Tool of the Week: Drill Press


A drill press is a handy tool to have around when working on projects. It allows the user to make precise holes in the work piece with minimal effort on the part of the operator. Unlike most handheld drills, a drill press usually has multiple speeds so you can drill at the speed you want. As well, a drill press usually has a much larger motor than a hand-held drill, so it can use larger drill bits than a hand-held drill and it can drill faster than a hand-held model would allow. Drill presses can also be used for a variety of other tasks besides drilling holes. With the right accessory, they can be used for honing, sanding and polishing.

Drill presses are generally very safe tools to use. Still, basic safety precautions must be taken. Eye protection should always be worn to prevent flying debris from damaging the eyes. Ear protection should be worn to prevent damage to the ears from prolonged use of the machine. And loose clothing and jewelry should not be worn while operating a drill press as these can get caught in the machine and cause harm to the operator.

The West Seattle Workshop currently has two drill presses available for use during regular tool library members. Users must have completed a basic safety check before using the machines. As well, the Tool Library has two drill presses for sale, among other tools, during the West Seattle Community Garage Sale this Saturday.

The first drill press for sale is a Jet Drill Press in great working condition. It’s the drill press pictured above. It’s a bench mount drill press with a rotating work table to allow for accurate drilling at an angle. For more information about the Jet drill press, please stop by the West Seattle Tool Library during the garage sale this Saturday.


The Tool Library also has an antique drill press for sale during the garage sale. This drill press is meant to be used with a hand-held drill. This allows the user to have the accuracy and stability of a drill press, without the expense of a real drill press, with the added bonus of being much easier to store. The antique drill press is only as powerful as the hand drill used, but for the beginning wood worker, it’s a great tool to have around.

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/

Edgers

With the alternating warm days and wet days, my lawn is growing in all directions. While I’ve got the tools at home to keep the top of the lawn from getting too tall, the mower and the weed whacker don’t really help with the grass growing sideways on the edges. That’s where the Tool Library comes to the rescue.

The Tool Library contains a variety of edgers to help keep that sideways grass in check. Manual edgers have a cutting blade attached to a wooden or metal handle. There are three different types of manual edgers that the Tool Library has in stock.

The rotary edger is a wheel with blades coming off the wheel. You run the wheel along the edge of the lawn and it cuts through the grass and roots to give you a neat edge.


Image of a rotary edger

The round edger is a half-circle blade attached to a handle. The top of the blade has footholds. To use this type of edger, you place the blade on the grass where you want your edge to be and you step on the foothold until the blade sinks through the grass. The square edger is a similar style edger, but has a square blade instead of a rounded blade. These types of edgers require the most physical strength.


Image of a round edger

Finally, the Tool Library has one electric edger. This powerful little machine does all the hard work for you, leaving your lawn nice and neat and your muscles ready for the next yard task. Not surprisingly, this electric edger is in high demand. We haven’t even had this edger for a month, and in that time we‘ve only seen it twice, and neither time for very long. If you want to catch the electric edger, you’ll have to log in to your Tool Library account and check if it’s available.


Image of the electric edger

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/

A Photo Essay of the April 5 Fixers Collective

With the Sustainable West Seattle Fundraiser right around the corner, I’ve been forgetting to post regularly. Posting should go back to normal in a few weeks. Until then, enjoy this lovely photo essay of the last bike-focused Fixers Collective meeting on April 5th. Then, dust off your bike and bring it down to the Tool Library on Thursday night for some help tuning it up.


Using an old garbage can lid to check for a leak in an inner tube. He never could find the leak, so he had to replace the tube.


Stu Hennessey of Alki Bike and Board tuning up a bike, while Steve chats with him.


Greg, the head of the Fixers Collective showing new bike parts he’ll be using to fix up his bike.


Steve takes a break from fixing bikes to fix create a new handle for a harvesting knife.

Tool of the Week: Guess That Tool!

Today’s mystery tool is something that’s been hanging out in the West Seattle Workshop for the last few weeks. It looks like something I’d have built with my K’NEX, back when I was younger. It’s a custom-built tool made up of other tools.

Here are a few more shots from different angles:

Is it:

A. A self-propelled circular saw: A saw that moves along the wood, so the wood can remain stationary while the saw does all the work?

B. A bike chain cleaner: a tool designed to spin your chain clean

C. A Power Tool Dragster: a custom built vehicle made up of old parts for use in drag races sponsored by the Hazard Factory?

———————————————————————————————————-

The correct answer is C, a Power Tool Dragster. Power Tool Dragsters turn junk and unloved power tools into amazing race machines. This particular dragster uses a power drill, a circular saw blade rollerblade wheels, a bike chain, and bike chain rings. Except for the power drill, all of these parts would have either died a sad, lonely death in a thrift store or been trashed. Now, they’re all part of this powerful racer.

Hazard Factory has both competitions for dragsters and dragster building open studios. For more information about building and competing in the drag races, visit their website. The next race in Seattle is on June 9th, so you have plenty of time to start building. And between the Tool Library and the Workshop, you’ve got all the tools you need to build yourself a dragster. See you at the races!

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: Angle Grinder


(image of a yellow angle grinder)

Angle grinders, also known as side or disc grinders, are small power tools used to grind, polish and cut other materials. They can be electric powered, gas powered, or pneumatic. The Tool Library currently has two electric angle grinders available for checkout.

Angle grinders are used for a wide variety of projects. I have personally checked out the angle grinders from the Tool Library to smooth down the sides of a worm bin I was making. I’d taken an old metal trash can, drilled large holes in the bottom and the sides, and was left with a bunch of pokey edges that I wanted gone both to prevent injuries to my fingers and to prevent injuries to the bugs I wanted visiting the bins. I was able to use the grinder to smooth down all the rough edges around the holes I’d drilled.

Angle grinders are good for more than just polishing metal trashcans. They can also cut through a variety of materials like tile, steel and mortar, they can help remove rust or paint from metal, and even sharpen blades. They are commonly used in metalworking and in construction, but they can also be used in emergency rescue situations.

To do each of these jobs, angle grinders need different types of discs. Cutting discs are obviously for cutting material, but the type of cutting disc will determine what kind of material the grinder can cut through. As well, there are a variety of sanding, grinding, and polishing disc. There are standard sizes discs, but make sure that you know which of the Tool Library grinders you are getting before you purchase discs so that you get the right kind. If you’re lucky, your angle grinder rental will come with a disc or two donated by the last person to use the tool, but it probably won’t be the right kind so plan on purchasing the correct disc at your local hardware store.

Safety wise, the basic rules apply for this power tool. Always wear safety goggles and ear protection when using an angle grinder. As well, when using a grinder on metal, be sure to do this in an open area with no flammable materials around. Wear solid, non-flammable clothing. When the grinder is grinding on metal, it can send sparks in every direction. My first time using an angle grinder, I wasn’t warned about that in advance and experienced a scare as sparks went flying every direction in my garage. Luckily nothing happened and I redid my set-up so to prevent any potential fires. I did, however, dub the angle grinder with the nickname of Lighting Tool as a result of the experience.

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: Miter Saw


The miter saw is a great woodworking tool for beginners. Miter saws can either be manual or powered saws. The West Seattle Tool Library has a great collection of both manual and powered miter saws available for check-out.

Miter saws are designed to make precise crosscuts in wood. The name comes from the miter index on each saw, which is a listing of angles. The blade can move from side to side, allowing for horizontal angled cuts.

Manual miter saws are basic saws on rollers that work with a miter box. Due to their manual nature, manual miter saws are no longer popular, as they’re steadily being replaced by the powered version. Still, if you’re up for a trip down nostalgia lane, or you just need to make a few cuts, there are four manual miter saws available for check-out.

Powered miter saws, commonly called chop saws, can vary based on the features in the saw. A standard power miter saw can do horizontal angled cuts. A compound miter saw comes with a tilting blade to allow both horizontal and vertical angled cuts. A sliding compound miter saw has tracks that allow the blade to slide out and in, allowing for wider piece of wood to be cut. The Tool Library currently has two standard miter saws available for check-out, two compound miter saws available for check-out, and one sliding compound miter saw available to borrow in the community workshop.

When using all of the miter saws, safety glasses are important to protect the eyes from flying debris. If using a powered miter saw, ear protection is highly recommended as the saws are loud and could cause ear damage if used for a prolonged period. Loose clothing and an open workspace are important to prevent any collateral damage. Miter saws are capable of removing fingers if used improperly, so be sure to give the tool some respect when in use.

I own my own miter saw and have found it useful in a wide range of projects from building a chicken coop to building raised beds. I’ve also had success using the blades to slice through PVC pipe for various yard projects. Chop saws are also commonly used for cutting framing and molding in construction.

If you’d like an introduction to power tools, including miter saws, be sure to sign up for our Power Tools 101 class, scheduled for the fourth Tuesday of the month. The next class is scheduled for this Tuesday. More information and a sign-up is available here.

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: Rakes


image of a green plastic rake with a wooden handle

We are on a yard tools streak, which might end as soon as I run out of favorite yard tools to write about. Today’s post is all about rakes. There is a diversity of rakes, so it’s important to make sure that you get the right rake for the job. Just like with shovels, using the wrong rake can make the job more difficult if not impossible.

The most commonly known rake, a leaf rake, is used to rake together leaves and pine needles. In some areas, leaf raking is a fall activity. Here in Seattle, leaf raking usually goes from September to March, depending on how stubborn the trees are. We also have the added bonus of pine needle raking, which is a year round activity. Leaf rakes are great for both leaves and pine needles. They can also be used to rake up other brushy material, such as the plants cut by a weed whacker.

Leaf rakes commonly have a wooden or metal handle and either a plastic or a metal body. The plastic bodies won’t rust if left outside but they are more susceptible to breaking. Metal bodies are susceptible to rust, and while pieces won’t break off as easily, the tines often bend out of place. One of the rakes in our collection, #568, is a metal retractable leaf rake, which means the body can collapse into a smaller space. This is handy for storing the rake. The Tool Library has 6 leaf rakes in the collection.

All leaf rakes are susceptible to getting leaves and pine needles stuck in the tines. Sometimes you can remove the clog by flipping the body upside down and scraping the body on the ground, though you often have to manually pull the leaves out by themselves. Leaf rake clogs seem to be more common when the leaves are damp.

Bow rakes, commonly called manure rakes, metal rakes or garden rakes, are used for spreading manure, soil, and rocks. These rakes are more heavy-duty than a leaf rake with tines that are less susceptible to bending or breaking. However, these heavy-duty tines mean that a bow rake is not going to be the best choice for raking up leaves. The tines will get caught in the lawn and rip out chunks of grass along with all the leaves. Bow rakes usually have a wooden handle with a metal body. The Tool Library has 12 bow rakes in the collection.

Thatching rakes are a double-sided rake that is commonly used to remove dead material in grass. The body of a thatching rake is usually metal, and the tool usually has a wooden handle. The Tool Library has 1 thatching rake in the collection.

The final kind of rake that the Tool Library carries is a hand rake. Hand rakes are a hand tool, used for doing small raking jobs in the garden. They’re handy for raking back mulch when planting or for doing small amounts of tilling in the soil. Hand rakes can have a metal, wooden or plastic handle with a metal or plastic body. The Tool Library has 5 hand rakes in the collection.

When using a rake, take care to always store the rake in a safe manner. Do not leave a rake lying on the ground tines up, as this can cause either foot injuries, or the rake handle could come up suddenly and whack someone on the head. It is best to store rakes handles up and leaning against something, with the tines pointed towards a solid object. Hand rakes should always be stored with the tines facing down.

Always be certain to wear sturdy shoes when using a rake, as rakes can do serious damage to feet if accidentally scraped across some toes. I speak from personal experience on this, so do as a say not as I’ve done.

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/

Spring Weeding Tools


Image of a white dandelion shovel with an orange handle

Despite the fact that it has snowed at my house three times in the last week, the plants are all pretending that spring has arrived. Chas Redmond, my farmers market tabling buddy has also declared it to be spring as well. And my hens have picked up their egg laying in spite of the torrential downpours and hurricane speed winds that have been whipping around lately.

All this means that the weeds are already starting to fill the empty spaces in my garden. I’ve even seen a few dandelions in bloom already. I feel so behind already on my weeding and it’s only the first week of March!

Thankfully, the Tool Library has a great collection of weeding tools to help get the yard under control. I’ve personally tested all of these tools and can highly recommend them with a few caveats.
The stirrup hoe, also commonly called the hula hoe, is a great tool for weeding wide-open beds. It digs down up to an inch into the soil, slicing weed roots and eliminating large numbers of small weeds with one easy motion. The stirrup hoe does not perform well in areas with large concentrations of weeds or against orchard grass. The Tool Library currently has four stirrup hoes in the collection.

The collinear hoe has a flat, sharp blade that allows you to slice weeds off at the ground level.
Unlike the stirrup hoe, the collinear hoe doesn’t go as deep but it is wider so it can cover more ground quicker. It also doesn’t do well in areas with heavy weeds nor does it handle orchard grass well. The Tool Library has one collinear hoe in the collection.

The long-handled dandelion puller work great on small to medium dandelions and a whole host of other weeds. With a few minutes practice, you’ll be pulling out thistles, catsears, shotweed, purslane and a whole bunch of other weeds without having to bend over. This tool does not do as well with plants larger than a foot across. Those are better removed by hand or with a pitchfork. The dandelion puller also fails at pulling up members of the dock family, instead leaving a shredded, slimy mess all over the place. As this is my normal result when pulling dock by hand, I’m going to blame this on the plant and not the tool. The Tool Library has two long-handled dandelion pullers in the collection, although only one seems to be working at the moment.

The dandelion shovel or hand puller is a simple hand tool used to pull weeds with long taproots, as it is capable of pulling up the whole root. With a bit of practice, you will be pulling out even large dandelions and catsears. However, due to its nature as a hand tool, it requires bending over or working on your knees. In addition, I would recommend not using it while pulling up weeds with pokey parts, like thistles. The Tool Library has two dandelion shovels in the collection.

Finally, the Tool Library has one weed torch or flame weeder in its collection. A flame weeder is a tool that uses a propane-fueled flame to burn weeds. Weed torches are great for areas that only contain weeds, as well as those difficult to weed areas like the cracks in your driveway. It does not work well on windy days, on large weeds or in areas with a wood/bark mulch or lots of dead, dry plants for safety reasons. Weed torches also require some safety precautions, that the other tools don’t require, as it is a live flame capable of starting fires.

With spring just around the corner, get a head start on all those weeds before they go to seed with some of great tools in our collection. 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/

Fixer’s Collective Report February 16th


Image of Micah taking apart some holiday lights

The last meeting of the Fixer’s Collective was very informative for me personally. While I did not succeed in fixing my broken tool, I learned a lot about how it works. More on that below.

A mom and son duo brought in a broken blender and a broken hammer. The blender had smoked and then died. It was diagnosed as needing a new fuse. The hammer had a broken handle that was beyond repair. The head was then removed to be fitted with a new handle at a later date.

Chris brought in a handful of broken electronics including a broken flashlight and a broken garage door opener. The flashlight, a rechargeable sport spot, needed a new battery as the old battery was no longer charging. The garage door opener was not opening doors, and this was most likely due to the insides having been shifted at some point. A temporary fix allowed the opener to continue working, but the insides may shift again at some point.

Micah took apart some old holiday lights just to see how they worked. After he was done examining the insides, it was determined that they were beyond repair.

James brought down an office chair that wasn’t working properly. A plate had shifted out of alignment and needed to be realigned. This was a more difficult fix than anticipated, but eventually he got the chair working again.

I, myself, spent two and a half hour taking apart a string trimmer that had started smoking and then quit turning. After extensive surgery, it was determined that the carbon parts of the motor had broken off inside the motor. Fixing it required removing the stuck carbon and filing down the existing carbon. I never did get it filed down properly so look for me with my pieces of a weed whacker this Thursday.

Greg decided a few weeks back to build a wind turbine out of scrap parts. He found the plans in a magazine. He solicited for broken stuff among the regular fixers via email and everyone brought their loot. Greg cut the blades from an 8” PVC pipe and made fins from old stops signs and license plates. There were several donated motors including a treadmill motor still attached to the base of the treadmill. Patrick and Micah joined Greg in taking apart the treadmill base and removing the motor. They then laid out all their pieces and admired them.
The wind turbine group agreed that the project needed more time and rescheduled the windmill building party for the following Monday. Greg happily reported that they got the blades spinning on Monday night. The real success was that no one needed to be rushed to the emergency room.

This upcoming Thursday we will be kicking off our first Bike Repair Fixer’s Collective meeting. Bring down your old and beat-up bikes for repair by our expert bike repair people*. If we can’t get it working, we’ll turn it into awesome bike art! I hope to see you all there.

*We make no guarantees about the quality of our repairs or the knowledge of our experts.

Tool of the Week: String Trimmer


Image of a gray and orange string trimmer on a concrete floor, with a trimmer manual and a pair of safety goggles in front of the trimmer.

With the recent warmer weather and the handful of sunny days we’ve had, the plants in my yard are thinking it’s spring. They grass is growing taller, the dandelions are starting to flower, the clover is slowly creeping into my bark dust.

And yet, it’s still too wet to head outside and mow the lawn. Which means that I’m going to have another fun April afternoon with the string trimmer, trimming the grass.

I will confess that I often “mow” my lawn with a string trimmer. When summer hits, the last thing I have time to do is mow the lawn. I’m much too busy soaking up the sun to bother with the lawn. I regularly have to borrow a string trimmer from the Tool Library because my lawn is up over a foot high and beyond the help of a lawn mower. I often think about getting a pair of sheep just so I don’t have to mow anymore.

A string trimmer, also commonly called by a popular brand name: Weed Whacker, is the perfect tool for cutting weeds down to a manageable size. They’re especially great for knocking down weeds in flower, just before they start raining down seed all over your yard. Many string trimmers include an edger option, so they can also edge the lawn, saving you the time and expense of having to buy or rent an edger as well.

String trimmers have a motor inside that spins a thin piece of plastic really fast, so fast that is slices right through grass and weeds and even some thin woody material. It can also slice right through skin, so be sure to wear long pants and heavy-duty shoes to save your legs and toes. I’d also personally recommend wearing a long-sleeve turtleneck and safety glasses. I’ve had the pleasure of having gross and painful things come flying at me while weed whacking, including bits of wood that left welts on my arms, giant globs of grass launched right into my eye, and the remains of a slug that hit my cheek. I have also, in my less safe days, been known to weed whack in sandals. The pain of slicing open a toe with one of those flying strings is excruciating. Ear protection should also be worn when operating a string trimmer.

String trimmers come in three types: gas, corded electric and cordless electric. Gas weed whackers are super powerful noisy beasts that have the advantage of being very portable. However, they are heavy and they use gas. The Tool Library does not carry any gas tools, so if you rent a string trimmer from us it will be electric.

Corded string trimmers need to be plugged into a cord at all times. They have decent power and they never need to stop to refill the gas or recharge the battery. However, they are limited by the length of the extension cord, so be sure to grab one of the long ones from the Tool Library while you’re checking out the trimmer.

Cordless electric trimmers are extremely portable and also pretty light in comparison to gas trimmers. However, they are not nearly as powerful as a corded or gas trimmer. They also have a short battery life. I personally own a cordless trimmer and I get between six and ten minutes of trimming time per battery before the trimmer goes into what I call mangling mode. That’s when the trimmer splits grass and weed stems into individual strings without cutting them from the base of the plant. The cordless trimmer is great for the far reaches of my yard where the extension cord doesn’t quite reach and for very small jobs.

Come summer, these trimmers will be in high demand. Last year the trimmers were constantly out in the neighborhood. It wasn’t unusual for one to get checked out within an hour of being returned. One of these trimmers, #579, is number four on the list of our ten most popular tools. It’s been checked out 26 times in the 18 months it has been in the collection. We currently have nine string trimmers in our collection, and you can check their availability online when you log into your account.

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/