Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Winter Weather Tips for Working Outdoors

For many of us, the winter weather recalls fond images of lounging indoors, sipping on hot cocoa and peacefully reading a book or surfing the internet. If you work outside for a living, however, you may not have quite the same fondness for that first snowfall or a window-shaking storm – although it’s quite possible that hot cocoa still factors into the equation.

Hopefully you were able to pull off most of your outdoor projects during the more temperate months. However, if you’ll be working outside this winter, we have a few tips that will make your job safer, easier, and more comfortable:

1. Invest in a Thick Pair of Fingerless Gloves

Your digits are the most likely part of your body to become affected by cold or frostbite. That means that a thick, durable pair of gloves is absolutely necessary for outdoor work. However, if your gloves are too thick or cumbersome, you might lose the finger dexterity that’s essential to outdoor projects, particularly when it comes to performing careful tasks and operating machinery. We suggest a happy medium in a decent pair of wool or leather fingerless gloves. They will lock in warmth while allowing your fingers to remain nimble. And we hate to say this – we really do – but to further prevent frostbite, it’s best to avoid caffeine, which constricts the blood vessels and will cause your hands and feet to become cold much more quickly.

2. Warm Up Your Engines Before You Use Them

If you’re working with a chainsaw, a cut-off saw, or another product that uses an engine, then give it a minute to run before using it. That said, people often go overboard with this one. It’s a myth, for example, that car engines need to idle for minutes at a time prior to driving them; in reality, driving the car warms the engine faster than idling, and it’s perfectly safe to do so. Chainsaws are a bit different and do need to idle for a few moments prior to their use, so you can check for any unusual stalling or other potentially dangerous problems.

3. Work on a Team or with a Buddy

If you can, work with somebody else while you’re outside. This is a good practice for any construction project or potentially hazardous activity, but it’s especially important as the weather gets dicey. You’ll be able to monitor one another and call for help if any slips or other emergencies occur.

4. Wear Warm but Layered Clothing

Layering is the best friend of anyone who performs physical activities outside. It may seem like a great idea to bundle up like the Michelin man at first, but as you start working and your body starts to heat up, you’re going to want to be able to easily remove layers. We suggest: thermal shirts, insulated coveralls, removable hat or helmet liners, wrap-around eye protection, scarves, and, of course, jackets. All of these can be easily adjusted or removed as you heat up.

5. When in Doubt, Reschedule for Warmer Weather

No project is worth risking your safety. If you’re having second thoughts about the conditions outside, be it weather that’s far below freezing or a storm that poses a flood risk, reschedule the project and head inside. If you work construction for a living, it’s your employer’s responsibility to keep you safe, so never feel like your job is at risk if you point out dangerous conditions. These OSHA Winter Regulations can help you make your case.

Have fun, be safe, and stock up on the hot cocoa!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Your Last-Minute Gift-Giving Guide for the Construction Enthusiast

Can you relate to this? There’s a man in your life – maybe a husband, father, or son – who’s constantly tinkering around outside and working on projects. Whether he’s fixing up an old car, making a treehouse for his son, or trimming the hedges, this man is a Do-It-Yourself master who loves working with his hands. Other signs of the construction enthusiast: he tracks sawdust throughout the house and may leave behind a steady supply of tools wherever he goes.

It can be hard to know what to get such an individual, because the odds are, his workshop is already fully stocked with equipment. We’re here to help with four gifts that the DIY man (or woman) in your life will always appreciate:

1. A Top Saw Pocket Multi-Wrench With Case – This versatile tool may not be the most common one on the list, but once you have it, it’s indispensible. It’s a bit like the Swiss Army knife of chainsaw repair; it includes eight tools to fix most popular chainsaws and cut-off saws, including Stihl, Husqvarna, Makita, Wacker, Jonsered, Partner, Poulan, Echo, and more. From sockets to Allen wrenches, this multi-purpose tool is the one you’ll want around for a tune-up. And it all fits into a compact, stocking-friendly carrying case!

gifts for construction fans
2. An Eight-Piece Screwdriver Set – We know, screwdrivers are ubiquitous and your gift recipient is likely to have many. That said, they are also one of the most easily misplaced items around; and there’s nothing more frustrating than needing a Phillips Head only to learn that you can only find your Flat Head. Keep him in stock with these professional, cushion-grip screwdrivers. They feature hard chrome that resists corrosion and wear, yet provide one of the most comfortable grips around. It’s guaranteed to please when only that precise screwdriver will do.

3. A Gasoline Engine Compression Tester – Just like taking a car in for regular oil changes and engine checks, there are many things you can do to extend the life of a chainsaw engine. One of the best things you can do for a small engine is check its cylinder pressure regularly to ensure there are no leakage issues. This will extend the life of your small engine while providing maximum fuel efficiency. It’s particularly beneficial to perform this test if you notice an engine is running roughly or frequently losing power. The Compression Tester works for testing chainsaws, cut-off saws, lawn mowers, and other small engines.

4. Star Tron Enzyme Fuel Treatment – Sure, it may not seem like the most exciting gift, but this powerful fuel additive will definitely be one of the most appreciated. It uses enzyme technology to enhance the performance of nearly any engine: cars, boats, trucks, chainsaw, lawnmowers, generators, and even oil-burning furnaces. Not only does Star Tron stabilize gas; it also prevents a number of ethanol and fuel problems like phase separation and fuel gelling. Check out our video for more information on this product.

Pair any of these items with a six-pack of your man’s favorite IPA or Pilsner, and you’re guaranteed to show up with a winning gift this year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tips for Cutting Your Own Christmas Tree

tips for cutting christmas trees

One of the most magical parts of the season is choosing your own Christmas tree and cutting it down to bring home. It’s a great all-ages outing and a time-honored tradition for many families across the country that brings memories that will last even longer than that classic fresh pine scent.

If this is your first time cutting your own Christmas tree, you might be wondering what the easiest and fastest way to cut down a tree is. Well, we’re here to help with our top five tips for cutting your own Christmas tree.

1. Leave the ax at home. Contrary to the popular image of a dad chopping down a tree with an ax, axes don’t actually work very well for this purpose. Axes cause you to end up with a very uneven and messy tree base. While a handsaw is an option, chainsaws are the only way to go for big trees. Make sure you’ve brought your chainsaw and all of the accessories and fuel you might need.

2. Dress warmly. It’s December, so you probably realize it’s going to be cold, but don’t underestimate the importance of dressing as warmly as possible and ensuring your kids are bundled up as well. You don’t want to have to settle on an inferior tree just because you and the kids are too cold to continue on. Make sure you and the kids have warm coats, nice gloves and appropriate footwear for the adventure.

3. Find out if the farm offers supplies. Once you’ve cut down your tree, you’ll need to get it home, so find out ahead of time if the farm offers twine and tarps to help you attach it to the roof of your car. If they don’t, be sure to bring your own, and plenty of it.

4. Bring a bed sheet. Bed sheets can help collect the pine needles and ensure your tree doesn’t dry out as you transport it home. Even if the farm supplies tarps for wrapping your tree, we recommend bringing a bed sheet anyway to keep your tree protected.

5. Go for the taller tree. It’s always possible to make your tree a little shorter if it ends up being too big for your room, but it’s pretty difficult to make a tree any taller. You don’t want to get the tree home and realize it looks weak in the corner, so start with a bigger tree and adjust to what works for your home.

6. Look for a tree with a long tip at the top. Long tips are necessary for a lot of tree toppers, and you can always trim the tip if it ends up being too long. As with most Christmas trees, it’s always easier to start bigger and trim as needed.

7. Cut the tree as low to the ground as possible. Giving yourself as much wiggle room for trimming the trunk as possible is a great idea. Cut as low to the ground as your chainsaw skills allow and you’ll be less likely to worry about how the trunk fits into the tree base later.

Have you already cut your tree this season? Do you have any tips for readers who haven’t yet? Let us know in the comments below!