FastCap 3rd Hand Support Beam: The Cabinet Installation Assistant that You Don’t Have to Pay

June 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Tools and Cases 

fastcap-3rd-handYesterday afternoon, I officially made the acquaintance of the FastCap 3rd Hand support beam. It was a totally new product to me, but it had the very strange effect of immediately conjuring up a mental snapshot of an insanely ridiculous situation I found myself in about a year ago.

During this little flashback, I found myself back in the middle of a home repair project we were working on that involved hanging a much-heavier-than-it-looked metal cabinet onto a bathroom wall. To make things even more interesting, the section of wall that the cabinet was going on happened to be above a toilet, in a very narrow bathroom alcove that didn’t allow for the use of little luxuries like step ladders. Hmmmmmmm.

So imagine, if you will, my husband standing (and trying to balance) on top of a somewhat unstable toilet, with a power drill in one hand, and a fistful of screws in the other. And me, squeezed sideways between the toilet and side wall, desperately trying to hold up and balance that stupid cabinet, arms shaking under the weight. Awesome. I won’t get detailed with exact quotes from the exchange we had in the process, but suffice it to say that it was heated and liberally laced with profanity, especially when the studs turned out to be in locations other than where we had originally calculated.

At that point, I was sucked back into present day, and found myself staring at the 3rd Hand, wondering where it had been all of my marriage/DIY career.

FastCap’s aptly-named 3rd Hand universal support is made for jobs that usually require a second person (who possesses that requisite third hand) to hold up – and keep steady – cabinets, molding, and other heavy fixtures while someone else does the fastening. It’s adjustable from 5 to 12 feet, can manage up to 150 pounds, and can even be used in conjunction with plastic sheeting to create dust barriers between rooms. Add to that the fact that you don’t have to pay it hourly wages and that it doesn’t get pissed off and storm out if you yell at it during a particularly tense moment, and you have the perfect assistant for a multitude of jobs.

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Richco Strain Relief Cable Clamps: Keep Your Cables on Track While Helping Them Take a Load Off

richco-strain-relief-clampI’m wracking my brain, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t think of a single context in which sagging is a good thing. Think about it: sagging skin… sagging roofs… sagging exhaust systems… sagging pants – you get the idea. When stuff starts to drag, it’s, well… a drag. Especially when it comes to cables. Whoever thought that a little bit of gravity-weighted cable slack would be enough to knock out, or at least slow down and mess up, an entire data signal?

It’s true: when cables are left without enough support, they start to sag under the influence of gravity, and this downward pull (called cable strain) is often enough to distort the conductor (the inner wire that carries signals) to the point that it just doesn’t work right. And when a cable doesn’t work right, that means that your Internet connection or cable TV signal is a lot weaker/far more sporadic than it should be, or not there at all. Cable strain also usually means that you have to shell out for a new cable that’s fit for the job. In a nutshell, no good can come of it.

That’s why I’m such a fan of these strain relief clamps from Richco. Designed to shore up cable in situations where it would otherwise be slumping, strain relief clamps are used every so often along a cable run to secure wires to a sturdy surface, and prevent evil gravity from taking its toll.

Design and installation-wise, they’re very simple. The strain relief clamps are basically an elongated oval shape, with a wire channel running crosswise along the underside (that’s the part that holds the cable), and a small hole at each end, through which you can drive screws to hold the clamp in place on a wall or another flat surface. This particular mounting method makes them sturdier than less-permanent adhesive-backed cord clips, and also means that they can do double duty, not only supporting cables as they travel from Point A to Point B, but also helping to route and guide them, as well.
And we can all use a little extra guidance…

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Morris Small Wall Light Packs: Tough and Compact Outdoor Security Lighting, Anywhere You Need It

small-wall-light-packUnder normal circumstances, the dark doesn’t bother me, but put a big chunk of darkness between all-by-my-lonesome me and my car in a semi-sketchy neighborhood, and then you’ve got something else altogether. A few years back, I spent 4th of July on the beach with friends in a city that has an incredibly swank little downtown district, which happens to back right up to the Atlantic. Unfortunately, said swank entertainment district had been carved out of some surrounding unsavory neighborhoods, which still had a reputation to be home to some… ummm… “interesting characters” during the after-hours time slot.

When I had arrived, parking was almost non-existent, and as a last resort, many visitors were leaving their cars on the street in the very outer reaches of safety. Everything looked okay in the bright sun, but that night, when the fireworks had ended and the crowds thinned, it was a long, dark and somewhat nerve-wracking walk back, alone, through some extremely dark, shadowy, and slightly-too-quiet side streets.

I’d have given anything to have a few more of these babies around.

Morris Small Wall Pack Lighting Units are designed to provide an extra measure of weatherproof, tamper-resistant safety lighting in both outdoor and semi-outdoor settings like parking garages, walkways, entry ways, loading docks, building perimeters, and anywhere else that danger can potentially strike in the dark. They not only help make the bad guys a little more visible, but also make it easier for pedestrians to see, and avoid, hazards or obstacles that may be in their paths.

Small Wall Pack Lights are available with High Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide lamps, and are UL 924 listed, so they’re safe for use even in damp or wet environments. They include knockouts that allow for optional installation over conduit, and can even be customized with photo sensors, so that they automatically turn on when it gets dark enough for you to need the extra light.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Spiral Wrap: Flexible, Luminous Protection for Cables and Hoses

June 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cable Wraps 

nightglow-spiral-wrapYesterday was the first official day of Summer 2011, but if you’re anything like me, you’ve already been in Fresh Air Mode for a few weeks now. Mowing lawns, potting flowers, weeding, cleaning gutters, touching up house paint – all of the fun outdoor maintenance stuff. And with that yard work comes things like hoses and power cords.

Just one problem- if you’re not careful, these taken-for-granted necessities can end up taking a real beating, as I unfortunately discovered when I went to unspool my garden hose a few days ago. When I took a good look at it, I realized that a few too many tight kinks, driveway run-overs and close calls with the large, sharp-edged rocks in our front plant beds had scratched up, and in some places started wearing through, the wall of the hose.

Oopsie. Guess we should’ve been more careful pulling the car in when that last few feet of hose was trailing off its spool and into the driveway. But it was dark, and well, stuff happens. Fortunately for involuntary destructos like myself, I just came across a protective glow-in-the-dark spiral wrap that helps prevent life’s little (bump) “ummm, I think I just drove over the hose/extension cord” moments.

NightGlow spiral wrap prolongs the life of your outdoor equipment in two ways: first, it (as you’ve already gathered) glows in the dark, so you see it, and the power cable or hose within, before you trample, drive, or trip over it. Secondly, should the worst-case scenario occur (ie: you do something that would normally result in damage), your hoses and cables are covered in flexible armor that deflects abrasion and cuts, and helps prevent full-on crushing. And I haven’t tested this particular theory yet, but I’m pretty sure that even though it’s super flexible, the spiral wrap will probably prevent hoses from kinking so tightly that they pinch closed.

NightGlow wrap is made from tough polyethylene, has the ability to withstand extreme temperatures (-40°F to +280°F), and automatically “charges” itself when exposed to light, whether from the Sun or an artificial light source. And when the lights go out, it glows for up to 8 hours, so that you can steer clear of your poor, mistreated extension cord no matter how little else you can see.

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Click and Go Tool-Free Cable Trays: Flat-Packed Cable Trays That Store Flat and Snap Together Fast, No Tools Needed

June 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Raceway, Duct and Conduit 

click-and-go-cable-trayAs the recession has dug its claws in over the past few years, it seems like I’ve been seeing more and more references in the media to “cottage living.” While they’re not all going out and purchasing charming lakeside and country homes (obviously), many Americans have made it a point to downsize, moving into smaller homes and apartments, and parting ways with all of the junk that they just don’t need. To me, this kind of lifestyle just makes sense – why pay utilities and property taxes on a huge house that’s more a storage unit than a living space?

I’m glad to see that this pared-down mentality is catching on in the cable management and electrical industries, as well. For the past few years, we’ve been offering raceway that comes flat on a roll, and collapsible electrical boxes that ship flat and are then snapped into shape when you need to install them. But I’ve just come across one of the most significant space and money savers I’ve seen yet: Click and Go® Tool-Free Cable Trays.

Like both the raceway and outlet boxes I just mentioned, Click and Go® cable trays ship and store flat, and don’t expand to their full size until you’re ready to install them. That means that they cost less to ship, take up less prime real estate on your stock shelves, and save a lot of room in the back of your pickup truck or service van compared to basket-style cable trays.

The thing I love most is that even though Click and Go® trays help you cut corners on shipping expenses and requisite storage space, they don’t sacrifice performance. These things can do anything and go anywhere that traditional cable trays do, thanks to a huge variety of accessories that let you customize the shape and direction of your cable tray system. 45° and 90° bends, 4-way junctions, T-junctions, reducers, forks, covers, trapezes – you get the idea.

And one more point – i”m sure you noticed the “Tool-Less” mention in the product name. That’s because it takes absolutely no tools to assemble – you just align the cable tray sections, fold them into shape, pop in a few clips, and you’re ready to go.

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Cast Aluminum Exit Signs: Emergency Signage Gets a Modern Makeover

June 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Electrical, Workplace Safety 

cast-aluminum-exit-signAh, the old Exit Sign. That ubiquitous fixture in any public place, which both gets the attention of anyone looking for a way out, and has at the same time become the equivalent of visual white noise to anyone who leaves their house on a semi-regular basis. Exit signs are a paradox: we need them and do use them, but we also take them completely for granted, and never really give them more than a passing glance.

While I’ve always appreciated the presence of exit signs, I have to say that despite the important role they play, a lot of them, historically, haven’t been incredibly easy on the eyes. There’s nothing you can do about the blaring red letters – without them, emergency signage would be pointless. But the housings around those letters tend to be completely lacking in aesthetic appeal… design-wise, you really can’t get any more institutional.

That’s why I’m so happy that someone has finally given the tried and true exit sign a modern, and very stylish, makeover. The key feature is a sleek, minimalist aluminum housing that’s only 2 inches thick, and blends in beautifully with high-style decor, so it’s perfect for nice restaurants, high-end apartment buildings, boutique hotels, galleries, and just about anywhere else where emergency exit signs are necessary, but decor and ambiance can’t be sacrificed.

In addition to its improved outer appearance, this aluminum exit sign has been updated within, too, with long-lasting, energy-saving LEDs, which last much longer and use far less energy than the traditional incandescent signage bulbs that used to illuminate exit signs. There might be a few products that you wish would go back to the the way they used to be, but this definitely isn’t one of them.

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