• Archives
   -- RSS feed
   -- Atom feed

Don’t blindly order from Amazon

Filed under: Uncategorized

We buy a lot from Amazon. Like 2-300 orders per year. Mainly because Amazon tends to be the least expensive.

But not always …

As part of the shop expansion, I’m finishing the interior of what used to be the garage section. Since I’d like to retain access to the attic area, I decided to install a folding attic ladder.

I found one I like on Amazon for $298, but I just couldn’t see spending that much. Also, it was going to take 7-10 days to arrive, even though I’m a Prime member. So I decided to check what my local Home Depot had in stock.

Lo and behold, Home Depot had the exact same ladder, in stock and ready to pick up today. Even better? It was only $195 …

HUGE news

Filed under: Tools,Vendors

The Big Johnson is back! Well, not the Big Johnson itself, but it’s the exact same product under a different name. Actually, I think, the original name: the Fisco Big T.

If you don’t recall, the Big Johnson was the best measuring tape ever. I love it and I was heartbroken when it was no longer available, probably six years ago. Fisco was selling it through Sears/KMart for a little while, but it was still hard to get. Ordering it direct from the UK really wasn’t an option.

But now it appears multiple people are selling the Big T on Amazon. It appears to be identical to the Big Johnson measuring tape I dearly love and available in multiple widths/lengths as well as standard/metric/mixed markings.

On a side note, be very careful when purchasing items on Amazon from 3rd-party sellers. Amazon is being flooded with counterfeit Chinese products with horrible quality. Always check out the “Sold by” to see the seller’s rating. Look for a seller with at least 90% positive feedback and at least a couple dozen feedbacks spread over at least several months. You should never purchase anything on Amazon from a seller that is “Just Launched” or has very recent feedback. You can’t believe the “Ships from”, they’ll say they’re shipping from the US but they’re lying. You’ll most likely receive a horrible quality product that doesn’t even look like what you ordered or never get your order at all. The scam is that they try to make excuses and drag you past the 30-day limit for returns. Yes, you can probably get your money back from Amazon but you’ve wasted a lot of time and hassle.

Click here to see the original review

Click here to see the full list of Fisco Big T Tape Measure models on Amazon

Another Grizzly Failure

Filed under: Tools,Vendors

As I’ve noted before, I’ve added Grizzly to my world-famous Never, Ever Buy Anything From These Companies Again list. This time, it’s the mini pallet jack I purchased a few years ago. This thing has literally seen maybe 200′ of loaded use and spent the vast majority of it’s time sitting in the corner of my climate-controlled workshop.

This morning I spotted this strange stuff around the wheels. What is it? That’s right, the “polyurethane” tires have completely decayed and fallen off the steel wheels.

I’ve learned the hard way that Grizzly stuff is inexpensive because it’s cheap.

Dust collector wiring

Douglas writes …

I am in the market for the G0441. The issue I am having is the new Grizzly documentation says the following

     Amps running: 22.4A
     Min Circuit breaker: 40Amps

As you have one what size circuit are you running it on? Does it trip the breaker? Also, it appears from the manual (old and new) that the electrical cord from the unit is 12 AWG and it’s to be hard wired. Am I reading that correctly? I won’t get into the NEC issue of hard wiring a 12AWG wire to a 40 AMP breaker line…… and yes I pointed this out to Grizzly but was only told they would push this question to their engineer …

It lives on a 30A breaker feeding a 10/2 line.

I’ve had my G0441 for over 4 years now. It’s run quite a bit, sometimes hours on end, and has never tripped the breaker. I was curious what the documentation that shipped with my G0441 said about electrical supply, but I can’t find it. Which is weird, because I always keep all the docs on tools in my filing cabinet. I have no idea what happened to it, but I’m sure that if it called for a 40A breaker I would have installed it with appropriate wire.

Perhaps the newer models have motors that generate a stronger startup surge that would temporarily push them over 30 amps. Not enough to require a heavier gauge of wire but would trip a 30 amp breaker. That’s my only guess why you’d want a 40 amp breaker for a 23 amp load. But in that case, I don’t see how you can justify not going with a wire capable of handling 40 amps, because if you have an issue and overload the wire (lets say 38 amps) you’ll have a bad situation where the breaker isn’t protecting the wire as it should.

Bottom line, if Grizzly can’t explain what’s the deal with the load vs breaker vs motor wire, I’d pass. I’ve gotten very turned off on Grizzly the last couple years, I wouldn’t even consider them for any new equipment purchases.

Carvex is on the way

Filed under: Tools

Well, after over two years of delay, the new Festool Carvex jigsaw is about to be released. I’m really excited about this, since the PSB 300 (or was it a Trion?) is the only Festool I’ve ever returned since I could never get a perfectly perpendicular cut in thick materials. I was anxiously awaiting the Carvex back in the Spring of 2011 when the North American release was suddenly canceled and I, like many others, was bitterly disappointed. In the next couple days, I’ll be receiving a pre-release model to check out and I’ll be posting my thoughts as soon as possible!

Festool as a general dust collector?

David writes:

I am trying to decide how to proceed with dust collection/extraction in my shop. I am principally a wood turner. I have a Robust American Beauty lathe (I, like you, believe that money spent on good tools is rarely wasted) and the problem is, of course dust when power sanding dry wood. My approach to dust collection while turning is three phased. I see a dust extraction unit to collect the majority of the dust directly at the work as part one; a HEPA filtered air breather helmet (3M AS400) to protect the lungs as the second part; and a ceiling mounted (directly above the lathe) air filtration unit to collect the particles “that got away”as the final step. Presently, I have a large Rikon air filtration unit (61-1250) that I turn on prior to sanding. My practice is to leave the air filtration unit running while sanding and during shop clean up. I turn it off prior to turning off the lights and closing the shop door. I presently use a large shop vac with the hose set close to the work as my dust collector. You can see the vac taking the dust away (I have installed the bags designed for collecting drywall dust in the vac) but this soon has to change. The mystery to me is what to replace the shop vac with. My research indicates that Oneida makes some of the best cyclone dust collectors but I see them perhaps as overkill when my prime concern is collecting dust at the lathe. The larger units (3HP and up) are expensive but I would pay the money if I could be convinced that the money would be well spent. This long winded background story (sorry) leads to my question: I am wondering if you have experience using the Festool dust extraction units while turning? I have read your review on the Festool but you did not specifically mention whether you use it for collecting/extracting dust while turning.

Unfortunately, no, I’ve never used the Festool DE while turning. Offhand, I would think it wouldn’t be a good idea because a) turning tends to generate a *lot* of shavings and would quickly fill up the very expensive bag and b) power sanding on the lathe generates a lot of really fine dust very quickly that would tend to cake up on the inside of the bag or blow through and clog up the even more expensive HEPA filter.

I use a 3hp cyclone from Grizzly that I’ve been extremely happy with, I did a lot of research and felt the Grizzly was just about as good as the Oneida but considerably less money. Given your limited needs, the 2HP model may suffice, especially with a very short duct run. I have a drop by my lathe that connects to a 6″ flex hose that I hold in place with a plywood jig that affixes to the lathe bed with a switchable magnet. While this doesn’t catch all the heavy chips and shavings, it’s pretty good and it’s especially good with sanding, as the airflow is tremendous and gets nearly if not all of the dust.

Now Grizzly’s getting weird

Filed under: Funny,Vendors

I know Grizzly sells things other than tools, but at least they’re usually somewhat related to home maintenance, commercial items, etc. But this?

A question on piping

Filed under: Shop Construction

Patrick wites:

On the SDR35 pipe you used, I was not clear if you used the solvent weld fittings or the ones with gaskets.  It looks like you used solvent weld fittings, but is the solvent weld tight enough to avoid vacuum leaks?

Yes, those are unglued solvent-weld fittings. As far as I can tell, the joints seal up completely just from the friction-fit. If not, the leak is so small that it wouldn’t affect anything.

Ultimate precision drill press

Filed under: Tools

I needed to make some very precisely placed holes in some existing furniture parts. After puzzling over how to make a jig on the drill press, it hit me: just use the milling machine instead!

It worked perfectly. I was able to place the holes absolutely centered and on target. The cross-sliding table was a godsend for being able to precisely tweak the position in thousandths of an inch.

For woodworking, you don’t need a very expensive mill. If you’d like to add this kind of capability to your shop, looked for a used Chinese-made mill. They’re not all that great for metalworking, but really fine for wood.

Where’s my cut?

Filed under: Feedback

David writes:


I’ve spent about a week browsing the internet for an article that doesn’t spend all it’s time saying “if you don’t know how, you need to hire an electrician”. Your article was very well written, illustrated and covered EXACTLY what I needed to read. Not too much info, no badmouthing the do-it-yourselfer and very well written in a “matter of fact” style. Perfect.

Your explanation of home wiring circuits filled in the pinholes of information I wasn’t sure of and helped reinforce the things I thought I was sure of. Now armed with this information I have the confidence to run a 120V 30A RV receptacle myself without paying the electrician’s $490 quote. I anticipate saving around $300 on this project.

You’re very welcome. But don’t you think I deserve a little cut of the money I saved you? :)

Next Page »
    Questions? Comments? Offers of free cash? Email me at