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Posts by: Steve Carroll

While it is assumed that most of our readers have outfitted themselves with a set of the common tools, this Denali 115-piece Home Repair Kit might be a good idea for those that haven’t.

The Denali kit includes a hammer, 4 pliers, 16 Allen wrenches, a ratcheting screwdriver with over 60 bits, 88 drill bits (but no drill), a utility knife and a pretty big bag to store it all.

On sale at Amazon for $45, the Denali Home Repair Kit appears to be practical enough for most basic home repair/home improvement jobs that appear on the weekly “honey do” list.

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


The ShelterLogic Garage Screen installs across your open garage bay door to allow breezes and more light into your garage. While I probably wouldn’t host a party like the good people in the photo, more than once has a neighborhood dog wandered up to me while I’ve been under the car. It installs with a Velcro-like tabs, and tie-up storage allows the garage door to open and close with it installed. The kit shown includes the poly screen, pet door, tie-backs and roll-up pipe.

The Garage Screen is available in widths for both single and double garage doors, roughly $80 and $120 respectively.

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


I’ve used nails, pencils, dowels, and even packing tape to try to keep my glue nozzles clear, and none consistently work; when I try to use them again, the tube is soft but the nozzle is solid. The Twist-n-Seal Stopper forms an air-tight seal on plastic nozzles by tapping threads in the malleable plastic. The threads will withstand 40 lbs of axial force so it won’t pop out. The glass-reinforced plastic plug is non-stick and is removed by unscrewing from the tube. The top is flattened to stand upright when removed, keeping things clean on your workspace. You can find the Twist-n-Seal at Lee Valley for $3.20/pkg of five.

Twist-n-Seal Stopper [Lee Valley]


If you have an odd-shaped yard or certain plants that need more water than others, the Noodlehead Flexible Lawn and Garden Sprinkler allows you to point 12 “noodles” to precisely the right place for optimal watering. Product literature indicates that the three holes in each noodle give you six feet of coverage, up to 20 feet away, under normal water pressure.

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Northern Tool offers this $30 propane torch kit for burning weeds and melting snow and ice. With a six-foot hose and a two-foot handle, you’ll need to figure out a way to haul around the (minimum) 20lb propane cylinder.

The torch kit has a manual igniter, so be sure to pick up a proper ignition source as well. Your cigarette lighter is not recommended.

The trick to getting these work right is to singe the weeds, boiling the moisture in the plant cells above ground to dehydrate the weed to a point of no return. It doesn’t take much to terminate — just a second or two — and you must absolutely be careful when using this in drier fields to prevent flare-ups.

In the winter, once you’ve melted all your snow, make sure to sweep the water off the driveway. Otherwise it’ll just end up refreezing, forming your new skate rink, which will amuse your kids but won’t make the 6:00 am departure for work any easier.

Propane Torch Kit [Northern Tool]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


The easy-to-relocate metal hooks that make pegboard so versatile also make pegboard so frustrating. By design, the hooks pop right out of the hole so you can insert them elsewhere. Unfortunately, pulling tools off usually means the hook comes with it, which then falls and bounces out of sight.

Crawford’s Peg Locks are a solution — the picture shows how these small plastic clips attach over the hook and clip to the pegboard. Removal involves using a flat knife or screwdriver to pull out one tab.  About a dime each ($2.62 for a pack of 25 at Amazon), they fit both 1/4″ and 1/8″ pegboard.

Crawford Peg Locks [Corporate Site]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


The Cool Surge Portable Air Conditioner “is a work of genius…so advanced that no windows, vents or freon are required.” With advertising copy like that, there’s no wonder folks are lining up to spend $298 to get one. (Cool Surge is a division of Heat Surge, the same folks that sell the Amish fireplaces.)

Once you’ve frozen the two “glacier packs” (no different from the keep-your-lunchbox-cool gel packs) and filled the unit with about a gallon of water, the Cool Surge claims to blast out “ice-chilled” air for hours, using only the power of a 60W light bulb.

Consumer Reports took the Cool Surge to task and found that during a four-hour test the device “failed to appreciably cool” a 227-square-foot room that began at 85° F and 57% humidity, common conditions for an average summer day. At “desertlike” 25% humidity, after four hours, the Cool Surge dropped the room by only two degrees. Based on these results, Consumer Reports has given the Cool Surge the “Don’t Buy: Performance Problem” rating.

Cool Surge [Corporate Site]
[Consumer Reports]


The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a voluntary recall of approximately 94,000 Kidde PI2000 dual sensor smoke alarms. The alarms can be identified by two buttons, “HUSH” and “PUSH AND HOLD TO TEST WEEKLY,” which are located on the front/center of the alarm. The model number and date code are on the back of the smoke alarm. Only date codes 2008 Aug 01 through 2009 May 04 are included in this recall.

An electrostatic discharge during installation can damage the unit, causing it not to warn consumers of a fire.

Recall Information [CPSC.gov]


While sports-themed, bike-themed, and just plain girly hardhats have been spotted before, they all take second fiddle to Smith and Wesson’s hardhat. It comes with a four-point nylon ratchet suspension, a wide brim for protection against harmful UV rays, and is in compliance with ANSI Z89.1-2003 (Class G electrical-low voltage).

Fashioned after the classic ten-gallon Stetson, this one will hold remarkably less, but after a day or two on site, you probably shouldn’t drink out of it anyway.

The Smith and Wesson hardhat will fit head sizes from 6½ to 8, and will set you back $29, partner.

Street pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


Somewhere in the “honey-do” lists created each weekend, I have a few recurring maintenance tasks. My monthly items get done the first weekend of a new month, the semi-annual ones when the clocks change. The quarterly and every-other-weekend ones have been hit-or-miss, until I grabbed these Days Ago digital counters from the kitchen.

Designed to keep track of the age of your leftovers, mine sit above my workbench and tell me how long it’s been since I’ve checked the termite traps and cleaned the pool filter. The display increments daily (up to 99 days, sufficient for quarterly checks), and are reset by simply pushing the button on the face.

They cost $10/pair, in an assortment of “stunning” colors, with either magnetic or suction cup attachments. Some Amazon reviewers report the suction cups don’t suck well — I’ve used the magnetic ones in the garage for quite a while without trouble.

Magnetic Counter Via Amazon [What’s This?]
Suction Cup Counter Via Amazon [What’s This?]