Review: Dewalt DCE511B Jobsite Fan for 2020

Monday, August 3, 2020
best work fan for job site - dewalt

The Dewalt job site cordless fan is one of the most popular fans on the market

A hard-working unit, this fan will run off the Dewalt battery system for hours, almost effortlessly - meaning it is a nice and quiet unit. 

Obviously, its rugged design means it works just as well outdoors and indoors and it can take the bolts and jolts that are the usual hazard on work sites

It's not so big that it can't be easily stored away when not in use and it on the pack of your ute or pick up with no worries. 

You can plug in the standard 120-volt cord or connect a Dewalt battery (20-volt maximum)  to it. As the reviews below show, you will get plenty of 'air time' with this Dewalt fan

Here's the specifications from Dewalt:
  • Corded or cordless use (the extension cord will need to be bought separately) 
  • Multiple hanging arrangement options - freestanding, hang hooks, and standard wall mount 
  • Variable speed control - wide-range so you control the speed you want; Airflow - 500 
  • Testing to IP54 standards - meaning it has 'ingress protection' from dust, dirt, splashes of water etc.
The unit has three blades which are 7 inches long and they will turn and turn all day to keep the air moving to keep you cool and to also help expunge unwanted smells such as smoke from soldering or other discharges. 

You can even use it to help dry painted walls, drywall (plasterboard), and plaster mud.

worksite fan battery powered dewalt

But if you want to know if the Dewalt fan truly is worth your time and money, check out these reviews from actual users who have ponied up their cash on Amazon:

"Love this fan so far. The fan pivots back more than 90° as you may see from my picture. I was concerned the bigger flexvolt battery wouldn’t fit in it but it does with ease. I’m currently conducting a run till dead test to see how long it will run at high-speed with Dewalt’s strongest battery the flex volt 9.0 AH battery. Seems pretty well-made, however, I’m going to hang on to the box to carry it in just to protect it.

I hope the DeWALT comes out with a carrying case for this. The hooks pull out from the base allowing you to hang the fan on the job site, which is a nice touch. As many have already posted you can plug it in but not while you have a battery in the battery socket. To use AC will need an extension cord with a female plug on one end just as the DeWALT power pack inverter uses."

"I am very Happy with this unit after day one. I placed a DCB203 20V Max 2.0AH Compact XR Li-Ion Battery Pack (Smallest they make) into the Fan, turned it on low at 10:45am. At 10:28 PM then unit is still running. On Low speed, you can not even hear the unit running. Will be running the unit on Medium speed this weekend, same battery."

So it will run all day. 

"This thing is made STRONG. This last week at the market I was pulling it down and it slipped. It fell from about 6ft and hit concrete. Didn't even scratch it. I'm not saying drop it on purpose but I thought for sure it would have been damaged if work at all. And it turned in and worked perfect! I love this fan!

It's tough and durable. 

This is the 2nd fan I've bought. I love it! I use it for a weekly Farmers market tent. I hang it from the frame and it keep my customers cool while they shop. My original purchase was for the fan, battery set and charger. A full charge battery will run this fan on high from 8:30am-2:00pm and still have over half charge. It creates a nice breeze. Made 100* market days much more bearable. Highly recommend this little workhorse."

It does the business required. 

"I purchased this fan for the specific purpose of having some kind of cooling device available during a power outage. As such, I wanted to know exactly how much cooling time I would get from one battery. I'm using a 60-volt, 6.0 Ah "flex-volt" battery; however, my 20 volt, 4.0 Ah battery also (obviously) works.

I turned on the variable speed fan to half speed; it's VERY quiet. The design of these batteries is such that they don't slowly wear down--instead, they just quit when the voltage drops too much--so, I suppose it could quit at any moment. But, after twelve hours, the fan is still going strong, and the battery still has 2 of its 3 charge level lights on (3 lights would be a full charge). I have to tell you, I am damned impressed! Well done, Dewalt!"

If that doesn't convince you, check out the unit on Amazon.

Dewalt not only make fans, drills and other tools - they make quality safety glasses!

Oregon Powersharp Chain Sharpening Kit Review

oregon powersharp chain sharpener

If getting a file out and sharpening each tooth of your chain is not for you or is too much of a time suck, then Oregon's Powersharp chainsaw sharpening kit may be the tool for you.

Taking the classic concept of sharpening with a stone, this time saving device attaches to the end of your bar. Give the engine a short rev and the chain is sharpened.


The PowerSharp system consists of a chain, a bar, and a bar-mount sharpener.

When your chain gets dull, sharpening is as easy as snapping the sharpener on the blade and pressing the tip of the sharpener into a solid surface for a few seconds, bringing the unique top-cutting cutters into contact with the sharpening stone.

You do have to replace your existing bar because only the PowerSharp has the correct holes to snap the sharpener on.

You can't sharpen regular chains with the sharpener, only PowerSharp chains. But you can put a regular chain on the bar if you don't have any more PowerSharp chains so your investment risk is quite low, as you've brought yourself a qualty bar from Oregon no matter what.

This video from Oregon demonstrates how you can safely and quickly use the attachment:

Here's the technical specifications: 

  • Pitch: 3/8" Low Profile, gauge: .050", drive link count: 62
  • Fast, Easy, Portable, Precise, Tough
  • LubriTec keeps your chain and guide bar oiled for less friction and longer life
  • For saw sizes up to 42 cc

Will this cause any kick back issues?

Oregan state that this saw chain met the kickback performance requirement of ANSI B175.1-2012 when tested according to the provisions of ANSI B175.1-2012. Low-kickback saw chain meets the kickback performance requirement of CSA Standard Z62.3.

Reviews by actual users of the Powersharpener

"I use the PowerSharp to cut anything I would cut with a regular chain, I don't just prune small branches with my saw either, I have an 18" bar because it is what I need for what I cut.
I hate having to change a chain because it is dull, and I don't find it worth spending the time sharpening them, or sending them out to be sharpened. I have had good luck with the PowerSharp and I am pleased with the system. I have used the PowerSharp on an Echo CS-400 18", and an Echo CS-360."

"These don’t cut quite as fast as a normal chain, nor does it have the normal “pull” into the wood as a semi-chisel chain, but this chain stays sharp for 2-3x longer than Oregon or other chains. When sharpening is needed, it only takes about 30 seconds to install the sharpener and run it a few passes! Afterwards, the chain cuts straight and is like new again. The bar seems of good quality, no complaints. Great system!"

"I own a christmas tree farm where I use chains after chains & they get dull and then it takes time to sharpner the chain! After seeing the video from oregon chain saw sharpener i ordered it for my saw to try out! Its was very ez to install! this bar & chain! This is the REAL DEAL! WOW! Takes seconds to sharpen! It performs well! Save me so much time! what an invention! Got to get! Ordered two more for my other saws!"

"My experience with it has been exactly as advertised. I initially came across this because I was looking for a longer bar for my little husqy 235e. the 14" bar was way too short for cutting limbs on the ground. my back protested quite loudly. Oregon made this in an 18" for that saw. I rejoiced, and purchased it immediately. I have only used the sharpener thingy twice, because that is all it has needed in the half-cord's worth of cutting this thing has seen. both times it has been restored to full sharpened glory with under 2 seconds of sharpening. brilliant."

The only con of this product is that many users have found it doesn't work with a Husqvarna bar. 

If this sharpening device floats your boat, check out the price on Amazon.

How to identify chainsaw work area safety zones

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Consider your workplace safety zone before you turn on your engine

When you intend to use a chainsaw, it's important to check the work area for hazards before you start felling or cutting.

Obviously, you'll never deliberately do anything that will harm another person when you are using your chainsaw but you do need to be mindful.

Here's a personal example of a lack of mindfulness

Last year I was chopping up some branches my neighbor himself had cut down and thrown over the fence for me to use as firewood.

I happened to run out of fuel and the saw cut out. I put it down in front of me and that's when I realized my two-year-old daughter was standing just me. Gave me a hell of a fright with the realization that a kickback or an odd movement from myself could have put her in harm's way.

It appears I did not shut the back door of the house properly.

Did I think to do so?

I can't recall, but either way, I wasn't mindful enough to check my working zone would be safe.

So I know personally this is no joke, and you do too, that's why you're here, looking for safety zone advice.

Now this may be obvious stuff but so is properly shutting a door so here we go:
  • Check that there are no (or will be) no people or animals in your work zone. Tell people around you to stay clear and ask mums or dads to keep the kids inside.
  • Do not work in adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow or high winds or even rain
  • Ensure you have a clear work area in which you have a stable footing and do not have to reach or work off balance. Make ladder adjustments as necessary and have a support person as required. 
  • Make your way carefully on uneven or sloping ground. Wear some suitable & sturdy boots.
  • Shut down the chainsaw off before carrying it. Carry it by the front handle with the bar to the rear - not balancing on your shoulders mate!
  • If you are felling trees, make sure other people are at least two tree lengths away. Before you commence cutting, determine your escape route escape route, one that is cleared to the side and rear.
  • Check for hazards in the area - such as electricity or telecommunication cables. If in doubt, seek advice from the local controlling authority.
  • Always check for any material such as branches or tops which may dislodge and fall into the work area as the tree falls. 
  • Be mindful when cutting greenery such as blackberry.
  • Once you're in the zone (you're working, you're moving, you're in the zone, you're grooving) - be mindful of reducing the chance of a kick back - and for goodness sake, wear some head gear and safety pants

How to sharpen a chainsaw - correctly and safely

Sunday, June 21, 2020
best chainsaw sharpening kit

Guide to properly sharpening a chainsaw

Have you ever carved up a leg of lamb with a blunt knife?

Shaved with a blunt razor blade?

Whittled a piece of wood with a blunt pocket knife?

I bet you didn't think it was a great experience eh?

And neither is using a chainsaw with a blunt chain.

At best, the job takes longer and is hard work. A blunt chain can wear and cause damage to your bar. At worst. a blunt chainsaw can get stuck in the wood or get a nick, fly off and hit your hand. At the very least, you've got downtime.

That might be fine if you're a weekend warrior with time to burn, but if you've got get that job done before knock-off time, you need a sharp machine.

The maintenance of your chainsaw is so important and a keen part of that good practice is knowing how to sharpen your chain.

In theory, it's a relatively simple task but you've got to apply the principles of it well. The short version of this is that each bit should be sharpened as evenly as possible.

When do I sharpen my chain?

Like a cut-throat razor needs to be periodically sharpened, so does the chain of a chainsaw.

All saw chains suffer wear and become dull after a period of sustained use. A dull chain increases the chance of a kickback, and we all know, you do not want that to happen.

You'll know that you chainsaw needs sharpening when you observe the following:
  • The chain does not pull itself into the cut. You'll know this feeling, it's like a dog pulling on a lead, it just goes.
  • If the saw has to be forced to cut by applying a sustained downloads pressure 
  • When bucking, a fine sawdust is flying out from the cut rather than coarse, thick chips. You want your saw dust crunchy, not dust like. 
  • If it looks like the cut is about to set on fire,  even though the chain lubrication is in order and chain tension is correct, you need to sharpen. This is because the blunt chain is causing a fraction too much friction in the cut zone. 
  • The cut wanders in one direction. This is an indication of dull cutters on one side of the chain or irregular cutter lengths. 
  • If you chainsaw "chatters" and "bounces" during the cut, you'll need to check the depth gauge settings and adjust accordingly. 
Naturally, you may now want to learn how to sharpen a chain!

So what tools do you need to sharpen a chainsaw chain?

As far as we are concerned, there are two ways to sharpen a chainsaw a) you operate in a fast and loose manner with a file and b) you do the job properly.

If you are going with option a) all you need is a saw file that's the correct diameter in size. Your operating manual will tell what you need.

If you understand that chainsaw chain maintenance is a really important part of using a chainsaw then option b) is a bit more thought out.

You will want to have to hand:

You can find all the tools for sharpening in these handy kits on Amazon.

Oh, look here's a great example of one here:

arnolo chainsaw sharpening kit

Here's how to safely sharpen your chain

  1. You know how rules often get made because someone does something stupid? The first rule is 'turn your chainsaw off before you sharpen it'! The mind boggles that that has to be the first thing we mention. That said people do juggling with chainsaws that are turned on so go figure... you can actually remove the spark plug cap so the chainsaw can't accidentally start.
  2. If you are sharpening chain while it is attached to the chainsaw bar (which us usual), make sure it’s tensioned properly as it is hard to sharpen properly if the chain is loose.
  3. Put on your protective gear, including gloves. You can even add some safety glasses to the deal, especially if you are going to use a rotating sharpener (discussed later on)
  4. Clean the oil and grease off. This prevents any build-up on the file’s teeth or the wheel when grinding.
  5. If you are being super particular, it's time to inspect your chainsaw chain for damage. Keep an eye out for broken cutters, or tie straps, bent or cracked drive links. If your chain is too worn, too damaged, replace it with a quality chain. Loose rivets will need to be replaced (and that's a whole other lesson in itself)
  6. Ensure you have your filing tools at the ready - being your file guide (which ensures a consistent filing angle) and your file.
  7. Begin sharpening your chain! After two or three strokes of the file, check how much material has been removed. If the surface looks uniform, you are doing it right.  
  8. Use the same number of strokes with the file with each link of the chain. If you are using your file guide, each stroke will be conducted at the same angle, meaning the chain is consistently sharpened in the same fashion along the whole chain. 
  9. Only file forwards and never backward. This means you need to lift the file off the chain on the back pull.
Here's a great video tutorial by the team at Bunnings Warehouse in New Zealand of all places:

Can I use a 'rotary tool' to sharpen a chainsaw?

You sure can if the attachment is the right size for the chain. A great example of this kind of tool is the Dremel 100-LG Lawn and Garden Rotary Tool Kit.

It comes with three sharpening attachments designed for use on lawn mower blades, shears, and of course chainsaws and it rocks along at 35,000 RPM.

The Dremel kit includes grinding stones that work best with the attachments as well as cutting wheels for other garden applications so it's win-win if you're thinking of buying one.

If your chain has managed to gather some rust, you can probably remove it with an acid bath.

Completely random, is there any chance you are in the market for a replacement lint catcher for an LG drier?

Hands on review: Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier

Tuesday, June 9, 2020
 review: Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier
When I graduated with a degree many years ago, my parents got me a Gerber multi-plier tool. It was awesome, I used it all over the show. It had a seriously sharp knife, a saw, and a pretty handy pair of scissors. It was great for fishing / sorting tackle, opening beers, doing Macgyver stuff.

I used it for about years until some asshole robbed my house and they nicked it and a whole lot of other gear.

At the time, we had a lil baby so we spent the insurance on the kid.

No regrets.

Though I wistfully thought about that Gerber knife a lot for several years. So, when I had a lil spare cash, I got myself a replacement Gerber - the Gerber MP400 Compact Sport Multi-Plier in fact.

It was slightly different from the original one I was gifted in that it did not have a saw but the knife and scissors were sharp as I remembered.

gerber compact mp400 review

So how has it faired?

Let's start with the 'flick of the wrist' opening trick this tool is known for. My original (which I suspect was an earlier version of the MP600) would open up and the needle slide out with a said flick of the wrist. This version did not, it was a bit stiff and has taken a fair bit of use to 'sort it out' so the flick trick works every time. A small application of CRC early on helped too.

This is the only complaint I have about this knife.

It's super handy and I rate it so much, I brought my brother one for Christmas last year.

By why is it handy? All Gerber knife blades are super sharp, surgical sharp. And that sharpness seems to last for a long time. Indeed, I have not sharpened it yet, despite lots of use cutting string, garden plants and whatnot.

I even used it to cut the skin in my hand to get a wood splinter out.

I would however not perform an appendectomy on myself with it...

Last month I made a coat rack out of some nice Rimu wood - my trusty Makita electric drill couldn't get the last screw into the framing for some reason - enter the Gerber to finish the job.

Gerber has some marketing guff which may be of interest to you:

  • Solid stainless steel construction offers durable use over time.
  • Included ballistic nylon sheath keeps the tool ready at a moment's notice.
  • Proudly made in the USA at Gerber's Portland, Oregon factory
  • Fully functional toolbox that fits in the palm of your hand
  • Stainless steel hardware for durability

I'd most certainly agree the Gerber MP400 is durable. If you drop it it will not break and will likely leave a dent in a wooden floor for example. It is heavy and feels properly weighted when in the hand. You know how a knife feels just right? It's the same for this tool.

The unit boasts these following component parts:
  • needle nose pliers
  • wire cutter, wire crimper
  • serrated knife blade
  • Fiskars scissors
  • cross point screwdriver
  • small, medium and large flat blade screwdrivers
  • can opener
  • bottle opener

You may be wondering what Fiskars Scissors are - Fiskars is a well known brand of scissor, famous for originally being for cutting material with. And you could sure cut up and Oscar gown with the scissors on the Gerber MP400 - they are so sharp!

A little bit of research tells me, this unit has been Gerber's most popular selling multi-tool for over a decade. I presume that comes down to a good brand name have a quality tool.

I am totally sold on Gerber multi-plier tools - I don't expect I'll be using anything else in the future.

If this tool interests you, check out the options on Amazon:

You might also be interested in my key ring multitool which has a handy box cutter.

When to clean or replace a chainsaw air filter

Thursday, April 16, 2020
Chainsaws are like cars, the more you use them, the more maintenance they need. A chain sharpen here, a fresh spark plug there and sometimes you need to replace a filter.

You need to replace an air filter when it no longer does its job of preventing dirt and debris entering the chainsaw's engine and out of the carburetor. 

How do you know when to replace the filter? 

dirty air filter chainsaw
You can do a visual check.

If your filter looks anything like the image here, it needs a clean or a replacement!

So here are three factors to consider:
  1. Does your chainsaw lack power when using it?
  2. Is it harder to start than normal?
  3. Does it die and cut out more frequently than it should?
If you have any of these problems, then you might need a new replacement air filter.

Let's look in more detail at how a dirty air filter can hinder the efficient operation of your wood chopper

Your unit's air filter should be inspected often to ensure it is free of grime and dirt especially after a lot of heavy duty operation. This is because an unclean air filter could be clogged to the point that it won't allow sufficient enough oxygen into the engine. These cause the saw to 'lack power' power - think of the engine as a lung - and it needs oxygen to power the chain. 

Just as a distinct lack of oxygen in the lungs causes a body to die, a lack of oxygen in chainsaw will cause it to cut out. 

When do I replace the chainsaw air filter?

Given you should consider replacing your air filter at least once a year. Perhaps at the same time, you replace your spark plug? If you have used your chainsaw quite a lot, or even professionally, then you will need to service your machine more regularly and change the filter often. 

What kind of air filter does my chainsaw need?

 All chainsaws use filters  > Major brands like Poulan, Craftsman, Stihl, and Husqvarna all use them and offer their own branded replacement parts. You can, of course, use aftermarket parts as well. Branded gear will likely be of better quality, perform quite well and for a longer lifetime.

As long as you know the model number of your unit, you can find the part. Simply do a search on Amazon with your engine brand and model number and 'air filter' and you will find what you are looking for. 

Can I clean the chainsaw air filter?

You sure can - you can use a soft brush or rinse off with hot water. If you use water, let the filter dry in the sun before you replace it.

Remember filters can be precious wee things, so trying to blow off all the sawdust and gunk off with an air compressor might not be the best approach.

How to replace a chainsaw air filter

This is a handy tutorial video on how to replace the air filter. You'll need a screwdriver handy - and always engage the chain break before you do any maintenance on your saw:

Grass and the art of Lawn Mower Maintenance

Friday, April 3, 2020
grass and lawn mower maintenance

For some, lawnmowing can be a bore or a chore. For the house proud, green fingered people out there, mowing the lawns is a fun job. The sound of engine and the smell of green cut grass. Or it's a chance to spend half an hour in your own thoughts, with the world shut out underneath the safety ear muffs.

Which is all nice and dandy, but just like a Formula One race cars is tuned and calibrated to it can perform within an inch of its life, if you want your lawn mower to cut grass well and to work a long and happy engine life, you need to maintain it. 

Here's some tips and tricks to help you better understand grass and the art of lawnmower maintenance.

Some lawn mowers NEVER have their spark plugs changed - and it will eventually show when it becomes troublesome to start - you've added fresh petrol but no action on the pull-start? 

Guess what, it's time to change the plug. Here's how to replace a spark plug in a lawn mower.

So after you've mown the lawns a few times, you might be tempted to use your grass cutter to mulch up some thin branches, or maybe an old rose bush, even some flax (here's an idea, don't). Over time the blade will dull and lose its edge. In case it's time on how to sharpen a lawn mower blade safely.

Once you're done for the day, the question becomes, where do you store your engine. If you have a big garage, all good - if you keep it outside, then you might want to consider using a cover to keep dust and debris off your lawnmower

Lawn mowers are obviously small engines but perhaps what's not so obvious is that they do not run well on car engine oil. These smaller engines operated at different temperature levels than cars so the characteristics of the oil required to run an efficient engine need to be different.

So knowing what kind of lawnmower oil to use is really important. Are you going to use a traditional Briggs and Stratton type oil or are you going to use a synthetic engine oil? The answer often lies in the temperature of the climate in which you will use the lawnmower. World renown small engines engine experts Briggs and Stratton advise that "Engines on most outdoor power equipment operate well with 5W30 Synthetic oil. For equipment operated in hot temperatures, Vanguard 15W50 Synthetic oil provides the best protection."

Overall, a standard lawn mower, used in standard back yard conditions will operate very well on standard SAE 30 (sometimes referred to as 30W). Synthetic oil will work continue to work in fringe temperatures - i.e extreme cold and extreme heat. But we reckon if it's that cold, why bust your ass cutting grass anyway?

You might one day find yourself when you need to add oil to the engine and you only have two stroke oil when your engine is a four stroke

I know what your thinking, we've all been there.

Yes, you can add two-stroke to a 4 stroke machine - but it will only work in the short term. 2 stroke is designed to be used with the fuel inside the engine and not in a 4 stroke engine so it's qualities will not be what the engine needs over the long term. So sure, you can do a quick top up, but eventually you will need to replace the oil you added with 4 stroke. 

Don't be that lazy guy that keeps on using it - add proper oil, because that's all part of grass and the art of lawn mower maintenance.

If you've moved your lawns, cleaned the engine up, and re-filled it with petrol, then well done. Sit back and relax with a cold homebrew beer or learn how to re-start a chainsaw that's flooded.
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