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Posts by: Audra Heaslip

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As interest in urban and rooftop gardens increases, especially where growing space and access to fresh produce is limited, companies like Trenton Forging in Michigan are stepping in to help. The company developed a system that transports excess heat in the form of water through piping; from there it runs to the rooftop and through narrow metal tubes that heat a rooftop greenhouse. So far they’ve harvested tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and strawberries, and they share the produce among the company employees and visitors.

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The Scarecrow CRO101 Motion-Activated Sprinkler from Contech Electronics is one of the scariest and most hilarious things I’ve seen lately. A bestseller on Amazon with hundreds of positive reviews, the Scarecrow is intended for “humane animal deterrence” and can spray a moving object in a 1,000 square foot area — though many of those glowing reviews mention that users should beware that the Scarecrow will shoot at anything that moves, so don’t forget to turn it off from behind before enjoying that mint julip out back. The Scarecrow’s made of a plastic shaft with a metal sprinkler head and motion detector — all you need to buy is a 9v battery and a poncho.

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Flickr user whiteforge has a great collection of forged and antique tools, as you may remember from previous TM posts. This set of adjustable wrenches he posted caught my eye, since I’ve never seen any quite like them. Oldtools in the UK has some cool-looking twisted handle wrenches that are similar, but not identical.

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The “Heavy Duty ‘Driver’ Bench Saw” from a 1931 Sears/Craftsman catalog, only four years after Sears registered the brand, boasted that it came “complete with motor” and Timken tapered roller bearings. It cost $9.50 at the time (an average month’s rent on a house was $18), and was considered innovative for its speed and durability. What I find interesting is how little the basic technology of the table saw has changed in 80 years — or how advanced it was for its time.

1972 Craftsman 10" bench saw for $159

1972 Craftsman 10 Inch bench saw for $159

Modern Craftsman 10 Inch Table Saw, $799

Modern Craftsman 10 Inch Table Saw, $799

The modern Craftsman 10″ runs on exactly the same 1.5 hp, and at 3450 rpm is in many ways the same tool as the Depression-era saw. Though I have to admit that I see some pretty big changes in the 40-or-so years between the first saw and the second — besides the fact that the price seems to have dropped significantly, at least in relative terms. (Considering that one can rent a house now for $750 to, say, $1,500, you can now own a Craftsman 10″ saw for somewhere between half and the same price.)

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How many Toolmongers own a folding saw? I haven’t seen them very often, but the Sven 15″ from REI is one I’m thinking of putting in the toolkit in our truck. With an aluminum frame, it weighs only 15 oz. and reviewers say it’s so effective and easy to use (one said “like a deli slicer on a salami”), you have to take special care to keep your fingers out of the way. Fortunately the blade folds into the handle for storage.

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We’re in the middle of camping season for many Toolmongers, and an inexpensive magnesium firestarter is always handy to have — especially for under $5. SE’s version comes with a magnesium rod and a striker that is flat on one side and serrated on the other. Most folks recommend using the flat side for shaving a small amount of magnesium into the pile of Stuff You Wish to Burn, then using the serrated edge to strike the rod.

It’s safe, lightweight (0.6 oz), and at 2.75″ fits easily into your pocket — so whether you’re celebrating the fourth, camping with the family, scouting — it’s not a bad idea to keep one of these around.

SE Emergency Fire Starter Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

Sears is offering $10 off the Gorilla 2-in-1 Utility Cart if you purchase it through their website for $64.99 after discount. The cart is 38″ by 20″ by 10″ and weighs 47 lbs., and it can haul loads up to 800 lbs. It’s comprised of a steel mesh deck with removable folding side walls that turn it into a flatbead, and when you pull the pin out, the metal handle becomes a trailer hitch.

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As usual for this time of year, the big boxes are offering deals on basic- and classic-model ceiling fans. Currently Lowe’s is selling the Harbor Breeze 52″ classic fan (pictured above) for $45; Home Depot has apartment-style Littleton fans for around $20(!), and even Amazon’s got a couple of deals on Emerson and Westinghouse fans.

In my experience, ceiling fans need not be expensive or fancy to do the job. Keeping the air moving and the a/c bill down in the summer is my prime concern, and $40 is the right price for the savings in both energy and cash.

Hampton Bay 52″ Farmington Ceiling Fan [Home Depot]
Harbor Breeze 52″ Classic Brushed Nickel Ceiling Fan [Lowe’s]
Littleton White 42″ Ceiling Fan With Light Kit [Home Depot]
Emerson 52″ Ceiling Fan Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

The Slime 70003 Flat Tire Repair System (that’s the actual company name) is now on sale at Amazon for 71% off retail, at just $14.27. It seemed like a good deal until I noticed the reviews [What’s This?]. People remarked that the “slime” canister exploded everywhere, replaceable parts are nowhere to be found, and since the manufacturer has discontinued the product, it’s a one-shot deal with no way to get a slime refill. The worst part: Many have noted that, while this can save your tire once in an emergency, it’s also likely to ruin the tire if any residual slime stays in it, so be prepared to have it cleaned afterward, too.

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If you want to keep cords and cables from merging into a humongous serpentine mess, and if you like donuts or lazy river rafting, the Cordpro CP-100 may be right for you. Okay, it’s just a round yellow reel, but this is the beauty of it: no motorized parts, no complications — just a simple solution.

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