Best battery powered lawn mower for yard work in 2020

Sunday, November 10, 2019
best cordless gas free lawn mower

Choosing a battery powered push lawn mower for home use

Just as there are many ways to skin a cat, there are many ways to cut grass.

  • You've got your standard push mower that runs on gas
  • You've got manual mowers where you gotta push them along
  • You've got electric mowers that plug into the mains
  • Using a pair of scissors if you have a lot of time...

And in this modern world, you've got battery powered lawnmowers.

A battery-powered lawn mower? Really?

Yep, today's technologies mean there are batteries powerful enough to turn the blades to cut grass. If cars can drive around town all day on battery power, lawn mowers can cut grass!

Here's our top three picks which are Amazon best sellers:

While petrolheads and Obi-Wan might love maintaining their engines by adding oil and replacing spark plugs, there's many a person out there who simply wants to mow the lawns as quickly and without any stress or maintenance fuss.

An electric mower is ideal for those who are slowing down in life and don't want to have to pull start a mower 15 times before it kicks into life or run over the cable and cutting it!

With an electric lawn mower, you charge the battery, turn the mower on, and you are cutting your grass in no time.

A cordless electric mower is ideal for mowing small and medium-sized yards and lawns. With no petrol or cords to worry about, they are very portable due to their lightness. A self-propelled mower also makes this chore even easier.

How long does cordless lawn mower battery last?

While you might be able to mow your lawns in 30 minutes, a quality battery should last up to at least an hour, ideally 90 minutes.

Such a range should give you enough time to do the front and back and maybe your neighbor's lawns and the curbside berm too!!

What is the best battery powered lawn mower in 2019?

As you might have suspected, the major brands such as Dewalt, Black and Dekker, Ego and Ryobi have done their best to capitalize on the battery innovation market and so there is a fairly broad range of products to choose from.

You can cast your purchase decision into price and performance meaning you'll be able to find a mower to suit your budget.

That said, battery performance is the key measure on which you should make your purchase decision. At a bare minimum, you will want to consider a battery that when fully charged will last at least an hour. If you have a larger lawn, you'll probably want 90 minutes (usually a 7.5 Ah battery will reach perform at this level).

You'll also want to consider the kind of battery and to cut to the chase, you'll want to make sure your mower features a lithium-ion battery. They are lighter than traditional lead-based batteries meaning they are easier to push about. They also charge quickly and efficiently and will also have a longer life span. 

While batteries that are quick to charge are ideal, I reason that if you mow your lawn and then charge the battery, you'll be ready to cut next time you need to - and if that's the case, it doesn't matter how long it takes to charge the battery. Unless of course, you forget to charge it... but wait, most mowers will come with two batteries...

So with that in mind, here are some options that you may wish to consider:

greenworks cordless lawnmower best

Greenworks PRO 21-Inch 80V Cordless Lawn Mower featuring a 4.0 AH battery 

A stylish looking mower, this sharp cutter from Greenworks has the following specifications:

  • Up to 60 minutes of run time with a fully charged 4.0AH Battery
  • 4.0AH battery and charger included. 
  • Has a maximum cutting height 1-3/8 inches and a minimum cutting height of 3-1/4 inches
  • Greenworks brushless motor provides your tool with longer run-time, more torque and more power. This has the benefit of less wear and tear, extending the life-time of the mower.
  • Smart Cut Load sensing technology. Versatile 3-in-1 discharge capabilities allow for rear discharge, mulching and side discharge

Greenworks boast that this 21-inch cordless lawn mower features a durable steel deck, large 10-inch rear wheels, and Smart Cut(TM) load sensing technology. Load sensing tech means the lawn mower can tell when it's got to do some hard work (longer grass) and will amp up the power from the battery to the engine. Even though it's a handy feature, all practiced lawn mowers know you just need to simply slow down your pushing rate when tasked with tall or thick overgrown grass to minimize the chance of an engine cut out. 

Lightweight and easy to use (heck, it's a lawn mower), it has a single lever height adjustment and 3-in-1 operation for mulching, bagging, and discharging. It's so light, you can easily store this vertically, meaning more floor space in your shed!

Designed for durability and heavy-duty jobs, it features a brushless motor that delivers the power and performance of a 160cc gas engine. 

A real con perhaps is that this machine is not self-propelled. 

Don't take the manufacturer's word on all this guff, however.

Here are some genuine reviews from buyers on Amazon who have bought and used this mower. This is the real test of judgment, people with skin in the game:

'Mower was light enough to lug it down alone to the basement for Winter and back up for Spring. Absolutely no preparation needed (no gas burn off, stabilizer, spark plugs, filters, etc.), aside from blowing off old grass clippings and covering for dust (cover interchanged with snow blower).'

'No messy, smelly gas or oil needed. No nauseating exhaust! The electric motor is far quieter than a gas engine; my toddlers fell asleep fine during my mowing. There are none of the headaches of maintaining a gasoline engine: buy/store/pour jugs of gasoline, buy and keep engine oil topped off, buy fuel stabilizers, deal with spills, clean/replace spark plugs, burn off excess gasoline for off-season storage, etc.'

'The mower is very easy to push (note it’s not self-powered), so I speed-walked most of the time. It’s easy to turn 180-degrees for parallel mowing. The blades cut very near to the outer edge of the wheels (see attached picture), so there’s minimal need for overlap. There’s a rubber rear skirt to protect you from any rock or debris projectiles, which is a godsend for my large yard, full of landscape stones and sweet gum tree spike-balls.'

'The GreenWorks is superior quality in every respect, I don't even know where to begin. The single lever height adjustment is something I didn't consider that important when comparing alternatives, but something you really appreciate once you have it. The variable speed on the mower is really an awesome feature. When going through light grass you save energy, and when going through heavy grass it makes the mower not stall. The gasoline-powered mower would stall almost every lap on the lower part of our property, where the grass seems to grow thicker. The electric mower has not stalled even once, ever. By the same token, starting the mower with a button instead of pulling the cord is a dream too.'

'My experience with the mower and the blower which I purchased together has been just great. They mow and blow just like my old gas powered tools. I'm never going back to gas!!'

'Cuts grass as tall as the motor housing. Be prepared to go slow though. When I did manage to kill it in thick grass nearly as tall as the motor (well above the front wheels), it likes to wait a few seconds before starting again. Starts right up (until the battery is out of juice).'

'To turn on, you push and hold the green button on the upper-right of the handle, then grasp the green lever arm together with the handle bar, then let go of the button. When you release lever, the mower turns off completely; there is no idle. To restart, you’ll need to repeat the hold-button and grasp-lever routine. There is no cord-yanking involved.'

'I purchased the mower with the 4ah 80v battery. This is the best lawn mower I have had. We live in Costa Rica and mow the lawn year round, our property is about 1/4 acre and has a steep hill. The battery lasts as long or as longer as a tank of gas on the mower it replaces, that was a Poulan Pro 6.25 hp with California compliant emissions.'

If those reviews, float your boat, check out the price on Amazon.

snapper briggs stratton lawn mower cordless

Snapper Electric Cordless 19-Inch Lawnmower Kit with two batteries & a rapid Charger

A popular seller on Amazon, the beauty of this mower is it features a Briggs and Stratton lithium ion battery!

The Snapper XD 82V Max* 19” Cordless walk mower is built for durability and ease of use. The 19” and 21” walk models feature a steel 3-in-1 mowing deck, providing mulch, side discharge or bagging options.

You can get the job done efficiently by being able to mow up to 45-minutes** off a single charge of a 2 Ah battery. If you desire long run times, you'll need to swap out with a with separate 4Ah or 5Ah battery).

The Snapper is a very quiet, efficiently operating machine making it a good choice for anyone that just wants to get the lawns done with little fuss. 

  • Powered by a Briggs & Stratton 82V Max Lithium-Ion 2Ah, 4Ah, or 5Ah battery.
  • 3-in-1 steel mowing deck is ready to mulch, bag or side discharge. The included large grass bagger fits about 2.1 cubic feet of grass clippings.
  • Compact vertical storage capability allows you to store your mower out of the way.
  • Features easy push button starting mode and a brush less motor meaning less maintenance for you.
  • Single lever height-of-cut adjustment allowing you to choose from 7 different cutting heights.
  • Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 82-volts. Nominal voltage is 72.

  • snapper cordless lawnmower

    Again, those specs look solid enough and merit consideration for purchase, but what about the road testers, the weekend warriors who have walked many miles behind the Snapper?

    'First off, everything about this mower SCREAMS quality and durability. Batteries??? OMG. I am wondering if they're not actually ZPMs from Stargate Atlantis!

    For those of you who cannot appreciate the reference, suffice to say, they are a very good size, and have a real good quality heft to them- along with a little button to show you how much power is left. There are two of them, and they charge in less than 30 mins.

    Use one up, charge it while you use the other, or weed whack, or take a break. The choice is yours. And btw, the battery does not slowly lose power and then slowly taper off to a barely spinning blade: It goes full strength until it's depleted. I really like that.'

    'This mower cut like a champ. One pass was enough. there was NOTHING left standing. Not a blade of grass, not a weed.'

    'I was using the rear bagger, which functioned superbly. Why the bagger? Because I was certain the mulching mode would be a joke. I mean, an electric mower that mulches? Sure. When pigs fly.
    Well, the pigs have flown the coop. This thing also mulches very well.'

    'Did the whole front yard and part of the backyard on the first battery, and I am particular. I should have taken pictures of my backyard...lotta weeds, thick stalks, and weed bushes. The Snapper absolutely DESTROYED them. Keep in mind that the low setting IS pretty low. You might want to start off at the second or third lowest setting and see what your cut looks like.'

    'The batteries charge extremely fast and last the whole 45 minutes each, when they're dead, they're dead. No power loss toward the end.'

    'It effortlessly cuts my thick grass, is very easy to push and maneuver, and I'm really enjoying how quiet it is compared to my previous gas mower. I couldn't be happier with all aspects of this mower and its performance.'

    So, see for yourself how impressive it is on Amazon.

    DEWALT DCMW290H1 40V MAX 3-in-1 Cordless Lawn Mower

    best dewalt 40v battery lawnmower

    We love Dewalt. It's a tried and true brand. Have you tried their work site fan? Mint. 

    Anyways, the DEWALT DCMW290H1 40V MAX 3-in-1 Cordless Lawn Mower features a powerful 40V MAX brushless motor that can cut up to 1/4 acre. 

    The mower is a 3-in-1 battery powered lawn mower which means you can mulch, bag, and discharge clippings out the back. 

    Its metal deck gives it durability which is great for those wary of the trend to plastic models. 

    This lawn mower also features a single-lever height-adjust system so you can easily change blade height. The handle also folds to allow for compact storage.

    As you would expect from the Dewalt system, the battery is compatible with their line of 40V MAX DEWALT outdoor power equipment.

    Here are the specifications:

    • Powerful Brushless motor for high power output
    • 3-IN-1: mulching, bagging, and rear discharging all-in-one
    • Heavy duty 20 in. Metal deck
    • Single lever Height adjust ranging from 1.5 - 3.4 in
    • Folding handle and lift handles make for easy transport and compact storage

    The battery is very simply able to be taken out for charging:

    easy to change battery dewalt lawn mower

    Here's some reviews from people who have pushed the Dewalt across their yard:

    'I really like this mower. I have generally been skeptical of battery-powered large appliances, having never owned anything rechargeable larger than a cordless hammer drill. A weed whacker and leaf blower converted me enough to risk buying my first electric mower. It worked like a charm right out of the box.'

    'I charged the battery overnight and mowed the front and back of my modest quarter-acre block *just* before the battery died. I've since mowed again twice with the same result and it handled it well both times. very easy to stop and start light and with small rubber wheels so it's easy to push and turn, it has several simple but effective safety features, all controls are large, robust and easy to operate even with gloves on. No more hard starts, strenuous cord pulling, cans of gas in the shed or oil dripping on the floor.'

    'Able to mow my back yard on a single charge easily. Lightweight mower folds up for easy storage and transport. Built-in safety features is a nice bonus.'

    'This is an amazing piece of equipment. I couldn’t be happier. Hardly any setup right out of the box. Cuts better than my past gas mowers. Runs smooth and quiet. I’ll never go back to gas. I also have string trimmer, chainsaw, and handheld blower. The whole line is awesome. What's the best lawn mower battery charger?'

    If those honest reviews sound like you could be onto a winner, check out the options on Amazon.

    Battery powered lawn mower maintenance tips

    Choosing the best Total Dissolved Solids meter (TDS)

    Friday, November 1, 2019
    best tds meter

    Using a TDS meter to measure water quality

    If you've had a few issues with how your water tastes, it's perhaps because there's too much of a certain kind of mineral or nitrate impacting the water quality.

    The principal constituents found in water are usually calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium cations and carbonate, hydrogen carbonate, chloride, sulfate, and nitrate anions.

    We understand if you need to go and google exactly what a few of those things are. But the short of it is that if you have too many dissolved in your water, it will taste bad and worst, harm your health. According to the World Health Organisation, unhealthy water can be carcinogenic, contribute to coronary disease and increased mortality rates when TDS levels are too high.

    So we understand why you might be in the market for a TDS tester. And here's one of the best: While you can use a water test kit to ascertain the presence of such things, a Total Dissolved Solids meter (TDS) will help you correctly determine the extent of your probably and measure the effectiveness of any corrective measures you take (such as installing a reverse osmosis filtration system).

    A TDS meter is simple to use and most of them will give you accurate results which will allow you to make decisions on how to treat your water e.g. install a filter.

    A TDS meter works by estimating the number of TDS by determining the electrical conductivity of the sample by passing a small current through it.

    This is because the ions, minerals and other particles present give off an electrical charge which can be measured.

    The digital meter measures in parts per million (PPM). A reading of 1 ppm indicates 1 milligram of dissolved solids per kilogram of water.

    So what then is a good or bad TDS reading?

    The World Health Organization which is oft considered the expert authority on such matters suggests the following assessment guide:

    • TDS level less than 300 mg/liter is excellent
    • Between 300 and 600 mg/liter is good
    • Between 600-900 is fair
    • Between 900 – 1200 is poor
    • More than 1200 mg/liter is utterly unacceptable.

    This is not the real measure of health though. If we are talking about public safety then the minerals and metals present themselves such as nitrates are subject to their own guidelines. 

    If you are testing the TDS level after you have installed a filtration in your home, make sure you take a sample before you install the meter and write it down. This way you will be able to compare the readings and satisfy yourself that your water quality has improved. 

    Fish tanks and measuring TDS

    You can also use a TDS measure to determine how suitable the water in your fish aquarium is.

    Gotta keep those guppies healthy!

    Fish release lots of nitrates into the water and algae is constantly keen to grow and take over a tank.

    A quick check with a meter allows you to consider whether to add freshwater or to completely clean out the fish tank.

    TDS meters may be used with salt water and fresh water tanks.
    It's pretty simple to use a digital TDS meter in an aquarium - you can simply dip the electrode into the water's surface or you can take a sample and then test that.

    TDS level for a fish tank is ideally the range between 130 and 195 ppm.

    How to calibrate a digital TDS meter

    Just like when using a pH meter for brewing beer, it's really important to properly calibrate the TDS meter before use. Proper calibration will ensure that the meter takes an accurate reading.

    Here's a sweet video tutorial on using calibration solutions.

    Does a TDS meter need Automatic Temperature Control (ATC)?

    Automatic Temperature Control is quite a desirable function for TDS meters. It accounts for variations in temperature that can affect the calculation of the total dissolved solids. If you've studied a little bit of chemistry, you'll be keenly aware of how temperature can affect chemical reactions!

    You may also wish to consider the pH level of the water as well.

    Best Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

    Wednesday, October 30, 2019
    Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

    Review of the best Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

    You've probably never drunk the water that the good people of Flint, Michigan have been forced to drink in recent times. If your water is even a small percentage as bad as Flint's, we can pretty much guarantee you're in the market for a water filtration system.

    If you've got a couple of hundred bucks to spare, then an Ultraviolet Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System might ju st be the home water treatment system you've been looking for:
    Let's start with the ultraviolet part of the equation.

    The UV light is was kills any nasty bugs that might be lurking in your water. Perhaps you've actually tested your local water supply and you're not happy with what you found. Maybe there was some coliform, E. Coli, viruses, bacteria, or other potentially gut-wrenching microorganisms and you want them gone.

    The UV filter will eliminate those bugs.

    And reverse osmosis?

    You can be forgiven for thinking its simply something that plants do.

    No, reverse osmosis is a damn clever feat of engineering that some brilliant scientist (Jean-Antoine Nollet) came up with so that you can have great tasting drinking water (and water for making beer!)

    Reverse osmosis (or RO as it is often abbreviated to) is a water purification process that uses a partially permeable membrane to remove unwanted ions, molecules and larger particles from water. A pressurized membrane system is utilized to extract biological matter from the water solution. The pressure on one side of the membrane forces the water molecules through whilst retaining the unwanted items on the other side of the membrane.

    Such a process means that unwanted chemicals and particles like lead, chlorine, fluoride, nitrates, Calcium and even arsenic are removed.

    While it's unlikely that many residential water supplies will come into contact with arsenic, long term exposure to arsenic from drinking such poisoned water has a horrible effect on the human body. It's commonly caused by mining processes or agriculture.

    Express Waters' reverse osmosis system will achieve all the above and more. While it looks like a complicated filtration system, it feature's a logically progressive system to rid the water of unwanted items:

    • The first stage is a sediment filter which helps filter out dirt, dust, sand, and rust.
    • The 2nd and 3rd stages are Carbon Block and Granular Carbon Filters which focus on pollutants like chlorine, volatile organic chemicals, and odor-causing compounds. Which means your water will taste good and not smell. 
    • These early stages help extend the life of the 4th stage, the RO Membrane. The Membrane focuses on the most difficult contaminants like lead, arsenic, chromium, fluoride, & radium of all things!. 
    • The 5th-9th stages feature the alkaline filters which are stages of mineralization, antioxidants, and oxygen to your water. One for each Active Mineral stage your water flows through.
    • The 10th stage is the ultraviolet sterilizer. The UV action can remove up to 99% of E.Coli, coliform, cysts, bacteria, and most other microorganisms 
    • The 11th stage is a Post Activated Carbon Filter which does a final pass through on your water, just before it exits the system via the faucet. This helps remove any potential lingering taste or odor.

    But does it work? Does water taste clear? Does it smell less?

    Let's check out the reviews left on Amazon by users who have installed the unit for themselves:

    "First, it was not very hard to install. It looks intimidating when you take it out of the box, but if you follow the directions, it's pretty self-explanatory by the diagram alone.. I can say about the filtered water is the quality ice it makes.. I compared the filter water with city water to make ice, and the filtered water is a bit clearer where the city water is a bit cloudier. Another note, we never use to drink tap water, have been drinking bottled spring water for decades. We do feel the filtered water tastes a lil smoother and fresher than bottled water."

    "I have no idea why we waited so long to make this purchase. Our water is better than bottled in my opinion! You won’t regret buying this product! And it’s saving us money by not having to spend money on water at the store!"

    "This unit works well. After a few days of use, I decided to purchase a TDS meter (total dissolved solids). 1st. I measured the water from my faucet and got a reading of 135. 2nd I measured from the water from the refrigerator that I recently replaced the filter on and the reading was 115. Last I measured from the RO system. I was pleased to see the TDS read between 20-24. If you decide to purchase, know that the unit leaked for a few seconds when I turned the water back on. After it pressurized it stopped. I would recommend this product."

    "This was very easy to install. I installed it in the basement directly below the kitchen sink. So not exactly typical. We also had the purified water supply line go to our refrigerator also. I was worried we would not have enough water pressure but we actually have more now than we did before we added the water purifier. Our ice cubes are crystal clear. The directions we very simple to follow. Everything is color-coded and very easy to understand."

    So if those genuine reviews float your boat, check out the price on Amazon:

    So where does a filtration system get installed?

    how to install a water filtration system
    To state the perhaps obvious, the system needs to be connected to your water system at the exit point of the water. 

    Typically this means your kitchen faucet as that's the place most members of the house will seek water from. 

    So, ideally, you'll install your kit under the kitchen sink. It's a simple matter of connecting the main water pipe to the entry point of the filter, and the exit pipe to the tap. 

    The system comes with a full instructional guide to make installation easy.

    The connections are standard fittings so installation should really be a matter of 'plug and play'. 

    Given you'll need to change filters once in a while, it should be placed fairly accessibly as per the picture.

    Given this is a filtration system, you will need to replace the filters!

    The good news is that filter changes are quick and easy with a simple design and clear labels on what to put where:

    • The pre-filters should be swapped out only twice a year: Sediment, Carbon Block, Granular Activated Carbon
    • The others are replaced only once a year: RO Membrane, Post Carbon, Alkaline

    Something to consider is the removal of fluoride from your water supply. 

    As an aside, it's worth noting that many communities deliberately add fluoride to assist with healthy teeth programs so if you are removing it from your supply, you may need to consider alternative sources for that, especially if you have children with growing teeth. The science is clear, the addition of fluoride has a strong health benefit for the community - however if you don't agree with science, a filter will help you that position.

    The Brondell osmosis system is also a pretty popular home-based water solution:

    How to safely cut blackberrry with a chainsaw

    Thursday, October 24, 2019
    cutting blackberry growth with a chainsaw

    How to safely use a chainsaw to cut back blackberry growth

    Unless you're Peter Rabbit, we suggest you actually stay away from using a chainsaw to cut back a wild or over grown blackberry bush.

    Maybe call in a professional. 

    Maybe you just want to get the job done. 

    Maybe you need to remove it so you can get closer to a tree to cut in down.

    And if so, here's some guidance on how to do it safely. It's pretty much a common sense guide to using a chainsaw but a refresher on the basics never hurt anyone, especially if it reduces the chance of a kickback into the face eh?

    When cutting blackberry or similar undergrowth:

    • use the correct grip on your chainsaw. Place your left hand on the front handle and ensure the handle is gripped between thumb and finger, with your thumb under the handle.  Your right hand should grip the rear handle, with your index finger on the throttle trigger. 
    • make sure you are wearing proper chainsaw gloves.
    • hold your front arm straight in the locked position
    • operate the chainsaw with a side-to-side sweeping action.
    • make sure your chain brake is operational.
    • ensure you are have wearing eye protection such as safety glasses or a face guard helmet. You can even do yourself a real favor and wear safety chaps too. 

    The key goal of this process is to avoid a nasty kick back action so don't do anything stupid with your chainsaw. By understanding the environment you're working in, you'll have a safer work zone. 

    And while we've got you here, remember that good chainsaw maintenance is essential to good safety outcomes. Having a properly oiled bar and a well-sharpened chain will help reduce the chance of accidents. 

    Review: Cowryman Router Plane Handheld Woodworking Tool

    Sunday, October 20, 2019
    REview owryman Router Plane Handheld door making Tool

    Looking for a quality wood plane at a DIY price?

    Need to cut a handy dado joint? Making a door?

    The Cowryman handheld plane will see you right. Built of stainless steel, it's .31 inch iron will help you get your wood groove on in no time.

    The blade is easily adjustable with the screw meaning you can craft joints till the cows come home.

    Cowryman Router Planes are a necessity for any work that requires precise depth cuts, such as tenons, mortises, door locks, hinge gains, inlay, or for any work that requires an area cut to a precise depth.

    Cowryman Router Planes have a vertical square blade. It's easy to sharpen the blade with a standard knife sharpener.

    This is a mid-range product, built with enough quality in mind that the average DIY woodworker will get some real benefit from this product.

    But why take our word for how good this product is when you can check out these massively positive reviews from actual buyers who have used this plane on their projects.

    "Out of the box, the plane was sharp enough to use, but as with all new tools I wanted to sharpen it myself before trying it properly. 5 minutes on a 1000 grit diamond whetstone was enough to remove the machining marks on the bevel. The back of the blade was flat enough to use straight away, but I spent another 2 minutes to improve it slightly on the diamonds. Another few minutes with a leather strop and it was razor sharp and ready for use. The blade is thick (8mm square) with only a primary bevel which makes it easy to register on a sharpening stone.

    The sole of the plane is stainless steel of a decent thickness, so there is no flex in the plane whatsoever. The sole isn't perfectly flat, but it's close. A few minutes on some 150 grit abrasive paper should get it perfectly flat, but I haven't found the need to do that yet.

    The adjustment mechanism is incredibly simple to use, and with a little practice, it's easy to perform very fine adjustments in seconds. It comes as standard with a wing-nut to tighten the blade, but also includes a larger locking screw which is a huge improvement and makes it very easy to lock the blade in place firmly.

    This is a small plane, which is ideally suited for leveling small rebates, dados and tenons. I'd trust it with tenons & rebates up to 18mm (3/4 inch) wide, but it will probably get a little unstable after that. There is, however, enough space in the sole to drill two small holes and fit a wooden sole to improve stability somewhat.

    All considered, I really enjoy using this plane and would thoroughly recommend it to anyone."

    That's a pretty positive review but wait we've got another!

    "Great tool. I don't have the money for a full sized Veritas and with the cost of used router planes being driven out of control by collectors, retrofiles, resellers, sometimes pro woodworkers and sadly hipsters who nail them to a wall and never use them, this was a great find. It's a simple enough design to modify with a wood sole or low profile handles but very solid overall.

    The blade is sharp out of the box and easy to resharpen.

    It cuts very well and is very comfortable to use 'as is'. The blade adjustment thread and dial operate smoothly and the lock screw and additional larger lock lever both hold well and appear to have solid threading throughout. Anyone who can work metal should be able to make new blades, or you can buy different sizes made for this tool at a pretty reasonable price.

    It's way better than I expected for the money and doesn't need anything out of the box to work well. It's a good small size, but it is not big like the Stanley 71. If you expect a smaller tool I think you will be happy."

    "The blade was sharp right out of the box, didn't need to tune it (smooth out and level the bottom plate). Works excellent. I don't have dado blades on my table saw (nor do I own a band saw), so most times I make multiple pass on the table saw to remove waste wood when making lap joints and dovetails.

    Which works but it's not completely smooth, so that leaves chiseling and or sanding to smooth out the grooves. *note I do own a large router, but I keep it firmly attached to it's routing table and I hate taking it out to use it for a few minutes and then have to put it back in* This manual plane does the job quite nicely. Really happy with this purchase. Great work guys."

    Here's an excellent instructional video that shows how to expertly use this handy tool:


    Check out this cool key chain multi tool.

    Best staple gun for DIY and Upholstrey projects

    Monday, September 16, 2019
    best gun stapler for repair projects

    Best gun stapler for DIY home projects

    As a kid, a staple gun was a brilliant tool.

    You could use it to put up Star Wars posters and you could also use it to fire staples at your little brothers.

    As a mature man (!) and father of two kids, I still regard staple guns as being one of the best tools one can have. I still use them to put up the kid's posters and now maybe instead of trying to blind people, I use them to staple in insulation.

    I recently converted my shed into an office and man, did that stapler prove a life saver when trying to keep the insulation in the ceiling before I added the plasterboard.

    I found the 'karrthank /// kaarrrthuunkk!!' of the staples going into the insulation and wood framing quite satisfying.

    What's not satisfying is accidentally leaving one's stapler behind the shed and months later discovering it rusted up, inside and out...

    And so here we are looking at the number one selling staple gun on Amazon:
    best gun stapler

    • A manual staple gun, it's made of thick carbon steel which means it's built for long-lasting durability.
    • Features the Quick-Jam-Clear - When the nail of the staple gun is stuck, you can pull down the binding switch and remove the stuck nails to ensure the nail gun works properly.
    • Power Adjustment - Use the knob of the power staple gun to adjust the pressure to fit the thickness of the material you are using, which will make your decoration work easier - this means you can use it on 'lighter' items.
    • 3-Way Staples - D-type, U-type, T-type 3-in-1 manual staples are ideal for repair, decoration and fastening to meet your different DIY renovation needs.
    • It's yellow, so you know it works really well.

    But can you trust the claims of a manufacturer? The proof of the pudding is in the reviews of actual users who've bought the gun on Amazon:

    "I bought this to finish a chair repair/ re-upholsterey project. I was mid-project when the staple gun I was using died, so I bought this one. This new one is a big improvement over my old one and the last half of my project went much quicker and easier.

    I love that it can use different types of staples for different types of projects. I used this staple gun to repair some damage to the wood of the chair and I also used it for the upholstery. It was easy to use & worked very well. I’ll be using this on several upcoming projects I have around the house."

    "This does what it says on the tin. I have got quite staple happy with it, if it is not fixed down I am tempted to staple it, loving the power within my grip!

    Highly recommend for all odd jobs I primarily used it for upholstery but have since used to tack garden mesh, and fix a reed panel to a board"

    "Before I made this purchase, I tried to be fancy and get a compressed-air staple gun that would shoot both brads and staples and make my small reupholstery jobs easier for my small hands. When the fancy staple gun arrived, I realized it was way too much power and too many parts for little jobs that a manual gun could do with ease. 

    Enter, this purchase. The staple gun was easy to load, even without instructions and more importantly perfect for my small hands and weaker grip strength. I’m beyond pleased and glad I opted for this straightforward, no frills staple gun. It comes with staples, too!"

    If I've found one complaint about this stapler it's that it doesn't come with instructions on how to load staples. To my mind, if you can't figure out how to put staples in a stapler, perhaps you might just want to sit this one out... or check out a Youtube video. 

    But if you think you have a grip strong enough to handle this heavy-duty tool, check out the price on Amazon:

    It's a free world and we believe in freedom of choice. So if you don't want steel but prefer plastic, then the Bostitch Upholstrey stapler could be on the cards for you.

    The key feature is that it has a pretty handy squeeze mechanism so you can get those staples in without work out:
    upholstery  staple gun with easy grip mechanism

    The Bostich boasts a lightweight diecast aluminum design. The steel handle has an over-molded rubber grip for easy grip and comfort. It as a convenient bottom loading for quick and easy reloading of staples.

    stanley light duty best stapler gun

    If you are looking for a simple yet faithful light-duty staple duty then the Stanley is a classic around the home or office unit. Though made of chrome, it's lightweight which means it is perfect for simple office jobs like putting up signs or posters.

    How do you fix a jammed staple gun?

    Nothing much worse when you are trying to get a job done quickly and the stapler jams up. If you are lucky you will be able to pull it out with your finger with a bit of manipulation.

    If however that staple is jammed well and truly, then you might want to use a pair of long-nosed pliers to clear the jam. Before you do that, it's often easiest to slide out the pusher rod so you have slightly more room to maneuver.

    You don't necessarily need pliers... some times a flat head screwdriver will do the job and in a real pinch, you can use a nail clipper - just don't apply so much pressure that you cut the staple...

    The real issue is that not all staplers are made the same so you'll need to adjust or remove any screws accordingly.

    If you into woodworking, you might find the need to do some planing and in that case, let me introduce you to the Cowryman Router Plane, a fine quality  handheld tool

    Best water quality meters and test kits for drinking water

    Friday, September 6, 2019

    How to choose the best water quality test kit 

    Did you ever hear of a place called Flint in Michigan, USA?

    It's famous for having perhaps the poorest drinking water quality in a first world country. You literally cannot drink the water as the city's pipe infrastructure is rooted which resulted in lead leaching from the pipes and eventually into its citizens directly.

    There's no need to use a water meter in Flint because the water comes out rusty red and the locals have to make do with bottled water.

    So much for water quality.

    We state this to highlight that water quality is massively important - from keeping the human population healthy right through to testing river pollution though to making kombucha or homebrew beer (pH levels are super important), there are a million reasons why brewers, scientists and swimming pool users need to check water:

    • Too much chlorine? 
    • A bad swimming experience? 
    • Is your water too hard?
    • Excess iron
    • You're getting calcium build up?
    • Suspect your house's old lead pipes are leaching?

    If so, you are looking for a water quality tester, here's the range of things a good tester can account for:

    • bacteria presence
    • chlorine
    • copper
    • iron or lead
    • pH levels - alkalinity
    • pesticides
    • nitrate and nitrites
    • hardness or softness
    • salinity
    • dissolved oxygen

    But at the end of the day, most users just want to know if the water is good for cooking, cleaning, and drinking. Especially if you are checking the water that has gone through a home filter.

    water quality tester phHome testing kits and meters are great because you can get fairly instant results and you certainly do not have to send off samples to an expensive laboratory or testing company!

    So what are the best water testers?

    If you want to just check out the best of the best, here are our top five recommendations for pH testers:

    1. Hanna Instruments HI 98128
    2. Milwaukee MW102 PH and Temperature Meter (Amazon Best Seller)
    3. Oakton EcoTestr pH 2+ Pocket pH Meter
    4. Hach Pocket Pro + Ph meter
    5. Apera Instruments AI312 PH60F Premium pH Pocket Tester

    Read on for a more in-depth discussion about how to choose the best water tester for personal use.

    First up, here's some of the functions and features that you might want to consider when buying a meter.

    • You want the damn thing to be accurate. And frankly, you probably want laboratory results accurate because 'near enough' doesn't cut the mustard when we are talking about drinking water or swimming in it!
    • What kind of probe does it come with? Is it easy to calibrate and clean? Is it strong enough to withstand a little bit of a bump and are the probes cheap to replace (they can wear out over time and quite quickly if they are not properly cared for. A good kind of probe to keep an eye out for is a multi-sensor probe which usually allows for the measurement of standard parameters including pH, oxidation reduction potential (ORP), conductivity, dissolved oxygen, and of course, temperature.
    • Is the display waterproof? Sounds stupid to ask but you kind do want a waterproof tester because...water. Especially if you are using a smaller, handheld device that you could potentially drop in a bath or pool eh?
    • The device needs to be simple to set up, basically, you want it to be able to be turned on, calibrated and sampling without undue fuss such as pressing too many buttons.
    • Are you intending to use a 'simple' handheld meter? If so, do not be tempted to buy a cheap one. They will crap out pretty early on and will quite likely not give you results accurate to the degree you need. Spend a little more, to get a quality tester. 

    Drinking water test kits

    Water testing kits are different from digital testers or meter tools.

    Say you want to test for the presence of bacteria in your water source. 

    Say you're concerned that the water in the tank that's connected to your beach house, hen house or outhouse may have water that's given you an upset stomach due to the bacteria. 

    A simple test will help you determine if there is some contamination.

    Basic kits will have a vial which you will carefully open up. 

    You then carefully take a sample from the tank or tap, add it to the vial and wait a short while to see what happens. The kit is usually designed to change color if bacteria are present. 

    The color will depend on the kind of kit you have. Once you have determined the presence of bacteria, you'll then need to take action to remedy the contamination. 

    Other tests for the presence of lead or pesticides are usually undertaken by taking a specialise strip into a sample of the water to be tested. 

    Back when we where kids on holiday, our Great Aunt would add a teaspoon of bleach to the old metal tank that was connected to our beach house. That sure killed the mosquito larvae that were often found swimming around in it...

    The reality is the point of these kits is they are a screening test and not a comprehensive data set of results. If you get a negative result then you'll need to think about how to take proper remedial action and this may include further testing as a starting point to actually identify what bacteria is present.

    So, what are the best kind of water kits to use? Maybe this one:
    What are the containment levels that are of use?

    While most countries have different standards, the famous American agency, the EPA has the following guideline standards for these commonly tested areas:

    Bacteria presence None
    Lead Below 15 pp billion
    Pesticides Below 3ppb (atrazine), Below 4ppb (simazine)
    Nitrite < 1.0 pp million
    Total Nitrate/Nitrite < 10.0 ppm
    Water hardness 50 ppm or less
    Total Chlorine Below 4 ppm
    pH level 6.5 to 8.5

    How to test water for pH level

    Speaking scientifically, pH is the measurement of acidity or alkalinity of a solution, where the number of hydrogen ions is measured.

    You basically want to test the pH level of water so you can drink it (such as for making beer), or to be sure that the level will not hurt your eyes and ears when swimming for example.

    To use your meter for testing pH levels, you will need to calibrate your instrument. Essentially this means you take a known reading from a calibration solution, configure your device, drop the electrode in the sample solution and you are away.

    One of the most popular pH meters on the market (and a huge seller on Amazon) is the
    Milwaukee MW102. We're not kidding, beer brewers love it because it's reliable, durable and doesn't break the bank cost-wise.

    Indeed, it's at the cheaper end of the mid-range pricing scale.

    Newly legalized marijuana growers in California love it too (we're talking hydroponics here) ! Kombucha brewers can even use it!

    The MW102 is portable and gives fast, accurate and reliable measurements whether you're in the classroom, laboratory or for general field use:.

    Check out the price on Amazon:

    How to test for dissolved oxygen in water

    No one likes to jump the shark when it comes to testing for dissolved oxygen levels.

    That's why people use the... Winkler Method.

    The Winkler Method is checking for the amount of oxygen in the water as this can be a great indicator as to the health of the water. If your sample has a high oxygen content, then it's likely healthy water that can be drank and support life such as fish. Ponds and lakes that are not refreshed with water (or suffer from too much pesticide runoff) will suffer from low oxygen levels, become stagnant and not able to support aquatic life. 

    Scientists can use these levels to determine how much biomass a lake or river can support, and the amount of decomposition that's occurring. 

    While the Winkler method is quite a formal testing method which encompasses using titration, home users or enthusiastic amateurs can simply use field kits. 

    The short description of the test is a sample is mixed with reagents (kind of like the Marquis reagent testing process). When the endpoint of the chemical reaction is reached, you can determine the result, again by judging the color result against the guide. The Apera Instruments PC60 Multi-parameter Tester simply tests pH, salinity and temperature in an accurate, quick and reliable manner: The multi-parameter probe is replaceable, and equipped with Apera's unique BPB (Brush-Resistant Platinum Black) sensor, ensuring an accurate and reliable EC measurement in a wide range.

    Testing pool water with strips

    While some hardware stores such as Home Depot may offer free instore testing of your pool's water, it can be a pain in the but to get there and you just now you are going to get sold the 'up sell' when they give you your results. If you have a pool testing kit, you can do your own testing at your own pace, when you want.

    So what are you testing for when you check your pool or spa or 'hot tub' water?

    If you are properly maintaining your pool, you are probably using chlorine to keep the bacteria at bay. Which follows then you need to check the chlorine levels are withing swimming range - especially if children will be using it. While a lot of chlorine will plenty of bugs, it will hurt a swimmer's eyes. 

    So what is the test then?

    There are two simple ways - and again it's by taking a liquid sample or by using a test strip. 

    There's a handy way to test for seven key points of health check using a single test strip.

    AquaChek strips are a quick and simple test. These strips tests for 7 important pool chemistries rather fast and those being:

    • Total water hardness
    • Chlorine
    • Bromine
    • Chlorine
    • pH level
    • Total alkalinity
    • Cyanuric acid

    To use the strip, quickly dip it in your pool or spa water for one second and remove it immediately. The strip will react immediately to the water and any indicators of the tested substance will be quickly revealed. You conduct your analysis by matching the resulting colors to the color chart that is supplied with the kit.

    AquaChek strips are tried and tested. Here are some reviews from users on Amazon:

    " I do thank you for having a very good product and would highly recommend the strips since they have been pretty accurate so far. I work on about 50 pools a week so I am fairly knowledgeable on the subject."

    "These are the only strips I use. They tell me everything I need to know about my above ground pool. The only thing they can't tell you is if you have algae or cloudiness, which... are both obvious to the naked eye."

    "I was a skeptic after using the little chemical droplet tester my whole life but decided to give these a try anyway. They work great! Just to test the accuracy it ran a test strip them brought a water sample to my local pool supply for testing and their results matched the strip perfectly. No more messing around with color coded chemical bottles for me!"

    If these test stips sound like they might help you check your pool health, easily and efficiently, then check out the price on Amazon:

    digital pool water tester bestIf you don't wish to use strips, then a digital meter, such as the Safedip meter will serve you well.

    The Safedip digital meter from Solaxx is designed to make measuring pool parameters easy.

    It's simple to use. collect the water sample from the pool or spa using the onboard cup and press the Start button to take your measurement. The results will quickly be displayed on the large digital LCD display and easy push- buttons make the meter easy to read and easy to use. 

    This pool meter measures pH, levels, the total amount of free chlorine, salt, TDS (total dissolved solids), ORP (Oxidation Reduction Potential) and temperature.

    The best feature is that the LED indicator light illuminates if the pool or spa is safe to swim which takes a bit of brain work out of it, which is handy if you're keen to just jump in the pool!

    best aquarium test kits

    Checking water quality in fish tanks and aquariums

    Like the people of Flint, your fish need clean water to drink and swim in too.

    Given that pet fish can be extremely sensitive to chemical treatments being added to their water and even to temperature changes (tropical fish are famous for needing water within the right ranges) then as a pet owner, one really does need to ensure the quality of the aquarium water is just right.

    Because no one likes a floater right?

    So, when checking aquarium water, what should be tested for?

    I think we can cover off the temperature pretty easily. As a responsible pet owner, you will already know the temperature that is ideal for your fish and you will simply use your thermometer or digital meter to take a reading to check. Some aquariums simply have a thermometer permanently placed inside the water so readings can be closely monitored.

    Fish also need to breathe.

    So, naturally, you’re going to want to ensure your aquarium has an oxygen pump at play. If you recall above we talked about testing lake water for dissolved oxygen as a higher rate demonstrated that the water was ideal for fish and biomass?

    It’s the same thing for a pet fish’s aquarium!

    When testing specifically for fish water quality, these are your typical checks using a test kit:

    • Nitrite
    • Nitrate
    • Ammonia
    • pH level

    Fish excrete and then have to swim around in it. Over time this can build up making their water pretty disgusting so a health check on the water so you know to change it or to work out how well your filter is working is a good idea.

    High nitrate levels will stress your fish and also provide a catalyst for algae growth (phosphates too) and everyone hates it when fish tanks get overgrown with green algae (and all over the gravel) as it doesn’t look good and is hard to actually see and enjoy your fish!

    Many fish experts stated that if you detect ammonia in your water then you should immediately add 20 percent fresh water to reduce stress on your fish. Then gradually make adjustments to the water over time.

    As aquariums ‘bed in’ over time, the pH level can change. Too much alkalinity is not good for fish so keeping an eye on that level is crucial for having healthy fish. Sudden changes in pH due to a new addition to an aquarium (e.g. plant material, food, new water) can stress fish so bear that in mind.

    The good news is that there are plenty of test kits out there  for both freshwater and saltwater which allow you health check your water very simply, and just like testing most pool water, it is just a matter of taking a test strip and dipping it into the sample and then comparing the results to the color chart to determine the level of pH, nitrate or ammonia.

    You can also measure salt or salinity with a refractometer or hydrometer.

    This is one of the most popular test strip kits on Amazon:

    Idiot getting saved by his own idiocy

    Friday, August 16, 2019

    Check out this video of gentlemen trying to use a chainsaw in a confined space whilst at the top of a ladder.

    It's an obvious recipe for disaster which is what just about nearly happened.

    This user managed to cause a kick back action because of where he placed the chainsaw blade. By using the bar's tip end, it caught on the wood which immediately caused a kick back action.

    Normally, this would have meant a good chance the bar would have cut into the face of the user and done some considerable damage.

    The user, however, was saved by his own idiocy and the bar hit the ceiling rather than their face. 

    He knew it too and we hope he learned his lessons such as never cut above your waist & never use the tip stupidly, hold the chainsaw firmly and for goodness sake, wear safety gear like a helmet and chainsaw gloves!

    What is the best oil degreaser for cleaning hands?

    Sunday, August 4, 2019
    great cleaner for oily hands

    Best hand cleaner to remove grease and oil 

    When I was a young lad I used to work in a butcher's as a cleaner.

    I'd clean the machines that cooked fat and mince which was turned into all kinds of things.

    I'd clean the mincer.

    I'd clean the tools & floors.

    And I'd get the maggots out of the bins using chlorine to kill them all.

    Despite using gloves at various times, at the end of my shift, my hands were stinky as. I'd clean my oily hands with a soap degreaser. It was the best stuff and it smelled great.

    Now, years later as a real adult who cleans lawn mowers, uses chainsaws, and does the odd DIY car repair, I fully appreciate how a good degreaser can keep hands clean free of oil and gosh knows what else I can get on my hands.

    I've also come to realize that most workshops, mechanic floors, and factories seem to use specialized hand cleaners because when time is money, there's not much point wrestling with a bar of soap at the tap when you could be getting onto the next job ticket.

    Sure there are plenty of home remedies you can try to clean your hands (baking soda and lemon solutions spring to mind or using a spray of WD40 across the hands...oddly enough, rubbing your hands with some sugar before you add soap can work too) but for this hand cleaning gentleman, I want the heavy-duty product, especially if I've been doing some mechanical repairs!

    One thing you're gonna have to learn is that for some reason, the most popular degreasers have orange in them. We presume this is related to marketing initiative where it was deemed that 'orange' would be the manly scent that men would be OK within their oil degreasers.

    Not melon.

    Not lime.

    Not lemon.


    And so my citrus orientated friend, let's check out Permatex Fast Orange Smooth:

    best hand soap for cleaning oily hands

    It's kind of the perfect consumer product. Biodegradable, waterless, petroleum solvent-free. It contains no harsh chemicals, petroleum solvents or ammonia (which means no stinging cuts and abrasions which can occur after a heavy workday).

    Even though it smells of oranges, Permatex Fast Orange is fortified with aloe, lanolin, glycerin to lovingly condition the skin. Moisturizers are added to replenish the skin of the natural oils that can get stripped out.

    But what about its cleaning power?

    Permatex boasts that it's product will remove the toughest dirt, oil, grease, grime, paint, soil, printers ink, epoxies, paint, rubber cement, gasket, and even tile cement.

    It comes in a 1-gallon container with an easy-to-use pump dispenser.

    Check the price on Amazon:

    The second of our orange scented hand cleaners is GoJo's Natural Orange Industrial hand cleaner with pumice.

    Yes, it's orange but it's full of gritty bits of pumice which will scrub your hands to help clean a broad range of industrial soils, dirt, and grease:

    GOJO Natural doesn't have any harsh solvents so it is fairly soft on your hands.

    Gojo has been in the business for over 70 years so if the success of a company depends on the quality of their products, you can be sure GOJO's hand cleaners actually work.

    Gojo's hand cleaner is definitely for removing oils, grease, and grime. It is not suited for removing paint, dye or adhesives.
    zorange zalpon professional hand cleaner
    The third orange cleaner is the heavy duty Rozalex’s Zalpon Zorange.

    It's a mouthful of a name but that's the point. Zalon Zorange or simply Zorange is an extra heavy-duty hand cleaner containing natural orange oil, pumice and esters.

    It's designed for the removal of the most ingrained oils, greases, paints, inks, tar, and general dirt and grime.

    It also features pumice pieces and esters to give superior performance over other cleaners and when coupled with moisturizers to relieve hard-worn skin and an obvious orange fragrance it leaves the hands feeling fresh and clean.

    There's an alternative to these kinds of degreasers, you can choose to use wipes - if you need oiled removed then a heavy-duty cleaning wipe might just be what you need to get the cleaning job done. These are also brilliant for cleaning tools and parts and engines.

    Check out these Brute Strength Wipes:

    best wipes for hands

    Actual users who've bought Bruste Strength Wipes on Amazon have used and reviewed the wipes stating great cleaning results:

    'Cuts through grease, soap scum leaves a nice scent.'

    'These are great, they clean up well and don't leave a film like feel like some other wipes do. I will be buying more of these.'

    'I like how these wipes are thicker, they seem to hold up better and hold more soap.'

    'These are durable and cut through engine oil, grease, grime really quick. We use them in our airplane hangar where there isn't easy access to sinks.'

    Clearly then wipes are more versatile than just for cleaning hands but are good for working out in the field, out of the office or just for being left in the truck for those moments when you just need to clean some goo off something.

    Check out the price on Amazon:
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