Friday, March 13, 2015

How to Stock and Reclean Your Workroom to Prepare for Spring Projects

Organizing your garage workshop prior to the spring is the perfect time to set it up for all the projects you’re planning when the weather gets nice. We’ve got some pro tips to get you started!

First of all, if you have not yet taken the time to install a peg board in your shop, now is the time to do it. Space savers are always essential for a busy workroom, and a peg board is one of the most inexpensive investments you can make. Use large sections that you can attach to the walls to keep large tools easily accessible. You can also make small peg board panels to hold your levels, hand saws and hammers. By nailing a few pieces of trim as guides underneath your workbench countertop, you can slide the panels in and out when you need a small tool.

Clearing the Clutter

Getting objects that occupy floor space out of your way can make your workshop seem larger than its actual size. Using the ceiling and the walls can accomplish this goal well. For example, the ladder, which is usually in the way, can be stored overhead with ceiling brackets. Unless you use the ladder regularly, this is a great way to use your space more wisely.

Overhead space is also a handy place to suspend storage bins for holiday items like decorations and strings of lights. Pick up some large plastic tubs from your home improvement store, and clear some space by moving them only one time. To incorporate wall space for organizing your yard tools, screw two rows of short lengths of two-inch PVC pipe to the wall. Place one row about one foot from the floor and the second row about two feet above it. You can stand your shovels, rakes, hoes and other garden tools there where they can dry.

Lining up Your Drill Bits

Mount two magnetic strips on a length of 1 x 2 board. Then you can let your drill bits and screwdriver bits line up in a row where you can see them. The width of the board, when attached to a flat surface, allows you to pick and replace the ones that you need.

Storing Pipe

With two pieces of latticework suspended from the studs in your workshop, you have slots that are the perfect size for holding your copper or PVC pipe. You can see each length, and you can choose the one you want without moving the pieces that are in your way.

And there you have it! You’ve just provided yourself a large, easy and convenient space for working on whatever project you desire. So rev up your chainsaw and start working!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Winter Damage Control: How to Clean Up After a Heavy Snowfall

how to clean up snow
If you’re one of our friends on the East Coast or in the Midwest, we do not envy the harsh Winter you've been having this year. While we can all keep our fingers crossed that Spring will show its sunny face any day now, there are certain things you can do to make the snow a little more bearable. Chief among them: snow removal! You may not have control over the weather, but that doesn’t mean you have to put up with cold, soggy feet and pants any time you want to walk out your door or use the driveway. Below are a few snow removal tips so you can keep your walkways, driveways, and home safe and snow-free.

Use the Proper Equipment

Decide what equipment is best for your physical abilities as well as amount of snow and the size and type of your property. A manual shovel may be appropriate if you are healthy and the snowfalls in your area are fairly light; or if you only have a small pathway to clear up. An electric shovel, on the other hand, is a great choice for people with physical limitations and small properties in areas with light snowfalls.

Looking at some heavy-duty cleanup? Snow blowers come in various sizes and power levels based on the amount and heaviness of snow they can remove, and they are by far the best option for large driveways or walkways and heavy snowfall. Also, they’re pretty fun to use. Just make sure you get your earplugs out, and for the love of all that is sane, no 7am snow-blowing!

How to Protect Yourself

Once you have the appropriate equipment, take the proper precautions to protect yourself, your neighbors and your property. If you have any physical limitations, use a snowblower instead of a shovel, or hire someone to clear your snow for you (even if you didn’t have physical limitations, we’d understand if you want to outsource this task to an enterprising young teenager). Other safety tips include:

  • Look the part. Wear warm clothes and outerwear along with the proper gloves and boots to get the job done. A pair of thick worker’s gloves will help you stave off blisters, as the repetitive motion of shoveling snow can often create a few. Layer your outfit so that if you get too hot, you can remove a few layers as needed. And finally, wear sunglasses and sunscreen. It may sound a little torturous to slather yourself in that fresh, sunny sunscreen smell and remind yourself of the day at the beach you’re not having, but snow is highly reflective of UV rays; dangerous sunburns can and do happen. Similarly, it it’s sunny out and the snow is particularly reflective, then staring at it for prolonged periods of time can cause serious damage to your eyes. If it helps, grab a margarita and try to pretend you’re on a tropical vacation; if nothing else, your neighbors could use a little comic relief!
  • Use the right technique. The proper way to lift snow with a shovel is to bend at your knees and turn without twisting. Do not twist. Do not twist! This can seriously tweak your back.
  • Lighten your load. Don't wait until the snow gets too deep or heavy. Shovel several times during the storm or in layers, and don't overload your shovel.
  • Inspect your machinery. Make sure your snow blower is in optimal condition, and repair it if necessary. We happen to have a wide array of Tecumseh parts, a leading brand in snow blower engines.

How to Be a Good Neighbor

snow removal tips

These points should be fairly intuitive, but they’re worth mentioning. Make sure that as you perform your routine cleanup, you respect your neighbors and their needs by adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Obey the rules. If your community has a rule for removing snow within a certain time frame, follow it. Even if they don’t, use your good judgement on this one. We know you need to get out of your driveway, but early morning really isn’t a good time to bust out the snow blower. Plan ahead the evening before if you can; and if there was a fresh snowfall overnight and you absolutely must be at the office at 8am, see if you can make do with a shovel and take care of the rest later. Strategically park your car as close to the edge of the driveway as possible to make getting out easier.
  • Keep it to yourself. Never transfer snow from your property to your neighbors' properties, and avoid throwing it into the street or onto the sidewalk. Otherwise you’re likely to start a snow battle, which is only fun in Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. So where should the snow go, you ask? Unfortunately, into the parts of your yard that you’re not using. Don’t worry; you’ll get your yard back eventually.
  • Treat icy surfaces safely. Use de-icers that aren't toxic and won't hurt pets' paws. Gravel is a safe way to improve traction without chemicals, and Calcium magnesium acetate is a more environmentally-friendly choice than the popular, inexpensive rock salt. On an unrelated note, while we’re on the topic of pet safety: never, ever leave antifreeze outside. Both cats and dogs are drawn to the sweetness of this incredibly toxic substance. 

Good luck! Spring is just around the corner, and we’ll be ready for it with plenty of fresh blog posts about fun outdoor projects and construction ideas. You’ll be trading in your snow blower for a lawn mower before you know it!