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Posts by: Scott Rupert

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Last month here at Toolmonger we ran across Jakub Szczesny’s Keret House design for the world’s skinniest house. Coming in at roughly 156 square feet, the entire house literally will fill the empty space between two city buildings in Warsaw, Poland. Nevermind that there is no space for tool storage — it hardly seems like there’s much space for anything. Despite its small size, the design can account for most daily living requirements just as a RV vehicle or boat would. Still, no matter how wonderfully efficient the design, is there such a thing as too small for a house?

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If you’re a Toolmonger, I’m guessing you’re mechanically inclined. But do you remember how you started to learn how to use tools? Do you remember who showed you how to use them, or did you learn on your own? Do you remember what your first projects were? Today I fixed my youngest daughter’s flat bicycle tire, and the experience reminded me of when I first learned to use tools — so I thought I’d share: A bicycle makes a great launching point to introduce others to tools and shop projects.

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I enjoy seeing what I’m looking at, particularly when I’m loading the car up in the pre-dawn hours for one of my son’s long-distance hockey games, unloading the car in the pitch black after coming home from the game, or shoveling the driveway in the dead of winter. Needless to say, my driveway’s three garage-mounted fixtures and the light pole out front need to be bright, but it seems like they’re constantly burning out. It’s annoying because it seems like I replace them at least twice a year. This time I’ve decided to run a longevity test to see how long the bulbs last and inform you of what happens.

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Do you remember buying your first car? Did you buy it yourself, or perhaps your parents bought it for you?  Although my parents let me use their cars when I was in high school, it wasn’t until my senior year in college that I achieved the ultimate in personal freedom and bought my own car. And just a few months ago our oldest daughter earned her driver’s license. Add some grandparent birthday present cash to the license, and the big first car search began. Since our daughter doesn’t know much about cars, the search fell to us as parents. So how exactly do you choose your child’s first car for her?

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Years ago my dad bought me a pretty comprehensive Husky socket set. The sockets remained safely stored in the box for a year or so until we moved into our current house and Dad bought me a tool chest. I had organized the sockets in each drawer by type and size, but over the years the opening and closing of the drawer left the sockets piled up and scattered. As I was repairing my daughter’s car a few weeks ago, I discovered that any remnant of the organized system I once had was gone the way of the steam shovel. I resolved to finally do something about it — I discovered the Tekton socket holder set and for the first time in six years I can actually find a socket in my socket drawer.

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When I scored my new Family Truckster four years ago, I knew the types of abuse I’d be asking it to put up with. I routinely tote screaming, active kids and their friends to practices, games, and events. I’ve led many a family road trip across the mighty United States Interstate system. I’ve hauled the foulest-smelling goalie gear known to youth hockey. I’ve loaded the Truckster to the brim to support my mother-in-law’s craft show hobby. And I’ve used it to retrieve mulch, haul pavers, and transport bikes and dogs. So I knew I’d need to protect the cargo area, but didn’t want to shell out the $100-$150 for an OEM part. Thus a cheap alternative: rubber floor mats.

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When I had my house built eight summers ago, I never suspected the wind — and the wind damage — we were in for. We’ve lost shingles, given up siding, and been struck by lighting. For a Toolmonger who likes to grill out, the wind also hit me where it counted — the grill itself. We generally stored it by the fence to prevent accidents, but storms seemed to hit us during the few times we left the grill out on the patio. After purchasing two cheaper replacement grills which both subsequently ended up wind-totaled, last year I decided to buy a new grill and protect it to be sure it’d last.

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Last summer one of our two outside water faucets started leaking. By the time I shut off the water to the outside faucets for the winter, it had become a constant stream. So this spring before turning the water back on, I talked with a plumber and bounced my impending repair off him. He recommended that I could simply reseal it myself. The repair was simple, cheap, and will prevent me from worrying about my water bill skyrocketing this summer.

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It’s springtime here in Ohio, and with warmer weather comes the reintroduction of our patio. In summer 2007 we contracted out for a new backyard paver patio. It’s held up well despite the sports-sized dogs tearing over it everyday during playtime, plentiful warm weather get-togethers with friends, parties for special events, and the constant Ohio sun. But the patio seating — not so much. We’d purchased a basic patio furniture set from Kroger, but not surprisingly, after three years the grocery-store cushions are totally unusable.

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