One of the keys to keeping my kitchen tile job in line was having the right tools. A lot of weekend home-handy-bastards (and ‘ettes) get caught in the Project Trap.
Like the “Triangle of Fire” (oxygen, fuel, ignition source).
This fire triangle is an easy memory tool for K-12 school children to learn. But, not sure if it survived Common Coring of curriculums, or not.
Still used in firefighting academies and what-not, though. We use it at the burn barrel.
There’s a similar Triangle of Projects we keep in mind around here. Tools, Time, and Materials.
A good project generally requires all three. But it really goes much deeper than that. The relative size of the elements matters. It hints in the direction of materials can be only a third of project costs. Tools another third. And since your time is valuable, then the “time cost” of having a journeyman carpenter or plumber fix your errors, has to be in the budget, sometimes, as well….
Mainly this morning (sharing “the triangle” so you can sell your spouse on the absolute need for new tools) we can move along to TIME.
Work Time vs. Shop Time
There is a misconception about shop time. Lots of people think it is zero cost – free – so you’re saving a lot of money any time you tackle a project. This is not quite True. Because shop time takes away from money-making time. In fact, as a staunch capitalist workaholic, it should be self-evident.
If it’s not, pretend you have a job making $35 an hour. About $70-grand a year based on a 2,000 hour work year. The lazy justification is that the savings from not hiring a project out will somehow be reduced by $35 an hour saved or whatever the going rate is for the trade involved.
Unfortunately, damn few shop projects will meet the labor savings test.
There’s a doo-dad for a ham radio antenna I will be knocking out this morning. Simple ladder line (antenna feed line) to Coaxial cable connector. It will likely take an hour and some scrap plastic.
Problem is? I could be writing my next brilliant non-selling book for an hour and just buy the doo-dad on Amazon for $27 bucks, OR I can piss-away shop time. Hmm….
This kind of calculation happens around all projects. But we persist as “Me Make Tool, Me Make Big Important Projects” creatures because we (like the whole world we) lies about things to ourselves. There is no other way to explain Brandon and the dope-heads who pass as Leaders in America.
The solution? Buy as many tools as you can because they are TIME-SAVERS and (rather obviously in Accounting terms) Tools Reduce Time and therefore save money!
Let’s Save Money
Some of my absolute best time (therefore money) saving ideas to consider include this little gem.
I bought this when they first showed up on Amazon, maybe 10-years ago. It’s called a “Sonic Crafter” – or was when introduced back when. It has offset blades that vibrate and it was used for exactly four cuts on the tile project. There are just some cuts (delicate moldings in impossible locations for a conventional or even Japanese back-saw) which these things totally rock.
One design oddity? The nose area gets really hot, after – for example – ripping 23-feet of 6-by-6.
They are, however, perfect for sawing off end exactly flush and that’s useful if you’re doing floor work and something needs to be dead-flush with the underlayment, for example.
The only competing tool for jamb work (and one of the few tools I don’t have!) is a Roberts New Q.E.P 10-56 Electric 6″ Longneck Jamb Saw Kit Sale 900 Watts New. I will give you 229 reasons why I don’t have one.
Besides the built-in serious sawdust system, another important thing to pre-build into your shop is compressed air distribution. Here’s a dandy tool add-on called an air manifold:
I don’t do too much plasma cutting, but that unit on the left is an in-line air dryer. Plasma rigs like really dry air.
So now that you have the manifold, you can load up on cheap 25 and 50 foot self-coiling air hoses. Toss some 2-by-4’s overhead (these have been up since 2-by’s were 89-cents) and now you can have shop air everywhere with zero set-up time.
The coiled hoses are generally junk, but you’ll find them suitable to keep the drill press station blown off, run a brad nailer on the big bench, or run a grinder in the metal-working department.
Why. we must have saved a good 5-minutes of project time already! All we need are about 40 projects to get cost accounting into the black…
New Tool of the Week
Laser measuring tool.
This one didn’t save us any time.
Bought it to estimate how high a certain tree was. Since I don’t climb 100-foot pines much, I swallowed the 393-foot range promise.
Learning point on laser measuring (even tried at night): You want to measure to light-colored surfaces. For really long measurements, you’ll need a tripod or someone to keep the tool steady. Back up plan is to fly a drone over the top of the tree with a messenger line and give up on trying to use science. Which I’ve lost faith in, anyway. Over this jab frenzy.
Stock Up For Winter?
Spotted this over the summer. Decided it might be useful to have on hand. Gorilla makes roof patching tape.
Also picked up a couple of spray-cans of rubber roof coating.
Obviously, not the kind of thing you’ll need in a condo, unless you’re on the top floor, lol. But, out here in the Piney Woods, you can never have too much of too many materials and tools. Deadfall of trees is never-ending.
This then reduces the critical path problem to our old friend time.
Speaking of which, time to go build the antenna doo-dad. Got to keep telling myself shop time has value…and this is a good $26 justification…
Besides, after adding back in taxes on income (to have $26 + sales tax left over), and so forth, I can argue this really is a $35-an hour value….
In my most delusional moment I also could tell climate child Greta how I’ve reduced our antenna doo-dad carbon footprint, too…
Write when you get rich,