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.
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).
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.
One for All
Wandered down the caulking aisle in a home center lately? There are a dozen different construction adhesives to choose from: dedicated adhesives for masonry, wood, foam, decking, paneling, marble, mirrors, drywall?you name it. Multipurpose adhesives are available, which is great, but wouldn't an all- purpose adhesive be even better?
That's exactly what Gorilla Construction Adhesive is: all-purpose and all-surface. It takes hold in as little as 30 seconds and works indoors and out. Buy a 9-oz. tube of Gorilla Construction Adhesive for $8 at a home center or hardware store.
If you're in the market for a new doorbell, and even if you're not, check out the Honeywell Wireless Doorbell Kit. It 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 wearing headphones.
Smartphone-friendly Garage Door Opener
Smarter Smart Bulbs
GE has a new line of LED lightbulbs, simply called 'C,' that 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. Who couldn't use a better night's sleep?
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! GE has launched a new website to market this product directly to consumers. A starter set that includes two 'C Life' bulbs. Two 'C Sleep' bulbs are also available. Learn more and order some bulbs here.
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.
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.
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.
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 7x7 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.
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.
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.
Mark Petersen, Associate Editor
The Moen Magnetix handheld shower is secured to the shower arm with a magnet rather than a clip. That's quick and slick for me, but even better for my daughter, who can't reach quite high enough to remove a standard shower wand. Aside from allowing her to shower 'like a grown-up,' the Magnetix line offers adjustable spray patterns and water-saving engineering. We've had ours for a year and wouldn't give it up. Magnetix handheld showers are available in stores and online, starting at about $65.
Gary Wentz, Editor-in-Chief
Snap-On USB Outlets
'Bags so thick, they stand on their own.' At least that's what Gorilla Glue says. And they do, but you can't just throw stuff in there like you would with a garbage can. Gorilla Glue engineered the bags with a square base and super-heavy-duty plastic, and if you fold a little cuff at the top and treat them gently, they do stand up. These 42-gallon bags are incredibly tough?just the thing if you have heavy-duty trashing to do. The Self-Standing Bags cost about $13 for a dozen.
Unplugged Housekeeping Assistant
If you hate cleaning and are looking for something to make the job less painful, this just might be the assistant you need. Black & Decker's 36V MAX Lithium Stick Vac (No. BDH3600SV) is a cordless upright that's fun to use and does a great job on carpeted stairs and in tight spaces. What's even cooler is that it doubles as a handheld vacuum. You just pull the motor away from the handle to create a powerful handheld cleaning buddy. It works great around toilets and tubs ? many people's two least favorite spots. The cleaning wand on the handheld part extends another 4-1/2 in., making it easy to get into closet corners.
The fully charged 36-volt lithium battery lasts 17 minutes?an indicator light lets you know the remaining battery capacity. A lightweight upright/handheld won't replace the full-size plug-in vacuum that I use for heavy cleaning (accompanied by heavy complaining), but it makes a midweek touch-up easy. Plus, you'll love not tripping over the cord. The 36V MAX Lithium Stick Vac is available at home centers, many stores and online.
Firefighter in a Can
I recently read about a kitchen fire that was extinguished by a couple of inconspicuous fire-suppression cans attached to the inside of the range hood. The fire chief said the cans prevented the stovetop fire from reaching the cooking oil stored in the cabinet directly above: 'Things would have gotten ugly fast if that had happened.'
Fire suppression cans are filled with bicarbonate of soda and are opened up by a heat-sensitive actuator. It takes two cans to protect one stovetop. They attach to the range hood with magnets. Since most home fires start in the kitchen, $50 for the two cans seems like cheap insurance. StoveTop FireStop is one brand that can be found at some home centers and online. Even if you install fire-suppression cans in your range hood, it's still a bad idea to store cooking oil above the stovetop.
Mark Petersen, Contributing Editor
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.
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.
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.