Are expandable garden hoses worth it? Easy. [UPDATED]

Are expandable garden hoses worth it? Easy. [UPDATED]

[UPDATED] Like lots of people, I wondered what’s up with these expandable garden hoses popping up everywhere. I remember first seeing them on TV a few years ago, but never checked them out.

It’s probably a good thing. Like most new technologies, it had some kinks to work out, and lots of cheap fly-by-night manufacturers to be found out. (more…)

What’s the best hammer for me? Believe it or not, size matters!

What’s the best hammer for me? Believe it or not, size matters!

You would think an everyday tool like a hammer would be simple. Yes and no. There are all kinds of features you might need to know about. Choose a tool that’s too heavy for you and you’ll pay the price with a sore arm. But a tool that’s too light might not get the job done, so choose wisely

What is a hammer?

Claw hammerA hammer is a tool that has a weighted “head” at the end of a long handle that is swung to deliver a force to a small area of an object. This might be, for example, to drive nails into wood, to shape metal (with a forge), or to crush rock. They are used for a variety of tasks.

The modern hammer head is typically made of steel which has been heat-treated for hardness, and the handle (also called a haft or helve) is usually made of wood or plastic.

Choosing the right tool for the job.

For home use, you typically need a claw hammer to hang pictures, fix your fence or most any other common household task. A claw hammer has a “claw,” opposite the “head,” to pull nails out of wood and other materials. There are hammers with magnetized heads and nail starters to help hold the nail while driving a nail. This can be a real time-saver.

I needed to buy a new hammer and looked at several options. I’m a big guy, so I thought right off I should get a larger tool. Something in the range of 22-25 ounces. Not so fast, big boy! Those are great tools, no doubt, but if you need to swing a hammer all day or for several hours of work, a lighter 15-16 ounce tool might be best unless you’re a real pro and are used to the activity.

The handle is important, too. Some are made from tried-and-true harder woods like hickory, and will last the life of the tool. There are also shock-absorbing handles which can reduce fatigue and wear and tear on your shoulder and arm.

The short list.

Here’s a few I considered:

Sure Strile Tack Hammer (paid link)

In the end, which hammer you buy is up to you. Just remember to always use the right tool for the job: if you are driving a small finishing nail, a huge 25-ounce framing hammer will be like using a sledgehammer. In this case, it would be better to use a smaller finishing hammer.

Likewise, if you’re driving a 16 penny nail, you’ll want a heavier tool to get the job done. You need mass and force. Just know that there can be problems with choosing a tool that is too light or too heavy. It all depends on what the task at hand might be.

I hope this helps you choose the right hammer for you.


Floating vanity in a small bathroom. Good choice.

Floating vanity in a small bathroom. Good choice.

This isn’t my usual DIY tip—it’s more of a home renovation project involving a floating vanity that turned out pretty cool.

When remodeling a small bathroom, we looked at floating vanities, also called wall-hung or wall-mounted, for a couple of reasons. They’re more modern-looking, and they make small spaces look bigger. And this space was pretty tight. (more…)

Choosing ladders:  think twice, buy once

Choosing ladders: think twice, buy once

Like most homeowners, I found out a long time ago I can’t get by with just one ladder. Especially not that rickety old aluminum stepladder I found in my garage—though I tried for awhile. You’re likely going to need at least two ladders to get your basic DIY stuff done (unless you go with a multipurpose ladder: more on that later). (more…)

1-piece toilet beats 2-piece, hands down.

1-piece toilet beats 2-piece, hands down.

Trying to choose between 1-piece toilet or the traditional 2-piece? We were, too, but after having lived with both, it’s not even close:

We favor the 1-piece by a wide margin. It’s sleeker and more modern-looking, it’s easier to clean and it’s less likely to leak or break. (more…)