Category Archives: Home Improvement

Milwaukee Auto Voltage Continuity Tester

Milwaukee Auto Voltage Continuity Tester

The Milwaukee Auto Voltage Continuity Tester is an easy to use tester for home and work use that easily checks voltage and continuity without any switching.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

milwaukee tester
Milwaukee Auto Voltage Continuity Tester

 

The Milwaukee Auto Voltage Continuity Tester model 2212-20 is a handheld tester for both professionals and home users that checks both voltage and continuity. The Milwaukee Auto Voltage and Continuity Tester can check for both alternating and direct current voltages as well as resistance.

The voltage side of the tester checks AC and DC voltage up to 600 volts while it only gives an audible alarm and a small continuity indicator to show the meter is reading good continuity. The voltage tester will also give an audio alarm when it reads voltage above 35 volts but also shows the voltage on the meters LCD display.

The LCD display has a backlight along with a small helpful LED light to shine a bit of light when needed while the audio indicators allow for quick readings. The Milwaukee voltage tester comes in two versions with one showing exact resistance while the other shows continuity using an audible alarm and a simple indicator.

whats in the box
Whats in the Box

The Auto Voltage Tester will check for voltage and automatically show alternating or direct current without having to switch anything. The auto tester will automatically switch to whatever type of voltage is present as well as check for continuity when no voltage is present and the tester reads less than 20,000 ohms.

Voltage comes in two types with the tester automatically switching to either AC or DC and giving the appropriate readings according to what the tester reads. The tester also has an audible warning for voltage over 35 volts for both AC and DC to ensure you know there is hazardous current present as a precaution.

When testing for continuity the tester will also give an audible alarm and indicate continuity with a yellow light while the presence of voltage is indicated by a red warning light. The audible warning for AC voltage is a constant beeping tone while the continuity is a single tone that does not vary.

Milwaukee Continuity Tester Indicators
Milwaukee Continuity Tester Indicators

Low voltages under 35 volts are not as dangerous so Milwaukee has no audible warning when checking for voltage but the audible alarm can be very helpful in many situations. When checking house wiring before working on it having an audible alarm warns you there is voltage without the need to look at the screen for every check.

When you’re done with the tester you can shut it off using the power button but it will shut down on its own when it has not been used after 10 minutes. To turn the unit on simply push the power button and touch the leads to your circuit and the tester will show and give you an audible indication of voltage or continuity.

The Milwaukee tester is easy to use and with its backlit display allows you to use it in low light situations like attics and basements easily. The belt clip is removable and does rotate sideways to hold the wires when wrapped around the body for storage.

battery compartment belt clip
Battery Compartment & Belt Clip

The tester is handy and a great tool for do it yourselfers and for professionals who only need voltage readings and continuity indications. The tester comes in handy around the house for checking circuits as well as installing wiring from doorbells and thermostats.

You can also check smaller voltages like USB connections and power adapters as well as those higher voltages like incoming power to a home or building. The continuity is great for checking shorts or cuts in wires without having to look at the screen using the audible tones.

I have done several jobs around the house including some wiring in my kitchen and a new outlet for an electric fireplace in the living room. The tester came in handy for both checking for voltage on circuits before working on them and to ensure things were set up properly after the work was done.

belt clip holding cables
Belt Clip Holding Cables

I really like the lack of switches for checking voltage and resistance while the leads are a general purpose size to use on small cables like USB for computers. I have also used the continuity tester checking wires while repairing a sewing machine to make sure the wires were not cut completely from some nicks.

The tester works well and the convenient audible alarm makes for an easy way to quickly check things out without having to see the screen. The Milwaukee Auto Voltage and Continuity Tester model 2212-20 costs about $40 and is available at Milwaukee as well as sites and stores that sell Milwaukee products.

I highly recommend the Milwaukee Auto Voltage and Continuity Tester for a low cost tool for home electricians as well as professionals.

Milwaukee Auto Tester Website

Pros
Auto tester for voltage and resistance
Switches to AC or DC as well as continuity automatically
Audible alarm for easier reading
Backlit display and LED light for low light situations
Belt clip rotates to hold cables

Cons
None

Milwaukee’s Best Impact Driver & Shockwave Accessories for Home Use

The Milwaukee M18 FUEL Impact Driver is the best impact driver for home and do it yourself use while the Shockwave accessories add a great set of extras to your tool kit.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

I snapped the tool bit holder right at the smallest diameter which was the same size as the Shockwave bit holder I received from Milwaukee. I was working on my minivan changing the spark plugs which is one choir I do not relish as it takes a lot of work just to get to those spark plugs.

Three spark plugs sit under the intake manifold which means taking off the windshield washer assembly and stuff right under the windshield or taking the van into a mechanic. I had grabbed a bit holder and socket to remove the bolts holding the windshield wiper motor and arms to the body of the minivan.

The new generic bit holder snapped right off with the first press of the trigger on the Milwaukee M18 FUEL Impact Driver so I grabbed the Shockwave bit holder from Milwaukee. The 2” bit holder that I received from Milwaukee is part of their new Shockwave line of accessories and is made from tougher stuff than the bit holder I first grabbed and snapped in two.

Milwaukee's Best Impact Driver
M18 FUEL Hex Impact Driver

The Shockwave accessories are made from heat treated steel but are similar in design as most other bit holders but have some additional features. A smooth spot on extensions for a safer grip and black anodized coating are just a few of the features of the new Shockwave accessories.

I have been using the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/4” Impact Driver for small and big jobs and found that it is the best impact driver for all kinds of work. I worked on that vehicle for a month now and finally figured out that the Chrysler minivan only likes a specific brand of spark plugs which I did not know the first time I replaced them.

I have also been working around my house on other odd jobs along with continuing my kitchen renovation with more shelves and wood work. The Milwaukee M18 Fuel Impact Driver I received comes as a kit model number 2653-22 and has the impact driver, two M18 Fuel batteries, battery charger and carry case.

Whats in the Box
Whats in the Box

The M18 Fuel Impact Driver comes with the belt clip and has a pull C-Ring bit holder on the front of the tool with the three buttons for torque on the base of the driver near the battery connection. The M18 batteries clip into the base of the tools pistol grip handle and allows for quick changes of the batteries which take about 60 minutes to charge using the included M12 and M18 multi charger.

The best impact driver to use for smaller jobs and even those medium sized jobs like home renovation should have all the accessories and the features you need and Milwaukee has them. The M18 Fuel Impact Driver has three modes with a low, medium and high inch pound setting for a good range jobs along with the reversible motor.

The low setting uses 200 inch pounds and up to 850 RPM’s while the medium setting has 700 inch pounds and up to 2,100 RPM’s for tougher jobs but less chance of breaking fasteners. The third setting uses 1,600 inch pounds and up to 2,900 RPM’s for those tough jobs but you need to be careful in some jobs like tightening bolts on an automobile so you don’t over tighten them.

M18 FUEL Impact Driver in Case
M18 FUEL Impact Driver in Carry Case

For jobs like my minivan I did not use the best impact driver from Milwaukee to tighten fasteners but only to remove them so I did not over tighten any bolts. I was unable to loosen the wheel lugs on my minivan but for other jobs under the hood the M18 Impact Driver was a great help.

The Impact Driver has a small LED bulb to give little extra light along with a removable belt clip that you can install on either side of the tools base. The base also has a safety cord loop on the back for a lanyard or cord if needed while the belt loop allows for easy use and easy access during a job.

I have really put the Milwaukee impact driver through its paces around my house with the general work I do setting up my garden and the new things my wife wants to try like a compost bin. The best impact driver I have used so far is definitely the Milwaukee M18 FUEL but the company is also highlighting their Shockwave line of accessories.

Shockwave Accessories
Shockwave Accessories

The first feature I noticed when unpacking my tools was the smooth dip in the bit holders about an inch from the end which makes holding the bit holder with bare fingers easy. The smooth machined surface allows you to hold the end of any of their extensions without injuring yourself.

The most common bits used in homes, automobiles and just about any hardware is the Philips bit so a set of Philips bits and bit holder make the best accessory along with the impact driver. Milwaukee sells small packages of bits like the #2 Philips along with a two inch bit holder so you never run out of those bits when you need them.

One other accessory I have found that is indispensable around the home is nut drivers to use with the best impact driver so all those odd jobs can be finished quickly. The 1/4” hex end nut drivers come in a variety of sizes and have a magnet imbedded in the end so the bolts or nuts don’t fall or are easier to install.

One handy accessory that is a new one for me at home but not new to me is the Shockwave 11 piece 30 degree knuckle that is a pivoting bit holder used to reach odd and tight spots. The body of the adapter has a 1/4 inch hex drive and a 1/4 hex magnetic holder and snaps from straight to a 30 degree angle.

The top body of the adapter is knurled to allow for easy holding while the larger bottom half is smooth and the hex center spins inside the body. The adapter is perfect to use in getting at screws or bolts that are in odd places just like inside a car where this came in handy for getting out some bolts.

The Shockwave adapters are high quality steel and tough enough to withstand daily use easily while the black anodized steel of most of the parts means no rusting. The Shockwave accessories are all great quality and really highlight the Milwaukee impact driver which is also a great tool.

I highly recommend the Milwaukee M18 Fuel 1/4” Hex Impact Driver and the Shockwave accessories as the best impact driver and accessories for home and do it yourself work.

M18 Impact Driver Video

M18 Impact Driver @ Milwaukee

M18 Fuel Impact Driver @ Amazon

Pros
Tough high quality cordless power tool
Long lasting battery pack with on pack level indicator
Impact torque for higher torque jobs
Kit includes 2 batteries
Shockwave accessories are high quality

Cons
None

Fanimation Beckwith Ceiling Fan Review

Fanimation Beckwith Ceiling Fan Review

The Fanimation Beckwith is a retro looking fan with either an oil rubbed bronze or brushed nickel finish and controlled with a handheld remote that you can mount on the wall.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

Fanimation Beckwith
Fanimation Beckwith Ceiling Fan Review

The Fanimation Beckwith is a retro style ceiling fan that comes in oil rubbed bronze or rubbed nickel finish and has four interior lights with a 13 inch fan. The Beckwith has a remote control with a receiver unit that connects to an electrical supply for controlling both the fan and light.

Fanimation sells additional remote controls as well as switches but with just a little rewiring you can control the light without the remote control. I simply cut the neutral wire that leads to the lights inside the fans motor to separate the fans lighting so I could control the lights with a wall switch and the fan with the remote.

The Fanimation Beckwith has a unique retro look with an enclosed fan and four smaller lights in the E12 candelabra size bulbs that add enough illumination for a stairwell. The fan has a low, medium and high speed with reversing switch on the top of the fan where you also access the lights.

The remote has low, medium and high buttons along with a power and light button for complete control of your fan and lights while you need to reverse the fan from the switch on the top. The fan installation is pretty straight forward but some electrical and general do it yourself handy person type skill is required.

whats in the box
Whats in the Box

The Beckwith comes with the fan itself and all the hardware needed including a four inch downrod but you can purchase other downrods for the height you want. The fan can also be installed with a switch or extra remote so you can install a switch in two locations or simply do a little rewiring to use a separate switch.

I wanted to install the fan with my existing switches that are wired to control the previous light at the top and bottom of the stairs in my stairwell. I just cut the lights neutral wires that are wired together with the motor to control only the lights from the separate light power that is already separate.

In wiring the light the remote receiver is usually wired to both the fan and motor using the manual to correctly install the fan that is controlled by the remote for both light and fan motor. To install the fan and light separately you simply separate the neutral wires and wire the light directly to switches while the motor gets wired to the receiver.

fanimation beckwith lights on
Fanimation Beckwith w/ Lights On

Using my knowledge of home wiring from my military career I figured out the wiring and separated the neutrals then installed the fan and light with separate power to each. The fans receiver unit has a full time supply direct from my basement electrical panel while the existing wires from the wall switches are running to the lights.

The Beckwith weighs 27 pounds so a good support for the electrical box is required but you can also install a fan electrical support box that hangs between ceiling joists. These boxes are available at hardware and home improvement stores for installing ceiling fans easily when no outlet box is available.

I had the electrical box installed directly below a 2 by 4 support that an electrician had installed just for this case a couple years ago so the fan was easy to install. I did have to run a supply line to my electrical panel in the basement which meant running wires two stories but it was pretty easy.

Beckwith Ceiling Fan
Beckwith Ceiling Fan

After the wiring was in place the bracket and fan went next and was easy to install with the ball and bracket type fitting which easily hangs the fan. The receiver unit goes into the bracket and the fan hangs from the bracket by the downrod which can be any height you want.

The Beckwith can use a regular downrod that is one inch in diameter which home improvement stores also carry in popular colors and sizes. The remote installs with a mounting bracket to the wall and simply connects to the fans motor receiver with radio frequency so you can control it without wiring.

The remote has numerous frequencies so if you have problems with the remote and interference you can switch the receiver and remote to a better frequency. The lights that come with the ceiling fan are bright enough for my back stairwell at night so the fan is perfect to use in halls to light the stairs as well as circulate air.

Top of Beckwith
Top of Beckwith

I installed the fan to help cool in the summer and heat in the winter so the air would circulate and keep my house temperature even between upstairs and downstairs. My hot water boiler heats well but like many houses the upstairs is warmer during the winter so circulation is important.

The Beckwith while on low is enough to keep the air moving but with the higher speeds it does circulate well and can easily bring air in or out of my second story quickly. A ceiling fan can both reduce heating and cooling costs as well as increase comfort in a room or when used in a hall to improve overall circulation.

Beckwith from Below
Beckwith from Below

The Fanimation Beckwith is an excellent fan and works well for air circulation as well as lighting for rooms and hallways just like my stairwell. I highly recommend the Fanimation Beckwith as an excellent fan that has a unique look and is very easy to install.

Beckwith @ Fanimation

Beckwith @ Amazon

Pros
Easy to install
Reversible with three speeds
Controlled by remote
Can be installed on sloped ceilings

Cons
May require rewiring for separate control of lights and fan

Bora 3 Piece Clamp Edge Power Tool Guide Review

The Bora Clamp Edge Power Tool Guide is a fantastic way to provide a straight edge on work pieces with the adjustable clamp that can be positioned anywhere along the clamps length.

Ease of Use/Performance: 4/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

bora clamp edge set

The Bora Clamp Edge Power Tool Guide has a variety of lengths to provide wood workers and professionals with a handy way to clamp the straight edge to a work piece. The Bora Clamp edge are all deigned the same but come in a variety of lengths with the 3 piece set including a 24 inch, 36 inch and 50 clamp.

The Bora clamps size is not the total length of the clamps but the distance between the clamp faces as well as the longest piece of wood that will fit in the clamps. The end of the clamps have a loop for hanging the clamps on a nail or peg board hook for an easy way to store the set.

The Bora Clamps all have a straight edge made from ridge aluminum with a solid steel bar in the middle that the clamp uses to secure it. The end of the Bora edge clamp has the clamp handle that pulls the center round bar toward the end which pulls the rubber clamp onto your work piece.

 

The clamps are rubber coated with about a quarter inch pad to protect your work while the pads can swivel so the clamp can be used at an angle. Bora says you can use the clamp up to a 22.5 degree angle but in practice I found this may or may not be true depending on the work piece you’re trying to clamp on.

Rough wood is just fine and I had no problems clamping onto the rough plywood but for finished press boards with smooth ends the clamps do not hold on the smooth edges. I have press boards with laminated surfaces and the clamps will clamp on at 90 degrees with no problems but not at greater angles because of the smooth sides.

The clamp is easy to use with the movable clamp having a rear latching handle that locks the moving clamp along the round bar with three metal locks. To clamp the Bora Clamp Edge on a work piece you snug up the fixed clamp against the work piece and lock the moving clamp in place on the other side of the work piece.

The handle on the fixed end is flipped down toward a 90 degree angle to clamp the clamp edge down on the work piece with the maximum hold being the last 90 degree position. When you use the clamp edge at varying angles you will need to make sure the clamps faces are square on the work piece before clamping.

The 24 and 36 inch long Bora Clamp Edge is great for smaller projects while the 50 inch is perfect for cutting up sheets of plywood. All the clamps have a nice square clamping that works well and the clamps themselves do not hurt your wood due to the soft rubber face.

The clamps face have a 1.5 inch tall and 1.875 inch wide pad so there is enough height on the clamps to grab two 3/4 inch plywood pieces together. The clamps have been made with larger clamping area and the 1.5 inch tall face was specifically designed to hold those two sheets of plywood.

I was able to clamp the Bora Clamp Edges down at angles but depending on the wood side it might not be tight enough to use a circular saw against. Smaller angles would work fine and I had no problems using them at five to ten degrees when cutting shelves out of smoother wood.

It really depends on how rough or smooth the edges are and how well the rubber pads dig into the sides to ensure the clamps hold when using them at angles. I did get the clamps to work on sheet plywood at angles but the clamps work best at 90 degrees and at smaller angles below 10 degrees on smooth wood.

The Bora clamps work great with wood that has one side straight and one angled so you can use as much of those odd pieces of wood lying around. I had no problem cutting up several pieces of wood for shelves in a closet using up some wood from previous projects.

I have been using the Boar Clamp Edge set for my current renovation project which is shelves in my kitchen so the clamps have come in very handy. They are easy to use and much faster than using C clamps and a straight edge to cut pieces of wood up to the 48 inch edge of a full sheet of plywood.

I also used the 36 inch clamp to hang a sheet of plastic over the doorway of the pantry I was sanding to keep the plaster dust contained. The Bora Clamp worked well to simply clamp the sheet on the frame of the door and left no marks on the frame so there are more ways to use the clamps than for cutting and routing wood.

The Bora Clamp Edge 3 piece set costs about $90 online at sites like Amazon while stores do carry them like Home Depot for about $100. I highly recommend the Bora Clamp Edge for an easy way to cut and router wood sheet goods including full sheets of plywood.

Bora has both regular width and wider clamp edges up to 100 inches and smaller for handy clamps that are perfect for woodworkers and do it yourselfers.

Bora Clamp Edge @ Amazon

Bora Website

Pros
Easy to use for cutting and routing
Strong clamp feature
Large clamp face holds 2 sheets of 3/4 plywood

Cons
May not clamp at angles on smooth surfaces

PORTER-CABLE 20 Volt MAX Lithium Ion Drill Driver Kit

PORTER-CABLE 20 Volt MAX 1/2” Lithium Ion Drill Driver Kit

The PORTER-CABLE 20 Volt MAX Drill Driver model PCCK600LB is a light weight drill driver that uses the Lithium Ion 1.5 amp/hour batteries for long life on tough jobs.

 

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

PORTER-CABLE 20 Volt MAX Drill Driver

PORTER-CABLE may have seen a bit of hard times with rebranding and image issues in the past after a buyout but has reemerged as a power tool company for professionals and home users. The PORT-CABLE 20 Volt MAX line of tools is a tough tool and the drill driver has both the power and light weight for home users and professionals.

The PORTER-CABLE drill driver comes with the tool itself, two batteries, charger, manual and a double sided bit with carry case. The PORTER-CABLE drill driver has a tough plastic body with several rubber pads for protection and comfort while the on tool battery level indicator makes a handy feature.

The 20 Volt MAX Drill Driver uses the 1.5 amp/hour Lithium Ion batteries that only take about a half hour to charge using the included charger. The charger has a charge indicator and is simple to use while the drill driver itself is also very easy to use for tough and simple jobs.

Whats in the Box Porter-Cable

The PORTER-CABLE drill driver has a low torque and high speed along with low speed and high torque setting while chuck includes a screw depth feature. The torque along with the depth settings make for a handy all around tool for tough jobs professionally and for home use.

The through body reverse and forward button makes switching easy while the LED light gives just enough light to help finding the heads of screws in low light spots. The drill driver works well and I had no problems using it for several jobs including my current kitchen renovations.

I have been tearing out small wall sections and putting up shelves, trim boards and drilling holes through my floor and wall sections for wiring. The PORTER-CABLE drill driver has been more than tough enough to drill 3/4 inch holes through flooring and 2 by 4 studs using blade wood bits.

PORTER-CABLE Drill Driver

Driving screws whether the smaller two inch or the full 3 and a half inch screws to fasten studs together is a simple job with the 20 volt MAX drill driver. The PORTER-CABLE drill driver can easily drill through full studs and treated lumber using both wood bits and twist bits.

The 1.5 amp/hour batteries hold a good amount of power and only take about a half hour to charge which is a good balance between size and power. The drill driver with the battery weighs less than 4 pounds which is a great compromise between weight and power for the drill driver.

The PORTER-CABLE drill driver can handle tough jobs and does a great job as a professional tool that would be great for jobsites. The half hour charge time means a quick turnaround from charging to ready to use while the light weight works well for repetitive jobs.

Torque Switch & Magnetic Holders

Last year I repaired a fence by removing and replacing about a hundred pickets which meant a lot of removing screws using a drill driver. The lighter weight PORTER CABLE drill driver would not have aggravated my carpal tunnel as much as the five pound driver I did use.

The light weight and fast recharge time means a fantastic tool for both do it yourself work and for professionals which PORTER-CABLE is known for. The PORTER-CABLE tool also has a three year warranty for defective parts and a one year free service for worn parts and maintenance.

I have been using the PORTER-CABLE drill driver for a month on some pretty tough work and can easily recommend it for both home use and as a professional tool. I highly recommend the PORTR-CABLE 12 Volt MAX Drill Driver a as fantastic tool whether you are doing tough jobs at home or as a professional.

Drill Driver in Case

12 Volt MAX Drill Driver Video

12 Volt MAX Drill Driver @ PORT-CABLE

12 Volt Max Drill Driver @ Amazon

Pros
Tough light weight Tool
High and low torque
Fast recharge time
Good Warranty
Handy LED light

Cons
None

Milwaukee M18 LED Flood Light

Milwaukee M18 LED Flood Light

The Milwaukee M18 LED Flood Light is a bright LED light with a rechargeable M18 battery pack that is simply a great way to brighten your work site.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

Milwaukee M18 LED Flood Light

I keep losing my handheld flashlights, I simply set them down in some out of the way place and when I need it the next time I can’t find it. A larger light works well but one that I have several rechargeable batteries for works even better for me and for my work.

The Milwaukee M18 Cordless System uses the same battery for a wide range of tools including drills and SAWZ-ALL tools as well as the LED Flood Light. The Milwaukee LED Flood Light only uses the M18 Lithium-ion battery but this is a great battery system that I have been using very extensively for years now.

I have used the Milwaukee drill/driver, SAWZ-ALL and circular saw using the M18 batteries for both at home do it yourself projects and some extensive work fixing up a building. I put the M18 tools through their paces and had plenty of weeks to check out their duration and ease of charging.

M18 LED Flood Light With & Without Battery

Part of my work was replacing siding and rotted out trim boards so both the circular saw and drill/driver was used extensively for days on end. The M18 Lithium-Ion batteries really have held up well as my little extra job lasted from June till October with daily use for at least five or six days a week.

The batteries have held up just fine and still hold a charge for those odd jobs around the house including my new project of rebuilding my kitchen. The M18 LED Work Light has been a handy light when running the wiring in my basement and working in the pantry and closet.

The M18 Work Light has also come in very handy for a quick grab and go flashlight when searching in the dark recesses of my garage or in my car. I have used the Milwaukee work light when working on my car and the light is really handy when working under a car or under the hood.

M18 LED Light on Conduit

The M18 work light has a tough plastic body that takes abuse like drops and has a larger top and bottom than the center where the LED light and buttons are. The battery inserts behind the center section of the body and snaps in place using the two buttons on the battery.

The body has a hole and recess for setting the light on a rod or conduit 1/2 inch in diameter or less and there is a key hole for using the light on a screw or nail. The handle is on the top and the buttons are on the one side of the light where there are eight LED bulbs.

The M18 LED Work Light has a low and high setting but it only lowers the output of all eight LED bulbs for the low setting instead of using some of the bulbs. The high setting is bright and has plenty of power when compared to other lights which I did a little comparison to show on my video.

M18 LED Light on Low

When comparing the M18 Work Light to corded lights I found a 500 watt halogen work light only put out 66 lux compared to the 133 lux that the M18 did at the same distance. This means the M18 work light is about twice as strong in light output when compared to a halogen light without nearly the heat that halogen gives off.

The M18 Flood Light does not get hot enough on the plastic lens covering the bulbs that you cannot touch it so heat is never an issue. The light is not waterproof but other than that it makes a fantastic work and flood light for jobs and general use around the house.

Milwaukee states an 8 hour run time which is reasonable if you use one of the extra capacity Red Lithium batteries Milwaukee sells. I have a couple of these batteries and found over 7 hours of run time but I am not sure about run times because these batteries are at least a year old.

M18 Flood Light on High

The M18 LED Flood Light does work well and even on batteries that are quite used the light lasted a good long time in my tests. The M18 batteries only take 15 minutes or so to charge so having a couple spare batteries works out well for on the job work with the M18 LED Flood Light.

The M18 LED Flood Light costs about $100 which is a good price for a rechargeable light that has the LED bulbs for a better work light. I highly recommend the M18 Flood Light as a fantastic work light for job sites, at home for do it yourself work and general everyday needs.

Milwaukee M18 LED Light Video

M18 LED Flood Light @ Milwaukee

M18 LED Flood Light @ Amazon

Pros
M18 batteries are tough and long lasting
Roll cage design protects important parts
Easy hang up options
Handle makes for convenient handheld flashlight

Cons
Not waterproof

Dremel Moto-Saw Review

Dremel Moto-Saw Review

The Dremel Moto-Saw brings scroll saw ease to the world of Dremel tools with a unique hand held or benchtop mounted saw that makes delicate cuts in wood, plastic and metal.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

recommendation: 5/5

Dremel Moto-saw

The Dremel Moto-Saw is a unique scroll saw that offers the variety of being a handheld or bench top mounted tool for precision cutting. The Moto-saw includes a tool free blade change system that automatically adjusts tension when changing the blade.

The Dremel Moto-Saw can be used as a handheld coping saw or as a bench top saw with its quick release base that also has slots for a guide but the guide is sold separately. The blades for the Moto-Saw change out without tools using the top lever and are available in wood & plastic, fine wood, metal and a side cutting blade.

The Moto-Saw has an on off switch on the handle and a speed dial that allows for slower and faster cutting depending on your needs. The saw does an excellent job at precise cutting for design and wood working as well as household do it yourself tasks.

Moto-saw with Bench Top Platform

The wood and plastic blade works well for cutting various materials including dowels and plastics like the tube I used to create a vacuum system for the Moto-saw. The Moto-saw has a vacuum tube on the base so when the saw is used on the bench top you have a suction for sawdust.

I found that when using the saw to cut shapes out of wood some of the sawdust gets on top of the piece and a dust blower or suction near the top would be helpful. I used an extension tube from an old vacuum and a smaller hose to create a vacuum near the blades top for added suction.

The Dremel Moto-Saw works well for intricate cutting and scroll work like puzzle pieces, wood projects and artwork as well as projects like furniture. You can use the Moto-Saw as a powered coping saw or as a bench top scroll saw for crafts and hobbies.

Moto-saw Vacuum Attacment

I had no problem cutting out wood puzzle pieces and shapes out of 3/4 and smaller wood as well as other materials like aluminum and plastic. The bench top platform has a larger size flat work surface at 8 by 11 inches while the tool without the base platform is 2 by 6.5 inches.

The U shaped arm that holds the top of the blades is far enough back from the blade to allow room for your work pieces while cutting out a variety of shapes. I had no problems cutting out a tree that was about a foot long that will be used as a jewelry stand.

The Dremel Moto-Saw works well for precise cuts for puzzle pieces and with only a little practice I had no problems cutting out a variety of shapes. The guide rails along the platform allow you to use the adjustable guide but for some models of the Moto-Saw the guide is not included.

Moto-saw in Case

You can call customer support at Dremel and order the guide for a small fee and have them ship it to you which only cost me $8 including shipping which is pretty inexpensive for an accessory. The guide works well for some straight cuts but the Moto-Saw really excels at curves and even sharp angles and I had no problems with curves like those on the ends of puzzle pieces.

While the throat depth or the measurement between the blade and the aluminum U that holds the top of the blades is only about 11 inches Dremel has a solution for longer cuts. One set of blades that sells for about $8 is a side cutting so the blade faces the side of the tool in either direction depending on how you install it.

The Dremel Moto-Saw works very well and I had no problem quickly getting used to the smooth operation and making cuts on wood and other materials. I cut out a variety of smaller shapes and even did some puzzle pieces out of one inch square stock along with some general cutting to build a countertop.

Moto-saw Projects

The Moto-saw is a handy tool and makes quick work of precise cutting whether your using it on a bench or table top or without the platform. You can quickly remove the saw from the platform with the press of a latch on the bases top near the back and guide the cord out of the platform.

The saw makes a handy tool for hobbyists and craftsmen as well as home do it yourself workers and I can easily recommend this as a new tool. I highly recommend the Dremel Moto-Saw as a powered coping saw or bench top scroll saw for hobbyists and woodworkers.

Moto-saw @ Dremel

Moto-saw @ Amazon

Pros

Coping or bench top scroll saw
Adjustable speed
Vacuum attachment

Cons
None

DIY Kitchen Island

DIY Kitchen Island

How I built my DIY kitchen island tile countertop and the unusual way I decided to create my kitchen work station.

Not wanting the typical kitchen my wife and I wanted to create a new DIY kitchen island in our home using some tiles we had bought previously at garage sales. We like to be different so we decided on landscaping pavers for our main countertop support with a couple shelves under the countertop.

DIY Kitchen Island

Our design is inspired mostly out of function and a love of things that are not traditional and is the start to our kitchen’s new look. After some discussion we decided to use pavers for the end supports and two wooden shelves in the middle with a tile countertop for the finishing look of the top.

Tile Countertop

The island in our kitchen is not an original of the previous owner as they just had a table pushed to the wall where we now have the end of our counter. Our kitchen is pretty much square with counters on one side and the stove on another but we did remove a washer and dryer from a niche opposite the stove.

This left us with one more space for a countertop along the same wall as the bathroom which oddly is off of the kitchen which does make things a bit inconvenient. The center of the kitchen is open and we wanted a working counter where we could do things like make pasta and meal preparation with some storage underneath.

Working Side of DIY Kitchen Island

The paver bricks we used were from Menards and we simply stacked them and glued them together in an open pattern with a space between each brick on the same level. The first level on top of the wooden base plate has three bricks and the next level has two with the third having three bricks.

This pattern continues upward for 15 layers of pavers to get the countertop up to waist height at about 36 inches which is the height we decided on. We wanted it a bit higher than usual which is a comfortable height for both my wife and I to work on for things like rolling dough and meal prep.

Wooden Base Screwed Down

At about eleven inches and another twelve inches above the floor I glued flat plates with screw holes in it for securing the wood shelves. I also glued four of these plates to the very top bricks to hold the top plywood we would use for the countertop which we then glued our tile to.

I used 38 bricks on each end and after allowing the paver glue to dry for a few days I took out the bricks and wood wedges I used to hold the bricks in place during the gluing. I had bricks and wooden wedges under the end bricks so that the half of the bricks that had nothing under them was supported while drying.

Once the main support for the DIY kitchen island was on we decided to put on the wooden shelves and stain them in place because I really did not have a good place to work on them elsewhere. I wanted them to dry after staining and to not have them in the way so I just secured them on the shelf and stained them in place and then coated them three times with a polyurethane clear coat.

Gluing Paver Bricks

Once the shelves were done I moved on to the main countertop with a 3/4 inch of plywood from my favorite home improvement store Menards. I used a precut 2 foot wide piece and cut off about two feet as our countertop is two feet wide and six feet long.

I simply cut the end that was going against the wall and made sure this end was hidden by the wall and the clean cut end was the end in the center of the kitchen. After using the brackets to secure the top plywood to the supports and the wall I was ready to finish the top with tile.

Before I secured the top plywood I did waterproof the plywood with a couple coats of waterproofing to ensure the countertop lasted a good long time. I laid out my tiles in the pattern I wanted and made sure they were going to fit by planning out the top before I bought the materials.

1st Shelf On

I had several dozen tiles I bought at a garage sale and some more from a relative so I had a good start for my purchases and only need to buy smaller tiles. The  pattern for my DIY Kitchen Island depended on the tiles I already had which are 8 inch square and to get a two foot wide counter I added four rows of two inch tiles with two eight inch tiles.

I wanted a nice square counter so I used a precut two foot wide and made my tiles to fit the plywood I bought which turned out nicely. Using a premixed tile adhesive I glued the tiles down onto the plywood by evenly spreading the mortar mix and creating grooves for the best adhesion.

Shelf Brackets

I placed the tiles using spacers but I did not worry about removing the spacers after the mortar dried, I simply pushed them down. Once the mortar dried and the tiles were all in place I then used a colored grout but the grout I used was not as dark as I would have liked.

I bought an off white grout but should have used a darker stained one so that spills like coffee would not show as much so I used a colorant to paint the grout darker. I then sealed the entire grout and tile top using a grout and tile sealer which protects the grout and tile like a waterproofer.

I then used oak trim to finish off the sides of my DIY kitchen island which I sanded and stained lightly then used a polyurethane coating three times just like the pine shelves I used. After the trim dried I nailed and glued it to the sides of the countertop and used a good bisque colored caulk to seal between the tile area and the sides.

Tile Top Without Grout

When you have a joint like the tile to the wall and the trim you should use a caulk that has a bit of flexibility so that the joint does not crack. I also glued some tiles to the wall and used caulk between them and the wall so cracks would not form when the countertop shifts and moves even though it is secured with L brackets.

Once I had sealed the tile and finished with the wall tiles I was complete and have been using the countertop for a few weeks now. I really enjoy the new countertop and have been very happy with the results along with the two sided storage it offers as well as the nice work surface.

The tile countertop turned out nice and with a few extra dollars from Christmas gifts I have been buying square baskets to use for storage. My wife and I have decided to use baskets to store things like the parts to our food processor while often used ingredients like flour and sugar will also go on the shelves.

Menards

Home Depot

Lowes

DeWalt 18/20V MAX Cordless/Corded Wet Dry Vacuum

DeWalt 18/20V MAX Cordless/Corded Wet Dry Vacuum

The DeWalt Cordless/Corded Wet Dry Vacuum model DCV581H uses a DeWalt 18 or 20 volt battery or the cord for powering the handy portable vacuum.

Ease of Use/Performance: 3/5
Convenience/Storage 4/5
Appearance/Design 4/5
How much I enjoy 4/5

Recommendation: 4/5

DeWalt Corded/Cordless Vacuum

The DeWalt 18/20V Wet-Dry Vacuum is a handheld corded or cordless vacuum but you do need to purchase a battery for cordless operation. The DeWalt DCV581H comes with the vacuum, hose, two attachments, filter assembly and manual but is not sold with a battery or charger.

The DeWalt DCV581H uses a decently powered motor to provide suction and has the really nice feature of being able to use either batteries or 120 volt wall power. The DCV581H can use either 18 volt or 20 volt DeWalt batteries with the 18 volt being either NiCad or lithium ion battery.

The 20 volt MAX batteries are only lithium ion so are a bit more expensive with batteries starting at about $90 for a pair of the 18 volt NiCad. I did not receive a battery or charger with the vacuum so I am not reviewing the power of the vacuum using a battery.

Whats in the Box

I checked out the functions and features of the DeWalt portable vacuum using the 120 volt corded operation and found the vacuum works very well. The ball on the inside of the tank prevents water or liquids from getting into the motor so you do need to hold the body of the vacuum somewhat level when using.

The DeWalt DCV581H has a five foot hose that attaches to both the intake and exhaust ports for both vacuum and blower use and is a common 1 1/4 inch size. The DCV581H comes with a crevice and wide nozzle tool but you can buy other tools in this common 1 1/4 inch size at stores like Menards, Home Depot and Lowes.

The DeWalt vacuum has the removable filter that can be washed for easy cleaning while a new filter will cost about $25 which is pretty common for these types of filters. The filter does a great job of keeping dust and fine particles out of the motor but you can buy new ones when it gets beyond the point of using.

Battery Connections

The DeWalt vacuum has enough power to pick up wood chips, sawdust and other smaller debris but balks at things like bolts and larger nuts. I had no problem getting up hair and dirt from a spilled plant but could not get up some of the rocks also in the plant.

The DeWalt vacuum has enough power for shop jobs like broken pieces of glass or sawdust which is what it’s made for but for larger jobs like rocks or pieces of concrete you may need to step up to a more powerful vacuum. The DeWalt vacuum does a great job around the house and in the shop for lightweight work just like my other handheld vacuums from DeWalt and Milwaukee in this same category.

The vacuum does a great job for dust bunnies and hair around the house and with its battery operation would make a great home vacuum for quick cleanups. The tank is easy to empty using the two side latches and the plastic makes it easy to wash and scrub out when really dirty.

Filter & Tank

The tank can be washed out with soapy water if you get it dirty with more than simple dirt or liquids which is a common use for a wet-dry vacuum. You can vacuum up water or other liquids but you should clean out the tank immediately to prevent the tank from getting rank or funky.

The filter also needs washing after cleaning up liquids but the fiber material used in the tank is pretty tough and can take repeated washing and vacuuming up liquids. After cleaning up liquids and rinsing or washing the filter you should let the filter and rest of the tank dry completely before reassembling the vacuum.

I really enjoy using a cordless vacuum for quick cleanups around the house and when I work on projects for a quick and easy way to keep things tidy. I was a bit disappointed when I did not receive a battery but the DeWalt vacuum works really well even when using it with a cord.

Cleaning Up Around the House

The DeWalt Wet-Dry vacuum worked well while I was trying it out for a new project building a kitchen countertop and for odds jobs all around the house. I highly recommend the DeWalt vacuum for a great corded and cordless vacuum that gives you the versatility of deciding how it’s powered.

DeWalt DCV581H @ DeWalt

DeWalt DCV581H @ Amazon

Pros

Quick and easy wet or dry pickup
Corded or cordless operation
Blower and vacuum function
Comes with common sized tools

Cons
Not as powerful as it could be
Batteries can be expensive

Ergodyne Arsenal Installer/Drill Tool Rig Review

Ergodyne Arsenal Installer/Drill Tool Rig Review

The Arsenal Installer Drill Tool Rig is a handy and professional quality tool belt with a pouch designed for tools with a variety of pockets and a drill holder that also includes suspenders.

Ease of Use/Performance: 5/5
Convenience/Storage 5/5
Appearance/Design 5/5
How much I enjoy 5/5

Recommendation: 5/5

Ergodyne Arsenal Installer/Drill Tool Rig

Ergodyne makes a wide variety of safety and work related gear like vests, tool belts and personal protection that is high quality for real work. The Arsenal line of tool storage from Ergodyne includes belts, pouches and bags along with safety gear for serious workers.

Tool storage and tool belts are all not created equal and buying a professional quality tool belt for use around the home makes sense when that tool belt will last you a lifetime. Quality does not come cheap and the Ergodyne tool belts are made from quality materials with excellent workmanship.

The Arsenal Installer and Drill Tool Rig is a tool belt with a padded back, suspenders, tool belt and two pouches for the belt for various jobs. The larger tool pouch holds a variety of tools and has a main pocket with a smaller front pocket and two pockets front and back.

The main pocket has a large flap to cover the pocket but can be used without the flap simply by tucking it behind the belt and has Velcro closures for securing it closed. The smaller side pocket does get covered by the main safety flap while the two smaller pockets front and back have smaller flaps with Velcro closures.

Installer Rig w/ Suspenders

The main pocket has 11 interior pockets for holding tools and other items while the exterior of the pouch has two smaller pockets for things like screwdrivers. There are four half rings for securing items like safety cables on tools or for hanging things like keys.

Two of the half rings are on each side of the main pockets while two are inside the main pocket at the top with the two side ones between the side pockets and the two small tool pockets. Both larger pockets have a drain hole in case you get water inside the pockets and feature a bottom protective layer of ballistic polyester material.

The drill driver pouch is a handy ambidextrous pouch for a drill and holds a wide variety of drills from small to large ones and a variety of accessories. The drill holder easily holds my Milwaukee Fuel 18 volt drill as well as my smaller DeWalt drill driver and has a main pocket that is divided and three smaller pockets outside the larger one.

On the side of the driver holder there is a tall pocket for long bits and a metal clip near the bottom of the holder for hanging a tool. The Drill pouch also has a short chain on it with a wire holder for hanging rolls of tape which makes the installer rig perfect for electricians.

Installer Rig Pouch & Drill Holder

The drill holder has a snap closure for holding the drill in the pouch as well as a small Velcro patch to keep the closure out of the way when you are using your drill. The drill holder also has a Velcro patch on the back side of the pouch to keep it secured in place on the belt but the tool pouch does not have this.

The belt itself is a two piece belt with a tough thick nylon web belt that has double holes for the dual prongs that secure the belt on your waist. The belt also has a padded support with a large Velcro patch on the ends for quick and easy placement of the belt and then a secure tight fit using the buckle of the web belt.

The padded back of the belt can be used with the waist belt or without and is nice for both keeping cool and for lower back protection. The belt also has four Velcro loops and triangle rings for the suspenders to clip on and these along with the suspenders can be used with the belt for added support for heavy tools.

I have been using the belt for some extra work repairing a fence and for construction work on a building I am painting with plenty of accolades for the Installer Rig. The rig has tough stitching and a very comfortable fit with the padded belt that doubles as a back protector.

Installer Rig w/ Tools

You can remove the back protector padding and use it by itself as well as the main belt for your tool belt but I highly recommend using both together. The Installer Rig is easy to put on using the Velcro closure for a quick wrap around the waist so you don’t have to hold the belt up while getting the buckle done.

The suspenders are nice if you need them but I have not really used them much other than to try them out as I don’t carry enough tools to weigh down the rig. My Milwaukee M18 drill is a bit hefty at five and a half pounds but this does not weigh down the installer rig enough to warrant the use of suspenders.

The Installer rig is an excellent tool belt and is a handy one for a home handyman or for a professional who needs a quality belt on the job. I highly recommend the Arsenal Installer Rig for a home handyman or professional that is a high quality tool belt.

Arsenal Installer Rig @ Ergodyne

Arsenal Installer Rig @ Amazon

Pros

Quality materials and workmanship
Comfortable belt and padded back support
Enough Pockets for plenty of tools
Velcro patch on belt for easy fitting

Cons
None