The Right Stuff: 5 Products That Make DIY Life Easier

A constant stream of new products flow through my workshop for testing, and the best of them can make a big difference in the success of your do-it-yourself work. Here are five real winners:

Tjernlund Room-to-Room Air Exchange Fans

stanley floor protector

It’s surprisingly difficult to find a simple, quiet electric fan for moving air from one room to another through a floor or wall. Until I found a small company in Minnesota makes the best hardware I’ve seen. Tjernlund (800-255-4208) offers very specific, USA-made fans for solving ventilation challenges, and I know from trials in my shop that their ASLL model is exceptionally quiet – less than 1.5 sones. They also sell other specialty fans for extended dryer vent runs, for attic ventilation, and crawlspace ventilation.

Stanley Flexi-Felt Floor Protectors

The main thing about your new hardwood or laminate floor is that it lasts a long time. Scratches from furniture legs are heartbreaking, and that’s why you need protection. Self-sticking felt pads work okay, but they fall off in time. Stanley’s Flexi-Felt floor protectors are amazingly tough and they stay put. Their clear vinyl collar goes over the bottom end of legs from 5/8” to 1 5/8” in diameter, creating the most reliable felt protection I’ve seen for floors. Prices vary from $4 to $25 depending on type and package size.

Irwin Handsaws

Irwin HandsawSometimes a handsaw is the fastest and best way to get something cut, and when you do reach for a handsaw, you can’t beat models with a Japanese tooth pattern. Each tooth is longer and pointier than regular saw teeth, and that’s why they cut faster. Irwin upped the ante in handsaw design, and so far their Danish-made Universal Handsaw is the best general purpose model I’ve used. It includes very hungry teeth, plus cutouts in the blade for marking various angles. These saws are cheap, too – $19 for the 15 inch and $22 for the 20 inch. Check out my handsaw video review.

BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 Finishing Nailer

This 15-gauge air nailer has features I’ve never seen in other finishing nailers:

  • it operates without need for lubricating oil
  • it has an on-board LED light to illuminate dark work areas
  • there’s a button-activated blower to clear sawdust from work areas
  • there’s a swiveling 16” long gauge to find studs from one nail to the next

BOSTITCH N62FNK-2 Finishing NailerThe Stanley Bostitch N62FNK-2 also comes with four interchangeable nose tips which make it easy to sink nails into the right spot in bead board, cove, tongue & groove, and 5/16” in from a square edge. This tool is also quite light, weighing in at 4 lbs. 3 oz or 1890 grams on my scale, with a great street price of $229.

Paslode CF325 Framing Nailer

This tool drives framing nails without the need for an air hose. Replaceable cylinders of combustible gas provide the energy. I like this particular model because it fits into tight spaces – even between typical studs and trusses. The nose piece is easier to push in than other gas nailers I’ve used, and the tool is also about a pound lighter than the air-powered framing nailers I own. Unlike previous generations of gas nailers, the fuel canister drops in without need for fumbling. The $529 Canadian Tire price isn’t cheap, but this tool does eliminate the need for a compressor for framing applications.

A big part of DIY success involves starting with the right tools and materials. It’s difficult to tell what works and what doesn’t just by appearances, so send me a message for any specific recommendations you’re looking for.

Posted on October 4th, 2011