These are all products that I personally use and recommend. It’s an eclectic mix of products. Not everybody needs a welder, smartphone, washing machine, or oven, but maybe you do. I hope this is of some value to you.
One of my activities is welding. An important tool every welder has, besides his welding machines, is an angle grinder. Most welders own several. I have four. Angle grinders have powerful motors and spin at 11,000 to 13,000 RPM. They can be fitted with a thin abrasive wheel for easy cutting of steel, grinding wheels, several kinds of wire brushes, and flap discs for sanding. Angle grinders come in 4.0, 4.5, 5, 6, 7, and 8-inch sizes. 4.5 inch is the most common. The larger sizes are beasts that you only need if you’re a pipeline welder or building bridges. Welders learn that trying to manage with just one grinder doesn’t work because you’re constantly switching from cutting, to wire brushing, to sanding. You need several grinders. Fortunately, they’re not that expensive.
In this case, I was looking for the smallest grinder I could find that wasn’t a toy — one that wasn’t heavy and that I could easily operate with one hand. This “little” Makita fits the bill, has plenty of power, and I find myself using it a lot. I’ve used it in gritty welding environments and it has at least 50 hours on it grinding fiberglass and gel coat, which produces great clouds of abrasive dust. It still runs like new. Makita makes good stuff. Highly recommended.
Final note: People ask me if angle grinders can be used for buffing car finishes. The answer is no. Grinders spin way too fast for that.
Genuine Dremel brand rotary tools are a bit pricey. There are a lot of cheaply made Dremel-type tools on the market that are pretty much junk. I was looking for one that wasn’t junk and wasn’t so expensive, and found this one. I’ve been using it now for two years and it works great. It’s solidly made, has plenty of power, and has variable speed control built in. The only modification I made was to change out the original chuck for a Dremel brand collet chuck.
If you’ve been thinking of upgrading your lighting to LEDs, but have procrastinated, you’ve run out of excuses — all excuses. At one dollar per bulb, these LEDs are cheaper, without even considering their vastly greater lifetime and efficiency. These are 60 watt equivalent warm-white and they work great. I bought this box of 24 and have used 12, so far, replacing CFLs and one remaining 40 watt incandescent. These bulbs consume roughly half the electricity of an equivalent CFL and 1/8th the electricity of an incandescent.
If you’re familiar with modern countertop ovens, then you already know roughly what this is. Back when I used toaster ovens in the 1970s, I thought to myself why not make this larger, add even heating, accurate temperature control, and a fan to circulate the air inside? Then it ought to work like a real oven. That’s what this is and it works fantastically well. I’ve used mine almost daily for three years. My daughter and I have made a complete Thanksgiving dinner with a roasted turkey, baked yams, homemade pecan pie, etc., using just a stove and this oven. I’ve made cakes, meringues, countless pizzas (up to 13-inch), baked chicken, and casseroles. It does everything from toasting bread, to broiling steaks at 550 degrees F, to baking out my dehumidifier pouches at a precise 220 degrees. It does everything well. I’m still impressed with it.
After four years of hard use, my Samsung Note 4 finally developed serious problems. I buy dozens of second-hand phones that I use in hobby electronics projects, so I’ve handled and cracked open many over the years. I was always impressed by the Moto G phones. They seemed to be ruggedly built and had nice displays. In Mid-January 2019, I decided to go with the current top of the line, the Moto “G6 Play”. (There are three G6 models, each with different features and case sizes) Motorola has since introduced the new G7, but I’m perfectly happy with my G6. It’s every bit as good as my Note 4 that I spent a cool $990 on and it only cost $180. It’s certainly more rugged than the Samsung and it has a gigantic battery. I joke that the G6 is a big battery with a phone attached. At the end of a full day of work, the phone is still at 92 percent. There’s an optional TurboCharger that charges it super fast, but the standard charger is fast enough for me. The display is excellent. The 18:9 shape took a little getting used to. After using it for a while, I like the taller shape better than the more squarish Note 4. It also fits better in my pocket. So far, I don’t have a single complaint.
Not everyone needs a welding machine, but if you do I can certainly recommend this one. As of February 2019, I’ve been using mine hard for 19 months and have zero complaints about it. It runs on 120 or 240 volt power. On a 120V/20A circuit it will weld at up to 85 or 90 amps for short periods without blowing the circuit breaker. At lower current, you could weld indefinitely. On 240V power it delivers up to 160 amps, but I rarely run over 125A. I’ve run 5/32-inch E6011 electrodes at 140 amps just fine, but I mostly work with 1/8-inch rods.
It’s a DC-only inverter machine with an open circuit voltage under 50 volts. That means it will not run E6010 rods. (I’ve tried. 6010’s need 75 to 95 volts to run.) However it runs E6011 all day long, which is what I mostly use. I also run E7018, 7018AC, E6013, and hard-surfacing rods. The arc with this machine is very smooth and stable. It’s a pleasure to use.
The machine has a published duty cycle limit, but I’ve never hit it or even come close. With 1/8-inch electrodes, padding beads or hard-surfacing, I can burn rod after rod at 115 amps with no breaks and the machine never even gets warm.
The only negative thing I encountered happened as soon as I opened the box. The stinger (electrode holder) it comes with is useless and fell apart before I even used it. Spend 12 bucks on a good Hobart stinger and replace it right away. Then weld ’til the cows come home.
I recently wrote a blog post about portable electric heaters here.
I discuss different heaters and mention my personal favorite, which is this one.
As mentioned in the article, this heater used to sell under the Holmes brand for $190. I bought my first one at $139, my second one at $79, and now Walmart has them for $39. Chinese mass production has driven down the cost of quartz heating elements. I should mention that I didn’t buy the second and third as replacements. I use all three — one in a bedroom, one in the RV, and one in my basement workshop.
This was a product that surprised me, pleasantly. I wanted a washing machine for the RV because running to the laundromat is such a waste of time and expensive, too. I really had my doubts. A hundred bucks? This can’t possibly be any good. But I did my research, watched several videos on YouTube made by owners of this machine. They all seemed happy. I also know that millions of such machines are in use in Asia and Europe. There had to be something to this. I decided to try it.
Mine sits in the RV’s bathtub. I remove it to take a shower, then put it back. It works fine. The agitator does a good job. The spinner (centrifuge) removes water better than any ordinary washer except expensive front-loaders. Sometimes have to re-adjust the clothes to get a good balance so the centrifuge reaches high speed and extracts the water well.
To use a machine like this, there is some hand labor and attention involved in filling it with water, draining the water, and transfering the clothes from the agitator to the spinner. However, this is minor when compared to an expedition to the laundromat and wasting two solid hours, plus driving time. It’s also energy efficient. Total electric power consumption for a load is much less than an ordinary washer.
The clothes come out great and I think it’s fun to use.
This is another product that surprised me with its quality. Quality and price seem to be unrelated these days. It’s not a big drill press, just an 8-inch. I wasn’t looking for big, I was looking for precision. I certainly didn’t expect to find it for such a low price.
Specifically, I was looking for the lowest cost drill press that didn’t suffer from bad runout problems. Fortunately, there are people on the Internet who measure such things and publish their findings.
Quoting from Wikipedia: “Run-out or runout is an inaccuracy of rotating mechanical systems, specifically that the tool or shaft does not rotate exactly in line with the main axis. For example; when drilling, run-out will result in a larger hole than the drill’s nominal diameter due to the drill being rotated. In the case of bearings, run-out will cause vibration of the machine and increased loads on the bearings.”
You could also call it wobble or eccentricity. To achieve low runout, you have to use high quality bearings and they have to be mounted properly, rigidly, and properly aligned. As far as I’m concerned, this is the most important aspect of a drill press and the Wen excels here. My research led me to the Wen, which had a measured runout of less than a thousandth of an inch. I bought it and have been completely pleased. I would be equally pleased if it had cost twice what I paid, or even more. I measured the runout on mine with a dial indicator and it’s less than I can measure accurately. It’s less than 0.0002″, which is amazing.
Low-cost drill presses often have underpowered motors, but this one is adequate. I don’t think I’ve ever stalled it. If you’re looking for a decent drill press for around $80, here you go. I have a hard time believing they can make it for this price. It works fine on the 1/4 and 3/8″ thick carbon steel that I regularly drill and countersink, handling it effortlessly.
Disclaimer and Disclosure: I have no connection whatsoever with the manufacturers of these products. Amazon sells a ridiculous number of products and it’s often difficult to choose a good one. I buy a lot of stuff on Amazon, placing an order roughly every three days, so I run into some exceptionally good products and not-so-good products. My intent is to make people aware of good products that serve me well and show them by referring to Amazon’s presentation with photo, etc. If a sale results, I may receive some compensation from Amazon. However, nobody prompted me to do this and nobody tells me what to review or what to say. This is entirely my doing. In fact, Amazon isn’t even aware of what I’m doing here. Nor am I “married” to Amazon. I’ll recommend whatever I think is the best place to get it.