Teaching kids to cycle is a skill that parents are proud to pass on. But balancing on tubes slung between two rotating wheels for the first time is not easy at all. There would high pressure on kids to master bicycling basics quickly. And parents experience teaching stress and often back-breaking.

In fact, for the best result, you should transfer informal instruction to kids and let them learn through trial or errors. It is not necessary when you try to explain basic steps or have your children witness them in an order.

The unique technique that is highly appreciated in parents’ forums and blogs is Balance ride. This is the fastest way to encourage their kids to ride bicycle soon. Through it, teaching children to cycle more and more exciting and comfortable as well.

Let’s start discovering:

  • Getting ready to ride: In general, it is possible for you to teach a child to ride a bicycle at the ages from 3 to 6. At this term, they are able to use balance bike, too. It should be must-have for children to avoid any mental shocks from cycling. It could improve children
  • Choose the best balance bike 2015: with suitable design for your child can surely stand over the top tube and leave both feet on the ground. Being in the control of the bike anytime brings safety feeling to your kids.
  • Equip them with a bike helmet: Although you teach your kid through balance bike, a helmet is certainly required. It is because the helmet protects their forehead, eyes and brings safe feeling to them. You must choose the suitable size (not bigger or smaller much than their head).
  • Select where to cycle: a smooth place is ideal for kids to train. In addition, a traffic-free area is chosen to make children feel safe when training a bike. Smooth locations must be school blacktop, driveway, empty parking lot and park path. Your child could ride well if the place does not have tennis or basketball courts or stadiums. In big cities, it is difficult to find a good location for your kid to ride cycle because the traffic is very serious and there are not landscapes as well. You just only have your child work in the park.

  • Prepare the bike: Balance bikes are created in hope of letting your kids be familiar with balance status first. Afterwards, teaching them to ride pedal bike more easily because they can keep their bike in balance. It is very simple to modify a biking standard for children as well. There are different sizes of balance bikes so you must adjust the bike properly to fit your kids.
  • Set the saddle height following by handlebar height. The saddle height is adjusted to make sure that your child’s feet are flat on the ground and both knees have a slight bend in them when seating. Plus, it is necessary to set the handlebar height according to saddles setting. Kids are growing quickly every day thus you must modify their bikes monthly.

Now start to teach your kid how to ride balance bike

  1. Bring your child feeling of balancing it by scooting on a modified bike. Once adept at scooting the bike, kids can be challenged to pick up their feet and coast.
  2. By striding along aboard the bicycle, your kids will enjoy feeling of movement at their power. Let them stride to help them understand that they can lift their feet and change to the next step.
  3. Your kids will glide faster and longer when they become more confident. They get accustomed to ride balance bike, being possible to become focused on riding bike only. Hence, they could move their bike more quickly.
  4. When they reach the gliding step, you could change from balance bike to pedal bike. Pedal bike is not easier for child to run, thus you should look for something equipped with brakes front and rear.

After purchasing pedal bike, remove the pedals from it. Then take your child along with the balance bike to the smooth grass descent. Let them stride and glide down on their balance bicycle.

  1. Swap kids onto the new bike: ask them to stride and glide the bike down the slope in the same way. Also, ignore the pedal-less cranks for them to easily achieve. For first cycling steps, you must explain children that you are going to fit the pedals. But it is just another stride and glide. They could lift their feet off the land or grass, instead of holding them in the air.
  2. Keep your children practicing: that they could hold steps to ride a balance bike is not complicated. However, kids should take more time to practice this skill through the pedal bike to make sure of moving smoothly by riding bicycle.

During their time training, you could ask whether kids feel safe and comfortable or not. This is explained that your kid needs feelings of safety and convenience with the riding process. If needed, you could slow down the teaching process.

On giving the time for your child to adjust the saddle and making balance, they will find it easy and comfortable to keep on the process.

While teaching kids to ride the bike, it is very effective to talk and ask them about the safe emotion. If they do not feel comfortable, certainly you must let them take a rest.

The protect tool like helmet and knee pads are used to make sure that they do not have injure during bike learning. Nevertheless, if size of these tools is so small it could make your kids uncomfortable.

The fastest way to teach your kid to ride balance bike is to make him love this behavior. At first, kids could be afraid of the balance bike. It is very normal. Encourage and appreciate your kids as much as you can to ride the bike instead of forcing them. Spontaneously, your children are fond of the running bike and want to conquer it.


The first step was to cut two frames 28 by 48 inches

A customer recently asked for framing suggestions for his in-home card room. Since he is an avid collector of casino memorabilia, we had plenty of items to work with–but there was a challenge.

The den had a 3-foot ledge jutting into the room. I suggested an L-shaped gaming table replica, an unusual design that would adequately display his gaming treasures, such as playing cards and poker chips, while covering up the unsightly ledge He loved the idea immediately.

The first step was to cut two frames 28 by 48 inches (three sided only, leaving off one 48-inch rails. I used two layers of Framerica’s Boxer moulding (No. 92273), as well as a cap (No. 91273) for each frame. The next step was to join the Boxer layers (two No. 92273s, plus one No. 91273) of each of the rails together.

This design required me to miter the two frames together into an L-shaped shadowbox. I placed stops equidistant from each side of the blade of a compound best miter saw at 29 1/8 inches (the shorter outside dimension of the frames) Next. I cut two 28-inch rails at a 45 degree angle (with the back of the moulding laying on the bed of the saw). I then reversed the 45 degree angle on the miter sawone cut the other two 28-inch rails in the same manner. I joined all the rails of the L-shaped frame together using a combination of a v-nailer and nail gun and Corner Weld glue.

I cut one piece of Plexiglas at a time for each side of the L-frame. Since one abutted the other in the middle they were not exactly the same size. Plexiglas adhesive was used to attach the pieces at the junction. I then lined the shadow box with Crescent wheat (No. 8462V) mat board before cutting two 1/4-inch plywood boards to fit into the back rabbet of the frame.

Next, I cut and mounted the same color mat board onto the plywood backing boards and attached them together from the back using four L-brackets (screwed along the length),

The piece was ready for final assembly, Since the game board had a wooden back. I simply screwed it into position from behind. The collection of poker chips, card stacks, hotel key cards and do-not-disturb signs were attached to the card table and surrounding mat board using hot glue.

Finally, I fitted the mat package into the back rabbet of the frame and screwed it into place so that it could be accessed if necessary, I then covered the back of the frame with black mat board and applied felt stripping to the bottom of the piece to protect the display table, The project proved a lucky bet. My customer was completely thrilled with the outcome.

Revive Your Home’s Interior with Paint Spray Gun

spray painting house interiorThe use of paint called sprayed-on for impeccable finishing process of cabinetry and woodwork will always be difficult to beat as it makes the work’s piece really good and revived, as the painting surface and details can be perfectly noticed by the proper and right application of paint. But if you plan to use this method with small projects, for instance just a wall to paint, this painting method will most likely be inappropriate as its preparations, procedures, and cleanups are very broad and can be tough. Nevertheless, an airless paint sprayer will be the best paint sprayer if you want to achieve professional outcomes on walls and woodworks, but it’s not highly recommended for little items like a kid’s stool as consumer-type paint sprayers can do the job of painting it. If you don’t have an airless spray rig, you can always opt to rent one from paint supply stores or a construction rental store near you.

Prepare the area to spray

  1. You would not want unnecessary parts to be painted, so mask off everything—even the tiniest thing—that won’t be needing in the painting job. Remove unwanted objects around your spray area and put them at some where else to prevent over spray.paint masking
  2. Protect dividers and windows utilizing painter’s tape with an appended plastic drop fabric. Utilize painter’s tape that is sufficiently wide to totally cover carpentry in case you’re painting dividers.
  3. Remember to cover the floor by canvas, which are additionally accessible for rent.

Some basic step you should follow when spray painting

  1. Make sure to drain paint into a vast, clean plastic can or bucket . Do it through an affirmed paint strainer. This way you can make sure there will be no blobs that can obstruct the spray gun.
  2. You should protect your body and wear dispensable painter’s coveralls, safety glasses and a respirator. Safety is very important factor and you must not ignore it.
  3. After wearing protective gears, fill strained paint into paint rig and choose the right tip for the spray gun. The splash paint accompanies guidelines on the best tip to use for distinctive sorts of paint.
  4. To get the perfect coverage you have to test the spray first.Spray gun has different parttern for different kind of painting. You can change the pattern easily by its pattern control knob.Below is a picture that show you compositions of a spray gun.compositions of a spray gun
  5. Keep the spray gun 12 inches far from the painting surface. As mentioned before, the airless paint spray gun has two different pattern. If you want to spray side to side , use vertical pattern, horizontal pattern is for up and down.
  6. Apply overspray technique.This technique is all about timing. You trigger the gun quickly and start moving the gun before it hits the painting area, release the trigger before you about to finish the stroke then keep moving the gun a little more.
  7. Don’t be hasty. There is no need to be hurry when you’re painting. At the first coat, the surface is not fully covered but after 2-3 coats it will look just fine. So try to use more coat instead of spraying too thick in one time.

Materials and Tools

  • Airless paint sprayer
  • Paint
  • Paint thinner
  • Paint strainers
  • Large bucket
  • Painter’s tape
  • Canvas tarps
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator
  • Gloves

Few Tips and Reminders

  • Always remember using tape to protect the woodwork.However, in some case such as you’re painting on a new construction or a remodel, you can start spraying whether the wall has been taped off or not. But as I said, I highly recommend you to use masking tape. It’s just take you a little time to do and you’re good to go.
  • Strain paint with same color into one bucket.This will mix paints together and give you even tint if some of your paints has color a bit different than the others.

Warnings and Cautions

  • This is a big project so make sure you choose an approriate paint sprayer for the job.You can search on the Internet for review, buying guide. Some quality products that fit the project are Graco Magnum X7, Graco Magnum X5.
  • Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves to protect your hand or you may get injured by high pressure paint cutting through your skin.

Reasons To Have Best Chamber Vacuum Sealers

Vacuum sealers are very helpful to use for saving your food or other important accessories that must be kept save. My blog contain many such articles related to vacuum sealers that may help you to get the right sealers for your home.

  • Many people do not find it easy to have vacuum sealers with chamber beneficial for their home and they wish to get the easiest handled and lightweight thing for their home that will be easy for them to handle and also to use for home.
  • The chamber vacuum sealers are considered to be more comfortable and produce better result that can definitely benefit you and they are the most stable and long life holding vacuum sealers that produce goof packed bags to keep things safe and stored properly.
  • With the help of vacuum sealers with chamber, you may also pack liquid things like juices and wine.

Chamber Vacuum Sealers

These chamber vacuum sealers are known to be heftier and are built with the help of sturdier. These machines are different in shape among which the common is the box like one that is produced with the help of many strong materials that are hard to break. If they are cared properly so they may have long life and can be useful in many ways providing all the comfort to the users.

These are more costly as compared to simple vacuum sealers but by getting this model selected you save much of your money in repairing in future and also in replacing any item.  It provides different packing facilities to the user who prefer using it in their kitchen.

Portable Vacuum Sealers

The portable vacuum sealers are often not helpful if your packing needs are more frequently done. The best choice to select the vacuum sealers will be the models of chambers that are constructed well to packers that are done commercially. A bag is placed in this chamber that is helpful and is performing the main function. You may add with your hand several bags that may be helpful for using these chamber vacuum sealers. It will need less force to pack several different items for your use.

These chamber vacuum sealers are best to seal even liquids and any type of solid for your use and helps to keep it save for longer time as stated.

The mechanism of chamber vacuum sealers is more accurate and evenly distributed. Not only the bag but also the whole part and box are vacuumed out. The force is not seen only in bag but in whole areas. Liquids are also seen that can be packed accurately. And by doing this even the liquids are not spoiled and the life of such drinks can be increased.

There is modified extent of such vacuum sealers that are with the help of chambers. In the bag, you can modify the intensity by the help of these models and no guesswork is required and the environment provided is desirable and can be maintained easily when you want it to produce better results. These are the best way to increase the life of your product.

The results seen with the help of chamber vacuum sealers are more accurate and uniformly produced.

In such devices, the suction power or the bags are not manipulated manually. The result you achieve is uniformly produced and is more efficient one as well. No chances seen for wrong or errors if the first bag is done properly by keeping all conditions in mind and controlling the machines properly. It is easy to check for the things to get them done at the right time. It is very easy to use the vacuum sealers that contain chambers in it and produces better result than the ordinary ones.

You must have chamber vacuum sealers with you if you want to utilize your money that you have used in buying any vacuum sealers. They perform easy and quick work as compared to the lighter ones model. The material is long lasting and produces better and safe results. After getting use to of it, you may get this done quickly and in good easy manner. More bags will be easily produced by doing less work and that are beneficial for you and your family.

APS Home 60% More Energy-Efficient

A traditional home design from the past is helping to shape the home design of the future.

Designers of an experimental home being built in the Valley have taken a page from Western history in designing a new, energy-efficient home.

The experimental home was designed after the traditional Southwestern ranch-style house: It is long and low to the ground, with a double-pitched roof that allows for high-placed windows to provide shaded, energy-efficient ventilation and light.

The 2,600-square-foot home, which is under construction on an infill lot at 60th Street and Greenway Road, Phoenix, is a project of Arizona Public Service Co.

The APS Environmental Showcase Home was designed by Jones Studio Inc., Phoenix, in collaboration with APS and independent advisors.

Tom Hahn, project architect for Jones Studio, says that, like ranch-style homes of the past, the experimental home will have a low roof — much lower than the 24-foot-high roofs found on production-built homes today. Because the roof is lower, less external wall space is exposed to the hot Arizona sun, reducing the amount of energy needed for cooling.

Also incorporated into the design are large roof overhangs. The three-foot overhangs on the south side of the home will shade windows from direct sunlight, again lowering the amount of energy required to cool the home.

The design also includes a double-pitched roof that allows for two-foot-tall windows to be placed along the length of the home, he says. Called “clear story” windows, they can be opened to release hot air that has risen to the top of the 13-foot vaulted ceiling.

When those windows are opened along with the patio doors near the backyard pool, an extremely efficient natural cooling system is created, Hahn says.

The home also will be equipped with a high-efficiency combination heat pump/water heater, a solar water heater, photo-voltaic panels that turn sunlight into electricity, concrete block walls filled with insulating foam, and xeriscape, or low-water-use landscaping. Rain and water collected from baths, showers and the washing machine in the home will be used to water trees and shrubs.

The ranch-style design and energy-efficient appliances are expected to reduce the home’s energy use by 60 percent and its water use by up to 70 percent compared with a standard energy-efficient home, says Mark DeMichele, APS president and CEO.

“We will meet the remaining energy needs with highly efficient technology,” he says.

Another energy-saving element of the home is the choice of materials used in building it, he says.

“We very carefully selected materials that took less energy to produce, and are also using material that either have recycled content or were made from renewable resources,” DeMichele says.

The concrete and concrete blocks were made with fly ash from APS’ coal-fired Cholla plant, says Brent Gifford, APS project manager.

“We’re replacing up to 25 percent of the cement in the concrete with this by-product that would otherwise be in the waste stream,” he says. “By using fly ash, we’ve reduced the energy requirements of our home up front and reduced pollution, saved landfill space and reduced disposal costs.”

APS plans to study the effects the design and advanced technologies have on improving energy efficiency once the home is operating. The home has been under construction since February and is scheduled to be completed this fall. The home will be open for tours for three years and then will be sold.

Security Features Incorporated in Building Design

With concerns about crime on the rise, more and more building owners are turning to architects to solve their on-going security problems.

Building owners are asking architects to design structures that will inhibit crime and increase the safety of the business’ employees and patrons.

Home Design

“To maximize security, building owners and their tenants must consider the overall design of the buildings they occupy,” said Joe Salvatore, an architect and partner of Tempe-based Architekton.

Architekton is working with the Tempe police department to establish a program known as Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.

The program introduces the concept of “defensible space,” a term coined by architect Oscar Newman in the late 1960s. The concept resulted from a major research effort that examined crime prevention through building design.

There are four elements to the concept:

  • Territoriality involves defining the physical environment and encouraging residents or business owners to adopt proprietary attitudes, becoming responsible for the cleanliness and safety of the public spaces surrounding their property.
  • Natural surveillance addresses positioning windows, reducing blind spots and allowing for supervision of open areas so that building occupants can survey exterior spaces such as parking lots and garages.
  • Building forms should be adapted to avoid giving the perception that the occupants are vulnerable and isolated.
  • Compatible building placement enhances the safety of the occupants and locates compatible-use building types together.

“What this means for businesses is that owners and operators must do more than simply provide adequate lighting,” Salvatore said.

Design cannot only increase surveillance opportunities, but also can have a direct impact on criminal behavior, said Dick Steely, crime prevention officer for the Tempe Police Department.

“Positioning a building on a site where the windows are overlooking a parking area creates an opportunity for surveillance,” he said. A well-lighted parking lot can be a major inhibitor to a career criminal, Steely said. “To a criminal, a well-lighted lot means there is a possibility of being observed,” he said.

Tempe’s police department adopted the design principals and uses them as a guide when making recommendations to developers, architects, planners and property owners.

The police department has taken its own advice in the designing of a 26,000-square-foot substation, now nearing completion in south Tempe at Hardy and Carver roads.

Creating surveillance opportunities is a key element to the design program and certainly is no less important when designing a police station, said John Kane, architect and principal in charge of design for Architekton, which designed the station.

“Many program elements negated the need for a traditional building backside, thereby eliminating a potential major blind spot,” he said. “The three different entrances to the building serving the public, employees and patrol officers, create numerous opportunities for activity at building entrances and exits.”

While the design principals can be employed in the design of schools, residences, commercial buildings, neighborhoods or entire cities, it is becoming increasingly important to businesses of all sizes in helping to reduce owner liability, as well as to fight crime, Kane said.

Banks and gas stations or convenience stores have gone a long way to incorporate the safety design principals, Salvatore said. “Banks will position the head teller office so that all teller stations can be viewed,” he said. “Additionally, banks use electronic surveillance equipment and cameras to observe all interior and exterior areas of the building.”

Design of the banks’ interior includes visual reference points, allowing the camera to fix the height of potential robbers, he said. Automatic teller machines are placed in areas near busy streets, in well-lighted areas and with a low level of landscaping, he said.

In service stations and convenience stores, the cashier’s station is located so that all areas can be observed, which eliminates hazards.”

DVD players (part 2)


As with most home-theater equipment, the connection process can be rather complex. There are a few ways to hook up a DVD player. You can connect both video and audio directly to your TV, or you can feed audio only or both audio and video through your sound system’s receiver.

connect DVD player to TV

When hooking up a DVD player to a TV set, you’ll get the best picture quality using the component-video connection, followed by the S-video connection. Using the TV’s composite-video input will provide picture quality that’s a bit lower but still excellent. Most new TVs 27 inches and larger have all three connections, as did all the players we tested; use the best one available.

With an older TV that has only an antenna/cable input, you can try routing the DVD player through your VCR. If that won’t work, you’ll need an RF modulator (about $30), because DVD players don’t have an antenna/cable output. (See “Feeling Connected” on page 20.)

Audio is the other variable. For stereo sound, simply connect the DVD player’s analog-stereo outputs to your TV or receiver (or RF modulator, if that’s what you’re using). To feed multichannel DVD soundtracks to a surround-sound setup, connect the player to the receiver. For six-channel sound, you’ll need Dolby Digital or DTS decoders on either your receiver or your DVD player. However, most new receivers have both decoders, in which case you don’t need them on the player.

To use the receiver’s decoders, the DVD player must have digital-audio outputs that match the receiver’s inputs: coaxial to coaxial, or optical to optical. Most new receivers and many DVD players have both inputs, but some receivers and DVD players may have only one or the other. (See “Key Features” on page 24.) If you want six-channel sound, make sure a player you’re considering has outputs compatible with your receiver’s inputs.

In addition to playing commercial DVDs and CDs, all the tested units could play CD-R and CD-RW discs you record yourself. Most could also play the various types of recordable DVDs (DVD-R or DVD+RW, to name two). None could play DVD-RAM, though. A few models (noted in the Ratings) can accept the CompactFlash cards or Memory Stick media used in digital cameras or camcorders, enabling you to display still photos on your TV. Almost all can also play MP3 audio files on CD.

All the players we tested did a decent job of playing damaged DVDs, a consideration if you rent or borrow discs. A few, noted in the Ratings, were better than most with damaged CDs.

We don’t have enough data to report on brand reliability. But our latest reader survey suggests that DVD players have been about as reliable as CD players, which have historically needed few repairs.


For sheer performance, any of the models we tested would do a fine job. All were judged excellent for picture quality; sound with DVD players is consistently high quality as well. Your main decision is which type of player to purchase:

  • A standard single-disc player will get you the DVD experience at the lowest cost.
  • If you plan to use your DVD player for music CDs as well as movies, a multidisc model may be the better bet.
  • A progressive-scan player is the obvious choice for anyone who has an HD-ready TV because it will provide the best viewing. Paying a small premium for this type of player may also make sense if you’re thinking of buying a new TV within the next few years. HD sets will become less expensive–some 27-inch HD-ready sets are already as low as $800–so your next TV may very well be able to take advantage of the enhanced picture that a progressive-scan player offers.
  • Audiophiles may want a model that can play either SACD or DVD-Audio discs as well as regular DVDs and CDs.

While many players are basic black boxes, some design differences may figure into your choice.A number of the models we tested are silver-colored and some–such as the Samsung DVD-S222, Apex AD-2100, and Zenith DVB216–have mirrored fronts, which gives them a distinctive appearance.

In general, single-disc players are a bit thinner than changers with a five-disc carousel. The Sanyo DWM-380 was one of the smallest units overall, and the Pioneer DV-353-K and Panasonic DVD-RV32K were among the thinnest.

Here are a few models that are worth mentioning:

Standard single-disc

Toshiba SD-2800 DVD player

The Sharp DV-S1U, $100, is a fine choice that’s impressive for its low price. But note that it has only a coaxial digital-audio output. The Hitachi DVP325U and Toshiba SD-2800, $130 each, are excellent and modestly priced.

Standard multidisc

Samsung DVD-C621

All three players in this group are excellent. At $160, the Samsung DVD-C621 costs the least.

Progressive-scan single-disc

JVC XV-S502SL DVD player

The JVC XV-S502SL, $170, and Zenith DVB216, $150, are low priced for this type of player. The Denon DVD-1600, $500, has DVD-Audio playback and Dolby Digital and DTS decoders, but note that it has only an optical output.

Progressive-scan multidisc

Sony DVP-NC655P DVD player

The $250 Sony DVP-NC655P and the $200 Toshiba SD-3805 are both excellent and are moderately priced.

SACD- or DVD-Audio-compatible

Sony DVP-NS500V DVD player

The Sony DVP-NS500V, $300, is SACDcompatible; the Denon DVD-1600, $500, and Yamaha DVD-C920, $600, play DVDAudio discs. All are excellent; the Denon and Yamaha are progressive-scan units.

Key features

Here are a few of the features and specifications that may affect your choice of a player.

Coaxial and optical digital-audio output

Provides digital audio, in Dolby Digital or DTS (Digital Theater Systems) format, to a receiver for decoding. Make sure that the DVD player you’re considering shares at least one type of connection with your receiver.

Virtual surround sound

Mimics true multichannel audio using only two speakers rather than the five or six in typical home-theater setups. It sounds pleasing to some people but artificial to others.

Screen saver

A moving image that kicks in after a set duration of inactivity to prevent still images from burning into your TV screen. However, it won’t prevent long-term burn-in of the dark bands displayed while you’re watching letterbox-format movies.

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DVD players

“Forty-three million sold and climbing.” That may sound like an early McDonald’s slogan, but it’s got nothing to do with burgers. We’re talking about DVD players, the fastest-growing product in the history of consumer electronics. In the five years since their introduction, DVD players have found their way into one out of three U.S. households.

DVD Player

Several trends make a DVD player an attractive buy right now:

  • Prices have fallen sharply over the past year or two, with some players now selling for less than $100.
  • Even low-priced models can deliver the excellent picture and multichannel sound we’ve come to expect from DVD players, surpassing what you get with a VCR.
  • Features once limited to the priciest DVD players are trickling down to lower-cost models. Component-video outputs, which can provide the best-quality video signals to TVs with corresponding inputs, are more common than in the past. And more models let you play MP3 files on disc and CDs you burn yourself using a computer or CD recorder.

The sound and picture quality, extras such as director’s cuts and behind-the-scenes footage, and the growing body of DVD titles (21,000-plus at last count) have sparked sales of big-screen TVs and other home-theater gear that can make the most of a DVD player’s capabilities. Whether you’re in the market for your first player or ready to upgrade from your current model, here’s what you need to know.


For this report, we tested 26 models priced at $100 to $600. The simplest, least expensive models are standard players that accept one disc at a time–either a DVD or a music CD. The cheapest units may have fewer connections and features than higher-ticket players.

For $150 and up, you can get a multi-disc model, also called a changer. Most hold five discs, enabling you to play music discs back-to-back for long, uninterrupted listening sessions.

A step up from standard players are progressive-scan models, which now account for about half the models on the market. When connected to a regular TV, this type of player delivers the same high picture quality as a standard player. But when paired with a high-definition TV (HDTV), a progressive-scan player delivers a smoother, almost filmlike image–the next best thing to true HD.

progressive scan dvd player

Progressive-scan players have become steadily less expensive. Two years ago, the only progressive-scan unit we tested cost $700. Last year, the cheapest was $230. This time around, we tested progressive-scan players priced as low as $150. With the price gap between progressive-scan and standard players narrowing, it’s likely that progressive-scan players will become an even bigger factor in the market.

DVD recorders, which can record as well as play discs, start at about $700. We’ll report on them in our March issue.


Our latest tests found what we expected: Most DVD players do an excellent job. Every model in the Ratings had excellent picture quality when connected to a conventional TV. The progressive-scan models had even better picture quality when paired with an HD-ready set. The JVC XVS-502SL and Hitachi DVP725U displayed slightly less detail in progressive-scan mode than the other players of this type, but they were still outstanding.

You can expect any player to offer high-quality sound from typical DVD movie soundtracks, so we don’t score the players for audio. We found a few differences among the models when playing different types of CDs. Four players–the Sampo DVE-631CF, Apex AD-2100, Fisher DVD-SL30, and Sanyo DWM-380–played back some older commercial CDs with excessive treble. Five models–the same Sampo and the Samsung DVD-S222, Panasonic DVD-RV32K, Samsung DVD-C621, and Samsung DVD-P721M–couldn’t play hybrid Super Audio CDs (SACDs). Regular SACDs, which contain enhanced audio, require special players. Hybrid SACDs also contain a CD version that should work on any player.

We judged all but one model to be very good or excellent for ease of use. Our assessment included the remote control, console front panel, setup menu, and basic playback functions. The Zenith DVB211 scored a notch lower for ease of use chiefly because its console has only a few indicator lights and no alphanumeric display.

Some models have useful features such as the ability to program the playback order of DVDs, titles or chapters (movie sections), or a bookmark function to return to a place of special interest on a disc. A headphone jack is handy, especially for late-night listening. The Samsung DVD-S222 has two remote controls–the usual fully featured control, plus a small, simple one for performing the most-basic functions.

Read part 2.

Sitram adds categories

Cooking Items

Sitram North America plans to double its sales between Nov 1992 and Nov 1993 by expanding its product lines and introducing new types of products. The company just ended a marketing agreement with Kenwood Appliance and has opened a new plant in China, allowing it to change its product lines. For example, Sitram will introduce a 70-piece line of induction cookware and will unveil nonstick stainless steel cookware, electric pressure cookers, vegetable steamers and a number of other items.

The New Line of Products for Cooking

New Line of Products for Cooking

Three years after entering the U.S. market, cookware manufacturer Sitram North America wants to double sales over the next 12 months through expansion of existing categories and the addition of several new ones. Sitram’s largest foray will be in induction cookware, with the unveiling of the 70-SKU Centaure Pro Line, said Chris Boyhan, co-president of Global Marketing, the firm conducting Sitram’s North American business. Other new categories will be nonstick stainless steel cookware, electric pressure cookers, gadgets, bakeware, fish poachers and vegetable steamers.

Stainless Steel Items

Stainless Steel Cookware

New items will be rolled out at the International Housewares Show in January and the Gourmet Products Show in May. These will join several hundred existing stainless steel and enamel-on-steel nonstick cookware items, said Boyhan. Aimed at department and specialty stores, some items begin shipping in the first quarter.

Headed by Boyhan and partner Dick Howard, Global handles all of Sitram’s North American business. Sitram is a subsidiary of French-based Sitram Inox, which reported 1993 retail sales of $200 million at retail. More than 10 percent of Sitram Inox’s business was garnered by Sitram North America, said Boyhan. Both Boyhan and Howard own equity in Sitram North America.

Sitram North America’s heightened product focus is the direct result of its Nov. 5 termination of a four-year-old marketing agreement with Kenwood Applicance (HFD, Nov. 22, page 62) and establishment of additional factory in China. Sitram Inox also operates a plant in France.

The new facility will make gadgets, bakeware, woks, fish poachers and vegetable steamers and possibly other items, said Boyhan. Total SKUs in each aforementioned category has not yet been determined.

Electric Pressure Cooker Items

electric pressure cooker

With electric pressure cookers, however, Sitram has chosen four SKUs to provide the best electric pressure cooker for the market. Already available to Sitram’s European customers, they are “a logical extension” of what the company already offers in cookware, said Boyhan. Items comply with new European safety standards. Suggested retail prices will range from under $100 to $149.

The Perfect Combination Between Items

All Cooking ToolsSitram North America will also expand professional-quality cookware offerings with Centaure Pro. Utilizing an alloy combination of stainless steel, molybdenum and titanium, pieces employ the metal alloy necessary for quick, relatively heat-free induction cooking. Pieces can also be used on conventional rangetops, said Boyhan. Available to restaurants and consumers, suggested retail prices for the open stock stock pots, sauce pans and other items will range from $20 to $150.

In nonstick, Sitram will round out its offerings with a 10-SKU stainless steel line. Utilizing a DuPont coating developed for Sitram, the line joins an existing enamel-on-steel nonstick assortment also using a DuPont coating. Suggested retail price for an eight-piece set in the new line is $119.

Looking to add value in conventional stainless steel, Global will replace Sitram’s three 11-piece sets with 13-piece sets. Suggested retail price, however, will remain at $169.95. Additions include a double boiler an steamer insert. The three lines include one with a copper sandwiched bottom and one with an aluminum sandwiched bottom.


We probably will carry some induction cookware, although the market is limited. We will also add some other items because we like to carry a good selection in each category from numerous vendors.

Home improvements – Do it yourself or Have a Pro

With someone, home improvements can be their favorite actions changing from the smallest to bigger things in their household. It could take much time to complete the process and even consumption. However, for other opponents, they reach to a perfect home and want to hire a pro team for home improvements. According to them, this action requires different skills and knowledge to make an improvement. Based on two aspects, my article today will give some ideas for you easily to select whether you do it yourself (DIY) or hire a pro.

DIY home improvements is likely to be very rewarding, both in terms of saving money and the feeling of enjoy your accomplishment as you turn your living space into your dream house. DIY means that you have choose the right project with estimation amount of consumption of preparation steps. You have to make an attempt of time and effort as well to be not wasteful. It sometimes requires you to redone correctly as your design. Nevertheless, you could take combination of two ways. That sounds wiser to take into account costly permits and equipment rentals, transporting materials, insurance and the amount of time and so one. Leave it to the experts is seen as an advice.

Therefore, depending on the work which you should do it yourself and which you should have a pro do, you will have the best solutions.

Time and effort?

When it comes to the DIY way, it makes sure of saving you money but taking you a cost of time; certainly. Therefore, before considering whether you are able to do the project, it is essential to think about how much time you are available to finish it and remember that it is worth your time investment.

I just give an example if you want make improvement of your kitchen like replacing cabinets and countertops. You just do this project in weekends for availability. Thus, you need to definite that your kitchen could be inaccessible for weeks or even months until your improvement is done. Besides, you should prepare which be included into your DIY project, such as Polishing wooden floors – remaining many time to do. Or which should be completed right in a weekend, making you more comfortable to spread out time for DIY and more important things. For instance of wall painting, landscaping, and finishing a basement.

Plus, the materials could cost more than you think, so you could use the second way of reusing centers, including architectural salvage stores that help you save a short range of home improvement plans. It is obvious that you must take much time to prepare your home project in order to save on labor and money.

Risk to do it yourself?

Doing home improvements, it means that you will have risk of seriously injuring yourself or damaging your home. It is because these contain anything involving natural gas pipes and main electrical lines. Of causes, you do not want to cause any explosion, leading the house-burning. Therefore, in any cases you have to proceed with precaution, especially in works of electrical system. There are three projects to skip: repairs of roofing, gas appliance and asbestos removal.

Before doing some projects that cause greater risks to your home like electrical wiring or plumbing behind it, serious troubles. It is necessary to be beware of any projects that could affect the structural integrity of your house, like converting roof space and tearing down walls. More importantly, in works of home improvements, there will have some projects permitted to do. In this case, you need to hire a professional to complete it for you. You definitely find out what you are able to do it yourself and what is impossible.

For all reasons, knowledge of what you will do is seriously required. So, what’s more? Turn into the next item:

Knowledge, skill and equipment to have your house improved are very indispensable. To taking the process, you have to respond these following questions:

  • Steps to do when having your home improvements
  • Necessary tools (borrow or rent) to do
  • Skill and expertise is required to properly finish your project – what is necessary skill to do for each work
  • Learn precautions to avoid any risks of injuring you or damaging your home.

Get started with works to do it yourself?

  • You could start from small projects that you are confident. For example, you want to make improvements of landscaping. It is distinguished that you should use sunny summer days to figure out the suitable areas that you do your work properly. Landscaping of garden beds and borders is the most popular outdoor project and you could take more time to complete without worries about stopping some tools in your house like kitchen. Or a stark example of changing an electrical outlet before you rewire a room. Thus, small fixes such as replacing some parts in houses, installing new light fixtures can also often be upgraded in terms of function.
  • Divide your DIY of the project into partial parts because it could help you save more money. It is also considered which project suited your ability and which is not. Just complete the parts of the project that are labor – less required and outsource the rest. For example, you want to remodel your bathroom, you could have contractors hire for the plumbing and tile work; however do painting and several small fixtures yourself.

With everyone, home improvements are very necessary. There are many kinds of work to do it from mess to bigger project to complete. Depending on your ability and skill as well as knowledge, you could choose the way to have your perfectly improved. It could be DIY or Hire a Professional. Sometimes, enjoying feelings of renewing your home will be greater so, for handle work, you can do it yourself. However, to do anything, you always have to make sure that you are safe when taking your house improvements.

3,000 PSI gas pressure washer with quiet sense

Clean dirt riders

Unfortunately, many dirt riders live in close proximity to homes filled with non-off-roaders, and not every neighbor appreciates the sound of a gas-powered, post-race cleanup session every Sunday evening. Craftsman’s “Quiet Sense” technology was developed specifically for this kind of residential use, meaning its 3,000-psi pressure washer’s engine goes from full throttle to a low idle when the spraying is stopped, thus keeping those across the fence from complaining about our sport of choice.

Having used this pressure washer countless times in my own backyard, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s hardly any less noisy than a standard unit. Sure, the four-stroke Briggs & Stratton engine purrs along at a healthy but manageable volume, but the Quiet Sense technology–which I would put in the same category as “environmentally friendly” fuel cans that actually leak more than normal jugs–emits a startlingly loud lean pop when you shut off the trigger. Every. Single. Time. So, instead of thinking that I’m operating a pressure washer, my neighbors have good cause to imagine that I’m operating a slightly-quieter-than-normal pressure washer with one hand and a Ruger 10/22 long rifle with the other (clearly, my suburban neighbors know nothing of recent ammo shortages).

The operation

The other downside to the Quiet Sense technology is that the Craftsman unit can be difficult to start if you let it cool while soaping up a bike prior to the rinse cycle. The operation of this pressure washer is supposed to be simple (flick the on/off button to “on” and pull the starter cord), but I found that you sometimes have to override the unit by manually holding the choke valve open. These are the moments in which I cursed Craftsman for trying to outsmart itself.

  • On the plus side, this pressure washer does idle nicely following the ubiquitous post-spraying pop, and once running it hums right along and doesn’t stutter, bog, or bobble–you can keep the trigger mashed for as long as you need. The Craftsman is also incredibly fuel efficient; you can even load it in a van or truck bed on its side, back, front, or wheels, and it won’t leak fuel.
  • The 30-foot hose is a great length for getting around two or three bikes without moving the actual washer, but it’s made of a low-quality plastic compound that binds up and doesn’t coil very easily. The onboard selector nozzle is a cool feature, as it allows you to easily change tips and settings.
  • I mainly stuck with the “general” setting when doing bikes and boots, but there are also settings for “soap” (great for spraying engines and linkage), “delicate” (not really that delicate), “flush” (good for washing dirt off of the driveway), and “maximum” (in case you need to rip a hole in time-space). I could do without the manual safety switch on the spray wand’s trigger, though you get used to it after multiple uses.

One big plus to the Craftsman setup is that this unit has shown no signs of erratic leakage, spraying from joints, or odd drips that typically plague most pressure washers. All in all this is a decent pressure washer, and it functions well enough to justify the price, but I could do without all the “Quiet Sense” hype.

You can proceed with the more routine tool maintenance practice

Keeping your chisels and plane irons

sharp is not the chore that most woodworkers make it out to be. Think of it as just another setup procedure. Just as you would set up any machine before you use it (i.e., install the proper cutter, set the depth of cut, position the fence), you should prep your hand tools before you start cutting wood. If you make it a habit to touch up a tool every time you use it, the time involved will be minimal.

The Shape of the Edge

  • You know the old adage about using the right tool for the job; it’s also important for the tool you grab to have the right type of cutting edge. Chisels and plane irons are shaped like wedges to provide the mass needed to withstand the resistance against the wood.
  • The cutting edge is the apex of the wedge, and the slope of the two surfaces that meet at the apex is the included angle. A steeper angle means a sturdier edge, but also increases the resistance. The ideal shape for a cutting tool is a wedge that is as thin as possible, but thick enough to support the edge.
  • The best way to achieve this happy compromise is to have two different bevel angles on the tool: a primary bevel angle that is low enough to allow for minimal resistance as the blade severs the wood fibers, and a steeper secondary bevel right at the edge to give it additional strength.
  • The secondary bevel needn’t be very wide; therefore it will only need a few strokes on a whetstone to quickly restore the blade to razor sharpness.

These “ideal” wedge shapes will vary according to which direction you will be cutting relative to the grain. It’s easiest to cut across the grain; parallel to the grain requires almost twice as much force and cutting end grain takes nearly six times. Obviously, you can’t be grinding a new included angle for every cut. To get around this, most woodworkers find it useful to have two sets of chisels: paring chisels with a primary bevel of 20 degrees to 25 degrees for cutting parallel and across the grain, and thicker-bladed mortising chisels with steeper bevel angles of 30 degrees to 35 degrees for end grain cuts. Both of these tools may have a secondary bevel that is as much as 5 degrees steeper.

The Sharpening Process

Even a tool that’s fresh out of the package will need a bit of fine-tuning. Most manufacturers grind a general-purpose bevel on the steel but leave it up to you to make it sharp. If you’ve never done this, or have otherwise neglected your edge tools, you can still bring them up to cutting speed.

When dealing with a new chisel or plane iron, first strip off any lacquer that has been applied to the steel with mineral spirits or lacquer thinner. Be careful not to remove any finish from the handle. On a rusted old tool, use naval jelly and a stiff wire brush to remove any corrosion. Rust will forever eat away at your tool, creating pits that will ruin its performance.

Once you’re down to the bare steel, you can proceed with the more routine tool maintenance practice: the tasks of grinding, honing, and polishing.

Nose to the Grindstone

If you hone and polish regularly, you will only occasionally find it necessary to regrind. However, if the edge is badly nicked or out of square, you’ll need to grind the blade before you do anything else. Although you could grind the bevel on a coarse whetstone, it’s a slow process, especially if you’ve nicked the tool on a nail or dropped it onto a cement shop floor. The job will go faster with a hand-powered grinding wheel or, better yet, a bench grinder. See “Grinders, Friction, and Steel” on page 95 for additional information on getting good results with this machine. To remove nicks and square the end of the blade, set the tool rest so that it is perpendicular to the grinding wheel. You will be blunting the edge drastically, but at this point what matters most is grinding away the chipped-out areas and creating a square, true edge. Use a small square to check that the end of the blade is perpendicular to the side. For best results, clamp the tool in a guide that will hold it at 90 degrees. I have a tool rest made by Veritas that secures the tool in a holder, which slides in a slot in the tool rest, allowing you to pass the tool back and forth across the wheel with perfect control.

Once the nicks are gone, reposition the tool rest so that the tool meets the wheel at the appropriate primary bevel angle. Grind the bevel until it meets the face of the tool, eliminating the flat you created in the previous step. Once again, make sure the end is square to the sides.

Many woodworkers prefer the concave bevel created by the arc of the grinding wheel. They simply hone a secondary bevel on this hollow ground surface. Others feel that a hollow grind weakens the edge, particularly on mortise chisels and especially if the wheel is less than eight inches in diameter. I like a hollow ground bevel on my paring chisels, but on plane irons and mortise chisels I hone the bevel flat on a coarse whetstone after grinding it to rough shape.

Look Sharp So far we’ve just been shaping the blade. Honing and polishing really start to make the edge sharp. Think of an edge as the beginning of nothingness. It’s the point where two surfaces converge and disappear, where two planes intersect and, because of their relative angles, cancel each other out. Any scratches or pits in these planes will interrupt their smooth encounter, ending it abruptly. The meeting of the bevel and the face of the tool steel will be, to put it bluntly, dull. This is why honing and polishing are so essential to maintaining sharp tools.

Your objective is to remove scratches from those two intersecting surfaces. Start with the face of the tool, the side without the bevel. Most chisels and plane irons come from the manufacturer with visible grinding marks on the face. Deal with these as you would with scratches on a wood surface; remove them using progressively finer grits of abrasive, only use whetstones instead of sandpaper.

There are two basic types of whetstones: oilstones and waterstones. Oilstones require three-in-one oil, kerosene, or mineral oil to float the metal particles above the surface and prevent clogging the pores. I prefer waterstones because they cut faster and are easier to flatten than oilstones. However, they’re easier to gouge and must be protected from freezing.

You’ll need stones of several grits, starting with 220 and progressing in three or four stages up to 8,000-grit. Double-sided combination stones with two grits are a good, economical investment.

Don’t lap the whole face of the tool, just the area nearest the cutting edge. Start with your coarsest stone and stick with it until you’ve removed all the grinding marks, replacing them with scratches from the whetstone. Progress through each grit, using it to remove the scratches left by the previous stone. Move the tool about, using the whole surface of the stone so you don’t wear it unevenly.

No matter how careful you are, though, you will eventually need to flatten a stone; regular honing will wear a hollow in the center. Flatten the stone by abrading it on a truly flat surface. To do this, affix a piece of 120-grit wet-or-dry sandpaper to a machined surface such as a table saw or jointer table using double-sided carpet tape, or use Carborundum powder and water on a piece of 1/4″ or thicker plate glass. Rub the stone in a circular motion, then check the surface. The high spots will be scratched a different color; when the whole surface is evenly scratched, the stone will be flat.

Getting a Grip

Honing the bevel without a guide takes patience and practice. Grip the blade in the palm of your hand with your first two fingers behind the bevel and your other fingers wrapped around it. Set the bevel down on the stone and rock it somewhat to get a feel for how it sits on the stone. The tricky part is stroking the steel on the stone without rocking it as you go back and forth. It helps to listen to the scraping sound; the tone will be harsher and more pronounced when the heel of the bevel or the tip is rubbing. When the bevel is in full contact with the surface of the stone, it glides. You’ll feel less resistance and the sound will be softer.

The job is easier and the results more dependable when you use a honing guide. These devices roll on the whetstone and grip the chisel or plane iron at an angle determined by how far the tool projects from the guide. Try not to put a lot of pressure on the roller; it’s just there to support the blade at the proper angle. Instead put pressure directly on the bevel, especially during the pull stroke.

Use your coarsest stone to flatten the primary bevel. When you proceed to the next grit, tip the tool up a few degrees to create the secondary bevel. This is the part of the blade you will concentrate on whenever you touch up the edge. It needn’t be wider than 1/16″. Just a few strokes with each grit should be enough to polish it to a mirror finish. When it becomes as wide as one-third of the primary bevel, it’s time to reshape the primary bevel.

As you hone both sides of the tool, smoothing each surface into nothingness, a wire edge will develop. Don’t break it oil,, it might tear back into the steel, creating a jagged edge. Instead, polish it off on a wooden strop (a flattened block of hardwood charged with chromium oxide honing compound). Draw the tool toward you for just a few strokes to remove the thin line of steel and put on that final shine. Now your tool will cut cleanly and effortlessly.

Taking the time to hone that cutting edge just as soon as you lift a tool out of the drawer will not only make it cut better but also make it easier to control and therefore safer to use. When you consider that chisels are the number two injury-causing tool in the woodshop (after the table saw), it makes you want to work with a tool that will do what you expect it to, rather than fight–and possibly bite–you. What’s more, honing an edge each time you use it will keep the process short and simple. You won’t have to spend so much time and energy grinding and polishing if you just do a little at a time–every time.


For a complete selection of whetstones, honing and grinding guides, honing compounds, and other sharpening accessories, contact Garrett Wade at 800-221-2942.

I recommend The Complete Guide to Sharpening by Leonard Lee (Taunton Press, 1995) for the most comprehensive reading on the subject of sharpening all woodworking tools, including carving and turning tools, handsaws, axes, drills, scrapers, and power saw blades.

Grinders, Friction, and Steel

A spinning grindstone on a bench grinder generates a lot of friction very quickly, which is manifested as heat in your tool steel, but applying too much heat to a blade can easily ruin it.

Chisels and plane irons are made of carbon steel–iron with a small percentage of carbon added to it. Iron by itself is relatively soft. By adding carbon while it is melted, the resulting alloy is much more durable. Heat is also applied at every other stage of the process. The results are determined by controlling the temperature and the rate of cooling. A carbon steel tool blank is heated to a critical temperature and then cooled very gradually in a process known as annealing. Annealing transforms the steel, softening it so it can be shaped by forging. Heating it again to critical temperature and then cooling it a bit faster, called normalizing, relieves the stresses of stretching, bending, and compressing that were introduced during forging and hardens the steel enough that it will retain its shape. This is the point in the manufacturing process where the maker refines the shape and grinds the basic bevel. Applying heat a third time and then cooling it relatively quickly tempers the tool, making it hard enough to retain its edge.

Reshaping a tool or grinding a new bevel with patience and a coarse whetstone or a hand-powered grinding wheel will not generate enough friction to overheat the steel. But if you use a bench grinder, you run the risk of heating it to the point where you draw the temper. Once you’ve done this, the steel will be too soft to retain an edge. No matter how diligently you hone and polish the face and bevel, you’ll dull the cutting edge as soon as you use the tool.

Grind with a light touch, and remove material slowly. Hold the tool close to the edge, and when you feel it getting warm, pull it away from the wheel and let it cool. Some woodworkers dunk their blades in water as they grind, but this can cool too quickly, introducing small cracks in the steel. It’s better to lay the steel on another metal surface and let this draw out the heat.

If you have gotten the tool too hot, you’ll know you’ve drawn the temper if the steel turns blue. This blue area is annealed steel; to fix it, grind away the blue steel, being certain you don’t just keep softening it as you go. Once you’ve gone through this process and re-established the bevel, you’ll have the grinding expertise necessary to avoid creating the problem again in the future.

Rip and crosscut each board to rough size and edge joint each

There was a time when a blanket chest would be found in just about every home. In the days before built-in closets, these chests were used to store clothing, linen and blankets. Today, even though closets are found universally in homes, blanket chests are becoming popular again, not only because of their practicality, but also because of their beauty. And they seem to go well with the trend of people spending more time at home and wanting their homes to be cozy and warm.

Our cherry blanket chest features a traditional design that mill fit comfortably in all but the most contemporary of settings. It’s lined with aromatic cedar, and its roomy storage drawer is sturdily constructed with handcut dovetail corners.

As a shop project, it’s appropriate for a woodworker of intermediate skill. To build the chest, you need basic shop tools: a table saw, router, band saw or jigsaw and hand tools. And as far as finishing is concerned, we kept things as simple as possible. We used a basic oil finish to give the chest a warm glow and a silky feel.

Building The Chest

Rip and crosscut each board to rough size and edge joint each. Then, lay out the boards for each panel and mark the location of joining plates 6 to 8 in. between plate centers (Photo 1). Place the boards on a flat surface and cut the plate slots (Photo 2). When laying out the boards for the chest front, rip and joint one board to 5 1/2 in. wide. You will cut the drawer face and the panel pieces that are at both ends of the drawer face from this piece. Cutting these pieces from one board produces a continuous grain pattern across the panel and the drawer.

Apply glue to the joining plate slots, plates and board edges, then clamp the assembly (Photos 3 and 4). After 20 to 30 minutes, scrape off the glue that has squeezed out. Allow the glued assembly to cure. Use a cabinet scraper to smooth the panel surfaces.

Rip and crosscut the panels to finished size, and cut the rabbets and dadoes. We used a router, straight bit and edge guide to make these cuts (Photo 5). There are two things to be aware of: First, test the router setup on some scrap before making the cuts. Second, note that the grooves on the front and back panels that seat the poplar shelf are stopped short of the panel ends. If the grooves extend to the panel ends, they’ll be visible after the box is assembled.

Do a test assembly first, and sand or plane any joints that fit too tightly. Proceed with the assembly in stages. Join the shelf and sides to the front panel (Photo 6), apply as many clamps as needed to pull the joints tight, then let the glue set. Remove the clamps and install the back panel. Again, use plenty of clamps to pull the joints tight.

  • Next, rip and crosscut the blocking, drawer compartment side guides and bottom runners from poplar. Invert the chest and glue the blocking in place (Photo 7). Then, install the side guides by gluing them to the blocking and the underside of the shell. Glue and screw the bottom runners to the side guides (Photo 8).
  • To apply the pieces of cedar closet lining, begin with the poplar shelf. Cut the cedar boards to length, apply a bead of panel adhesive on each piece and slide it into position.
  • Proceed up each side, and rip the last board 1/16 in. wider than required. Use spring clamps to maintain a tight joint between the cedar and the cherry on this last piece. After the adhesive has cured, plane the cedar flush to the cherry. Next, bore the pilot holes through the lining and into the chest for the lid support. Install the support after the chest is finished.

Cut the panel for the chest lid to finished size, and use a 30[degrees] chamfer bit in the router to cut the profile around the lid.

Next, use a hacksaw to cut the piano hinge to length. Bore 1/6-in.-dia. pilot holes for the mounting screws, then bore the pilot holes for the lid support. You will eventually attach the hinge to the lid and the lid to the chest, but don’t actually install the hinge and lid until the chest is attached to the base. The chest must be inverted to mount the base, and this will be easier if the hinge and lid have not been installed.

Making The Base

Rip stock for the chest base to finished width, and crosscut it slightly overlength. Use an ogee bit (Bosch No. 85271M) in the router table to cut the molded edge at the top of each piece (Photo 9). We recommend using the router table for this operation, as opposed to routing freehand. Cutting the molded edge with the router table ensures that the edge will be uniform along its length and will match perfectly at the mitered ends.

Cut the joining plate slots for No. 20 plates in the mitered ends of the base parts (Photo 10). Lay out and cut slots for No. 0 joining plates to form the joints between the base sides and the cleats. The smaller plates are used here to avoid cutting through the molded edge at the top of the base.

The next step is to cut the base parts to shape on the band saw. Carefully remove the saw marks on the curved areas using rasps and sandpaper (Photos 11 and 12).

Dry clamp the entire base assembly before using glue. Check that the assembly is square, and make any necessary adjustments. Apply glue to the mating edges of the front and back base pieces, the base cleats, the joining plate slots and the plates themselves. Clamp the front and back base pieces to the base cleats (Photo 13). After the glue has set, clamp the end base pieces to the base cleats. It may be difficult to align the miter joints, so apply pressure with clamps from two directions if necessary.

Sand both the chest and base with 120-grit sandpaper, then invert the chest and position the base over it. Adjust the base to provide an even 1/8-in.-wide reveal on all sides, and make a series of counterbored pilot holes through the cleats and into the blocking next to the drawer compartment. Screw the base to the chest (Photo 14).

Drawer Construction

And Finish

Rip and crosscut the drawer parts to size. Next, use a marking gauge to scribe a baseline on both ends of the drawer side, both ends of the back and both ends of the drawer front (Photo 15).

Lay out the dovetail spacing on the drawer sides using a dovetail template or sliding bevel gauge (Photo 16). Mark the waste areas to prevent cutting in the wrong area.

Clamp both drawer sides together, and make the cuts with a dovetail saw (Photo 17). You should stop the cuts at the baseline.

Next, clamp each side to the workbench, over a piece of scrap, and use a sharp chisel to remove the waste between the dovetails (Photo 18). Alternate vertical and horizontal cuts and chop only halfway through the board, then turn over the drawer side and complete the cuts. Approach the scribed baseline in stages and finish by placing the chisel in the scribe mark to make the final cut.

Put the drawer back vertically in the bench vise and place a drawer side over it. Trace the outline of the dovetails using a sharp knife. Also mark the pin cuts on the drawer face with a knife (Photo 19). Use a square to extend the scribed lines down the drawer face and the back of the face. Clamp the drawer back in the bench vise, and saw down to the baseline along each angled mark. Then, chisel out the waste between the pins.

Clamp the drawer face in the vise and hold the saw at a sharp angle to start the cuts for the pins (Photo 20). Cut only as far as the layout lines, then use a sharp chisel to remove the waste. Test fit each drawer joint (Photo 21). It should be snug, but able to slide together with gentle mallet taps. Pare with a chisel to loosen tight spots.

Use the table saw and dado blade to cut the groove for the drawer bottom in the sides, front and back. Sand the inside of the drawers with 120- and 220-grit sandpaper, but do not sand the joint surfaces. Dust off the surfaces thoroughly.

Use a small glue brush to apply glue to the drawer joints, then join the face and back to a side, slide in the bottom and install the other side. If the joints fit properly, clamping should not be necessary. Cheek the assembly for square, and adjust as necessary.

After the glue has dried, test the drawer in its opening, then patiently sand or plane to eliminate any tight spots. Install the drawer pulls.

Finish sand the chest with 220-grit sandpaper, and remove the dust with a tack cloth. We used three coats of Watco Danish Oil to finish the outside of the chest. Apply the oil with a rag or brush, let it soak in for 30 minutes, then wipe it off. After drying overnight, repeat the process. Apply a third coat the same way, and when it has dried, buff it with 4/0 steel wool and polish the chest with a soft cloth.

Finish the underside of the lid, the drawer compartment and the drawer with a quality paste wax. The cedar is left unfinished. Install the lid, the lid support and the drawer pulls.

Thickness planer turns rough lumber into smooth pieces

The thickness planer is one of those power tools that have come down in price over the last few years. For as little as $300, it can become a part of the avid do-it-yourselfer‘s workshop.

Most major tool manufacturers produce a machine for home use. Sorting through the fine points of each model can be daunting, but before we get to what’s available, here are some things to think about.

Say you are building a table. You go to the lumberyard and buy several boards that look exactly alike, but when you get home, you discover that the thickness of each is slightly different.

The machine will plane each board to the desired thickness.

You can use the machine to turn rough lumber into smooth pieces _ for example, leftover wooden scaffolding into pieces for that table.

The more cuts, or passes, the smoother the wood will be.

Second, do you really need a thickness planer?

Every purchase for your workshop should be cost-effective. The rule of thumb is to never buy a tool on impulse, because it is bound to end up collecting dust.

Third, what features should your thickness planer have?

The depth of the cut is determined by adjusting the height of the planer table. You feed the wood in, and the machine grabs it and moves it through the planer and out the other end.

In the old days, the quality of the work was determined by the skill of the user. Self-feeding models have leveled the planing field.

Most thickness planers designed for home workshops handle lumber up to 13 inches wide. These are considered “small” machines, portable (though some require two people to lift), and able to fit on a bench top.

(Stationary planers _ most are designed for professionals _ can run $1,000 or more. However, you can always buy, at reasonable cost, a steel table for your portable version.)

The length of the wood you can plane is limited only by the size of the work area and the number of roller extensions you have on hand to help keep the piece moving smoothly.

Here are some of the products available for under $500, listed by manufacturer. I’ve included only the ones I’ve seen or was allowed to try out at last summer’s hardware show and this year’s builders’ show.

List prices are given, but you can get deals, rebates and extras by shopping around. There are some really good deals on all power tools on Web sites such as Amazon.com; www.toolking.com, which sells factory-reconditioned tools; and www.coastaltool.com.

Make sure you have protective ear wear, because the noise is intense. You also need safety glasses, and may want to investigate a dust-collection system for your planer, some of which come with dust ports.

_Delta. The company’s 22-580 two-speed, 13-inch-width planer handles pieces with a maximum thickness of 6.5 inches and a minimum of [ inch. Maximum depth cut is 1/16 inch on a 13-inch board. Feed rate: 20 to 30 feet per minute. $449.


The ShopMaster Model TP300 12-inch-width planer goes for $293. It handles stock 6 inches to 3/16 inches thick, with a maximum 3/16 cut depth and a 26.2-feet-per-minute feed rate.

The TP400LS 12{-inch width goes for $440. It handles stock 6 inches to [ inch thick, with a maximum 3/32-inch cut depth and a feed rate of 26 feet per minute.

For information, go to www. deltamachinery.com; 1-800-438- 2486.

_DeWalt. The company’s 12{-inch portable planes from [ to 6 inches thick, has a 3/16-inch maximum cutting depth and a 27-feet-per-minute feed rate. Price: $349. Information: www.dewalt.com; 1-800-433- 9258.

_Jet. The 708521 JWP-12DX 12{-inch handles thicknesses from 6 inches to 1/16 inch, has a maximum depth of 3/32 inch, and a 26-feet-per-minute feed rate. Price: $499. Information: www.jettools.com; 1-800-274- 6848.

_Ryobi. The Ap12 12 5/16-inch precision surface planer has a maximum depth of [ inch and a feed rate of 26.2 feet per minute. Price: $390. Information: www.ryobi.com.

_Craftsman. The 13-inch planer has a maximum depth cut of 3/32 inch and maximum thickness of 6 inches. Price: $439. A 12-inch bench-top model is $299. Information: www.craftsman.com.

A ‘top 10 questions’ list about microwave oven

By LUCILLE CHAPLAN SANTA BROUGHT a lot of microwave ovens this year whose owners need information. These are 10 of the questions I get most frequently.

The first two go together.

1. How does the oven cook so fast?

2. Doesn’t it use a lot of power?

Microwave ovens cook fast because all the power is used to cook the food. Other systems work indirectly. Regular ovens heat the air in the cavity and keeps it hot until the food is cooked, which can take a lot of time and power. Stove-tops heat the food in the bottom of the pot, primarily, although some heat eventually reaches the food at the top. This uses less power, but may need stirring for even cooking and/or fat to prevent scorching.

Microwaves don’t heat the air or the pot – instead, they make the liquid molecules in the food vibrate and rub together. Since friction causes heat, very little power is needed to cook the food quickly with no scorching or sticking and very little stirring. The microwaves penetrate about of an inch. After that, the heat spreads inward by conduction.

Microwave cooking uses about 25 per cent of “conventional” cooking time and power, although some foods cook much faster than that.

3. But is it safe? What about microwaves in the food and in the oven?

Microwaves are like sound and light waves. All these non-ionizing rays share certain properties. One is that when you turn them off, they’re gone. Since all microwave ovens must have at least two automatic switches which will turn the power off before the door can be opened, your microwave oven is very safe. A leading authority on radiation, James Van Allen, said recently that your chance of being harmed by a microwave oven is rather less than your danger of burning your skin by moonlight.

4. I have no microwave dishes. What must I buy?

I tell new owners that they probably have most of the microwave-safe dishes they will need. They can buy extras to fill in the gaps when they know what they want.

All non-metallic hardened glass and most oven-safe dishes are safe in the microwave. Many regular dishes and bowls can also be used in the microwave.

oven safe dish

Microwave-safe plastics come in many sizes and shapes. You may also decide to buy a specially made “browning dish.” The bottom will get very hot in your microwave oven, and it can be used to “broil” steaks or chops, and to crisp fish cakes or frozen pizza.

5. How can I tell if my dishes are microwave-safe?

Dishes with any metallic trim (gold or silver) cannot be used in the microwave. There will be sparks (“arcing”) between the metal and the sides of the oven which are also metal (although they may be covered with paint or plastic). Arcing can damage the sides of the oven.

A dish without metal can be easily tested. Set it in the oven with a glass full of water. Heat at full power for a minute and a quarter.

The water in the glass will be warm. If the edges of the dish are cool, it is safe for microwave cooking. If the edges are a little warm but the dish is still cool, it can be used for heating food but not for prolonged cooking, particularly of very fat or sweet mixtures. If the dish is hot, some substance in either the dish or the glaze attracts microwaves, and it should not be used in your oven.

Never put lead crystal in the microwave oven.

6. Can you use paper in the oven?

Microwaves go through paper like light going through a window. Most paper can be used in the microwave.

The exceptions are: newsprint (the ink is metallic), dark-colored paper towels or plates (the dye can come off on the food) and recycled paper. If your paper towel or plate develops brown spots, it is recycled paper which may have metal particles in it, which will burn holes in the paper.

Do use: Paper plates for heating sandwiches or single portions. (If the food is moist, use coated paper.) Paper napkins and towels. There are both porous and absorbent. Because they are porous, they let steam through, so bread or rolls are less apt to get soggy. Because they are absorbent, they are great for jobs like cooking bacon. (See your cookbook for instructions.) Clear plastic wrap is not porous. Because it will contain the steam, it can be used as a lid when food must be covered.

Wax paper can be used as a loose cover when steaming is undesirable. Chicken and turkey can be “tented” with wax paper to prevent spattering the oven.

7. You can’t use aluminum foil, can you?

aluminum foil wrap food

Except for the racks made for the oven, foil is the only metal you can use. But it reflects microwaves away from the food, so you use foil if one part of the food is cooking too fast – for example, the legs of a chicken.

8. Can you defrost food in the microwave oven?

You can, but follow the instructions in your cookbook because different ovens have different types of defrost cycles. Until you know how efficient your oven cycle is, check the food often to make sure the outside is not getting warm. If it is, let the food stand for a while, and you may want to continue defrosting at a lower level. If only one spot is getting warm, you can cover that spot with aluminum foil.

9. What is “standing time”?

Microwaved foods get so hot that they will continue cooking after the power is turned off. Microwave recipes are planned so that the food will finish cooking during the standing time. When checking to see whether it is done, remember that it will cook more during standing time. Vegetables, for example, must be taken out when they are barely crisp-tender if you don’t want soggy vegetables.

A good microwave rule is: Always check the food before you think it can be finished cooking. You can always put it back, but you can’t un-cook.

10. What is the most important rule for the new microwave cook?

Use the manual that came with the oven to learn how it works.

Don’t try to absorb the whole book before you start microwaving, but before you try a new dish, read the rules for that type of food. If you can find a recipe similar to your own, it will give you an idea of the proper cooking time as well as tips on stirring and covering and the proper power level.

If you put a glass of water in the oven, you can try the different controls – the oven should not be turned on with no food or water in it.

If your microwave store or manufacturer offers a free class, try to take it. You will see what the oven can do and pick up valuable tips. But don’t expect to learn all about microwave cooking in two hours. A series of lessons would help your confidence.

If you ignore the cookbooks and rely on your “common sense and cooking experience,” you can waste a lot of food and even wind up with a very expensive warming oven.

But don’t get discouraged. Our microwaved holiday turkey dinner took less than three hours of cooking time, and included turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, a sweet-potato casserole, and a rum-and-raisin cake with rum sauce for dessert. I enjoy my microwave oven; you can enjoy yours.

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