Electric Power Tools Tips

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Can I cut any tile dry?

Using A Tile Saw

Tile saws look intimidating, especially with the large blade, but they can actually be safer to operate than a circular saw -provided you have the right safety gear. Your tile saw results may depend on one simple little detail about your tile: can you cut it wet, or dry? Some materials can only be properly cut using a wet tile saw, which runs water over the blade to keep it from overheating during the cutting operation. Marble and granite are recommended for wet tile saws only. When in doubt, ask your home improvement shop crew what tiles work best with a dry saw or a wet one.

What safety issues are connected with circular saws

Circular Saw Safety

One safety evaluation of 1000 woodworking power tool accidents found a whopping 35 percent of the mishaps occurred with circular saws. Of that number, most happened with the safety equipment either having been removed or improperly engaged. Circular saws should always have a blade guard in place, and properly adjusted. For portable circular saws, some are tempted to remove the guard except for the fact that it cannot be set down with the blade still rotating. One good reason to hang on to your portable saw's blade guard is to protect your arm should you lose your balance during the cut. When your arm comes in contact with the guard instead of the blade, you'll be very glad you did not remove that protective piece of metal.

Should I buy discount power tools?

Discount Power Tools?

Buying a name brand tool with a proven track record at a discounted price is one thing; purchasing a lesser-quality tool at a low price is quite another. If you are in the market for discount tools, it's recommended you do a serious search of the consumer report websites on the brands you plan to buy.

  • What is the lifespan of these tools compared to the name brands?
  • Have there been any safety recalls on the brands you plan to buy?
  • What is the reputation of this brand among consumer reporting websites?
If you read report after report of negative experiences associated with the brands you plan to purchase, it may be wise to bit the bullet, spend the extra money, knowing your tools are safer and longer-lasting. Never skimp on quality when it comes to power tools. You can check consumerreports.org, my3cents.com, and do a keyword search on Google.com on the phrase "power tool consumer reports".

Rent or buy? Which is best?

Rent Before You Buy

When you start building a tool kit, it's easy to accumulate the simple things: hammers, power saws, power drills, sanders, and other basic items. When it comes time for more advanced projects, you may be unsure whether the investment is right for you. You might need a ceramic tile saw for this particular project, but will you need it again soon? If you have a temporary need for a specialized tool, consider renting instead of buying. You will get the advantage of taking a test drive with the power tool, without the financial commitment. Whenever possible, it's good to get an experienced friend to help you get up to speed with the rental power tool you are working with, your "training time" will go much faster than learning on your own.

When renting power tools, be sure to give yourself enough time in the rental agreement to get familiar with the new power tool before trying to use it in your project. Trying to do the task at hand with a piece of hardware you aren't familiar with is a recipe for disaster, especially with a rental time limit hanging over your head. The best strategy is to rent for at least two days more than you think you need to complete the project, which gives you extra time to develop your expertise with the power tool before launching into the actual work.


Using A Tile Saw

Aubuchon Hardware Tip: Most tile saws can handle tiles up to a foot wide, but if you are working with larger tiles, you may need to rent an extra-large saw to handle the extra length and width. Regardless of the size of the tile saw, when working on larger pieces of ceramic, it's important to let the saw cool in between cuts, otherwise you risk damaging the blade and/or overheating the equipment.


Circular Saw Safety

Aubuchon Hardware Tip: To safely operate a portable circular saw, it's important to start the saw before you touch the blade to the material. Otherwise there is a serious risk of losing control of the saw because of kickback. Check the location of your circular saw's power cord before making the cut. The concern here is equal parts tripping hazard and being sure you don't create an electrical hazard by putting a metal blade in touch with the live current flowing through the power cord.


Power Tools Safety

Aubuchon Hardware Tip: Power tools can be fun, but also dangerous. Being careful with the tools isn't always good enough to prevent mishaps. When operating a circular saw, for example, you can encounter an irregularity in a piece of wood that kicks up splinters. Without eye protection, the risk of blinding injury is greatly increased. Improperly tightened clamps, vises, or other tools used to secure wood for sawing and sanding mean potential injury from a saw or sander that has slipped off the wood. The two best kinds of precautions in your work space are: a simple double check of all grips, connections, and insertion of blades or bits; and the availability of a first-aid kit in easy reach. Your kit should be well stocked with bandages, antiseptic, and even a tourniquet in case of more serious injuries. You should also have a large bottle of eyewash handy for splinters, sawdust, and other potential eye problems.

What should I look for in used power tools?

Power Tools Safety

There are many things to look for when purchasing used power tools. Never spend your money on a used power tool with frayed electrical cords, unless you plan to have these repaired or replaced. You should beware of any power tool that has loose connections that cannot be tightened or secured. This is especially important for drills and saws. Circular saws should have an intact guard for the upper part of the blade, and guards should not be blocked open or otherwise "defeated". Grinders should have a guard on the spindle or the means to attach/replace a missing guard. If there is no way to attach the proper safety devices, don't purchase the power tool. It's also important to ask how long the tool was used before being put on the market. If you know the average lifespan of the tools you plan to buy, this question could save you quite a bit of money.

What should I do with these old tools?

Antique Power Tools

Many people don't realize their collection of old power tools left over from a family member's bygone days of shop work can actually be worth a bit of money. A quick check of sites such as Craigslist or your local newspaper's online classifieds will reveal many people selling antique power tools. Antique tool enthusiasts lament the fact that most people simply discarded their old tools rather than hanging on to them. Today, eBay auctions, flea markets, and good old-fashioned auctions are all places you can buy and sell antique power tools. Don't simply throw those old tools away, you could finance your next tool purchase with the proceeds of an auction or sale of the old stuff that you have stashed along the back wall of the shop.

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Linda Handiak