Product Review

Badger Balm

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A gift received four years ago sat unused for months.  Need finally arose over a bracing chapped winter.  This balm was found to be superior.  An all-natural salve with pleasant wintergreen finish restored what nature took.  

Before the tin was reduced to a few smears of Badger Balm along the bottom, my restored hands had intersourced * a vendor with reasonable shipping fees.  I’m BACK IN THE BALM again!

That split nail growing from a perpetually cracked cuticle?  Finally, some relief after a couple months of consistent application.  Sub-epidermal exposure through fingertip calluses?  Stick with Badger Balm, and relief will come.  A must have through the winter and all year around!

Bill, what makes it so good?  Our philosophy flows from the ground up. We believe in using botanical ingredients that are grown in healthy soil and processed simply without the use of chemicals. Ingredients like these are filled with life force. They make for better products, for healthier people, and for a healthier planet. Badger Bill Whyte, CEO & Head Badger


*  locate materials or labor via the Internet

Harry’s Shave Cream

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Our publishing deadline is here once again.  More quickly this time around.  As life becomes busier, hectic, and committed, options to slow down remain elusive.  But one ritual can transport you for a few minutes:  the morning shave.

A Barbasol man from ‘way back, gifted shave product traditionally sat unused.  Tried once or twice, they usually seemed gooey or thick.  Turns out I was not reading the directions.  Premium shaving products contains more conditioners  to position your beard and protect the skin.  Unlike the much lighter Barbasol.

This morning with fresh blade, Harry’s Shave Cream brought me, for a few minutes, into a decadent salon.  Natural oils pop with mildly astringent nose, along with conditioners which assist in Zamboni-smooth blade action across my weathered face.  Harry’s CSR will not share their formula secrets except to list ingredients.  Research as I may, the specific plant or tree oil which brings me to reorder Harry’s remains elusive. Unlike a perfect shave, which is now within my grasp.

The whole picture, via Harry’s SMT (social media team):  Thanks so much for your interest in our products! To give you the whole picture: our blades and cartridges are engineered and manufactured in Germany using Swedish steel, our handles are made in China, and our shaving cream is developed at a really cool lab in New Jersey. Every Harry’s item is uniquely designed and produced, but we hope you’ll love them all equally.

Harry’s shipping boxes are of particular genius.  Perfectly sized, sturdy, reusable.  I turn’em inside out and load them up!  Next project?  Take an unpurposed  box, unfold it flat, and have my nieces draw on it.  Then reassemble.  Voilà, first of the Harry’s Collectable Boxes.  You will not know which edition you receive until your order arrives, with instructions:  Kindly unpack your Harry’s premium shave gear for later use. Unfold this box to flat.  Reassemble inside out.  Fill your new Harry’s ART SERIES container with multi-generational treasures and enjoy!

3M Personal Safety Division

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La sécurité n’est pas un accident.

I gear up for another season with that famous French proverb ringing in my ears.  Safety is not an accident.  Eye protection?  Check!  Uxex for me.  Ears?  Hoppes plugs are always within reach and used, even if drilling only one or two holes in concrete.  Lungs?  As they say, when you can’t breathe, nothing else matters. 

After several apprentice seasons struggling with disposal breathing masks, I took advice from safety experts at Graingers.  North/Honeywell or 3M are the usual offerings when safety is your top concern.  Decades later, I have and use both brands.  Honeywell for light dust and all day comfort, and the 3M “half-mask” for more involved irritants.

The 3M™ Half Facepiece Reusable Respirator 6000 Series.  Interchangeable cartridges for protection within different contaminants.  While this unit will not provide oxygen, with the right cartridges, muriatic acid can be handled safely in a well-ventilated area.  With the pictured P100 Particulate Filters, I’m protected against anything the typical construction site stirs up.

Healthy body, healthy mind, restful sleep.

Oatey Pipe Thread Sealant

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Decades ago while hand-threading five stories of 1″ steel pipe, a gas company employee shared a great product with me.  His fancy blue pipe dope to apply to pipe threads before screwing everything together.  Back in those days, I used grey pipe dope, or more often, white dope with teflon.  The blue stuff?  An expensive specialty item.

That gas company guy said they used only the blue stuff.  It was the best.  Pipes never leaked.  You did not have to tighten pipe like Hercules to get a good seal.  After my gifted can was empty, I bought another.  Two decades later I still buy the same pipe dope, Oatey MEGALOC.  Sometimes an even stronger product, Oatey Block, for larger or irregular pipe as well as specialty applications.  Made in the USA for professional plumbers worldwide.

MADE IN USA / HECHO EN EE.UU.

Even if you are not a professional, just a guy who knows a lot about pipes, do yourself a favor.  Get an edge on every project.  The upper hand on potential issues.  Oatey MEGALOC and BLOCK, their Blue Wonders.

MEGALOC cleans up with water.  BLOCK requires isopropyl alcohol.

alcoholics anonymous

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SINCE ANCIENT TIMES  grain and fruit have been allowed to ferment into alcohol.  Fermentation is the process in which yeast breaks down sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide.  Whether your pleasure is okolehao, scotch, or makgeolli, every culture has a drink to cure ills, relax nerves, mark occasions, and calm stomachs.

When things get a little too calm, alcohol works the other way.  So it seems.  Then there’s the “Thank God it’s Friday” excuse to consume mass quantities.

After all commercial exaltation is exhausted and peer pressure ignored, an acceptable vintage port by a crackling fire with a nice book is probably good for the mind, body, and soul.  But when this (almost) all-natural beverage becomes a destructive force?  Who do you call?

Since the 1930s Americans have turned to Alcoholics Anonymous.  An approach to manage an addiction through abstinence.  Now an international fellowship, membership is one of America’s more constructive exports.

Surrounded by creative types all day, every day, we see eight sides of the issue.  In the end, one phrase sounds more true than all the others.  Sobriety brings clarity.

Nelson Wood Shims

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In today’s iPhone age most forget simple tools which make our lives comfortable.  Lever, wheel and axle, pulley, inclined plane, wedge, screw.  Archimedes got it.  A few millennium before him with these simple tools Pyramids were build.  Two+ million years ago stone scraping tools, precursor to the wedge, were made and used before humans were around to criticize its design.

Banging pipes within a wall had me turn to this tool invented before humans roamed the land.  With a wedge of wood I cured a sick installation, relieving stress and worry from countless users of this plumbing system.  A simple shim of wood inserted between pipe and metal stud eliminated an issue which existed for decades.  I made sure to “reconfigure pipe within wall” when no one was looking.  Can’t share all my trade secrets.

When it was time to shim, I turned to Clyde.  He in turn points me to the rear of his store, where both loafer and curmudgeon gather around a re-screening table for coffee and lies.  Just past these antiquarians lies a trove of shimming choices.  Six flavors of Nelson Wood Shims.  Today, a thin package will satisfy my needs.  Plus a few extra for the toolbox.

Mohawk Leather Protector

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mohawk-finishing-products-leather-protector-wipes-aWhen you buy well made items and take care of them, they will typically last.  A mid-1990s leather jacket makes good example.  Lands End, expert stitching, made in Korea, a solid product.  I had to have one!  At $157, the most expensive article of clothing I’d bought to date!  Who would have known I’d still have it?  Glad I ordered a size larger!

After two+ decades my coat remains perfectly serviceable.  Garnering accolades from all, the well-worn leather garment has been a solid investment.  Life, however, is not without maintenance.  A button resecured.  Pete expertly replaced pocket linings ~ I scratch my head over his magic.  The leather?  Dry here, cracked there, discolored in areas.

I tried a few reconditioning products.  Foam had its chance.  Expensive and uneven.  A couple of years later, liquid spray.  Well, that was a mess.  Oversaturated, gummy, plus the spray gets everywhere!

mohawk-finishing-products-leather-protector-wipes-bPete inadvertently provides the solution.  I repaired his bouzouki and was most happy with Behlen’s nitrocellulose spray finish used on the instrument top.  An American Toolbox article ensued.  Behlen parent company Mohawk became aware.  Their social media guru reached out with thanks and offers of sponsorship and product.  Banner ad?  Sure!  Product?  You bet.

I chose products for which I had use.  Mohawk dropped them on my doorstep.  No strings, no expectations, no editorial review.  Except badgering from their legal eagle, who wants me to stress I received FREE PRODUCT FROM MOHAWK.  A subtle reminder I pass on to you.

Mohawk leather products come different ways.  Leather Protector Wipes are chosen.  At this point, keep it clean and let it age.  The protector is delivered via pre-moistened towelettes.  Easy to apply, good coverage, nice smell.  Perfect amount of wetness.  Very neatly done, Mohawk!  

Wow, WHO KNEW the leather was so filthy!  My jacket gratefully sheds misapplied waxes, dirt, grime, and oils.  Absorbs the Magic Mohawk dose of goodness.  I’m GENUINELY pleased with the reborn look and feel of the leather.  Maybe I’ll wear it one more time this season.  Soon my beloved coat shall pass to the next generation.  My nephew will look so cool in it!

By popular request, a few words about Pete the tailor:  

Pete the tailor has been a friendly acquaintance for years.  The first time?  Bringing in a treasured garment for repair, I politely ignore his “No new customers, please” sign.  We share bonds of musicianship and craftspeople.  I fixed an old guitar his kids trashed, two hours on a $5 guitar.  He was ecstatic.  He’s Greek, from Greece, and owned a genuine bouzouki bought in the home country decades ago.  I was asked to fix his treasured bouzouki after years of hinting and delay.

So Pete, he finally let me give it the old college try.  Unlike college, I did finish the bouzouki.  With its cracked top requiring a new lacquered finish, I tried a  nitrocellulose spray made by Behlen.  Parent company Mohawk came into my orbit while I spread the word on social media.  Then came more product after, actually, I wrote a second materials-related piece, Behlen Hide Glue.  Then came Buffer’s Polish, Fingerboard Oil , and now, the leather conditioner.

ATB’s coveted “Six Thumbs Up” is proudly bestowed upon Mohawk. pete-havertown-tailor-bouzouki