Killer Firewood Saw
I'm an open-fire guy. In my book, there's nothing finer than grilling over the coals of a wood fire, watching the sun go down on a lake or river. And if there's a chill in the air that makes you put your hands to the fire, so much the better.
I've tried just about every type of firewood saw you can imagine, and short of a chain saw, this is the one to beat. It's called the Corona Clipper Razor Tooth Raker Saw. It's a pruning saw with very aggressive, super-sharp teeth that cut on the pull stroke. It'll burn through a frozen 6-in. log in no time.
There are only two problems: It has no sheath, so you'll have to rig that up yourself, and it can really chew up your fingers if you're not careful. I wear leather gloves, always. You can get the saw, and smaller versions (with plastic sheaths) that are almost as fast-cutting.
I like well-made tools, and I like tools that look good. The Gransfors Bruks axes and hatchets fit both criteria. I own the 5-1/2-lb. splitting maul, and I love the way it cleaves the air and wood with so little effort on my part. The balance and beauty are perfect. I love to go out in below-zero weather and split wood.
This Swedish company began making axes in 1902. Each ax is made from start to finish by one smith, his initials stamped on each forged head. Since they're handcrafted, no two are exactly alike. I guess that's why they cost so much!
I know, I know—yet another squirrel-proof bird feeder. (This one has the standard concave shield beneath.) But what's special about the Duncraft Effort-Less Bird Feeder is the ease of refilling it, especially if you're short or use a wheelchair. Pull a little pin and the seed reservoir slides down the shaft, so you can just dump seed right in the top. It's really easy and fast.
No More Knots
I like using ropes to secure my tarps, but I hate tying knots. I can never seem to keep the tension before the knot is finished, and no, I was not a Boy Scout as a kid. The CamJams from Nite Ize have come to the rescue. Now all I 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. I also use them when I want a quick, temporary clothesline in my backyard. They come in a couple sizes and are available at home centers.
Photo: Paul Nelson
Super-Easy String Replacement
I loved my string trimmer—except when it came time to replace the string. Then I hated it! Replacing string was practically a two-person job. So I was pretty excited when I ran across Oregon's new string trimmer head. The Gator SpeedLoad Cutting System attaches to most popular trimmers and makes string replacement super easy.
The heavy-duty string comes coiled on a disk. All you do is plop the disk into position, feed out the two string ends (and not through tiny little holes, like on my old one), and snap on the cap. My property is several acres, so if I'm close to running out of string, I slip a replacement spool in my pocket before I head out. That way I don't have to walk all the way back to my shop to reload.
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 4x4 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
Cool Covers for Your Shoes
When you're doing flooring and trim jobs where you can't set up your saw indoors, running outside to make every cut is time consuming. And if the ground is wet, muddy or snow-covered, you have to take off or switch your boots every time you get back inside. Well, no more. Get yourself a pair of Shoe Ins shoe covers. Slip these puppies on and slosh right through the mud or snow without ever having to take your shoes off. Nice! They're lightweight, easy to slip on and off, and easy to clean.
Sticky Solution for Wasps
I have real wasp problems at my house, so I hung up the TrapStik under one of the soffits where they love to hang out. The next day I found about two-dozen wasps stuck to the sticky paper wrapping around the outside of the trap. The pests are attracted to the colors and patterns on the sticky surface and can't help themselves. Then they stick to it like Velcro. Wonderful. The traps are available at home centers and hardware stores.
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.
Plant Trees Like a Real Forester
Last spring, my husband and I received 200 white pine seedlings—for free! All we had to do was plant them on our northern Minnesota property. Savvy friends suggested we use a planting bar instead of a spade for our rocky soil, which was still partially frozen. A planting bar is the same tool that professionals use to reforest vast areas with thousands of seedlings.
You just push the planting bar into the ground with your foot, push it away to create a slit, drop in the seedling and pull it back so the soil falls back into place. The whole operation takes about 30 seconds. We planted all 200 seedlings in two days. Who knows, maybe next year we'll plant 400!
Backwoods Repair Gear
I spend a lot of time outdoors: canoeing, backpacking, fishing, camping—you name it. And as a DIYer, I feel compelled to carry a repair kit wherever I go.
Of course, the kit varies depending on the trip, but here are a few items I often carry. Some are pretty obvious, like duct tape, paracord, zip ties and a multi-tool.
But the others aren't: A piece of aluminum tube that can slide over a broken tent pole can be a trip saver. A lightweight magnifier will actually allow you to see what you're doing when you make small repairs.
And thin wire is one of the most useful items you can carry. Wrap it, twist it, 'sew' with it.... It's strong, heat proof and doesn't stretch. I've used it dozens of times, for fixing everything from my boot to a canoe.
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.