Tool of the Week: Impact Driver


Image of a black and orange impact driver

In the final post on the series, Christina’s New Door, I’ll be highlighting one of my favorite tools, the impact driver. About eighteen months ago, I attended the Tool Library’s Handywoman for the Home series and was introduced to the electric impact driver. Since then, I’ve found the tool to be invaluable in both my home improvement projects and my outdoor construction projects.

An impact driver looks an awful lot like an electric screwdriver. However the impact driver in no way replaces the electric screwdriver. In fact, the two tools complement each other quite well. When doing most of my projects, I’ve got both right next to me.

The main difference between an impact driver and a screwdriver is that the impact driver has a lot more torque than a screwdriver. This tool is made for driving big screws into difficult places. I once built a raised garden bed using only screwdrivers, back in the days before the tool library existed. I had to drive two-inch hex bolts into one and a half inch fir boards with pre-drilled holes. My cordless screwdriver could only drive a bolt three quarters of the way into the board before the battery quit on me. The corded drill I had could do the job, but it was slow and laborious work. The next time I built one of those raised beds, I had my handy impact driver around. It could drive those hex bolts into the planks like it was driving the bolts into butter. I could do several at a time before the battery quit, and my shoulder didn’t hurt the next day.

While the impact driver has a lot more torque than a screwdriver, it lacks a few key features that prevent it from replacing the screwdriver. For one thing, most impact drivers are only one speed. Secondly, impact drivers use hexagonal shank bits, which means that the majority of bits won’t work with an impact driver. Finally, most impact drivers aren’t great at driving lightweight screws because of their increased torque.

When my brother and I got started on the door project, he told me that he wasn’t very fond of using impact drivers. He just didn’t see the point. The door project lasted a day and a half and by the end of the project, he had changed his mind about the impact driver.

We had started with an unfinished door, so we had to install all the hardware on it. Once we had the new door appropriately-sized for the frame, we started by taking down the old door and installing the hinges and drilling the necessary holes for the handle on the new door. Then, we took down the old door and put back up the old door, while we sanded and painted the new door. After the paint was completely dry, we again took down the old door and put back up the new door and installed both a deadbolt lock and a handle. At this point, those hinge screws had been removed and re-installed three times.

About halfway through the second door switch, the screwdriver battery died and I handed over the impact driver. He couldn’t believe how much easier it was to remove those screws with the impact driver versus the screwdriver. Plus, having both right there meant we could keep the screwdriver set up with the drill bit we used to pre-drill holes and then had the impact driver available to drive the screws into the door. Not having to constantly switch bits saved us some time and a lot of frustration as I have butter fingers and tend to drop bits often.

The next time you swing by the West Seattle Tool Library to pick up tools for your next project, consider checking out one of the five impact drivers we have available to give it a try. I imagine you’ll find it just as useful to have both a cordless drill and an impact driver by your side when doing most of your projects.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool of the Week: Circular Saw


Image of a Black and Decker brand blue and gray handheld circular saw.

A few weeks ago, in the Tool of the Week post, I covered the hole saw as part one of the series Christina’s New Door. This week, in the same series, I‘ll look at the circular saw.

When door shopping at Second Use, my brother and I had a hard time finding selecting a door. We’d hoped to find a door that would fit the doorway exactly, but all the doors were too long. We finally decided that it would be best to purchase a door slightly too long and too wide, and trim it with a table saw.

While at Ask an Expert, the experts suggested instead that we use a circular saw to trim the door. So we checked out a handheld circular saw, among the many tools we borrowed that week, and tried it out.

Handheld circular saws, sometimes called Skilsaws, are a popular and powerful tool for woodworkers. They are designed to cut through many types of wood, including lumber and plywood boards. The West Seattle Tool Library currently has twelve circular saws available for check out.

Circular saws can either be right handed or left handed, so for ease of use, be sure to get a saw that is meant for your hand preference. These saws also are capable of tilting upwards of 50 degrees from the base, allowing for angled cuts. While most of the circular saws in the Tool Library are corded circular saws, there are a few cordless models available for those who need that flexibility.

As with other saws, safety when using a circular saw is essential. The blade, designed to cut through thick pieces of wood, can easily cut through you or cause other harm. Be sure to wear safety glasses, hearing protection and avoid loose clothing and jewelry. Keep all fingers and toes away from the blade, and watch where you place your fingers as a guide to make sure they aren’t in the way of the blade.

Going back to the door project, we clamped a straight board to the door to serve as a guide while cutting. We made two cuts to the door, one on each end, to keep the door even. Overall, we took off half an inch to get the door to fit into the frame. The circular saw made trimming the door a quick and easy task.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library,
please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool of the Week: Hole Saw

Several weeks ago, I moved into a new rental house. That move is part of the reason I haven’t been blogging lately. I’ve been too busy using tools to write about them.

One of my new projects was to install a new door, complete with a dog door. My landlord obviously didn’t want me to put a big hole in her door, so I bought a new door from Second Use to use while I live at the rental. The door from Second Use was a brand new unfinished door. It needed a bit of trimming, a few coats of paint, and a door knob. I was in a little over my head. My brother (who I convinced to help me with this project) and I made a trip to the West Seattle Tool Library. When we left, we were all set to tackle this door project. We got some great advice from the experts at Ask an Expert, and left with some tools to help make the project easier, including a few hole saws.

A hole saw is a round saw blade that attaches to a drill. It can cut holes quicker and easier than other hole-cutting tools, making it invaluable in cutting large holes. A hole saw is powered by a portable drill. It often contains a drill bit in the middle that sticks out much farther than the hole saw blade to help anchor the hole saw while it’s cutting.

Hole saws come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from a quarter of an inch all the way up past six inches. While the Tool Library doesn’t currently carry any that large, we do have more than enough shapes and sizes to assist with most projects. Most of our hole saws have saw teeth cutting blades, which are great for cutting through wood, plastic, and metal. We also have one 1 3/8 diamond blade hole saw that is capable of cutting through stone, brick, glass and concrete. And we are always glad to accept donations of more sizes of hole saws, to help round out our collection.

As with any other saw blade, when using a hole saw it is important to wear safety glasses and ear protection. Gloves may also be helpful, depending on the material being cut. Avoid wearing any loose clothing or jewelry that could get caught in the saw or the drill. And, if cutting through dense material or if doing a lot of cutting, be sure to take breaks to prevent the blade from overheating. When you finish cutting your hole, allow the saw blade to cool before handling to prevent burning your fingers. I speak from experience here.

Thanks to the Tool Library, we were able to install the door without having to purchase any tools. Here are a few pictures of the process:


My brother, drilling the hole for the doorknob. The blue and yellow plastic piece on the door is a guide for the hole saw, and is part of Tool # 630, Door Lock Installation Kit.


A shot showing the hole saw with the core inside, and the new hole in the door.


A final shot, of my brother, this time drilling the hole for the latch.

I’m going to write a few more articles about installing this door before I post final pictures of the door. Look for the next installment of Christina’s New Door next week!

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary

Twitter: @WSToolLibrary

and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool of the Week: Concrete Mixer

Have you ever needed to mix up just a small amount of concrete for a home improvement project? Like when putting in a few fence posts or for keeping the clothes line posts in the ground? Many people mix up the concrete in an old wheelbarrow or bucket that they have lying around. But there is a tool to help make that job easier and more efficient. Concrete mixers, commonly called cement mixers, are designed to help mix up concrete to the right consistency, so you get a strong and smooth end product. By also having a constantly spinning drum, they prevent the concrete from drying before you get the chance to use it.

For most homeowners, a small electric concrete mixer is just the ticket. These mixers can mix up between 1 cubic foot and 6 cubic feet. Besides using a more sustainable source of power, electric mixers are also quieter and easier to use than a larger gas powered mixer.

Most people only need to use a concrete mixer once or twice a year, making it an ideal tool to borrow from a tool library. The West Seattle Tool Library recently acquired a concrete mixer and it is available for you to take home for all your concrete mixing needs. The only challenge to this mixer is getting it home. Despite the fact that it is small compared to commercial mixers, this particular mixer is large enough to be a challenge to transport. It wouldn’t easily fit in the trunk of most cars, but is small enough to fit in the back of a truck.

Safety is important when using a concrete mixer. As with most power tools, avoid loose clothing or jewelry, wear hearing and eye protection and wear sturdy shoes. In addition gloves and a dust mask may be useful when using the mixer.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool Library to unveil mobile unit and more!

The West Seattle Tool Library is pleased to announce that we are going mobile. Thanks to a few generous sponsorships and the ongoing support of our growing 700-plus member community, the tool library has purchased a trailer and refurbished it to serve as a mobile extension of our well-loved collection of tools.

The new mobile unit, sized 7×14 feet, will be stocked with a variety of the most popular tools. The trailer will allow for members who do not have a vehicle, who need a tool that doesn’t fit in their vehicle or simply want the convenience of having it delivered, to do so for a fee of $10 each way. The mobile tool library will also be available to community groups who are working on a project and need a large number of tools on site.

Members will be able to request a pickup or delivery by contacting the library by e-mail at library@wstools.org or by phone at (206) 317-4671.

“This mobile unit will dramatically increase accessibility to the West Seattle Tool Library for a number of our neighbors who, for one reason or another, can’t always make it down to the tool library itself during open hours,” said Patrick Dunn, tool library founder. “It’s a really exciting opportunity to reach out to the community and ensure that everyone has access to the tools they need to take on projects of all sorts.”

The bright red unit, which resembles a horse trailer and was purchased in used condition and refurbished to a pristine state by Tool Library Director Micah Summers, will be officially rolled out to the public Thursday night, July 12, at the Tool Library’s regular DIY community meetup and “Ask an Expert” night. It will then be on display at the GreenLife exposition (part of West Seattle Summer Fest ) this weekend in the West Seattle Junction.

Held at the tool library’s permanent location in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 4408 Delridge Way, the “Ask an Expert” event runs from 6-8 p.m. and offers area residents an opportunity to bounce project ideas off fellow DIYers and receive advice from experts in a variety of home improvement and sustainability fields.

The mobile unit was made possible by grants from the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the West Seattle Garden Tour and other donors.

The West Seattle Tool Library officially opened its doors in June of 2010, offering free community access to a variety of more than 100 tools out of a small storage closet. Just two years later, that modest collection has grown to over 1,500 mostly-donated tools, serving a membership of around 700 people from a renovated workshop space at Youngstown.

The tool library also hosts a wide range of educational classes and workshops, a fixer’s collective and social events geared toward the Do-It-Yourself community. Besides Summers, an intern and a number of volunteers help keep the library open and humming on weekends and Thursday nights.

Tool of the Week: Scroll Saw


Image of a Delta scroll saw

A while back, I posted about the West Seattle Workshop’s band saw, which is great for doing precision work. The two drawbacks to the band saw are, first that is permanently stuck at the workshop. Nobody can take it home. Second, while it does precision cuts, it isn’t as great for doing intricate work as a scroll saw. The West Seattle Tool Library currently has three scroll saws available for checkout or for use in the workshop. The major benefit to the scroll saw is you can take it home and keep it for a whole week.

Scroll saws are built for doing really fine curves, allowing users to create a wide range of toys, puzzles, artwork and clocks. Scroll saws operate on using a similar motion to a jig saw, in that the blade moves in a reciprocating up and down motion. There are several different types of blades available, each one designed to cut different materials. A major benefit to the scroll saw is most are designed to allow blades to be changed quickly, and without additional tools, saving the user time and hassle.

In addition to the scroll saws, the West Seattle Tool Library also has an introductory scroll saw workbook, with basic information and easy practice patterns to get you started. By the time you complete the exercises, you’ll have made toys, puzzles, and relief cuts among other things. It also has instructions and patterns for cutting cardboard, paper, glass and metal using a scroll saw.

Despite the small size of a scroll saw, safety is still important. Always wear eye and hearing protection and remove all loose fitting clothing and jewelry. Make sure to keep all fingers away from the blade when the saw is in use. We like our users to be in the same condition when they return the tools, as they were when they checked out the tools.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool of the Week: Planer

Pictured above is one of our Tool Library members, Brian, using our portable Dewalt planer to smooth out a board. This particular board is going to be a wedding gift to his sister. As you can see in this image below, this particular board has a natural heart shape in the wood that will be the highlight of this table.

A thickness planer is a tool that evens out pieces of wood, so that the whole board is the same thickness. A planer is often used in conjunction with a jointer, as a planer usually requires that at least one side of the board be perfectly flat. More on jointers in another post. A planer works by using cutting knives to shave off excess wood on the board as the board is slid through the machine.

The West Seattle Tool Library currently has two portable planers available for checkout. However, if you only have a quick project and don’t feel up to lugging a heavy planer home, you are welcome to use one of the planers in the workshop, as Brian did. Most of our tools can be used in our workshop for quick projects, saving you a return trip to bring back that tool.

As with most power tools, when using a planer it is recommended that you wear eye protection and remove any loose clothing or loose jewelry. As well, ear protection is highly recommended. Planers can be loud. While Brian was using the planer in the workshop, all of us in the general area had to put on ear protection because it was so loud. It is also recommended that users not plane any board less than twelve inches in length as a shorter board could lead to damage to the user and or the planer.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

 

 

 

 

Tool Library Accepts $10K Gift From The Grainger Foundation

The West Seattle Tool Library officially opened its doors in June of 2010, offering free community access to a rather decent variety of over 100 tools out of a small storage closet. Just two years later, that modest collection has now grown to over 1,500 tools, serving a membership of around 700 neighbors from a wonderfully renovated workshop space at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.

Though an incredible amount of volunteer effort, staff time, and member support certainly helped bring this community resource to life, The Tool Library also owes a tremendous deal of gratitude and thanks to its generous donors. These donors include The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, The West Seattle Garden TourAlaska Airlines, and, most recently, The Grainger Foundation.

In honor of The Tool Library’s achievements – and to ensure its ability to pursue all its exciting potential – The Grainger Foundation recently awarded The Tool Library with a extremely generous grant in the amount $10,000. As an organization that encourages sustainability, community involvement, technical training, and disaster preparedness, The Grainger Foundation identified The Tool Library as a natural partner. We couldn’t agree more!

Our heartfelt thanks goes out to the entire Grainger organization for all their support and recognition, as well as all the other great work that they continue to support throughout the country.

Pictured in this photo taken in The Tool Library’s Workshop are (from left to right) Bob Noble, Grainger Assistant Branch Manager; Gene Boyington, Grainger Branch Manager; Christina Hahs, SWS president; Richard Garrett, Grainger Customer Service Associate and National Sustainability Chair; Micah Summers, SWS Tool Library manager; and Patrick Dunn, SWS Tool Library Founder.

In response to the demands from our membership and the greater community, The Tool Library will now use these funds to support our education curriculum, continue to develop our mobile operations, and increase our open hours to make The Tool Library even more accessible to all our neighbors throughout the region.

After two full years in operation and with all of this generous support, in many ways we kinda feel like we’re just getting going!

Thank you for your continued support of Sustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Tool Library.

 

Tool of the Week: Bike Repair Tools

Tool of the Week is taking a much-needed vacation as we recuperate from the Mini Maker Faire. This post was originally published on 11/18/11, but since summer is coming, we’d like to remind all our members that we have some great bike tools available to get your bikes in top shape.


Several weeks ago, I profiled the Tool Library’s awesome bike stand and mentioned that there were other bike repair tools in the collection. Today’s post is highlighting those other bike repair tools:

Bike Pumps:
The Tool Library currently has two bike pumps available: a Bell floor pump and a foot pump. Bike pumps are designed to increase the tire pressure in bike tires. However, they are also useful for re-inflating tire pressure on wheelbarrows, hand trucks, and carts that use inflatable tires.

Wheel Truing Stand:
A wheel truing stand is used for straightening bike wheels. The particular truing stand in the collection is a professional grade Park TS-2.

Bike Repair Kit:
The bike repair kit in the collection is a Park Tool AK-37 Advanced Mechanic Tool Kit, which contains 37 professional grade tools to help you do necessary bike maintenance and repairs. A full list of the tools is here. Park Tools also has a blog with detailed articles and videos on how to do bike maintenance and repairs, so you can teach yourself how to fix your bike.

If you want a more hands-on demonstration of the bike repair tools at the Tool Library, we’ll be at the West Seattle Farmers Market this Sunday, doing bike demonstrations. Bring your bike down and learn how to use this collection of tools.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,300 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Click on inventory to view our entire online inventory. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our membership page. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org
Follow us on:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/

Tool of the Week: Zombie Apocalypse


While a horde of the undead converging on West Seattle sounds unlikely, we believe that it’s best to prepare for all possible disasters. When we first began assembling our collection, we made it a secondary goal that our collection could be used in the event of a major disaster. Now that our collection is up over 1500 tools and growing every week, we thought it would be best to share a list of the tools that could come in handy during a zombie apocalypse. Local Tools, the software that tracks our inventory, now contains a special category to show the tools best used during a zombie apocalypse or other major disaster. Visit tools in this category through this link.

While we only have horror movies to give us an idea of what a zombie attack would be like, we believe that the mess left behind would be phenomenal. We imagine that after the zombies had been defeated, the Tool Library collection would need to be quickly distributed throughout the peninsula to help clean up the mess. With that in mind, we’ve selected a large collection of tools to help with cleanup from a major disaster, from shovels and rakes, to chainsaws and lawn edgers.

We also hope that our soon-to-launch Mobile Tool Library will contain a large collection of tools to help out in the aftermath of a disaster. In addition to the basic collection of shovels, rakes, chainsaws and hammers, we hope to stock the trailer with items like a hand-crank radio, a first aid kit, an assortment of essential fix-it supplies including duct tape and wire cutters, and maps of the area. The mobile trailer could be parked at a location where aid is needed and could assist in clean-up and rescue efforts.

With any luck, all our preparation efforts will be in vain and a zombie apocalypse will never occur. But if it does, you can be sure that the West Seattle Tool Library will be helping wherever we are needed.

For more information about preparing for a zombie apocalypse, the CDC has a great novella on what you need to survive.

The West Seattle Tool Library has a collection of over 1,500 tools currently available, is free to use and run primarily on user donations. Our entire inventory is available online. For more information on becoming a member, please visit our website. If you are interested in volunteering at the Tool Library, please contact us at: library@sustainablewestseattle.org

Follow us on:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WSToolLibrary
Twitter: @WSToolLibrary
and Meetup: www.meetup.com/West-Seattle-Tool-Library/