Favorite Stuff! 2014 Edition

It's back! The AZ DIY Guy's favorite stuff! It's been a little over a year since I last shared my new list of sweet loot that the average DIY'er can actually afford. This is all stuff I personally own and use that you might not think of.

This is stuff that might not be in every tool kit yet, so there are some good ideas for holiday gift giving (or gift card spending!). I've attached Amazon.com (affiliate) links for convenience, but you can find most of these things at other online or brick and mortar retailers.

 So, once again, in no particular order, I  present to you,...The Stuff!

A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.
- George Carlin

DEWALT Right Angle Adapter Attachment

I actually won this sweet, impact-rated driver attachment via a fan-photo contest on DeWalt's Facebook page a while back. It sat, poised for action, in my tool cabinet until it was called  to the forefront of the battle. It was a perfect storm; I just couldn't reach screws with normal tools. Horror! Heck, I couldn't even see what I was doing.

I snuck it in some tight spots to do some light framing and plumbing support while repairing a plumbing leak and replacing the shower valve. 

Perfect reach!
It snapped into my impact driver using the standard 1/4" accessory chuck. I've also used it a few times in a standard drill chuck. For about $25, I think this is a great little widget. 

O'Keeffe's Working Hands Cream

I'm the weekend-warrior type DIY guy. I work in an office for a living. I generally don't wear my Red Wing boots, Carhartt nail-apron, and a 25' tape measure clipped to my belt when I sit at my desk. Unfortunately, a DIY'er must attempt to present at least some semblance of civilization when working with normal people. It's bad enough when a co-worker notices paint splatter on my glasses midday on a Monday, or I brush against a fresh, nail-scraped scab and my shoulder starts to bleed through my dress shirt. At the very least, I can take care of my hands.

I use O'Keeffe's to repair and keep my hands in good order. I don't have to sit across the conference room table from normal, non-DIYing folk, trying to hide my battle-scarred hands, cracked and dried from a weekend's with drywall compound, paint thinner, WD-40 and sawdust. When I shake someone's hand, I don't scrape them with callouses from a long weekend wielding the hammer or shovel. They think I'm somewhat normal,... except for the occasional Sponge Bob Square Pants Band Aid.

Flame Thrower! (Inferno Propane Torch)

Yeah, it's not really a flame thrower (technically, it does throw flame though...). I'd picked one of these up this summer to clear out an entire, overgrown backyard full of weeds without using chemicals.

I'm telling you, killing weeds shouldn't be this fun, but it sure is when you introduce an Armageddon of blasting flame on them. I even did a video. I can only imagine how fun it must be to melt snow with one of these torches FLAME THROWERS!

A cautionary tale, dear readers: After I wrote the blog post about the joys of incinerating a forest of pesky weeds, I loaned my beloved torch it to a friend at work. In flaming the weeds around the front of his house, he let the flames linger a bit too close to his beautiful hedge. No, he didn't set them (or his house) on fire, but he did kill 100% of his hedge plants and have to rip them all out. Once the heat breaks down the cells in a plant's stem, (snap, crackle, POP!) it's game over for the plant. His wife is really not pleased with me for loaning him the tool. Morale of the story: Don't loan your torch to married friends.

3M Professional Multi-Purpose Respirator

After years of wearing those cheap, throw-away dust masks, I finally graduated to a serious one. I particularly like this one because it has a valve that lets your exhaled breath directly out quickly. I don't have to suck in my own, hot breath and my glasses / eye protection don't fog up from weird venting around the top. It fits comfortably.
I've worn it when woodworking, attic-crawling, and spray-painting. Do I care it has those sassy pink filter cartridges? Nope. As long as they keep my lungs a sassy pink inside too, I'm happy.

I don't like breathing in that nasty MDF sawdust, full of who-knows-what chemicals.

Monkey Bars Storage Rack

I've written about this storage rack a couple times. I love having all my long-handled tools stored neatly in such a compact space. 

That's the Monkey Bars Bucket Rack below it.

The heavy-duty hooks and hangers are adjustable and can hang tools in front or back of the horizontal bar. 

Amazon.com link: Large Yard Tool Rack

I hope you've enjoyed episode III of my favorite stuff. If you'd like to tour through the still sweet stuff of yesteryear: 

Swiss Army Tool, Red Wing Socks, Carhartt Apron, Diablo Carbide Blades

Moleskin Notebook, Bench Cookie Grippers, DeWalt Laser, Kreg Jig Jr. 

I hope your holidays are going great my friends!

Installing an "In-Use" Outdoor Electrical Cover

The electrical receptacle on the front of our house gets some heavy use around the holidays, powering lighting decorations. When I put up the Halloween lights, I realized that the outlet was open to the elements. It hadn't been an issue for years, since it was covered by a massive, ugly overhang, tunnel thing for years. Alas, I tore that sucker the heck down a while back. Now the receptacle is open to the elements. (Yes, we do have rain in Phoenix,... occasionally)

The outlet is covered and secure from rain when nothing's plugged in, but once I open the cover and slip an extension cord in, it's exposed to the horrors of the great out-of-doors. In electrical terms, that's not cool.

I'd Mac Gyvered a temprary solution, by rubbing a piece of quality electrical tape over the open half of the outlet. The EchoTape electrical tape I used is great stuff, but it's not a permanent solution and it  is not meant to properly / safely seal this situation permanently.

More modern homes are equipped with "In-Use" covers by code, but this old 1979 tract home, pre-dates the requirement. I'm going to show you how to install a good one.

Since it's just a cover and you don't have to go poking about the electrically live parts and pieces of the receptacle, technically this can be done without shutting the power off. However, you really don't know what the condition is inside the box. Some chump before you could have left something lose that could wiggle free while you work. I recommend cutting the power before getting into it. (see AZ DIY Guy's Scary Electrical Warning)

Luckily, my receptacle is controlled by a switch. I made sure it was off and took out the two face screws holding the flip cover in place.

Wearing shorts in November = revenge for all those summer comments about the heat
Eat your heart out cold-country!
After the cover slipped off, I peeled off the weatherproofing. Be careful if there's paint on either piece, you don't want to peel it off to far and require touch-up. It's easy enough to score the edge with a knife first.

Gasket madness.
You can pick up "in-use" covers at your hardware store, home center or on Amazon.com. If you want one like the one I'm installing, a heavy-duty model, you may have to hunt around a bit, perhaps stopping in to your local, professional electrical supply house. 

This is a Thomas and Betts -  Red Dot, Code Keeper - Extra Duty which features beefier construction than the basic grade stuff. It even has a steel hinge pin. Being located on the front of our house with heavy traffic, I wanted something I wouldn't bump into in passing or snag with a hose and break off. 

Red Dot - In Use Outdoor Electrical Cover

Since the cover allows for vertical or horizontal mounting, you have to remove a knock-out to allow for your electrical cord. Important: Remove the knock-out from the bottom. It's an easy operation, just pry it out with a pair of pliers, like you are pulling a tooth. Uhhhh....

Red Dot - In Use Outdoor Electrical Cover
I can do dentistry for half price (cash only)
This model includes a foam gasket, wasp guard which folds over in the new opening. to prevent a beastie surprise one dark evening. It leaves a slit for the cord to slid through.

Red Dot - In Use Outdoor Electrical Cover - Wasp Guard
Installing the wasp guard

Of course, the new cover was imperceptibly larger than the old one. I had to shave a bit of the batten board out of the way to get it to fit properly. An oscillating multi-tool sure is handy to have around. It took seconds to neatly zip the wood out of the way. I'd hate to have messed with it with a hammer and chisel.

Red Dot - In Use Outdoor Electrical Cover

This cover comes with the foam gasket permanently adhered to its back. Others versions may require slipping a gasket behind before screwing it to the face of the receptacle. It mounts to the the same screw holes in the receptacle's yoke that a normal cover plate uses. 

Red Dot - In Use Outdoor Electrical Cover
No more Mr. Loose Gasket!
Most covers also include various slip-in adapters for different configurations of receptacles and switches. I didn't need to use any because this recept was a rectangular GFCI device that fit the standard opening.

With the cover case screwed on tight, I snapped the clear, outer cover on and slid in the hinge pin. The pin is loose in the packaging to allow for horizontal or vertical mounting (like this) using one of the two hinges. 

The cover opens up easily with plenty of room to plug stuff in...

... and snaps shut securely with the outlet "in-use". Get it?

Ready for action!

That's it! It's an easy project to do and only takes a few minutes. This is also a great time to test your GFCI by pushing the test button to see if it trips. If it doesn't trip, or won't re-set (with the power-on) it's time for a replacement. They don't last forever. 

Good luck on your projects and Happy Thanksgiving!

PS - There's still time to enter in the BLACK+DECKER - Your Big Finish Contest that I shared in the last post. 

You can win weekly power tool prize packs, $10,000, and / or your picture on the CNN Times Square Billboard!

Check out the gallery of entries, mine's in there too!!!

Sponsored by BLACK+DECKER

Inspired to Finally, FINALLY Finish the Family Room Remodel.

Hideousness Before
I haven't worked on the family room remodel for a looooong time now. It's been stalled. Eleven months after starting, I received a big kick in the butt to finish the project. A challenge issued by BLACK+DECKER has inspired me to return to the room with an arsenal of tools and materials to kill off the last pesky bit of this project.

Stick with me friends, I'm going to share how to win a pile of sweet BLACK+DECKER power tools or $10,000 at the end of this post!

If you've been with me from the beginning, remember the stained, wrinkled carpet, moss-green walls, cheap TV stand, and misfit slip covered couch in this 1979 builder-basic room? Here's a quick tour of the heroic burst of action that started this project, before I burned out on it:

Don't Kick the Bucket - Installing a 3 bucket storage rack

With the garage now cleaned up for cool weather projects, I'm still organizing the space. Since I'm a hopeless pack rat, storage is always a problem. Nearly every square foot of wall space is taken up. Luckily, I found some space as for a sweet, new bucket storage system that's going to help.

Remember my Monkey Bars Garden Tool Rack (AKA Zombie Survival Rack)? There's a few inches of available real-estate, right below it to play with.

Another Monkey Bar's product, the 3 Bucket Rack uses the same system as the Garden Tool Rack, a couple brackets and a square bar that the accessory hangers snap onto. Luckily, I simply had to transfer the measurements for the brackets from the rack above to be sure I hit studs with the big lag screws.

Yeah. I'm wearing jeans,.. in Arizona; it's down in the mid 60's in the morning and I'm a wimp.

The Great Fall Workshop Cleanup

No, a cruise missile didn't hit the garage. workshop. It's just a plain, home-made dump-fest.

I could have just tossed a match in there.
I've been mindlessly chucking stuff in here for months upon months. Of course I'm not alone in the mess making, there's some significant juvenile assistance, as well as the standard, well-intentioned, spousal additions to the heap. Sure, I'd done a little work shuffling the piles around and organizing but, as a whole, the garage was still an official Federally declared disaster area. I'm surprised the Vice President didn't show up to survey the damage with the press-corps.