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After we sprung ahead into Daylight Savings Time, I changed the batteries in all my smoke detectors. Since we’ve lived in our house over ten years now, I figured I’d also take the time to replace the last of the old smoke detectors installed by the previous homeowner.

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Imagine my surprise when I take one of the old detectors down, start to remove the bracket, and find drywall anchors sunk into the floor joist. I can think of two reasons why the anchors were there: the previous homeowner drilled holes that were too big and used the anchors to reduce the size of the holes, or the previous homeowner didn’t realize you don’t need drywall anchors in wood. Given some of the other repairs I’ve uncovered, I’d guess the latter, but maybe I’m being cynical.

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If you have power tools, chances are you’ll probably need a first aid kit someday. Festool hopes you’ll add their first aid kit to your stack of Festool Systainers and be ready for that day.

Festool packs 167 certified ANSI/OSHA first aid supplies into one of their SYS 1 Systainers and marks the red latches with the quasi-universal symbol for first aid. If you do end using it, Festool includes details for reordering supplies with the kit.

Festool doesn’t come right out and say it, but they do imply that they are only making a limited number of these Systainer first aid kits. When you do find one, you’ll pay $89.

First Aid Systainer [Festool Blog]
First Aid Systainer [Festool Products]
First Aid Systainer [Ace Tool]

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Do you ever get the inclination to look really silly in your shop? Wearing a pair of Shoe Bibs will satisfy that urge and then some. Just make sure that nobody sneaks a picture while you’re wearing them or you’ll be the laughing stock of the Internet.

Seriously though, you wear the shoe bibs around your ankles to prevent sawdust and other debris from falling into your shoes and socks. Personally, I don’t really notice any  sawdust or swarf getting into my socks or shoes — somehow it finds a way into my shirt or jeans pocket, but fortunately these won’t help. The bibs stay in place thanks to hook-and-loop fasteners, otherwise known as Velcro.

Available only in Desert Camo (Really? What are you trying to hide from in your shop?), fashionistas can pick up a pair at WoodCraft for $20 before shipping.

Shoe Bibs [WoodCraft]

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A couple of years ago I wrote a post about AO Safety’s WorkTunes, and ever since then I’ve thought about buying a similar pair. Finally after getting sick of swapping ear buds for hearing protection every time I needed to do something noisy, I grabbed a pair of Stanley AM/FM/MP3 Earmuffs from Menards. Here’s the rundown on my experience with them:


You adjust the size of the headband from both sides of the earmuffs. Each side can travel from the 1 line to one more notch past where it is in the photo, or about 2″. This gives you 4″ of total adjustment. I don’t have a huge head — I wear a size 7-1/4 baseball cap, and I have the earmuffs adjusted to almost full size. If your head is much larger, I’d start to worry about these earmuffs being too small.

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Those clear plastic guards that come with some chisels are way too easy to lose. Only friction holds them in place and they’re so light, you can’t hear them drop to the floor and bounce under the bench — and you’ll never spot them before the vacuum gets them. And sure they may protect the chisel edge from a few bumps, but how much protection would they actually provide if you dropped the chisel?

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Ben — not the Ben, but you know, another Ben — asks: “I’m in the market for a decent pair of safety glasses. I’ve had lots of cheap-o plastic ones and they usually get scratched up after just a few days. I also need something fairly low profile as a lot of what I do is work on my back under my car in the garage (on my sweet Harbor Freight creeper!) and crap keeps falling into my eyes. PS: What are ‘dual wrap’ lenses?”

Stop me if I’m wrong, Toolmongers, but “dual wrap” usually refers to “wrap around lenses” — the Oakley-looking ones you see a lot of guys wearing these days. Personally, I have a couple of pairs of the cheap ones Ben mentioned plus a mix of cheap low-pro plastic models, and a single full-face shield. I mix and match for the occasion. But as to the best all-round models, I thought I’d open the floor here in comments to see what everyone else uses.


I first saw the Resp-O-Rator Jr. a few years ago while reading my tool site feeds. The fact that it was only available at Hartville Tool and not at someplace I normally shop, like Amazon, relegated it to my list of tools I’d like to buy someday.

What interested me was that it looked like an interesting solution to many of my issues with paper masks:

  • They steam up glasses, both safety and prescription
  • They don’t feel very comfortable
  • They are a pain to take on and off, especially while wearing a hat
  • They really don’t fit well enough to stop all the dust

At a higher price, a paper mask with a valve helps with fogging somewhat by directing your hot, moist breath out the valve rather than letting it leak out the edges, but it’s still a pain to wear. A full-blown respirator works better still, but is expensive and somewhat heavier.

So, rather than fitting over your mouth and nose, the Resp-O-Rator Jr. goes in your mouth somewhat like a snorkel. This is a much smaller area to seal — plus it’s air and water tight. They provide a coated wire nose piece that pinches your nostrils shut so you don’t accidentally breath in through your nose.

In Use
Recently, I needed to buy a tool that I could only find reasonably priced at Hartville Tools. As I was checking out, I looked at my list and remembered the Resp-O-Rator Jr., so I thew it into the cart. After using it for a few hours in the shop I’d like to share my observations.

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Many times when you blow a breaker, lose power, or even if the cord just becomes unplugged, you forget to turn off the tool. This can lead to the dangerous situation where the tool restarts unattended after you restore power. This may not always be a problem, but what if you left stock in contact with a blade or you left the belt sander face down on the table?

Woodcraft amusingly describes this scenario in their writeup of the SafetyGate:

Most belt-sander races aren’t sanctioned events. Accidentally pull the trigger, set the tool on your bench, and when as you plug the cord into the outlet, you’ve got yourself a track-side seat.

Sanctioned belt sander races are fun, but when an accidental trigger pull turns your workbench into the drag strip, the event ends with a damaged workpiece or trashed tool. Considering the potential of other tools, it’s easy to imagine how an unexpected start–when you’re plugging it into an outlet, or resetting a blown fuse–can be much worse than an amusing anecodote [sic].

Plug the SafetyGate into the outlet and your tool into the SafetyGate. If you leave the tool on when the power goes out, its patented sensor technology recognizes this and prevents current from flowing to the tool when power is restored. When this condition happens a yellow LED on the device turns on and you need to switch the tool off then back on again to make it work.

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When Sean reviewed the GRR-Ripper almost three years ago (TM 6/19/07), most of the comments indicated it was too expensive at ~$70. Well, through May 29, 2010, Woodcraft has it available for $59.99, a $20 reduction from its current list price. Amazon has it for the same $59.99 price (they’re linked to Rockler). The GRR-Ripper grips and hold both sides of the work piece, and can be used on table saws, router tables, and jointers.

Any more TM users of the GRR-Ripper since Sean reviewed it? What do you think? Is this a Dealmonger @ $59.99?

Micro Jig GRR-Ripper System [Woodcraft]
GRR-Ripper Adjustable Push Block Via Amazon [What’s This?]

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Whether you work in a school, office, or retail store, there are times you want to hang displays from the ceiling. Rather than climbing up on a ladder, or more likely a chair or desk, to stick paper clip hooks into the suspended ceiling, check out the HangUmUpEZ system which allows you to install special suspended ceiling hooks while standing firmly on the ground.

There are two kinds of hooks you can use, depending on whether you want hang your display from the edge frame for wall hanging or a cross member for hanging in the middle of the ceiling. Both the J-hook style and the edge style hooks can be easily installed from the ground using their special tool which threads onto an extension pole.

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