By Jon Eakes
Sometimes they're more important than your tools!
A lot of tool accessories
never get noticed but the little sleepers can be as important as the tool
One of the most dangerous tools on a construction or renovation site is the soldering torch. How many fires have been started by general renovators or even licensed plumbers as they soldered copper pipes?
Renovation fires are probably more common than in new construction because the working space is more cramped and the wood surrounding the pipes is dryer and, more often than not, the user of the torch is not a trained plumber.
For many years I carried asbestos sheets in my tool box to protect houses from my occasional plumbing tasks, but I see few renovators today with fire shields in their toolbox and a lot of scorched joists and cabinet backs.
BernzOmatic has brought out a spray bottle of gel called Cold Coat that is not only an aid to soldering copper pipe, but your best fire insurance policy. When you heat the gel, it slowly boils off, leaving a crystallized surface that stops all heat transfer beyond the gel, at least until you have boiled it all off. That means you can actually touch the pipe a foot away from the joint you are soldering. Touching a pipe is not very useful, but the fact that rubber washers a foot from your torch will not melt is useful. It also means that water in the pipe on the other side of the gel application cannot draw off the heat of the torch, allowing you to solder the joint while there is still water not far down the line!
Just as important is that if you spray the wood around your work, you can put the torch right on the gel and the wood will not burn until the gel is boiled off, giving you enough safe work time to get the job done. Cold Coat is non-toxic, non-staining, not affected by freezing, and can be left to evaporate. If that neglected spray bottle is sleeping on your renovation centre shelf, move it to your tool box.
Felker has a reputation
for stability and balance in its blades, like the TM-10 diamond blade that
produces true cuts on difficult tiles, little waste and a quality tile job.
You just can't avoid chips, bows or arcs with a $30 bargain blade. But getting
a speciality blade is often important as well. TRASK BERGERSON moderates a
very useful Web forum on tiling at www.JohnBridge.com
and makes this point: "If you cut granite with a marble blade, it cuts
really well for a while and then it's just gone; it begins to cut very poorly.
It will clog up and glaze over. Vice versa if you cut marble with a granite
Each blade is designed
to clear material and wear according to the material it is attacking. Done
right, that keeps cutting straight and clean. Still getting some chipping
on very brittle material like glass tiles? Try putting them on a bed of insulation
foam to dampen the vibration as you run them through the saw.
Back to my strong point of wood-working, I always loved to say that a combination blade for wood was defined as a blade that cut equally poorly in both directions. Well, Freud made me quit saying that when it brought out the Fusion Blade, a combination blade for general woodworking. Amazingly, it cuts very cleanly in both cross cut and rip, and it doesn't clog up or burn while ripping.
This is an ideal blade for site work where the job is constantly changing: It works better than any combination blade I have ever tried before. You do, of course, have to keep it sharp so if you don't really need the ability to frequently change tasks and are constantly cutting Melamine, use a specific Melamine blade and it will stay sharp longer. The same goes for the speciality laminate floor blades that are a necessity to hold up to the metallic finishes on those laminate floors, or a negative angle blade for cutting piping and extrusions in a mitre saw safely and without burrs. Even with the existence of a good combination blade like the Fusion blade, there is still the need for speciality blades for specific tasks. HB
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.