July 4th — the firebug’s holiday — is coming, so I’m bringing up fire safety again. At the Toolmonger shop, we take safety very seriously, and although we’re not the final authority on fire safety, we run into some good information and try to get opinions from experts when we can. Whether you’re following our advice or someone else’s, make sure you’re as prepared for a fire as you can be — it could be your shop, or even a life on the line.
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The 4th of July is this Friday and we’re sure everyone’ll be celebrating Independence Day with the same time-tested recipe — cookouts and fireworks. This year, as usual, we’ve heard tons of stories and plans from guys who’re cooking up the ultimate home-brew fireworks display.
If you plan to light up the backyard and show the neighborhood what you got, let us know and send us some pics of your ostentatious display. We get a kick out of seeing them or hearing the stories about the ones that didn’t turn out right — you know, the stories that end with, “Then it chased me halfway down the street.”
We recommend that you check your local laws, understand the safety guidelines for the fireworks you buy, and learn how to properly dispose of them after firing. It was much less complicated when we were kids — light it, watch it explode, run away.
The National Council on Fireworks Safety [Website]
Memorial Day is past, but I say there’s no time like the present to work on converting all you pegboard haters — and anyway, Fourth of July is almost here! Alligator Board offers metal pegboards and accessories in many varieties, but this specialty item really caught my eye. Whether your patriotism is flashy or not, this pegboard will set the record straight and put you back on the red-blooded-American list.
Alligator Board sells the flag pegboard for $200, plus $34 shipping.
We’re taking today off to enjoy some steaks by the grill — we are Texans, after all — the Transformers movie, and maybe some fireworks later this evening. But we wanted to mention a couple of things before we hit the grocery store for some ribeyes:
First, in the spirit of independence, Toolmonger contributor Nate Bezanson has compiled a list of a few more “made in the USA” tools for your consideration:
- Made in the USA since 1964, Bondhus hex tools have a reputation for quality and precision, and they’re available almost everywhere tools are sold. That’s an unusual combination, but it shows what a little American ingenuity, and some market savvy, can do! (Bondhus Hex Tools [Corporate Site])
- Made in Meadville, Pennsylvania since 1886, Channellock pliers are so common their name is nearly a generic term. And while their new handle color scheme looks like it should be flapping in the breeze on Superman’s back, the tools themselves offer all the serious performance you’d expect. (Channellock Tools [Corporate Site])
- Armstrong got their start making bicycle repair tools in the 1890s, and now they manufacture a wide variety of industrial hand tools. They’re made in the USA and carry a lifetime warranty. And unlike many industrial suppliers, their website is actually pretty user-friendly. So head on over and spend some time drooling! (Armstrong Industrial Hand Tools [Corporate Site])
Next, we’d like to remind everyone about our friendly competition with the folks over at This Old House’s “The Hardware Aisle” blog. Our buddy Harry over there has been posting July 4th-themed tools from his New York City office like mad, and we’ve been having a ball, too. If you’ve got a second, look at the previous post and vote for your favorite.
Finally, we’d like to let those of you who’ve emailed to ask if we’re going to be at this fall’s Maker Faire in Austin know that yes, we’ll definitely be there. We’re still discussing in what capacity, but if nothing else we’ll be there with some tools and maybe even some of our crazy projects. We had a great time in San Francisco, and we’re looking forward to the “no coast edition.”
Have a good time today, and be careful with those fireworks. Remember: beer + steak = good. Beer + more beer + fireworks = bad.
(Thanks, Chefanden for the great CC-licensed photo.)
Sometimes you can’t avoid working on live live circuits, and for those times, I want Cementex tools. They’re double-dipped — first in one color, then another — so you can easily see cuts and scratches in the outer layer before they become dangerous.
They’re also not cheap — the pictured cutters street at around $180 and basic pliers start around $30 — but when you’re betting your life on them, quality and safety are worth paying for. And, of course, they’re made in the USA!
Practically synonymous with keychain LED lights, the Photon series (and all of LRI’s other products) are made in Oregon. The Micro-Light II improves on the original by offering a small switch that locks it on for hands-free lighting. It’s not as bright as a full-size flashlight, but as with any “every-day carry” item: the best tool is the one you have with you.
And for convenience, the Photon can’t be beat, especially since it’ll set you back less than $20.
Cable pullers — called “come-alongs” by the fence-mendin’ ranch crowd — are undeniably the easy answer to “how are we gonna move that 6,000-pound doohickey?” This beauty from American Power Pull is pretty much what you’d expect in a puller, but with two features that set it apart from the rest: cast (instead of stamped) steel construction and a “third hook.”
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Old Glory on a right-hand drive British icon? Oh, the irony! The owner of this old-school, not-a-BMW Austin Mini inherited it from his parents, who bought it to autocross while stationed in Southern England back in the ’60s. The owner’s parents say they were the only Americans autocrossing in their local Mini Club, which inspired the stars-and-stripes paint job.
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Even if you don’t smoke, a lighter comes in almost as handy as a pocket knife — especially with fireworks season upon us! Manufactured in Pennsylvania since 1932 (and also in Canada more recently), the Zippo lighter is an American icon as well as an indispensable tool.
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