matter if you’re investing in an apartment, a condominium unit or in this case, a fixer-upper home. When it comes to real estate property, the mantra you still have to recite to yourself is “location, location, location”. Continue to base your decision on location factors: Is it a corner lot? Is it near important establishments? Is it in a well-ordered or peaceful neighborhood?

Make a Thorough Search

Not all fixer-uppers are advertised as such. It’s important for you to make the most extensive search possible. Besides encircling properties listed in the classifieds that fit your budget, drive around the city as well and be alert for “For Sale” signs stuck on posts. Let your friends and acquaintances know about your interest in buying a house as they may be able to point you to the right direction. Be sure to consider foreclosed properties as well.<br><br>Hire an Inspector for a Day

If you’ve found a fixer-upper that makes your wallet feel it has found its soul mate, hire an inspector to accompany you for a tour of the house. Make sure that you give him sufficient time to explore every inch of the house; this will enable him to give you a full evaluation and a thorough appraisal of the property later on.

How Much Do You Plan Buying It For?

The great thing about fixer-uppers is that their presently distressed conditions enable investors to buy them for a lower price than what’s usual. Experts advise investors however to purchase fixer-uppers only up to 20% below its future market value (once everything has been renovated) and no more than that

How Much Do You Plan on Spending?

Now that you’ve bought your dream investment, you can start making changes around the house. But first, plan each change thoroughly. Browse online for contractor listings and have several contractors provide you with their estimates on the house. Check with the appropriate agencies about zoning requirements and other laws that may affect your plans for the house.

How Much Do You Plan Selling It For?

Now that all repairs and remodeling have been completed, you can finally compute the probable selling price of the fixer-upper once everything that needs repairing has been fixed. Again, keep in mind that fixer-upper homes are usually priced at affordable rates.

Lastly, be ready to negotiate. Only billionaires tend to accept the initial purchasing price of any item.

The above article was written by Sarah Miller on behalf of a buzzing online Home Improvement community where homeowners easily and painlessly find the right contractor for their home improvement projects and in turn, contractors can find the right Home Improvement Leads! Also check out the Blog for more related Home Improvement Articles and Ideas.

Winning Tactics For Installing Skylights

Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, installing skylights can drastically improve the atmosphere in your home.

Windows and skylights are two separate products that can greatly contribute to the quality of your home. There is definitely a fine line between your home being too bright and being too dark and dingy; and with skylights, you can easily change the atmosphere of your home to whatever suits your taste. They can also save on energy bills if you pay attention to the energy efficiency ratings.

Installing skylights, while certainly easier to do before your home has been completely built and furnished, can be done at any time while you own your house. If you have a relatively decent knowledge of structures and how to operate many of the required tools, chances are you can do this project yourself. You will need some basic carpentry skills, such as accurate measuring, cutting and fitting. Furthermore, installing skylights in your home can be made much easier if you have access to your attic and any plans that may have been drawn up that detail the structural layout of your home. After all, you do not want to cut blindly into your ceiling and hope you hit a good spot to install a new skylight. You may end up cutting into power cables or water pipes.

A great and much more popular alternative to installing skylights yourself is to hire a professional. There are countless contractors out there who would simply love your business, so be sure to ask around and find a contractor who seems right for the job. It is also important to get local references about contractors, as there are many who will not hesitate to rip you off without ever doing any work to your home. A great way to find a contractor is to ask friends, family and co-workers if they know someone they did business with.

Hiring a contractor to do the job of installing skylights in your home will begin with a simple introduction and overview of the home where the contractor will make sure you have the right types of ceilings to benefit from a skylight. After a general appraisal and firm quote for how much the project will cost, the contractor should return in a timely fashion with the appropriate skylights in hand and he and his team will set to work installing them. While not a lengthy process, you will definitely want to remove any prized furnishings and breakable items from the work area before installing skylights.

Bill Urell

Handy Services are they for You ?

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