Saws, Screws and Soldering
This month’s issue is focused on outdoor work and since one of our most common outdoor spring tasks is repairing winter damage to rain gutters, I wanted to bring some attention to a little product you might have missed: rain gutter screws.
That’s right: seven-inch-long screws designed to replace those loose nails. Replacing the nails with screws and injecting a bit of construction adhesive into the old nail hole beforehand just to rebuild the grip and strengthen the wood seems like a no-brainer to me. But to my surprise gutter screws are still hard to find. Rather than beat your local store manager over the head with this magazine, try contacting CanadaInfo@EuraMax.ca to find a local dealer that carries their Gutter Screws Part No.#33-047.
Shortly after the invention of the portable circular saw, people began to develop guides to get the saw to cut straight. Some were pretty rudimentary, others rather sophisticated, but all were mismatched in that they had not been designed to be guided by the shoe.
To my knowledge, the DeWalt Track Saw represents the first time that a manufacturer has designed a portable saw and a track specifically for it. Why does that make such a difference? The strange looking guard gives total protection in a minimum of space, allowing for very close cutting to a wall or floor. In effect, the conventional design has been reversed: the guard is fixed and the saw moves up and down as an unusual plunge saw, like a plunge router. This means that you can set your final depth, lock in the base or even use an anti-kickback device and then plunge into the wood — allowing you to start off the wood, or directly on the wood. When you finish your cut, the saw rises and the blade comes back to a totally enclosed position inside the guard. The base itself mates with an adjustable tolerance fit to the track — there is no doubling up of the base — and the saw is firmly aligned square to the base. The bottom of the track has replaceable friction grip tape, the slide portion has replaceable friction slip tape strips and tracks can be ganged to lengthen the run. The saw can also be used without the track as a regular portable circular saw. Track accessories include bottom mounted clamps (T slots in the bottom of the track) for obstruction free, locked-down movement, a bottom-mounted mitre fence for angled cuts, router attachment accessories and the like.
DeWalt’s Track Saw is a squared off, cumbersome and strange looking machine that puts efficiency and performance ahead of looks.
Propylene and Green Keys
MAP gas has disappeared and Propylene has taken its place, filling the temperature range gap between Propane and Acetylene. Propane burns in air at about 3,450º F while Propylene runs at about 3,600º F. Not a tremendous difference, but it matters when you’re trying to work with lead-free solder.*
What I really want to talk about, though, are the new Fat Boy cylinders from BernzOmatic. Short and stubby, they take a little getting used to because, unless you have very large hands, you need to grip the valve, not the cylinder. However, they tip over less and hold about 20 per cent more gas than the old tall and narrow cylinders.
Even more important is the environmental benefit of using the Green Keys that come attached to this new model. As it is, used gas cylinders can’t be recycled because they are considered hazardous waste products as they always have a little gas left in them. The Green Key program places a green pin in the cylinder cap. When the tank is exhausted, start by popping the key out of the cap by pushing it out with the torch base. You may have long lost that cap, but there will be one on the new cylinder you are about to use. Next, push that green key into the used cylinder and it will lock into place permanently, indicating that this is an empty can. This will allow any left over gas to escape even if the cylinder heats up later in the sun. Now you can recycle the cylinder with most steel recycling programs — the green key in place identifies it as no longer a hazard.
* For the full story, look up “Soldering” in my database on www.JonEakes.com.