Friday, April 29, 2011

DieHard Portable Power 750 with 12 Volt Outlet and Light Review

Sears DieHard 750 portable power. *****

After having this unit for over a year I figured a review is needed. So this is the DieHard 750 jump starter. I bought one when we were taking a long extend vacation that would entail driving over 4000 miles. I had been looking around for something like this for a few weeks before I decided to buy this one. It has saved me once from a dead battery and that for me means it has paid for itself.

easy to use
good size battery
solid construction

no lead supplied to recharge
incandescent lamp

As far as the cons go, you can recharge with a male-male 12v plug or you need an extension cord of some sort. This does not mean it is a bad unit just some forethought is required to remember to bring an extension cord (which on its own can come in handy). Also, when I bought this, LED lights were just making it into everyday items so since it was not included I don't really consider it a big failing.

As a portable power unit it was nice to have on vacation. We had rented a house and had some family stay with us. They had only brought 12v car chargers with them. Whenever they wanted to charge their ipod or cell phones they had to go out to the car. I remembered I brought this along and figured it could work for a while. They could charge them in the house now and it hardly drained the battery after a week of this.

I would give it four stars if only for the lack of charging cord. I would buy it again or give one as a gift.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Review of GSI JavaGRIND Coffee Grinder

Originally submitted at REI

Nothing starts a morning or ends an evening in camp like a fresh cuppa joe. With the GSI JavaGRIND™ you can take "fresh" to a whole new level.

Great little manual coffee grinder

By jhill1440 from Hamilton, MT on 1/12/2011


4out of 5

Pros: Compact, Lightweight, Durable

Cons: Unstable

Best Uses: Car Camping, Single cup, High Altitude, Backpacking, Hiking

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

Was this a gift?: No

It was a long search to find a good, reasonably priced manual coffee grinder. It holds a fair amount of beans so you will not have to carry more if you are going away for a few days. It is a little unstable but if paired with the GSI press it fits just right. I would buy it again for a gift for someone else if I could.


Monday, January 3, 2011

My Review of Yaktrax Pro

Originally submitted at REI

Regain your confidence when walking on packed snow and ice with the updated, simple-to-use Yaxtrax Pro traction devices.

Great Product

By jhill1440 from Montana on 1/3/2011


5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Easy To Put On & Adjust, Great Grip

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

Was this a gift?: Yes

I got these for Christmas and love them. I walk to work on some icy streets and at times almost fell down. With these I can walk comfortably and not feel like at any moment I am going to fall.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just "Screw it"

Yes, yes. I know it has been a long time since I posted but we all have our reasons right. Mine are as follows: Graduating (finally) and getting my PhD, getting a new job, moving across the country for said new job, expecting our third daughter in November and losing what little shop space I had. But hey as my wife says I have "male nesting" going on, so I need to build something. And the project is.......Bunk Beds. Our two girls share a room and bed right now and with the addition of a third coming it seemed like a good time to give the oldest a little more space of her own. She has taken to sleeping on the floor to get away from her younger sister.

So anyway, why the post title? Gold star screws is the reason. I might never go back to phillips. They are self really they are. They have a Torx head on them so you don't have to press down to keep the bit engaged in the screw. I know, Torx you say, not everyone has a Torx bits lying around. But in fact if you do any car maintenance on newer cars you have come across them, in quantity. Also, the bit was sold right next to the display for $0.88.

I would HIGHLY recommend these screws. Just as a disclaimer, Gold star did not give me anything for this. I was simply at the hardware store, saw them and thought I might give them a try.

For the Bunk beds, it will be a twin on top and a full on the bottom (we have the mattresses already so no need to by new ones). I am making them out of "2 by" white pine material. The rails will be 2x6 and the legs will be a corner made from a 2x4 screwed and glued to a 2x6. They will be sturdy that is for sure. Probably way over engineered but it puts my mind at ease. I will post pics in a few days and the girls will probably be sleeping in them next weekend after a good coat of paint.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Veritias MKII Honing Guide

I said I would post a review after I had a chance to try different blades and such in the jig. My first impressions: a well conceived and well built guide.

Veritas MKII Honing Guide

The first blade was a 3/4" chisel: easy to set up. I did not know it but I my chisels were ground at 30 degrees and not 25 as I had thought. Now I can put them back in the guide and with only a few strokes, a sharp edge appears.

The second was the Zen Toolworks plane blade. It came beveled but not honed. I flattened the back (easy as it was essentially flat to begin with), then put it in the guide and away we went. After about 5 min of working through the grits I had a honed, micro-beveled blade.

My conclusions
I never really had a sharp edge before this. I only thought I had a sharp edge. The difference between what I could achieve freehand and with the guide is night and day. All my chisels can now pare end grain like butter. Before it was really difficult and frustrating, now it is almost a joy to see them flow through the wood.

I like that I can come back to the same settings easily and without fuss. Makes getting and maintaining an edge a much more enjoyable process.

Holding thin chisels can be tricky (1/4"), they want to skew as they are worked on the grit. You have to be extra careful and tighten them in the guide well and be mindful on keeping the chisel straight when drawing it on the grit.

All in all I give two thumbs up. Look around for the best price. I got mine off ebay (NIB) but only saved $2 dollars or so.

Zen Toolworks Plane review

So I've had the white pine plane for a month and have properly sharpened it and used it on a couple of different woods. NICE! It is a great little plane. I have not done any shaping yet to make it fit my hand better but the way it comes is very good. The blade is fairly thick and takes and holds an edge well (at least as well as I can sharpen at the moment). I never really had great success with my bench plane (craftsman #5) so this plane was nice to use. I would highly recommend Zen Toolworks and am looking forward to getting a couple more. He has a scrub and a shoulder plane I have my eye on for the next ones.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Zen Toolworks Plane

So with my Christmas money I went out and got myself a new wooden plane. I found this small one person shop, Zen Toolworks, that was resonable and had great reviews. This plane actually came off his ebay store for $36.99. Hand made with a great blade. That is a great price considering what the price of a new plane costs these days. So today I received a small box well packed with this inside.

So the details: Measurements are about 9x1.5x2.5. The blade itself is with my none caliper ruler 3/32" to 1/8" thick, nice and stout. Instead of a wood blade holder it has a brass cap with a well knurled thumbscrew.

Here is a close up of the throat. It is square with the body and well cut. The blade ramp is smooth and there is no wobble with blade that I can feel.

Overall I am quite happy with the plane. I have not made any shavings yet but I have not been able to properly sharpen the blade yet. I have my eye on a Veritas MK II honing guide and setting up a "Scary sharp" system. This blade will be the one I run through that. Should just be a week or so.

Just as a side note. Hard maple is a pain to cut dovetails in when it is 3/4" thick. I am making a shelf for over the stove and thought this would look nice. It will contrast with the oak trim I put on for the kitchen remodel.

Also a tip of the hat to Kari at The Village Carpenter. I don't know what you use to compose your thumbnail pics but this was with powerpoint. Yours always look great so I thought I would try it. More refining needed on my part.