Q&A / 

May 30, 2012 AsktheBuilder Newsletter & Tips

This past weekend was a mixture of work and relaxation for me. I hope you had a great Memorial Day Weekend, and you reflected on those who offered up the ultimate sacrifice so that you have the freedom to read this newsletter that I'm allowed to write. All too often I feel many take our freedom for granted.

On Sunday, I cleaned a wonderful teak table that's on my deck. My daughter Kelly helped me with this job. Early the next morning, I sealed it after it had dried. Visit my Restoring a Weathered Teak Table page at my website to see dramatic before and after photos and secret links to the products I used to achieve the stunning results!


Tip of the Week - Difference Between an Impact Driver, Drill and Screw Gun

Check out the photo. Sure, the tools are all the same color and they all spin, but what's the real difference?

The common electric drill needs very little explanation - it accepts drill bits ranging in size from 1/16th-inch usually up to 3/8-inch diameter and sometimes 1/2-inch diameter. A variable-speed motor in the tool allows it to spin very slowly or quite fast providing you with great control should you choose to use it.

A screw gun is very similar to a drill but it accepts bits that fit the slots in different screws. An adjustable clutch on the tool allows you to tell the screw gun when to stop turning. This prevents the screw from snapping. It also allows you to control how far you drive the screw into the material. In the case of drywall, you want the screw head recessed below the surface, but not so deep as it tears the paper from around the screw head.

An electric impact driver is much like a screw gun. It accepts all sorts of driving bits and even smaller sockets. The internal clutches and gearing provide enormous torque at low speeds so that you don't strip the head of the screw or nut. While you can use low speeds on a drill and a screw gun, you simply don't get the torque. This single feature makes in impact driver invaluable.

Here's the drill / impact driver combo kit I've been using lately, but I expect to be testing a kit from both Bosch and Milwaukee very soon.


Hong Kong Subscribers and Photos

Do you live in Hong Kong? Or, do you have any great street photos showing the typical buildings, architecture, etc. from street level? Do you have photos of side streets, back alleys, etc.? My son needs them for a video game project. I'd be eternally grateful if you could forward a few to me. The higher the resolution the better.


Impressive Space Station and Northern Lights Video

Russell Morris, who lives in Queensland, Australia, sent me a link to a delightful video that you might enjoy. It's a respite from some boring home improvement video I might ask you to watch!


LAST Chance for Shed Videos

My DIY shed project on Kickstarter is just about to close out. I need your help to make the goal. You get some amazing swag if you back the project.

IMPORTANT NOTE:If you back the project at the $30 level, you'll get the entire video series for that one-time low price. I guarantee you that you'll never, ever be able to get the 100-plus videos I plan to tape for that price. I'm serious. This is your last chance.

If you *ever* plan to build a shed, you'll find these step-by-step videos invaluable. There are going to be over 100 videos total in 30 different ebooks about each phase of the project.

When the ebooks that contain the videos are in my shopping cart, you'll see them at $7 each. That means the entire video series will be priced at $210 if you buy the ebooks/videos one at a time.

But for the next week, you can get each ebook for just $1 each. That's an insanely low price.

If you're a long-time subscriber to this newsletter, you know that I meant what I say. You'll never see this low price again.

Go ahead, back the project right now. You'll not regret it for a moment.


Lumber Strength and Grades

You may not be aware that different species of lumber have significant differences in strength. And within each species, the actual grade of the lumber can have an impact on its strength.

In the photo below, you can see the arrows point to both the species of wood and the grade. The blue arrow points to the grade with SEL meaning *select*. The red arrow points to the species with SYP meaning Southern Yellow Pine.

For example, Douglas Fir is perhaps one of the strongest framing lumbers while hemlock is not all that strong. I say this assuming you're comparing two pieces of lumber the exact same size and thickness.

Southern Yellow Pine is a species I used regularly when I was building, and it's a very strong wood. It also accepts chemical treatment very well, which is why it's often the species you buy when you get lumber that you use outdoors.

The fewer knots one finds in lumber, the better its grade. Knot-free or nearly knot-free lumber is often graded select. You then step down to #1 and #2 grades as the knots become larger and there are more of them in each piece.

If you want a really informative brochure that talks about both hardwoods and softwoods, including photos, tables, and a great glossary of wood terms, you should download the FREE Hardwood Handbook put out by the Southeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association.

WARNING:It's a pretty big file, so if you click the link, go do something else while it downloads. You'll enjoy it!


Cleaning Tip of the Week - Aquarium Algae

Sandy shared with me how she used Stain Solver to clean years of algae from aquarium rocks. She said, " ... the Stain Solver produced amazing results without the worry of any harm to the fish."

To get rid of any hard water deposits on the glass of the aquarium you'll need either white vinegar or muriatic acid. These chemicals can absolutely harm the fish!!!


Upcoming Tool Reviews

Oh, I've got some tool reviews ready to do the later part of this week! I'll be shooting a video of two Milwaukee 4.5-inch grinders, a RotoSaw and a Senco Finish Nail Gun.

The second week of June I'll be getting my annual dose of new Bosch and Milwaukee tools as I'll be attending their annual tool conferences. It's always a pleasure to see all the new power and hand tools.

REPLY to me. Tell me what tools you want me to review. I'm SERIOUS. Click "Reply" and tell me. The same is true for products. What New Products do you want me to review? You have to Reply - I've got mystic powers, but ESP is not one of them. :->>>


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