Ahhh, staple guns. For most of my life, I’ve considered them to be the perfect tools for either roofing or shooting goofy burglars in sensitive areas (sorry, looks like Home Alone made a bigger impression than I realized), but now I’m seeing how great they are for running cables. In new constructions, it’s common practice to route low voltage, data, coax and Romex cables along studs, and when you do that, you have to do something to keep them in place. So why not just staple them down?
You do have to be careful, though, because using the wrong staple gun and staples can lead to crushed wiring, and we all know that that’s no good. To keep the fastening easy but still play things safe, opt for a cable-specific staple gun, like the Cable Boss™ from Gardner Bender. Why the Cable Boss™? First of all, it’s built to dispense a particular type of insulated staples that have integrated cable guards, which prevent cabling from being squeezed or crushed. Secondly, the Cable Boss™ staple gun is designed so that you can wield it single-handedly and still prevent your cables from twisting at the same time. This cool little feature is made made possible by two things: a lever-action handle that operates with minimal force, and a rear cable guide that holds the wires down, and in line, for you.
Add to that the fact that this gun can accommodate cables of many shapes and sizes, and you’ve got a great little multitasker that works effectively and cuts down on the number of tools you need to tote between jobs. They don’t call it the Cable Boss™ for nothing.
For the past year and a half, I’ve been pretty happy with my IKEA computer desk – it was cheap, looks reasonably good, and accommodates my desktop without eating up too much space. But just last week, satisfaction more or less flew out the window when I took my first gander at BlueLounge’s StudioDesk. Never mind that I don’t currently own a laptop, or that the StudioDesk costs several times what my little IKEA number did – I want one. Why the workstation envy? My avarice is founded on 3 different reasons, namely:
Mahogany. That’s right – this baby may be part white laminate, but I’m happy to say that all the important details are done in real, gorgeous mahogany. Legs, trim, grommet edging – you name it. This could be my ticket out of particle board prison!
The built-in faux leather laptop pad. Yes, it may be fake, but it’s also kind of chic, and does the very important job of keeping your laptop from sliding all over the place. Besides, wouldn’t you rather rest your wrists on a soft surface instead of cold, hard desktop?
The lack of visual cables. This is the part where I tell you that the faux leather laptop pad actually covers a slide-out tray that conceals the most magical part of the desk – a built-in cable management compartment. This secret hideaway has plenty of room to fit power strips, USB hubs, and even excess wiring, so instead of looking at multiple cords traveling around your desktop and stretching to wall outlets, you’ll only get an eyeful of clean lines and beautiful, clutter-free minimalism.
Well, I think you’ll find that my greed is justified. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to shop for a laptop, and possibly a brick-walled downtown loft apartment. I think my future StudioDesk would look outstanding in one of those.
BlueLounge® Designs has done it again. They can’t stop making cool products for me to yakk on about. First there was the Sanctuary charging station, and then came the Space Station laptop dock. Finally, this morning, I met the newest addition – the CableBox. But I’m not talking about the the box from your cable company that sends signal to your TV. If you’ve ever read or watched anything Harry Potter, then you’re probably well acquainted with the Cloak of Invisibility – wrap yourself in it, and you’re gone. Well, the CableBox is like an Invisibility Cloak for power strips, and it works almost as fast. You want one already, don’t you?
Design-wise, it’s almost ridiculously simple – in a good way. It’s a sleek, rounded-corner box with cable slots in each end, and a lid that fits on top. Operation is equally simple: you just pick up your standard-size power strip, plugs and all, and drop it into the CableBox. Attached cables can be routed out of the box via one or both slots, and then you just pop the lid on. Power strip? What power strip?
The CableBox is available in black or white, but either color can be repainted to match your walls or floor if you’re looking to achieve an even higher level of power strip stealth. And what’s really nice is that the CableBox has low-profile rubberized feet (pads, really) attached to the bottom, so whether you park it on the floor or along the back of an entertainment center, it won’t slide around on you.
I’ve been a huge fan the Gorillapod digital camera tripod for entire years now, so you’ll understand my ecstatic reaction upon learning that we actually sell the thing. That’s right – I found out that all this time, I’ve been blogging away on other products while my little friend languished deep in our factory outlet, just waiting to be rediscovered.
It all started about 3 years ago, when my Dad was just getting into Skype but having trouble keeping his webcam situated in one place. One day, as I was researching home electronics, I came across a bendy, grippy, camera-holding contraption in a magazine and thought, “well, that will do the trick.” Fast forward a couple of months, and a festively-wrapped Gorillapod with my Dad’s name on it sat under the Christmas tree. Man, was that one a hit!
The Gorillapod is a little weird-looking at first glance, but it really grows on you once you see what it’s capable of. You know that scene in Ocean’s 11 (the remake) where George Clooney and Brad Pitt are scouting for a few last guys for the heist? The end up hearing about a Chinese acrobat who would be perfect for the job, and go to see his troupe perform. It’s totally insane – you have a bunch of acrobats climbing and suspending themselves off of vertical poles at crazy angles, and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever lose their grip or even break a sweat. Well, the same holds true for the Gorillapod. Poles, tree branches, uneven rocks, computer monitors… you name the irregular object or surface, and the Gorillapod’s flexible rubberized tentacles can wrap around or grip it with seemingly no effort, all while holding on to your digital or web camera.
The Gorillapod is perfect for adventurers who need to capture the perfect shot but can’t find a decent place to rest the cameras, as well as for people who just want their webcams to perch on their monitors. Believe me, you’ve got to try it… you’ll never see camera tripods the same way again.
Despite seasonal clues like the the blizzard that just hit the Mid-Atlantic states and the fact that it was the Super Bowl only last night, I keep forgetting that it’s winter. But then again, I’m in South Florida, and we have more or less constant heat and sunshine no matter what time of year it is. But temperatures took a bit of a dive this past weekend, as I schlepped armloads of Target bags into the house late yesterday afternoon, my nostrils perked up at the scent of fireplace wafting on the breeze. Now that’s a rare treat, and one that reminded me that people in many other places are cozied up to fireplaces and space heaters to stay warm. And if there’s any time of year to be concerned about fire safety, this would be it.
So, what shape are your smoke alarms in? Hopefully you’ve been testing them monthly, and replacing their batteries once a year. A gentle annual vacuuming is always a good idea, too. But if it’s time to actually replace your smoke detectors, allow me to make a suggestion. Go with a combination model, like the Ionization/Photelectric Smoke Alarm from Kidde. Why the mix of technology? Two words: complete protection.
If you’ve ever shopped around for household smoke detectors, you probably noticed that the alarms were labeled either ionization or photoelectric. These two technologies were designed to recognize two different types of fires. Ionization smoke alarms detect the presence of smoke by ionizing the nitrogen and oxygen atoms in air, and are best for warning against quick-flaring fires that pop up fast without producing much smoke. On the other hand, photoelectric smoke alarms are optical, and use LEDs and photosensors to detect smoke-induced light obstruction. Photoelectric alarms are best at detecting slow-burning fires that produce large amounts of smoke.
Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s great to have options. But what if you don’t choose the right one? The beautiful thing about combination smoke alarms is that with dual technology, they’re able to handle just about any smoke situation that comes their way. You’re warned no matter what. No second-guessing, no trial and error – when it comes to fire and smoke inhalation, you never want to learn the hard way.
I can be so closed-minded sometimes – especially when it comes to Neoprene. All I have to do is hear or read the word, and I mentally immerse myself into sparkling turquoise waters and Cousteau-esque daydreams of teeming coral reefs, sea turtles, and schools of vibrant, darting fish. What’s the connection? Wet suits. Ever since my first trip to a dive shop at age 11 (I had to be “outfitted” for my super-cool snorkeling class at the YMCA), I’ve always associated Neoprene with scuba gear.
Well, I was recently shaken right down to my fins when I found out that these days, Neoprene is making its mark on the world of cord covers as well. That tidbit alone is enough to rock your world, right? Okay, I’m exaggerating, but you probably didn’t expect to hear that, did you? It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. Sooooooo, I bet you’re dying to hear all about the Neoprene cord covers that finally changed my viewpoint. Well then, I won’t keep you waiting.
The first thing that hit me about these cord covers is that they have a much nicer – shall we say more refined? – look than the average plastic cord cover. Secondly, they’re a lot easier to lay flat on the floor right out of the box. Plastic cord covers usually need a little coaxing to flatten out after they’ve been stored rolled up. That isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s really nice that Neoprene cord covers don’t keep you waiting.
They also weigh practically nothing, because they’re basically just molded foam. But my absolute favorite feature is that they can be loaded from the top, through “secret” slits. I can practically feel you furrowing your brow over that one – I’ll explain. Standard flexible cord covers are typically slit lengthwise along their undersides, so that you can slip cables into the cord channel from the bottom. This is fine, it just means that you have to flip the entire cord cover over every time you want to add or remove a cable. These plastic cord protectors generally have a smooth, dome-like surface. Now for the Neoprene: these also have bottom slits, but hidden among what looks like decorative contouring on the upper surface are two additional lengthwise slits that actually let you top-load cables. You never need to flip the cord covers over unless you want to use the third channel – how easy is that?
The DIY’er in me has found yet another life-easing product to love: EZ Stick Drywall Finishing Tape. What initially meets the eye is run-of-the mill drywall tape, but what you really get is drywall tape with a built-in, super-strong adhesive. I know what you’re thinking: why would you need adhesive if you’re just going to slap the tape up between a few coats of joint compound? Well, listen to this – thanks to the adhesive, you don’t actually need mud for the stick-the-tape-to-the-wall step. To be fair, you still need to apply compound afterward, as usual, but think of how much less goo you’d have to handle – about 30% less!
It works like this: you just wet the EZ Stick tape to activate the adhesive, and then smooth it over sheetrock joints. But here’s the fun part: there are two ways of doing this. If you’re working on a smaller drywall job in your home, you can just cut the tape to size and quickly run it through a dish of water to get the adhesive going. Or, if you’re a pro who’s got a lot more ground to cover, you can always make a use of a very cool accessory: the EZ Stick Drywall Tape Applicator.
This applicator straps onto a belt, so it sits right on your hip. What makes it so unique is that it has a self-contained water bath, so as you dispense the amount of tape you need, it’s pulled through the water bath on its way to the wall. Pretty neat, right? It leaves you with not one but two free hands for tape application. Sign me up.
EZ Stick sheetrock tape has a couple of other interesting features, the first of which is that it creates a seams that’s far stronger than what you’d ordinarily achieve with fiberglass mesh drywall tape. And then there’s its central crease, which makes it really easy to create straight, even corner joints.
You’ve gotta love the way that garden hoses get stuck as soon as you try to move them at a weird angle. Like when you’re trying to wash your car in the driveway, and one turn too many around the vehicle stops you in your hose-toting tracks. Or when you try to drag a hose from the side yard to the backyard – get too close to the corner of the house, and snag – you’re done. Strangely enough, the same thing happens when you try to pull heavier bundled cables through cable trays.
Logistically, the whole task seems pretty straightforward, right? Just pull the darn cables from Point A to Point B. But when factors like weight, distance and the dreaded friction start playing into things, you’re bound to hit some snags – literally. What you need is something to buoy the cables up and keep them from dragging against the bottom of the cable tray. Something that will keep things rolling along smoothly without making you sweat any more than you have to. Something, hmmmmmmm…. like cable tray sheaves.
Now, why they call these things “sheaves,” I’ll never know – personally, that’s a term I’ve always associated with bundles of wheat or paper. But at this point, who cares? They just make things easier. Design-wise, cable tray sheaves are basically contoured rollers that can be temporarily mounted throughout a cable tray run to support cable bundles and keep them moving right along over long distances, as well as through bends or elevation changes. This is because they eliminate, or at least greatly cut down on, the cables’ contact with the actual tray. And in cases like this, less friction equals less exertion from you, and less potential damage to the cables. Know what else? You’ll also get the job done a lot faster.
One of the really nice things about Greenlee cable tray sheaves is that they’re reusable – as soon as you’re finished with one pull, you just pack them up and use them for the next. Installation and removal are easy – you just fasten (or unfasten) two carriage bolts and wing nuts, and you’re ready to go.