11 Products Worth Spending Your Hard-Earned Cash On
These products will practically pay for themselves in convenience, safety, and effectiveness. Every homeowner should have them on hand!
Forget about all those homemade concoctions using washing soda, bleach, etc. Pick up some Concrobium Mold Control, which is formulated to treat mold and mildew on just about any surface. The manufacturer claims that, unlike homemade solutions, Concrobium kills the mold completely and leaves behind an antimicrobial barrier to prevent new growth. Apply Concrobium with a brush, cloth, roller or sprayer, even a pump sprayer. Let it dry, then scrub away any remaining stains and reapply the product to form a protective barrier. You can treat large infested areas, such as crawl spaces, by using the product with a fogger from a rental store. Unlike bleach and other treatments, Concrobium is odorless. You can find it in 1qt. spray bottles, 1-gallon jugs or 5-gallon pails at most home centers or online.
I was helping my neighbor build a garage in 92-degree weather and I noticed he had a cooling towel draped around his neck. He let me try it and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. If you work or play out in the heat, give one a shot. You can buy the Arctic Cove Cooling Towel (or the Cooling Bandana) on Amazon. If you’re not one to read directions, remember this—don’t throw it in the dryer or you’ll wreck it! Take a look at some of these Amazon products you’ll definitely use every day, too.
Easy-install water lines
Next time you’re swapping out water supply lines to a toilet or faucets, try the new tool-free Fluidmaster Click Seal lines. They’re great. Just hand-tighten the knobs until you hear the click and you’ll know they’re sealed and waterproof—no worries about over- or under-tightening. Heavy-duty stainless steel woven cladding helps prevents most line bursts. Available in different lengths and diameters, they’re carried just about anywhere plumbing supplies are sold. Or go to fluidmaster.com to find a retailer. The 12-in. Faucet Connector costs about $10.
Stainless steel magic
I bought my first stainless steel refrigerator a couple of months ago and loved the new look. But no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the fingerprints and other smudges off the finish. After reading the cleaning instructions, I was surprised to find out all the stuff you shouldn’t use (citrus-based cleaners and paper towels, for example). The refrigerator manufacturer recommended a stainless steel cleaner, so I picked up some Weiman Stainless Steel Wipes on Amazon. Holy smokes! They worked great. Fingerprints, smudges, stains—everything wiped right away. My coffeepot, microwave oven, and dishwasher are all looking good. I love these wipes! —Mary Schwender, Production Artist. Here are more hidden gems on Amazon you’ll wish you owned this whole time.
A quiet compressor
Screaming saws, roaring generators and rumbling compressors … wouldn’t it be nice if construction tools didn’t have to be so darn loud. Well, apparently not all of them are. California Air Tools manufactures a line of air compressors that are so quiet you can actually have a conversation or hear the radio while they’re running. The 4610A shown here runs at 60 decibels; that’s about 30 percent quieter than similar models. The tanks are made of aluminum, which reduces the overall weight to only 44 lbs. and won’t rust. You can buy this model at homedepot.com or amazon.com. Watch the video and check out the full line of quiet compressors at californiaairtools.com. Now if we could just get them to start making saws.
Let’s face it—safety glasses are a pain. Most safety glasses are made of cheap plastic that seems to get scratched just from being pulled out of a shirt pocket. That was my experience until I found Nuvo Readers at my local home center. They have very clear, optically correct lenses and adjustable bows to fit most heads (sometimes I forget I’m wearing them). And best of all, they have magnifiers built right in for aging eyes, so I don’t have to wear those oversize Elton John–style frames over my ordinary reading glasses. They cost about $13 and come in a variety of magnifications, so you should be able to find a pair to match your everyday cheaters. 3M Nuvo Readers are available at Lowe’s (item No. 232108) and amazon.com. —David Radtke, Contributing Editor
Cure for shop hands
I do lots of car wrenching in my cold garage during Minnesota winters. Couple the dry air with cold metal and you have the perfect formula for chapped, cracked hands. Sometimes mine would get so dried out that the cracks would actually bleed. After trying a lot of different lotions, I found O’Keeffe’s Working Hands. It did the trick when nothing else worked. You can find it at hardware stores, drugstores, and home centers for about six bucks. —Vern Johnson, Art Director. Surprise the man in your life with more useful gift ideas.
Arc fault wall outlet
In the United States in 2011, there were 48,000 house fires caused by electrical failures, killing more than 400 people. If there’s a short or loose electrical connection in wiring, electrical devices, appliances or extension cords, the electricity can arc or spark and cause nearby flammable materials to ignite. Most of those fires could have been prevented if arc fault circuit interrupters had been in use. They sense an arc, and like a ground fault circuit interrupter, shut off the power to all the downstream devices to help prevent a fire.
Until recently, you had to buy pricey AFCI circuit breakers that had to be installed in the main panel to get the protection. But Leviton figured out how to get AFCI technology into a receptacle. You should replace the first conventional outlet in the circuit to protect the ones downstream. Arc fault protection is now required by code in many rooms in every house that gets electrical modifications requiring a permit and in all new construction. Find SmartlockPro Outlet Branch Circuit AFCI Receptacles at Home Depot. Most models cost less than $30. Or, learn the smart home devices that are worth every penny.
Fits like a glove!
Going to the home center or hardware store to buy disposable gloves used to drive me nuts. The inventory was “one size fits all.” You gotta be kidding. Those gloves might fit my daughter’s hands but not my big paws! It was a struggle to put them on, they’d often rip, and once on, they always put the squeeze on my dexterity.
Totally frustrated, I took a chance and bought these extra-large nitrile gloves online. They’re just what the doctor ordered (no pun intended). I use them for light-duty chores like painting or spraying foam insulation. If you have a latex allergy, nitrile is a great alternative. Liberty T2010W Nitrile Industrial Gloves are available at amazon.com. At $10 for a box of 100, they’re a good deal. The same manufacturer makes a thicker glove that holds up even better for rough work and for working on my truck. — David Radtke, Contributing Editor
Expensive paint, but a bargain
Spending money is painful for me (headaches, nausea …). But when I want a glassy-smooth paint job, I take my cheapskate medication and plop down $25 to $30 for a quart of water-based alkyd paint. Here’s why:
Like old-fashioned oil-based alkyds, water-based versions level out beautifully. In slow-drying conditions (higher humidity, lower temperatures), the results are almost as smooth as a sprayed-on finish. But unlike their oil-based ancestors, these paints clean up just like acrylic latex. No paint thinner, no nasty fumes. A super-smooth finish plus easy cleanup makes these paints a bargain, even for a penny-pincher like me.
The water-based alkyds I’ve used are Benjamin Moore Advance Waterborne Interior Alkyd and Sherwin-Williams ProClassic Interior Waterbased Acrylic-Alkyd Enamel. Go to benjaminmoore.com or sherwinwilliams.com to find local dealers. While you’re buying paint, pick up some high-quality mini rollers; I get the smoothest results with microfiber, mohair, or FlockFoam covers. — Gary Wentz, Senior Editor. Before you settle on a paint color, learn the meanings behind your favorite home paint colors.
Clamping wood to a workbench is a task we do constantly. And some jobs, like making face frames and routing the edges of small parts, require a lot of clamping, unclamping, clamping and unclamping. Kreg’s Automaxx Bench Klamp makes this operation much easier and faster.
The clamp is fast-acting—just squeeze the handle and it automatically adjusts to the thickness of your work. The clamp we use has a reach of 3 in., can hold pieces up to 2-1/2 in. thick, and is strong as all get-out. It’s part of a system. The other part—either a metal plate or a track, routed into your benchtop—enables you to attach the clamp to your bench. If you’re doing a lot of repetitive work, you’ll love this system; it’s a big time-saver.
You’ll find the Kreg clamping system at Woodcraft Supply and online. We paid $38 for the clamp (there are larger ones, too) and $14 for the plate. Together, they’re a mighty handy workbench upgrade.
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