Cool, Useful Tools and Gadgets for Today’s Handyperson

I personally have had experience working with all of the tools below. Some, in my opinion, were really bad and some exceeded my expectations. Check them out by clicking on the links below.


Air Flow Gauge or Thermo-Anemometer

This is to measure air flow through the home HVAC ducts.

The air flow gauge or Thermo-Anemometer is a neat tool. It measures the amount of air flow coming out of a HVAC duct to see if the unit is functioning properly.

The display unit is digital and can be programmed for metric or English measurements such as cubic feet per minute (CFM), kilometers per hour (KPH), knots, miles per hour and temperature displays. The other piece is a vane sensor that looks like a propeller in a cage. A cable connects the two units together.

To use the air flow gauge, you simply program the size of a register in the house. You enter in square feet into the unit, set a location and measure to air flow using that parameter.

For instance a 4 inch X 8 inch register or 32 square inches will be entered as .22 square feet. Here’s how I came up with the .22 square feet. 12 inches x 12 inches is 144 square inches and that equals one square foot.

Then I divided the 32 square inches, which is the register size, by the 144 inches. This calculates as .22 square feet.

By using this method, it samples the air flow and calculates what the air flow would be through the entire register opening.

Electronic Measuring Devices

Here are some electronic measuring devices I have used and I tell what I think of each of them.

Bosch Compact Laser Distance Measure, 120-Feet GLM 35

Stanley STHT77425 TLM30 Pocket Laser Distance Measurer, 30′

A Measuring Tape

A measuring tape. There is more than just one kind. There are mini tapes that will measure up to 3 feet. Then there are large tapes that can measure up to 330 feet or 100 meters with a wide variety of choices in between.

Also, there are two different base units you can choose. There is the standard and most common method where you pull the tape out and push the retaining button to keep the tape extended. Then there is a measuring tape made by the manufacturer, Komelon USA, that stays out until the button is depressed then it retracts.

Do you have more than one measuring tape? Here we examine the variety of measuring devices there are on the market.

For anything beyond 330 feet, there is a Rolatape measuring wheel. This device is great for measuring longer distances up to 99,999 feet (almost 19 miles). The wheel is 15 1/4 inches in diameter or 4 feet in circumference. A pin hits the counter mechanism with each foot it rolls clicking off the distance covered. It is really good when you want to measure larger distances. As for usage around the home, it is not practical unless you have acreage and you want to measure what you have. This is also not a substitute for a survey.

We move on to the ultimate measuring device called a NuMetrics NITESTAR. This electronic device connects to the electronics and mechanics in your vehicle. I had this device in a Ford Bronco when I was doing outside plant engineering years ago. It made the work go much faster in any weather. This device was replaced by a GPS based system that took most of the experienced labor out of the field

One great invention I have found as an add-on for the measuring tape is the Tape-Dolly. See the pictures below. It was given to me by one of my roofing contractors. This is really useful if I am trying to get an accurate measurement of a roof or any sloped surface. The tape will cooperate and slide straight up to the ridge, rolling over obstacles along the way.

So the next time you are in your big box or browsing the web, check out some of the different measuring devices there are on the market.

The Moisture Meter

Moisture meter. This device determines how much moisture is in a piece of wood. Here is a SONIN Moisture Test Meter model 50211. I have used this device to determine whether I want to buy a piece of wood or not while in the store.

For framing work, the maximum desired moisture is 14% or less. Above 14%, the wood will warp when the relative humidity drops. This usually is not desirable. If you are building furniture, the maximum amount should be 7% to 9%. The main usage is to determine if a surface can be painted, sanded, stained and sealed or will it warp.

It also helps you determine the depth of the moisture. For instance, is the test area simple surface mold or does the problem go much deeper. If the probe penetrates the wood easily, expect to spend more time and money to fix the problem.

This moisture meter is also a very useful tool if you are not sure if that dark stain on the drywall is a shadow or a water leak from behind the wall. Also, it is useful to determine if the dark place on a brick wall is a stain or the brick is just wet.

I once found a water leak using my meter in a chimney cap that showed water was leaking down behind the bricks. I then used DryLoc to seal the crack which prevented future repairs.

Electrical Meters

Here are my ideas about electrical meters. A simple volt-ohm meter is without a doubt, the most frequently used item in my electrical testing equipment inventory. The volt-ohm meter I most frequently use is a P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. This particular meter is almost twenty five years old and still reliable. It is the extra heavy duty model that is designed to withstand severe usage. It should be carried in the manufacturers plastic case to protect the meter and the test cables.

There are many uses for electrical test equipment like the meters above to help resolve problems fast and save you some money. Of course if you do not have an understanding of electricity, do not do this yourself. Call a professional!

Drywall Tools

Here are good drywall tools for when you are doing any kind of drywall work. Without a doubt, a good mud pan and 6’ knife are the best buys followed by 10” knife. Do not get the cheap stuff. One of my 6” knives pictured here is over 30 years old.

How about a plastic tool for opening those 5 gallon mud or paint buckets? Cut the tabs on the lid then insert this tool and the lid simply pops off with much less effort. This tool really saves your fingertips.

If I am putting up outside metal corner beading, this is one of my drywall tools I cannot do without. It is fast, efficient and really makes the job a snap.

For dry-walling an inside corner, try this tool as it does both sides at the same time. It is so much faster and easier than trying to get the job completed with a regular drywall knife.

When applying drywall tape, everyone has their own preferences. I prefer to use the tape dispenser as I can get the correct length I need. I then drag it through the mud pan and apply to the wall. This one works great.

Mixers, what a selection! Here are just some of the one’s I have. These will mix anything from drywall compound to paint. Just hang on to the bucket when you insert the mixer as sometimes the bucket will start spinning and throwing the contents everywhere. Sorry I do not have any pictures of this.

These are only some of the specialty drywall tools I have. If there are any particular tools you are interested in, drop me a line. Contact Us link


Garage Door Opener Remote – The Fingerprint Keyless Entry Pad

I found this really cool garage door opener remote that uses biometrics technology while I was in Sears the other day. It was in the hardware department of course! They had it on display.

It doesn’t have any buttons or codes to enter. Instead, it uses your fingerprint to open the garage door. Now in all honesty, these have been around for a while. So what was different? It was the price. It was only $39.95. Normally, these are around $120.00. That was $80.00 off the regular price. I could’t pass up that big a discount. I bought it. The name of it is the Craftsman EntryEase Fingerprint Keyless Entry Pad.

This device uses a biometric sensor to read your fingerprint and then it takes the appropriate action to either open or close the door. It can support up to four users. Two screws mount the device to a wall on the outside of the garage and a slide cover protects the mechanism from the elements.

Installation of this garage door opener remote is really simple. Get the package open and take the unit out. This is the hardness part! Mount the unit to the frame of your door or any convenient location. Mount one screw to the wall, slide the unit down and mount the other screw to the top of the unit.

Here is what you do to program the unit. Slide the door up. Run a finger across the unit three times as directed in the instructions. Open the side light cover to the garage door opener and push the purple button. A green LED should come on.

Go to the new garage door opener remote and run your finger across the sensor. The green LED should go out and the door should close. You cannot get much easier than that.

NOTE: If you do not have a purple button on your garage door opener, it will not work.

The unit only works with Sears or Chamberlain openers with the purple wire hanging down and uses 315 Mhz frequency. The old frequency of 390 Mhz that everyone used in the past was taken over by the military after 9-11. Keep in mind that if you live near a military installation, your garage door opener may not work correctly.

The garage door opener remote that uses our fingerprint to open. No more codes to remember.What will they think of next.

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