J-B WELD Epoxy Putty Kit

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 AFTER REMOVING THE 1920’s mortise lock, a gaping rectangular hole was evident in the door.  The new Schlage locks, ordered and ready for install, would not install until this void could be addressed.  Why?  Because the extra drilling for modern locks would have turned the French door into a Swiss Cheese door.  A lock installed in a compromised door helps no one but the unlawful.  Never figured on the space left by the removed lock, but it was a temporary setback.

 J-B WELD Epoxy Putty KitA bit of handyman-style investigative work came up with The Dutchman Patch.  I cut a piece of wood to fit the space formerly occupied by the mortise lock, and glued it in with Liquid Nails.

Next, a prodigious amount of wood putty was mixed.  Not your average putty in a can, but an epoxy-based two-part invention from J-B WELD.  Exceptional stuff!  It cured in a few hours, and I was ready for sanding!  A little touching up, and the door now looks like it always had modern locks on it!



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Q-tips Cotton Swabs

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logoTHE UBIQUITOUS Q-TIP.  There is nothing quite like an American-made cotton swab.  Assume, for a minute, you never use Q-tips for their most common function, strictly following the medical community’s instruction (who really listens to their doctor, right?).  There are still a zillion uses.

Showing me an electronic keyboard for sale, I remarked to the musician, “It looks brand new”.  It was, actually, two years old.  The seller had detailed all the nooks, edging, and crannies with Q-tips moistened with rubbing alcohol.  So began my instruction into detail cleaning.

DSCF0610A family friend operated an auto-detailing business.  The cars came out the door factory-new.  What was the trick?  After general cleaning, washing, and waxing, a couple more hours, armed with a box of Q-Tips and a cup of cleaning solution, laboriously getting into every crack among the interior and exterior trim.

And most recently, applying wood glue to a horizontal upside-down joint, where we do not want any drippies!  My near-vintage Guild acoustic guitar repair came out famously!

Return those flimsy imported drugstore-branded cotton swabs immediately and demand quality!  Insist on genuine Q-Tips!

The cotton swab was invented in the 1920s by Leo Gerstenzang after he attached wads of cotton to toothpicks. His product, which he named “Baby Gays”, went on to become the most widely sold brand name, “Q-tips”, with the Q standing for “quality”.

Midwest Products • Hobbyist Materials

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DSCF0615THE OFFER WAS TOO GOOD to be true.  A Made In The USA acoustic guitar, dreadnought-sized, was for sale.  In exchange for a reasonably slim stack of crisp Yankee dollars one could own a genuine Guild D4, a treasure from the heartland of American Folklore.  Yet something seemed amiss . . . 

Ahh, it becomes apparent. It is the six-inch crack in the solid mahogany side of the guitar.  An impact crack, fortunately, rather than that caused by heat or humidity.  The wood can be buttoned up. We have the patience . . . the technology.  The knowledge?  Not yet.  But a visit to Jake the Snake cleared all that up.

A little super glue to tack the edges together, then thin wood glued across the crack from the interior.  How thin?  1/32″ of an inch, it turns out.  Beatty Lumber Company will not get my business on this one.

DSCF0590Up the street, though, is an old-time hobby shop.  I know, because I’ve passed it several times a week for the past 30 years.  And it turns out . . . 1/32″ basswood is a stock item.  They also had the right glue, Titebond.

Armed with a sheet of veneer hardwood from Northern Michigan’s forests, and domestic glue I’ve trusted in the past, I set about successfully repairing my USA-made Guild in just a couple of hours. The Circle Is Unbroken . . . 

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USA Pans 6-Well Donut Pan

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Homer_Simpson_2006EVERY AUGUST, THE MOST difficult decision of the year comes up.  What to get Mom for her birthday.  After a while, it seems most people have everything they want;  when something is needed, they buy it.  So the chance to find something Mom wanted but had not purchased was an exciting event!

What did Mom want?  A donut pan.  Never heard of it, but this new invention, the internet, cleared that right up for me.  In the true spirit of everything Homer Simpson stands for, one can buy a specially constructed pan to allow baking of donuts at home!Donut2

The Asian manufacturers evidently have not caught on to the American craze of home-baked donuts; the most prevalent search hits pointed to a local company.  Over 50 years of experience with materials and commercial end users have made USA PAN the go-to manufacturer of quality bakeware.  They had the donut pan.  It is made in the USA of heavy gauge aluminized steel  The price was right. SOLD! 

logoMade in the USA by American Pans in Pittsburgh, PA, the Largest Worldwide Manufacturer of Commercial Bakeware.


Green Heron Tools • HERShovel

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WATER SLIDES AND BUGGY RIDES are OK for some tourists.  30% milk-fat ice cream & funnel cake.  But around these parts, it’s farming.  Crops & animals.  It was no surprise recently, while visiting an exhibition at the Penn State Landisville Experimental Farm, to find myself in front of a display of shovels.  Ahh, tools!  Love every durn one of them.  And these, especially!

shovelAs it turns out, I have seen these particular shovels before, having bought one at a home show a few years ago.  My Mom loves it, and even Dad chooses it over a conventional shovel (strong enough for a man, made for a woman?).

Conceived by two Pennsylvania residents.  Made in Pennsylvania (in America).  Designed expressly for bodies which are not engineered for digging.  Fortunate to find, manning the booth, one of two woman behind the company, I was able to get a clear understanding of what went into their shovels.

Both Ann (my partner) and I have backgrounds in health — she has a master’s in nursing. Our health backgrounds played a major role in realizing the need for tools and equipment designed to work with women’s bodies. We understood the connections between tools & health/safety — and Ann, in particular, has a very good understanding of body mechanics (how to use/move your body in ways that get tasks done while preventing injuries). We do workshops for farmers and gardeners on ergonomics, body mechanics etc.
Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.41.48 AMAs for design of the shovel — we had a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, which enabled us to convene a design team that included, in addition to ourselves, an agricultural engineer, an industrial engineer with a specialty in ergonomics, and an occupational therapist. – Liz Brensinger , Master of Public Health
When you want a perfect gift for the active female gardener in your circle of loved ones.

Channellock Pliers Model 430

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  Putting the squeeze on

Channellock Pliers Model 430 jaw jsergWAY BACK, WHEN MY job seemed to be lugging an eighty pound (36 KG) box of tools behind a guy who smoked often and explained little, I began to notice a pattern.  Almost every plumbing job required the use of one particular set of pliers, which Boss called the 430’s.  These side-jaw pliers were of a size that fit nicely around the trap nut on a kitchen sink drain, with many uses in addition.  One could squeeze, bend, pry, hammer, support, scoop, and more with these pliers.  Multiple jaw widths were possible with these tongue-and-groove, slip-joint pliers.

After I finally began buying Craftsman tools for the lifetime warranty, I asked, “Why doesn’t Craftsman make a similar product?”.  Simple.  A tradesman could buy one set of each size, Channellock Pliers Model 430 packaging jserg
and never have to buy another.  As it is, the original Channellock, patented in 1934, will last the typical plumber for several years before replacement is necessary.  And the 5th generation of the DeArment family, still running the private company founded 1886 in Evansburg, Pennsylvania by George B. DeArment, has a great warranty, if there should be something amiss.

Channellock Pliers Model 430 • The Perfect Gift  

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James Garner • 1928 ~ 2014

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LOTS OF PEOPLE MY age grew up when Friday night meant Rockford on the television.  All the kids would lay on the floor, with the adults upon the chairs and couches.  Together, we would watch Jim get himself into a mess, and then connive and wriggle himself back out of it.  And solve the case to boot, although payment for services rendered was often absent.James_Garner_and_family_1961

James Garner was more than Jim Rockford.  His biggest accomplishment may have been his marriage, leaving Lois Fleishman Clarke Garner a widow less than a month before their 58th wedding anniversary .  His driving skills with Formula One race cars in Grand Prix, a 1966 film, could have led to a successful racing career.  Jim did his own stunts, which is particularly rough on one’s body.

I’ll remember Jim Garner as a guy who didn’t give up. 



James Garner and Steve McQueen with director John Sturges on the set of The Great Escape, 1963