A Tale Of Three Tool Kits~ Part One

I have often mentioned my 90%/50% Rule [If you can get 90% of the utility for 50% of the cost you’ve made a good deal]. However, I was also raised to believe in the idea that you should buy things for the long-term. This means purchasing with the idea of getting the best quality, and then not having to replace the item [at least for a long time]… especially for things that you know you will be using regularly. Ever since I started spending my own money, I have been a fan of L.L.Bean’ clothing, Sears-Roebuck’s “Craftsman” brand, Toyota, my Bark River and Grohman knives etc… established brands you know you can count on for not only the finest quality, but also for standing behind their products with good service and warranties. For me, most particularly, this policy has always taken the form of spending full price for excellent, professional grade tools.

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Now that the Château is up for sale, I have been dealing with the collection of “Everythings” that has accumulated from four generations of my forbears, and however many families that actually includes. This also means that I have been selling off all the contractor’s grade tools that I’ve accumulated over the last four decades. And it means that since these tools were worthwhile when first purchased, they had a reasonable resale value, and I’ve been able to make a considerable amount back… I can’t call this “profit”, but I can call it a depreciated return on investment.

This is only a portion of the tools I had up for sale. By the time this photo was taken, many items had already sold.

Realizing that I would still want to do many things with power tools that I have done before, but not at the contracting type level, I have been looking into the new generation of 20V battery powered toolkits that provide a wide selection of tools. All of which are powered from the manufacturer’s proprietary battery system… you have to choose a product line or suck up the cost of multiple battery systems and chargers. One of the biggest advantages though is that there are no more grimy power cords to deploy and have snaking all over underfoot. [In the clean out I’ve found I had accumulated 14 of them, ranging in length from 10′ to 100′]

While I was in North Carolina with the Rev. elfLiza a Bosch drill-driver and impact driver set went on sale at an irresistible price point of $99 including a charger, two batteries and a “fitted” case. They were only 12V, but had the advantage of being much smaller in the hand that most of the 20v offerings. Since she lives in an urban setting where Amazons”Prime” means overnight delivery, I picked it up.

My buddy, TOG already had a similar drill driver from Makita that I really liked using, so I pretty much knew what I was getting… Decent power and the big advantage of being small enough to drop right in the pouch of my tool belt or stick in a hip pocket. While I had purchased the set with the full intention of leaving it behind in North Carolina for use down there, I discovered I liked it so well, and it was so small that I could tuck it under a seat, and it went in the car and came back to Maine with me.

I wasn’t wild about the little, squared off fabric case that came with the Bosch Combo, and I ended up I substituting a small Gladstone tool bag that I had up in a closet. It was a perfect fit for the entire kit… drill & driver, both batteries, charger, plus two sets of specialty drill bits and a DeWalt driver-bit set in a hard-shell case that I already had. Pretty much anything I am likely to want to do with a drill/drive can be done with what’s right in the bag. Despite their small size, the batteries charge up fully in just over a half an hour, so I can’t really imagine any work slowdown ever occurring at my expected level of use.

Additionally, I had an older set of Ridgid brand battery tools that I bought while I was building the Château.

IMG_4847This had the hammer drill, a smaller drill-driver, a 6 1/2″ circular saw and a work light, as well as the charger, three large batteries and two small. They were state of the art back then. I offered them up for sale both on Craigslist and at barn sales with the other power tools, but no one was buying, even at the decent price I offered. They all still run well and were great tools when they were purchased, but the batteries are now about two generations behind, and don’t hold a charge as well as they used to. I had tried several times to sell them all for $35, and have ended up hanging on to them more or less by default.

In retrospect, I’m grateful that no one took me up on the deal. My lady friend is coming up for several weeks from North Carolina, and I will simply send this set back down with her to replace the Bosch set that I absconded with. That way, that I will have perfectly OK tools available there until I make the actual move.

 

All this post is by way of preamble. Even with these two perfectly usable sets in hand, I knew that in the long run I was going to want something better and featuring a wider variety of tools to replace my pro setup. I had sufficient money from all of the sales of my other tools, so…

…and THAT will take us to Part Two of the series which I will post separately.

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“The Project Knife” Wrap-Up

 

This was the photo on EBAY when I bid and won the no-name, “Project Knife” back in early February.

The stacked leather handle was a bit loose, ragged and uneven. The sheath was a sub-in, and too short for the 6″+ blade. The blade itself was dull, with some surface pitting etc.

Only the tiniest bit of cleanup and polishing on the blade by the time this photo [above] was taken had let me see that the knife was indeed worth the time and effort to bring it back up to grade. [this was after only 15 minutes work with some strop compounds and a bit of rag, right in my lap].

 

There was very little really wrong with the knife. Just neglect and abuse that needed fixing up. You can find the previous posts showing some of the progress by scrolling down a ways here on the timeline.

The handle took a bit of reshaping, but you can see how it was starting to come back.

 

 

 

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All told, I don’t believe I have much more than three hours of my time invested in the whole restoration process, and virtually NO money beyond the $10 cost of a replacement sheath. A good bit of the job was waiting for glues and etc to set between sessions, and I certainly didn’t “buckle-down” to the job. I grabbed a few minutes here and there.

I am completely satisfied with the end result. I have been finishing up the job with some work to clean up the brass blade guard, some time to further polish the blade itself, and some more sharpening and stropping. This morning I worked a bit of my friend CurleyMaple’s fantastic beeswax and oil mixture into the handle leathers to penetrate and seal the leather. The matte result gives a good, firm grip. Anyway… Imma callin’ it “done”.

I like the knife… and I think it looks great!

  • nice weight in the hand without being too heavy/ good balance
  • the colored bands at the guard and pommel cleaned up well/ the leather handle was returned to a rich dark shade/ that helps hide the fill-in that was necessary to tighten up the leather disks.
  • the blade came up very sharp with less effort that I has anticipated/ It remains to be seen how well it holds an edge over time, but I am betting it does as well as any.
  • the sheath is now a good fit/ I love the basketweave pattern/ the color deepened and the grain came out nicely with some Lexol/ I kept the old snap-strap from the sheath that came with it because it was broken in and had a better fit… and to give some continuity 

 

Yeah, I could have taken the Project Knife further, but I am looking for a tool, not a showpiece. I really do like the classic Bowie knife styling. Nothing fancy… just a clean, traditional shape that truly says, “hunting knife”. A lot of people have carried this style of knife through a lot of years… and it takes me back to a similar one I had in my Boy Scouting days. I am glad I went through the process to restore this one. I learned a lot, and will have no fears about taking on another knife project when one comes along.

Renewal

I working my way through the accumulated hoardings of generations of ancestors here at the château and trying to move toward my goal of relocating to North Carolina. I’ve been selling a bunch of tools online, on Craigslist, etc. My hammocking friend Chris, who is a professional woodworker and furniture builder, wanted a couple of things, so I took them over to his shop on my way out last weekend. >> Wild Cherry Woodworks <<

He was nice enough to run my 150-year-old, solid chestnut cutting board through his planer while I hung around. He only took about a 16th of an inch of greasy, salmonella soaked wood off the surface, but the result was marvelous.

Back when I first pulled this old board out of my parents basement back in the early 1970s, it hadn’t been used in decades. It was filthy black, and had mold and other unknown “gradue” covering the surface. The custodians at my university’s woodworking shop ran it through their huge shop planer at that point and got a clean surface on each side and the long edges. They were the ones that informed me that what I had was solid chestnut. Another friend ran it through a planer back in the 1990s, and again gave me two new work surfaces.

This time I just asked Chris to do one side for me. I brought it home and spent a couple minutes with my old Porter Cable “bottle” sander to give it a final smoothing. Chris gave me a jar of an incredible beeswax and mineral oil finish that he makes up himself. I brought the oven up to heat and put the board in long enough to warm, and then smoothed in a bunch of the goo. This is the result. ……I kind of suspect that, like so many other things, by the time this needs attention again it will be somebody else’s problem.

For my part, I’m going to go slice up the last of a pot roast to try it out, and make a sandwich for lunch.

A New Way To “Screw Up”~ BAHCO Model 808050S Magnetic Ratcheting Stubby Screwdriver Review

… or down, or sideways

Every now and again a tool guy just HAS TO buy a kewl new tool. This was my latest.

From Swedish maker BAHCO comes this sweet Model 808050S Magnetic Ratcheting Stubby Screwdriver with a bulb handle.

[The unit comes without any extras… the other stuff was right outta my tool box. You will need to provide a set of bits in your choice of sizes and tip patterns].

The driver itself is quite small… right at 4″ with a bit installed. Perfect for tight spaces, and I have always been a fan of a bulb handle for a better grip and the ability to add some palm force to better drive the screws.

This little guy really delivers on both. 

For those you who may not understand exactly what it ratcheting screwdriver is, it’s simple. Inside the metal collar between the body and the shaft of the screwdriver is a gearwheel and a locking cam. On the BAHCO, the gearwheel has a very high number of teeth. It allows for very smooth, strong movement and greatly reduces the chance of stripping out the screw head. When the gray arrow points to the center, the shaft is locked, and operates just like a regular screwdriver. However when you turn the collar to the right or left, the cam will slip backwards or forwards on the gear teeth allowing you to twist back and forth with only your wrist instead of changing your grip on the handle of the screwdriver. No more realigning the tip and slipping out of the slot on almost every move! 

As far as I am concerned, the BAHCO folks absolutely nailed it with this product. Their 808050S Stubby Ratchet Driver has a good, solid weight in your palm without being heavy, and the ergonomics of grip and operation are equally great. You can change the rotation or lock functions just using a thumb and forefinger and without changing your handhold or palm pressure at all.  [I did, however, add the red nail polish to the direction set indicator arrows for easier visibility]

The bit tip is interchangeable for any of the standard hex bits you buy or that come with battery powered drill drivers. Flat, phillips, hex, star, square drive, Torx… whatever. You can even use shafted nut drivers or wrench sockets in mm or inch sizes. The Bahco’s shaft itself is magnetized to hold the bits securely without any chance of drop-out, but is not so strong that it is a bother getting them off to change.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I paired mine up with a slip-collar extension shaft [also magnetized] from an old drill-driver kit so that the whole unit really acts as a full length screwdriver as well. [The slip-collar slides up around a screw held in the bit and stabilizes it for one-handed driving… as the screw goes in the collar slips back down the length of the shaft]. Together with the little 6-bit holder strip, it makes a nice pocketable kit.

I haven’t had reason to try it out yet, but it should also work with a bent-shaft flex driver for hard-to-reach applications, although you will lose the palm pressure due to the off-center angle of attack.

In conclusion, I really like this lil’ tool. I am fairly certain that it is going to be the one that is pulled out when I reach for a screwdriver from now on.

Truth Be Told Disclaimer: Nope. Didn’t get this one to fit the 90%/50% Rule… paid full tariff at $17.99 on Amazon with no regrets.

The Project Knife Update #1-2

There has actually been some slow but steady progress being made. I started out a couple of weeks ago, and then got hung up on the rest of my life commitments…

The first steps involved “stabilizing” the leather handle. No disks were actually missing, but there were small gaps between some, behind the brass guard, and right at the front catalin disks. I worked some Gorilla Glue into some of the gaps to start with. I also used some braided casting line with the GG to wrap-and-fill behind the guard. Then I switched to furniture glue as it could be thinned and put in on a razor blade.

This first photo shows where I have glued and then tightened up and worked the spaces between disks to give a single, dime-thick void. I filled this with black “Sugru”.

 

 

 

I finally had some time this morning, so I taped off the catalin decorative disks, the pommel and the guard with painters tape to protect them while I broke out a rasp, a file and the disk sander to get serious with reshaping the now tight and secure leathers. [You can see the Sugru infill there in the center]

 

For safety while grasping, I also put a pair of duct tape strips up the edge of the blade and covered them with a third layer folded over.

Here we are after some heavy rasp work, some filing, and a go with 220 grit on my Porter-Cable orbital.

After making most of those dark rings there between the disks go away, I moved on up to 400 grit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just cleaned up with a rag to get off the sanding dust, I am pretty pleased with the progress so far. You can see the shine already coming up on the leather. The grip in the hand feels fine, with no real change from the very slight material removal. Sure, the Sugru infill is always going to show as a souvenir of the renovation, but that just adds character.

There are some more spaces that showed up in the catalin disks by the pommel, and the down slopes across the catalin on both sides at the guard need to be brought up to the 400g level by hand.

In the center photo you can see how nicely the decorative disks come back. So, my next play is to work a last bit of glue into the gaps, lightly file off the residues, and work down those front slopes to match the rest.

Adventures with the Thread Injector

In the world of camping DIY, a sewing machine is referred to as a thread injector… the process is called fabric welding. This sounds a little less wimpy than telling people you have been sewing.

To encourage myself to buckle down and actually git’er’done on the pile of fabric and parts that had been sitting on the end of the dining room table for the better part of three weeks, the other day I started a thread on Hammock Forums called “Thread Injector Log~~ Stardate:____”.

I did the ritual 15 minutes to thread the needle/accidentally pull it out the thread/rethread the needle…, but after the first hour I had gotten some stuff done.

  • L&L patch on bag
  • Patched tear in sq. bag
  • Fixed jellyfish bag
  • Made mesh pouches bag

One rat-nest on jellyfish bag

Another hour:

 

  • Really coffee-d up!
  • Reworked two BlingBags
  • Patched and adapted old yard chair bag to hold ALite chair

 

 

 

By lunch:

$5 kids 6′ hammock from FiveBelow°, repurposed to gear-mock.

 

 

 

  • “knotty-mod on both sides
  • 2 and 3 mesh pocket organizers… one sewn-on/ one prussic-ed on ridge
  • 58″ Zing-It ridge~ tied into channels w/ 8″ to 4′ whoopies on each end
  • 2- $$Tree 4′ dog leashes for straps w/ toggles

 

By dinner time: made a gear-mock tarp~ 64″x 56″ /rock pockets on all four corners/ it will get kam-snaps about 6″ down the sides below the suspension, and tieout tapes on all four corners [in case of really blowy weather]

Don’t stand too close and it don’t look too bad.

Next day:

“Bedding day’:

  • 60″x 70″ Costco Down Throw converted to UQ. Trimmed 3 sq of width, which gave massive, doubled draft collars at each end/1 1/2″ grosgrain tape and ripstop for channels/ standard UGQ~HG suspension…
  • Gathered end “hot-nights” sheet from Chinese terminal sleeping bag *. …Single layer, pongee cotton-poly/ trimmed off hood/ stripped zips and re-hemmed all around/ gathered, drawstring footbox
  • Couple of small repairs and adaptations on  other junk

 

I want to try the UQ out a couple of times before I commit to ripping thread between squares to make continuous down channels. May be fine like it is.

*[these are what the folks take incase of delays/layovers on the long, crowded trips back home over the Chinese winter holiday. They are basically just a 1/2 zip sleeping bag made of heavy sheeting material with a hood to stuff a coat into as a pillow. Really cheap [$7US], easy to wash or even toss, but are quite soft and comfortable… perfect for this use.]

“Everyday” Altoids Tin Kit

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I thought I would toss this one up here quickly… I think of it as sort of a “Takin’ Care of Bidnizz” kit.

A fellow by the name of Mike Winter made up this particular variation on the standard Altoids rig. Rather than for any kind of real emergency or survival situation, this one is simply geared toward all the little annoyances an ordinary day can throw your way.

Hit up the link>> for the original post and a detailed list of the items over at Everyday Carry .