Filed under: Cable Ties, Clips and Grommets, Tools and Cases
What is it about twist ties that makes us love them so much? Maybe it’s the fact that they’ve always come free with purchase of garbage bags (that’s how I’ve always gotten mine). Maybe it’s that they’re the most idiot-proof method on earth for closing anything. Or maybe it’s because they’re always on the good stuff, like bags of bread, popcorn, and cotton candy. I don’t know. It just seems like they’ve always been there, and always will be, because it’s tough to improve on something so thoroughly useful.
This past weekend, my husband and I finally got around to hitting the local farmers’ market, which we’ve planned on visiting for months. We bit the bullet and shirked the dumb grown-up responsibilities (like working out and home maintenance) that have shackled us for the past 8 or so weekends, headed downtown, and dove into stand after stand of deliciousness. And do you know what? Everything came twist-tied. Yep. We picked up a couple of bunches of basil from a group of up-and-coming young chefs who are about to open their own “farm-to-fork” restaurant, and grow their own herbs and produce. Twist ties. And then there was that huge loaf of artisanal multigrain bread from the extremely hip pseudo-Italian bakery in the next town. Twist ties.
Same thing for flower bouquets, bunches of carrots, bags of cookies, blown-glass pendants attached to display cards – you name it. It was like Twist Tie Mania out there. Someone must have had some pretty sore fingers and wrists from twisting all those things. Unless…
They had something like the Tie-Matic HD, an automated twist tie machine that closes bags and bundles cables in a second (literally), but gives your wrist a break from repetitive twisting motions. This, as it turns out, is how food companies turn out bagged products in high volume without paying little elves to sit up through the night, fastening twist ties. You just keep the Tie-Matic HD filled with rolls of ties, hold your bag (or coiled cables) in the allotted space, and let the automated tying machine spring into action. It reduces labor hours, prevents frustration and repetitive-motion injuries, and saves a lot of money in general. Sounds almost as good as farmers’ market baked goods, doesn’t it?
Filed under: Cord Covers, Tools and Cases, Workplace Safety
Ever picked up a heavy-duty polyurethane cable protector? They’re heavy – sometimes really heavy. Depending on its width and the amount of “ramp” area it has, a typical cord protector can range anywhere from 20 to 100 lbs. Granted, for that type of product, heft is a definite selling point, because it means that the cord protectors aren’t going to be pancaked or pushed around when pedestrians and vehicles go over them. But think about the fact that you almost never need just one cable protector, and that they’re often used on a temporary basis.
Add it all up, and that means some serious cable protector hauling every time you need to set up, break down, or just change configuration. Not that having to break a sweat every now and then is a bad thing, but seeing as how most cable protectors are at lease 3 feet long, they can be a little unweildy to schlep, considering their weight. Moving more than one at a time is, in most cases, not advisable. Now, I know that there are a few people out there (I may or may not be one of them) who think that making multiple trips is lame, and would rather overload themselves in the name of efficiency than have to go back a second or third time. These people tend to end up in pain shortly after entertaining these thoughts. These people need to get a cable protector transport cart.
You heard me. The Yellow Jacket Cord Protector Cart. It can hold up to 12 of the biggest and baddest cable protectors at once, but lets you roll them from Point A to Point B in comfort, instead of juggling them like an idiot and sweating like a pig. And in the event that you just need to store the cord covers for a while instead of immediately setting them up in another location, the cart doubles as the perfect storage rack. When it’s time to put the cable protectors back in action, just wheel them wherever you need them. I hate to say it, but sometimes the “lazy” way really does end up being the smarter way.
Now that I’ve taken a gander at ArmorKraft Decorative Post Sleeves, I’d like to bestow their maker, Eagle Manufacturing, with an honorary new motto: “We Make Crudely Functional Bollard Posts Look Gooooooooood.” Seriously, though – while bollard posts and vertical wooden railroad tie-style stakes may be extremely useful in keeping vehicles from going where they’re not wanted, they don’t look too hot. As a matter of fact, they’re pretty much blots on the landscape. And no one likes that.
Luckily, ArmorKraft Post Sleeves give you a way to keep the traffic-controlling benefits of bollard posts without having to endure the sight of their ugly mugs. As a matter of fact, these sleeves can actually transform raw posts into things of beauty and sophistication. Just slip one over your bollard post, and suddenly you have a structure worthy of, say, a West London park or a country club. It’s like sending your bollard posts to finishing school.
ArmorKraft Post Sleeves have the look of high-end cast iron, but fortunately aren’t bogged down by cast iron’s hefty weight and price tag. Since they’re made of super lightweight HDPE, the post sleeves weigh in at only 8 pounds each, are resistant to chemicals, UV rays and, of course, water, and are more or less maintenance -free. And they’re available in several different designs to suit your taste and setting. There’s Classic, which is perfect for lending a park or garden-like feel to your property; Golf Traditions, which is great for roping off walkways at country clubs and golf courses; and Equestrian, which adds extra ambiance at stables and other horse-centric facilities.
Talking about the Wedgee® Organizer in my last blog post got me thinking about other ways to wrangle outdoor gear, and it came to in a flash of lightening: Camo Gear Wrapz. Now, while the Wedgee is great for general audiences, Camo Gear Wrapz™ are geared toward a decidedly masculine demographic. Not to say that there aren’t any girls out there who would get a kick out of them, too, but generally speaking, dudes dig these.
My husband has been on an extended camouflage kick for about 3 years now. Camo golf bag, camo cell phone holder, camo backpack, camo pants… you get the idea. Last Christmas, I was stumped for stocking stuffers, until I came across Camo Gear Wrapz at work. While they’re great for soldiers who have to bundle and unbundle gear in the field without making noise, I thought that my civilian husband might be able to get an equal amount of mileage out of them on hunting, fishing and camping trips.
In short, he freaked – he thinks they’re the coolest thing ever. And it turns out that guys of all ages want in on the action. A couple of weeks ago, Captain Camo and I were roaming through a local sporting goods store with our two nephews, ages 5 and 12. While both boys are into all things manly, the 5 year old wholeheartedly believes that he will enter into full-fledged, dedicated Ninja training as soon as he turns 6. He spied a bag of camo straps, picked them up to investigate, and promptly exclaimed “Whoooooaaaaa!!!! …. ummmmm, can you buy these for me?”
Apparently, they’re perfect for the storage and transport of ninja weapons, plus they have the added bonus of silent operation (they’re rubber with plastic toggle closures). Because we all know that stealth is of the essence when you’re trying to sneak around strapped with swords and nunchucks.
There was probably a time in your life when, had someone suggested a wedgie, you would have blushed, stuttered, adjusted your underwear in a defensive manner, and high-tailed it to safety. There’s no shame in that – we’ve all been there. But what if I were to ask you the same question today?
Okay, before you’re weirded out any further, let me explain. The wedgie I’m referring to today, as a mature adult, is actually the Wedgee®. Spelled with a double “e.” That already makes it less intimidating, don’t you think? And you should feel even more at ease when I say that the “Wedgee-with-a double-e” is actually a cord organizer, not the cruel misuse of an undergarment. Yes, a cord organizer. Whoever named that one had a sense of humor, but you know what? I like the thing. It’s useful. It works.
The cord I just referred to isn’t a cable cord, as you might expect, but actually a bungee cord – and it’s included with the Wedgee. The whole reason this even came to mind is that Summer is here, the sun is shining, and there are outdoorsy fun times just waiting to be had. The thing is, a lot of those outdoorsy fun times require outdoorsy fun equipment, the schlepping of which can be extremely tricky business.
That’s where the Wedgee® enters the picture (and saves the day). It holds stuff together, so you have less juggling to do. You just detach one end of the bungee cord from the Wedgee, wind it around your gear, and then lock the bungee cord’s end back into one of the Wedgee’s slots. Easy.
The Wedgee Cord Organizer is perfect for sporting goods, camping equipment and fishing gear, but personally, I’m taking this baby to the beach. That’s right. My beach blanket, towel, umbrella and umbrella pole are about to become a single, unified entity, which I’ll be able to grab and carry with one hand. It’s going to be a good summer.
Lately I’ve been loosely involved in the purchase and repair of ceiling tiles, and it surprised me how lightweight and flexible the things are. I guess the whole lightweight thing makes sense, considering how they have to be suspended above a room and all (anything weighing in at more than a few ounces would probably be dangerous in the event that one fell), but I wasn’t expecting them to have so much give.
That said, drop-ceiling products like the Erico-Caddy Fixture Stabilizing Clip are beginning to sound like a pretty smart idea. While drop ceilings aren’t too common in the average home (unless, of course, you want to snazz it up with funky patterned ceiling tiles), they’re pretty much all the rage in commercial properties. From offices to retail stores, this style of ceiling just seems to work, because it allows for easy access to ductwork and cable runs, and is easy to repair in the event of water damage.
There’s just one catch: commercial environments tend to have things like exit signs hanging from the ceiling, which means extra gravitational pull on those sag-prone ceiling tiles. It doesn’t take much for a bulge to form, but no one wants a deformed ceiling. What to do? Well, remember how I said those Fixture Stabilizing Clips have started to sound pretty smart to me? Here’s why. They actual help to increase or relieve tension between above-ceiling sign mounts and ceiling tiles as needed, so instead of having a wobbly sign or bulging ceiling tiles, you get a nice, smooth ceiling and securely-mounted signage to boot. Best of both worlds.
Who knew that something so simple could be your #1 weapon in the Battle of the (Ceiling Tile) Bulge?
No too long ago, we talked about a great type of solder to use when you want a joint to form smoothly, without too much or too little flux. But today we’re going to talk about what to do when you need to get rid of a soldering joint. Depending on exactly what type of project you’re working on, you may need to disconnect a soldered-on cable connector, or maybe remove a solder bridge from a circuit board. Melting the joint back down is usually enough to break the connection, but how do you remove that little bead of molten solder that’s left over?
Some people like to use a solder suction device, which literally sucks up the solder as soon as you’ve melted a joint. But other people prefer a gentler approach, which involves gradually wicking solder away as it melts with a product known as desoldering braid. Desoldering braid is really pretty simple: it’s woven out of very fine copper strands, which, when held against a melting solder joint, “soak up” (or wick away) the liquified solder, to the point that the braid actually becomes so saturated that it loses its signature copper color, and picks up the color of the solder, instead.
MG Chemicals makes a nice desolderer known as Fine Braid Super Wick, which works as well with jewelry and plumbing as it does with circuit board work. Using Fine Braid Super Wick is easy – just match the diameter of the joint to be removed with braid that’s the same width (or a little bit wider than) it. From there, you fire up your soldering iron, lay the braid across the joint to be removed, and apply your soldering iron directly to the braid. This heats up the copper, which in turn transfers that heat to the solder, causes it to melt, and finally soak into the braid. When you lift away the braid, all of that old solder comes right along with it.
Filed under: Server Racks and Enclosures, Tools and Cases, Workplace Safety
Workplace safety isn’t limited to ergonomics, lockout/tagout and PPE – sometimes, it’s all about the storage. Take flammable materials… you can’t just leave them laying around or stack them in a corner somewhere. Aside from the obvious ignition risks, many fuels and flammable solvents can also cause chemical corrosion or damage to other materials, so the smartest and safest bet is to keep them well-contained in strategic areas of your facility.
As for what to actually keep them in, I suggest Flammable Storage Cabinets by Eagle Manufacturing. These double-walled enclosures provide an excellent buffer between hazardous flammables and the things that might set them off, such as sparks, open flame and high heat. And they’re just as good at keeping flammables in as they are at sealing ingnition sources out: a 2″ raised door sill keeps liquids from trickling out, even if there’s a leak or spill inside the cabinet.
Leveling legs and an all-around 1.5″ air cushion (remember those double walls I just mentioned?) keep vibration at bay, to prevent seals from loosening and containers from toppling over. As for warning workers of flammability risks, these Eagle enclosures are emblazoned with unmistakable safety warnings in 3 languages (English, Spanish, and French) to eliminate any confusion as to the cabinets’ contents and their potential dangers.
And there’s one other little thing that these help with: OSHA compliance.
It’s a classic device that’s been used in sitcoms and movies for decades: the main character accidentally drops something small yet very important, and then watches in helpless horror as it skitters away and then falls through a grate or goes down the drain. You’d think that writers would get tired of this little scenario, but it just keeps coming back. And do you know why? Empathy. They know that no matter how many times this plot twist pops up, we, the suckers in the audience, will always gasp and think “oh, noooooooooo!!!!” And that’s because we’ve all pulled the exact same ridiculous move before. Way more than once. We know how much it bites to have something happily in-hand one minute, and then be frantically trying to get it back the next.
Well, apparently the folks at Triplett have gotten good and fed up with this ongoing plight, and have decided to do something about it. While you can’t keep someone from being a butterfingers, you can give them tools to dig themselves out of predicaments, right? That’s the kind of thinking that inspired the GrabLite. Thanks to a little crafty engineering, Triplett’s newest hit not only lets you seen where your lost items are hiding, but also equips you with an extremely handy extension for retrieving them.
Here’s how it works: to the untrained eye, the GrabLite looks just like an LED flashlight, which it is. But here’s the catch: there’s a telescoping, magnetic retrieval arm hidden inside. Just pull on the small, round metal piece in the center of the light, and you end up with a slim and flexible third arm that can reach into tight spaces that you’d never be able to maneuver into on your own. And the fact that this extendable arm is tipped in an incredibly strong Rare Earth magnet just makes things better. With this baby, you’re not limited to picking up only the tiny, practically weightless things like screws and bolts. My coworker actually snagged a pretty substantial full-sized screwdriver, no problem at all.
Heads up, Hollywood: looks like you’re going to need a new comical plot device.
When you hear the words “butane torch,” it usually conjures up images of the tougher stuff, like welding, plumbing work, metal shop – those sorts of things. Anything that throws a flame pretty much belongs in a tool box or arsenal, right? Sometimes. As I mentioned a few posts back, there was a time in my life when I thought that soldering was fun, and as a kid, I even had a woodburning set that got some occasional use. But I’m really not much of a pyro at all, and up to now I’ve never considered owning a lighter, much less a torch. I’m starting to change my mind.
It’s not that I’m planning to go into the trades, or take on a DIY project of Rosie the Riveter magnitude. I can be pretty handy with the fix-it stuff, but flamage usually doesn’t play a role in my home improvement jobs. No, I’m thinking more along the lines of creme brulee. The truth is, I love to cook, and for the past couple of years, I’ve been intermittently hell-bent on conquering the French classics. I’ve already knocked out the easy stuff like Pommes Anna and bordelaise sauce, but have yet to work up to things like homemade demi-glace and creme brulee. I’ve put off the demi-glace becasue I can’t seem to find a spare 24 hours to dedicate solely to simmering a bunch of roasted meat bones and aromatics… that’s understandable, non?
But my reason for procrastinating on the creme brulee is far lamer – I just never had a torch to caramelize the tops. See? Lame. I had been waiting to score another gift card to Williams-Sonoma, so that I could purchase the last, flaming piece of the puzzle. But suddenly, the other day, I stumbled upon an article that said that one of the most popular “chef’s torches” out there had actually been originally intended for use by plumbers. It turns out that when the pros need to create a delicate sugar crust on a fragile custard, the more macho the torch, the better.
It looks like my wait has just been dramatically shortened, thanks to the fact that we actually sell the Pro-Torch 200 by Solder-It. I’ve always thought that this compact, handheld butane torch was pretty neat, but to me, it was more of a cool addition to a tool kit… not my next kitchen appliance. As it turns out, it’s both. The Pro-Torch 200 has a refillable butane canister that provides up to 60 minutes of burn time, and it’s just at home with plumbing and auto repair as it is with haute cuisine. Looks like I just met my match. Sorry, Williams-Sonoma and Sur la Table – I still love you, but this time, I’m going to have to go for the Pro-Torch…
Now where did I put those vanilla beans?