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Posts by: Nate Bezanson
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Trenches are man-eating cave-in monsters waiting for the right moment to spring their collapsing trap, so the last thing you want to do is anger one by walking in with a vibrating soil compactor. That’s why smart construction workers drive the compactor in by remote control.

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To make your living on a roof, you need two things: super-human ankles and traction. You’re on your own for the former, but Cougar Paws can help in the grip department! A dense, fibrous-mat sole is exactly what you want for a sure-footed grab on granular shingles, but the material wears out quickly. Cougar Paws have an elegant solution to the problem — Velcro! When you wear a sole out, just peel it off and stick a new one on.

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How many 9V gadgets do you have around the shop — or the house? Let’s count: there’s the studfinder, the moisture meter, the fox-and-hound wire tracer, a handful of multimeters, a flashlight, a transistor radio. Wow. The list goes on and on! I’m a big advocate of rechargeable batteries, but the nickel-based chemistries aren’t ideal for most nine-volt applications. Now there’s an alternative: Lithium!

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Sometimes an 1800-watt heatgun is overkill. That’s when the ProHeater proves handy. Intended for heat-shrink applications, this 350-watt mini-heatgun is also ideal for label removal and other adhesive softening.

You probably won’t find it useful for stripping paint, but it most likely won’t melt your cheap extension cord, either. It’s less bulky than a standard heatgun, and will set you back about twenty bucks.

Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?] 

 
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Tired of tearing your hands up on cheap-ass, not-fully-smoothed cast faucet knobs? You could replace the faucet with an expensive modern one, but if the valve’s still good, why not try Faucet Mitts? Just soften these rubber covers in warm water then just slip ’em into place. They’re four bucks a pair and are way, way easier on your hands.

Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]

 
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Here’s an automatic power switch with a twist: Toolmonger has covered a number of such products before, and they all work by turning accessories (monitor and speakers, dust collection vacuum, etc) on and off when the device plugged into the main outlet (computer, saw) is turned on or off. The WattStopper uses a passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor to tell when you’re in the area, and turns things off when you’ve been gone for a while. It’s a different approach that seems well suited to soldering irons and other tools that’re easily forgotten about but might be dangerous if left unattended.

Here’s the great part: The model pictured is discontinued, and WeirdStuff has ’em for ten bucks, which is somewhere between a third and a tenth of normal retail. (Shipping starts around $9.) I’m getting one to plug my soldering station into, though I might press it into service as a trick-or-treater detector first.

WattStopper Legrand makes all sort of PIR-based occupancy sensors and lighting control products, and their site is thick with technical info. If building automation interests you, it’s worth stopping in for a read.

WattStopper Legrand [Corporate Site]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Other WattStopper Products [Google Products]
WattStopper Isole IDP-1000 [WeirdStuff]

 
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Working in an unheated garage gets a whole lot less pleasant in the wintertime. But this 135-watt heating element embedded in a rubber floor mat can at least take the chill off your feet. This three-foot mat would be right at home in front of your workbench, under a desk, or perhaps on the benchtop keeping the project warm so your fingers don’t freeze, too.

Pricing on this model starts around $70, but you can find smaller versions for less.

Electric Foot Warmer [Sporty’s Tool Shop]
Foot Warmer Mat [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]

 
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Now through October 1st, Duluth Trading is offering 20% off any order of $50 or more. My mailer had code T27PC2 printed on it, though it looks unique so I apologize in advance if it stops working after a few orders.

If you’re not familiar with Duluth Trading, head on over and take a look. They carry all sorts of stuff, including comfy clothing (they’re very fond of “fire hose” canvas), tool bags and organizers, travel supplies, even books. It’s a collection of cool stuff, the perfect time-sink for a Friday!

Duluth Trading [Corporate Site]

 
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Grilling is easier when you can get a grip on the food, and this combination flipper and tongs set is truly more useful than the sum of its parts. The flipper blade slides under burgers more easily than the end of regular tongs, and the top tong holds securely for easy flipping and serving. Rubber-dipped handles make ’em comfy, and at four bucks there’s no excuse not to own a set.

Rome Supertong Combo [Campmor]
Street Pricing [Google Products]
Via Amazon [What’s this?]

 
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Basic voltage and current measurements from a simple multimeter are adequate for DC electronics work, but when you deal with inductors, an LCR (inductance, capacitance, resistance) meter becomes essential. Siborg’s new Smart Tweezers combine an ergonomic design with a great feature set, targeted squarely at the surfacemount market.

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