A Shop Vacuum with Features Galore
Our editors here at TFH are great, but they can be messy. And I should know—I’m in charge of keeping our shop and studio clean. I run a wet/dry vacuum nearly every day, so I was pretty excited about the new 14-gallon Shop-Vac we just got. It has a flexible, crush-resistant hose and a hose storage system that actually works. Its 20-ft. cord is plenty long, and it has a hose accessory storage system that, again, actually works.The canister is clear, so you know when it needs emptying, and the kickstand holds the lid up, so you can change the filter without dragging dust
all over the place. But I love the wheels best of all. This thing glides across the floor like a curling stone across the ice.
This new Shop-Vac (model No. 8891411) is available at Lowe’s for $199.
Josh Risberg, Lead Carpenter
It’s a Utility Light, Lantern, Flashlight and More…
Here’s another product we received that initially elicited a shoulder shrug, this time from our senior editor, Travis Larson. His reaction changed once he started playing with it: ‘Hey, it can work as a flashlight or a lantern. Cool, it’s rechargeable and the cord stays attached so it doesn’t get lost. Wow, you can charge your phone with this thing. Neat, it has a magnet on the bottom as well as a hook.’ Needless to say, he was impressed.You can buy the Cat brand CT6515 Rechargeable Utility Light/Lantern for about $45
at some home centers, hardware stores and online retailers. You can also find them at truck stops (truckers love them). Turn on that light bulb thought bubble of yours with other work light solutions.
A Toilet Plunger to Love
The basic plunger design hasn’t changed much in 100 years, but that’s not because there wasn’t room for improvement. Witness the Korky Beehive Max Toilet Plunger.First of all, the pliable rubber creates a better seal, so it clears clogs with no splash-back. Plus, more and more toilets have keyhole-shape rather than round discharge openings. Unlike conventional plungers, the Beehive reshapes itself to those keyholes, which also improves the seal.
Unlike many plungers, the water drains instantly because there’s no recess or lip to hold water or worse. The little T-handle at the top is a nice touch too. All of that plunging bliss will set you back only 14 bucks at The Home Depot.
Or if you’re toilet is running, find the fix for it.
One for All
The Honeywell Wireless Doorbell Kit
has six high-quality chimes to choose from, the volume is adjustable, and more than one doorbell and button can be used together. But what we love most is the fact that it can be lifted from the wall mount and brought with you into your shop, out in the backyard or wherever. So if you’re waiting on a pizza delivery or the cable guy, you don’t have to stay chained up inside the house. It has a 225-ft. range and a flashing icon to alert you in case you’re working with headphones.Learn to replace an exterior door
if you want to upgrade your home.
Smarter Smart Bulbs
The new line of LED lightbulbs from GE
, simply called ‘C,’ can be directly controlled with a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth ? no central hub necessary. There are two types of bulbs in the ‘C’ line: The ‘C Life’ is an all-purpose light perfect for the kitchen, living room or office. The ‘C Sleep’ bulb has been designed to support the body’s natural circadian rhythms, which can help you sleep more soundly. It emits a traditional soft light for the day; a warm, calming light before bedtime; and a crisp, energizing light in the morning. Using an app, the lights can be dimmed and set to a timer as a group or individually. When run for three hours a day, the bulbs should last 20 years!You can start thinking about replacing lights in your new workshop area with LED lights.
Fast Fix for Pet Stains
I have a dog, a cat and carpeting, which is why the Bissell SpotBot is the best Internet purchase
I’ve ever made. The SpotBot is a hands-free spot and stain cleaner. The coolest part about this thing is that it does all the work for you. Just fill it full of water and cleaning solution, park it over the stain, push the start button and walk away. It automatically squirts the special cleaner into the carpet, scrubs with a rotary brush, and rinses and sucks up all the mess. When it shuts itself off, the stain is gone, and I just empty the reservoir into the toilet. I love this thing! Search for the SpotBot 33N8A online or buy it at discount stores for $130.Be sure to have these pet cleaning tips
in your backpocket as well.
Sam Larson, Field Editor
Eliminate Stinky Gasoline Smells
I actually love the smell of gasoline? except when it’s on me. If I spill a little on my hands when I’m at the pump or fueling my lawn mower, I have to wash right away. But even after a wash or two, the smell seems to stay with me for hours. Not long ago, I replaced the carb on my snow blower and my hand got soaked with fuel. Later that day, I was in my local home center sporting a powerful eau de petrol when I came across Gas Off wipes by Briggs & Stratton
. I opened the package right then and there, and by the time I reached the checkout my hands smelled like fresh linen. On my next trip to the store, I bought another pack to keep in my truck. I bought the 15-wipe pack for $5, but Gas Off is also available in single packs and in 8-oz. spray bottles.Find out how to properly store gasoline
Josh Risberg, Set Builder
Dissolve Mortar Like Magic
When you’re pouring concrete near a house, it’s not uncommon for a bit to splash up onto the siding, garage door or window. It’s not a big deal if it gets washed off right away, but woe unto you if you let it dry. Removing cured concrete requires harsh chemicals or a whole lot of scrubbing and scraping.Sakrete has come to the rescue with a product called Concrete Mortar Dissolver. Just spray it on and watch concrete or mortar dissolve. Thick messes will take a couple applications, but it really works. We tried it on some vinyl siding, and it performed as advertised. The best part is that it’s safe; safe enough to apply without gloves. It also won’t harm sensitive surfaces like auto paint. Some pro masons use it to clean their tools. Visit a hardware store to buy a bottle for $13
, or locate a retailer at sakrete.com
Find out how to repair motar joints.
HDPE, a Fast and Maintenance-Free Storage Solution
High-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE) is tough, lightweight and weather resistant. It won’t rot and never needs paint. If those qualities sound good to you and you need a fast storage solution, consider an HDPE shed.The 7×7 Rubbermaid Big Max storage shed shown here is big enough to store yard and garden tools, a pressure washer and a snow blower. And the sturdy floor can easily handle the weight of a riding lawn mower.
In just a few hours, and with the help of a buddy (who probably owes you anyway), you can build this maintenance-free shed. Assembly requires only a couple ladders, a few simple hand tools and afterward perhaps a cold beverage or two. The hardest part might be creating a flat spot in your yard.
The Big Max has lockable doors, and the HDPE panels are rugged enough to resist those wayward baseballs from the neighbor kid. It’s available at Home Depot and other retailers for about $600.
Find out how to fit everything into your shed.
Efficient Bike Storage
Hanging bicycles from the rafters is a great way to save garage space. But even hanging bikes can take up a bunch of room. Here’s a cool space-saving product that puts a new twist on the humble bike hook. The Saris Cycle Glide
is a system of hooks mounted on glides. Once the bikes are on the hooks, they can be slid closer to the wall on the glides that mount perpendicular to the wall. And because the hooks slide back and forth on the lower set of glides, the bikes can be nestled neatly together, taking up a lot less space.This system also makes it easier to take down the bikes when they’re hanging over a parked car, a boat or a big mess like in my garage. That’s because you can pull or push the bikes clear of the obstruction before you lower it. I’ve been using mine for almost a year now, and I love it. You can buy a Saris Cycle Glide for $245 at bike stores or online.
If this style isn’t to your liking check out other bike storage ideas.
Jeff Gorton, Associate Editor
A Better Toilet Paper Holder
My wife recently brought home a pivoting toilet paper holder, which reaffirmed my long-held belief that it’s the little things in life that make us happy. The holder has a pivoting arm that lifts up but stays attached. That means no more chasing spring-loaded rollers around the bathroom floor. Buy this type of paper holder, made by a variety of manufacturers, at home centers or online. The Moen model we bought cost $26 at Home Depot
.If you’re having problems with your toilet flushing, check out our repair tips.
Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
Snap-On USB Outlets
Sure, a funnel works great at keeping fluids from spilling all over, but when you’re done pouring and pull it out of the hole, the fluid leftover in the funnel drips all over the place. I use this Hopkins FloTool On-Off Refill Spout (No. 10101) to keep that from happening. I have one on my windshield washer fluid and antifreeze containers and one on my gallon jug of chain saw bar oil. There’s no mess and no cap to fumble around with?just twist and pour.Hopkins FloTool also makes a Spill Saver Oil Spout (No. 10107) that fits quarts of oil
. I’m not sure I know where my funnels are anymore.
Checkout a flexible funnel for working on vehicles and lawn mowers.
Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
The Only Tool Set You Need
You probably don’t have a complete set of sockets and wrenches in your tool bag or the emergency vehicle kit under your truck seat. And you don’t have to if it contains the new Crescent Pass-Thru Adjustable Wrench Set
. This compact tool kit features 10 spline-style sockets that work with hex, square and external Torx fasteners, from 10mm to 19mm and 3/8 to 23/32 in.The pass-through sockets fit over protruding bolt threads and nuts mounted on studs, eliminating the need to carry deep sockets. For more grabbing power, simply replace the smooth jaw with the serrated side, and you’ve got yourself a pipe wrench, perfect for stripped bolt heads and pipes up to 1 in. You can purchase the kit at The Home Depot and other retailers.
Learn some tricks to loosen nuts, bolts and screws that are tricky.
Creating an accent wall with a stylish wallpaper is a great way to update a room, but it’s amazing how fast ‘trendy’ can become just plain weird. And if you’ve ever had to remove stubbornly stuck wallpaper, you won’t want to repeat the experience.Enter Tempaper, a removable wallpaper that sticks to any smooth, painted or primed surface. When you’re tired of the pattern or you’re trying to sell your house without frightening prospective buyers, simply peel it off. It won’t damage the drywall or leave messy glue behind. It’s also a perfect option for apartment residents who want to decorate without losing their damage deposit. One roll costs $35 to $125. Check out the 90 patterns and watch the installation video at tempaperdesigns.com
Learn how to remove wallpaper if there’s some in your new house you don’t like.
Better Than a Broom
Construction projects create an abundance of all sorts of filth: sawdust, insulation fibers, drywall dust, shingle grit, dirt. It’s everywhere. Sure, you’ll always have to keep a broom and dustpan in your truck, but consider adding a blower to your cleaning arsenal. It’s great for clearing floors during rough framing, blowing shingle grit or slippery sawdust off a roof, cleaning up that miter saw before packing up, blowing out the inside of your work truck…you could even use it to dust yourself off before heading home for the day.
If you’re already running the Milwaukee’s M18 battery platform, check out the new M18 Compact Blower. It has three speed settings, a max airflow of 100 cfm and air speeds up to 160 mph!
Monitor Your Grill From Your Smartphone or Tablet
It’s billed as a grilling thermometer, but it works in your kitchen oven as well. The iGrill2 comes with a controller and two temperature probes but will accept up to four (additional probes are sold separately), so you can track the temperatures of different food items that you’re grilling at the same time. Or use one of the probes to remotely track the temperature inside the grill when you’re slow roasting, smoking or using the rotisserie.Just download the app for your Apple or Android phone. Then insert the probes into the chow and route the cables so they won’t be exposed to flames. Set the app for the desired temperature and activate the alarm. Then walk away. Monitor the progress on your phone from up to 150 ft. The iGrill2 app will let you know when you’ve reached the set temperature. Buy the iGrill2 and accessories from the manufacturer, online stores and discount stores.
Know how to tune up your grill before you fire up.
Super-Fast Wi-Fi Router
If you’re into wireless home video streaming or gaming, or home automation, you need a Wi-Fi router with the best range and fastest speed. Most Wi-Fi routers have a hard time delivering all the available bandwidth when multiple users are online. That’s because they deliver data to only one device at a time. So everyone’s speed is based on the speed of the oldest and slowest device in use at the time. The Netgear Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band Wireless Router solves that problem by adding an extra traffic lane. When the router sees a slowpoke device come online, it diverts the faster devices to the new traffic lane, so everybody gets the fastest possible speed.The Nighthawk router also uses six antennas and Beamforming software to locate and direct the signal toward each device. Together with a fast dual-core processor and a powerful amplifier, this Wi-Fi router gets you the strongest signal at almost every spot in your house.
Find out other ways to get faster internet for your wireless network.
Control Your Tools With Your Phone
Milwaukee’s ONE-KEY line of tools is a new generation of ‘connected tools’ that can be programmed to suit the job.Let’s say you’re installing metal vent using self-drilling screws. Just use the Milwaukee app to find the setting for the gauge and type of metal and the size of the screw. Then program the drill or impact driver using your phone’s Bluetooth. When you squeeze the trigger, the tool will start at a low rpm to prevent the tip from walking across the metal. The electronic torque monitoring senses when the screw bites in and boosts the speed to drive the screw in. Then it’ll slow down and cut off power when the screw reaches the programmed torque—all with a single trigger pull.
The ONE-KEY system also has an inventory management and tool reporting feature for pros to keep track of tools and monitor their workers’ productivity.
Find some handy apps for DIY work.
Vacuum Dustpan Saves Your Back
You may think this Crowley Jones EV1850 Eye-Vac Pro Electric Dustpan represents the ultimate in laziness. But if you have back issues, this smart vacuum/dustpan is for you. Just set the unit to automatic mode and sweep the debris toward it. The motion sensor detects when your broom is within range and starts up the vacuum. Aim the dirt pile toward the suction port and the vacuum will suck it up. If you have pets, they may activate the motion detector when they walk by. That’s why there’s a switched manual mode to activate the vacuum.Discover vacuum attachment uses for dust collection in the workshop
Affordable Inspection Cameras
Not so long ago, video borescopes were for pros only—nobody else could justify the high cost. But over the past couple of years, many manufacturers have jumped into the market with reasonably priced models. So peeking inside walls, appliances and engine compartments isn’t just for pros anymore.The model shown (the General Tools iBorescope) is unique: Instead of having a small video screen mounted on the tool, it sends a wireless signal to your Apple or Android smartphone or tablet. Visit the manufacturer’s site to learn more, purchase it or check out other models. To shop for other brands, search for ‘borescope’ or ‘inspection camera.’
Investigate how to home inspect.
Automatic Water Shutoff
A little leak can lead to huge costs and headaches. That’s why there are water shutoff systems like the WaterCop control valve. Install it right after your main shutoff valve, then locate water sensors (sold separately) near the most likely leaks (water heater, toilets, dishwasher, etc.). If a sensor detects water, it wirelessly signals the valve to shut off. You can also install a temperature sensor that shuts off the water when indoor temperatures fall to 38 degrees F. That won’t prevent the pipes from bursting if they freeze, but it will prevent a flood. Visit the manufacturer’s site for more information.Find you water main and gas shut off
when you move in to a first home or new home.
URPOWER 2-in-1 Waterproof 4 LED Solar Spotlight
These solar lights
are a great addition to any home and can be helpful for new homeowner eager to show off their backyard patio into the evening. These lights are powered by a rechargeable lithium battery and can light up to six to nine hours once fully charged.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Akro-Mils Hardware and Craft Cabinet
A cabinet like this can meet the needs for a lot of items including hardware and crafts. This model is 20 inches by 16 inches and has 36 drawers to store all sorts of goods. The drawers can be rearranged and the unit can be mounted all the wall. Check it out at Amazon
for about $32.If you anticipate storage issues as you look for a house, check out some of these storage solutions
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
The American Red Cross Blackout Buddy
In the event of a blackout, the American Red Cross has a device that will ease your worries. The Blackout Buddy is an emergency LED flashlight, blackout alert and nightlight all rolled into one. It can be used as a flashlight at any time and its battery will run for up to four ours. It lights up automatically in the event of a power outage. You can pick up two for around $20 at Amazon
.Check out tips to survive a blackout
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
SentrySafe Fire and Water Safe
Give new homeowners piece of mind that important papers will be safe in case of an emergency. The SentrySafe Fire and Water Safe offers advanced fire protection, it’s verified at 1,550 degrees F for a 1/2 hour. It’s also water resistant and tested up to 72 hours of water submersion. The safe also comes with an after fire replacement guarantee that SentrySafe will replace your fire resistant safe following a fire. Check it out at Amazon
.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
AccuSharp Knife Sharpener
A knife sharpener can be an overlooked item for new homeowners until they suddenly discover that recently purchased knife set no longer cuts as well as it used to slice and dice. Nip it in the bud buy buying a knife sharpener like this one from AccuSharp
. For $9.95 you might look like a cheapskate but who are the new homeowners going to think of every time they have to sharpen a knife to prepare a meal?Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Lawn mowers and string trimmers can really beat up the bottom of wooden fence and mailbox posts. And that exposed bare wood can deteriorate faster and attract hungry insects. Now you can protect your 4×4 posts (3-1/2 x 3-1/2 in. actual size) with Post Shield rugged plastic sleeves. If your posts have already taken a beating, you can use the sleeves to cover the damage.The four pieces are easy to install and are available in black, white and bronze. The sleeves are sold individually or in a package of six.
Photos: Post Shield
Gas Can That’s Easy to Use
When gas container safety regulations changed in 2009, many gas-can manufacturers produced nozzle mechanisms that were anything but user-friendly. But fortunately for consumers, the folks at No-Spill came up with a gas container that meets the new standards, is easy to use and includes features you’ve always wanted in a gas can.First, the can has an auto-stop nozzle. Just lower the nozzle into your lawn mower tank and press the button. The flow stops when the tank is full. No more gas spills. Brilliant! And the nozzle is self-venting, so the tank fills much faster and without the gurgle-gurgle of other cans. Plus, no more guessing how much gas is left in the can. You can see the level through the viewing stripes on the container.
The No-Spill can is available in 1.25-, 2.5- and 5-gallon sizes.
Self-propelled mowers handle gentle slopes just fine. But if your yard has some serious inclines, you’ve probably experienced this: The mower climbs partway up the hill then slows to a crawl as the tires dig in and chew up your turf.Husqvarna’s HU800AWD solves this problem the same way your SUV does: with four-wheel drive (or ‘all-wheel drive,’ as they call it). Aside from hill-climbing traction, this 22-in. self-propelled gas mower has a powerful 190cc Honda engine and variable drive speed. There’s a water port for easy cleaning—you just hook up your garden hose and start the engine to blast-clean the underside of the deck.
The Worx Aerocart
manages to achieve several nearly impossible goals. It’s a powerful two-wheel wheelbarrow with enough strength to carry 200 pounds. Its highly advanced design helps to automatically center the load, making it easier to haul. You can also convert it to a dolly, add an accessory for hauling chopped wood and extend an arm to carry odd-shaped objects. This wheelbarrow will come in handy for almost any landscaping job.Plus: Easy Garage Storage Solutions
Photo courtesy The Home Depot
No More Knots
Ropes work great to secure tarps, but tying secure knots with the right tension can be tricky. The CamJams from Nite Ize have come to the rescue. Now all you have to do is anchor one end of the cord, run the other end through the CamJam; clip the CamJam to a grommet, and pull the cord—nothing could be easier!
FOM Tablet Stand
Find a place to rest that tablet with the FOM Tablet Stand. The pillow will fit a tablet perfect and let anyone relax with their favorite TV show or movie. Find it on Amazon
for $5.99 and create some instant comfort in the new home for the new homeowners.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
BugZooka Bug Catcher Vacuum
Have some conversation fodder at the house warming party by announcing you’ve brought a bugzooka with you. You’ll be the hit of the party and allow the new homeowners a reasonable way to remove bugs with the BugZooka Bug Catcher Vacuum.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Occidental Leather Electrician’s Tool Pouch
This leather tool pouch has a pocket for just about everything. With 15 pockets, there’s not much you’ll have to return to the garage to dig out for a project. The leatherwork is meant to last and makes this a perfect gift.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Renaissance Chalk Furniture Paint Deluxe Starter Kit
Jumpstart some refurbishing projects for the new homeowners with some chalk furniture paint. Chalk furniture paint is a great way to mix up the style in your house without having to buy new furniture. Plus, you can transform it into a distressed look with a little additional effort.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
The Louisville Ladder is among the best rated ladders on the market and will be a welcomed tool for any new homeowner. This 6-foot model is rated to handle 300 pounds and features slip-resistant rubber feet.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
SEGMART Camping Hammock
When everything is done around the house, give the new homeowners something to relax in. This SEGMART camping hammock is just fine for the backyard after a hard day of housework. It’s ideal for two people as well, it’s rated to hold 600 pounds. Plus, it’s easy to lug around on camping trips since it weighs just 2 pounds.Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Patio Watcher Fire Pit Fire Table
The new homeowners can cozy up together for a nice outdoor fire and watch the stars together. Or, they can entertain guests around the fire with s’mores. This fire pit table has a natural slate top and can be transported to different sites.Later on you can upgrade with a DIY fire pit
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
The hard part of buying of buying the home is over for the first time homebuyers so let them bask in the serenity that is their home. They can enjoy the outdoors and listen to the soothing sound of water with this outdoor water fountain. Easy to use, it is powered by a 110V outlet and is just under 3 feet tall.Find some more contentment by learning how to build a backyard water feature.
Photo: Courtesy of Amazon
Stihl BG 86 Blower
A leaf blower is going to be clutch for fall yardwork for a new homeowner. Give them a leg up with this Stihl BG 86 leafblower. It’s a fairly light weight model at 10 pounds and has some power. Pick up a vacuum accessory and a gutter kit to tackle just about everything.Photo: Courtesy of World of Power
This Echo Chainsaw is going to handle just about everything a backyard is going to throw at a new homeowner. This chainsaw will cut logs up to 3 feet in diameter and is backed by a five-year consumer warranty. The chainsaw has a 18-inch chain and includes an anti-vibration handle.Make sure you sharpen up on chainsaw safety
before using one though.