Tag Archives: power tools az

Black and Decker 20V Lithium Ion Pole Saw – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Black and Decker 20V Lithium Ion Pole Saw.  This item was a needs based purchase and it just happened to be a great one in the end.  As many of you know we had to place my Father-in-Law in a memory care facility this last year.  Once we did that we sold his house to help keep him at this great facility as long as possible.  It really is the best place we found after many months of searching, it is called Silverado and if you ever needs such a place check them out before making a decision.

Anyway in his front yard was a large pecan that he and my son planted many years ago. I decided to take some large limbs from it and have some stuff made for the family from the wood.  I tossed my Oregon Power Now Saw into my truck and headed for his place.

When I got there I looked at this tree and found limbs I could take without ruining its form for the new buyer.  The problem?  None were really safe to take without a pole saw, I had no pole saw.  So off to the local Lowes I went to find something and found this one, figured I’d give it a shot and get the job done, if it was crappy, I’d just return it same day.

Let me tell you, this little sucker cuts and does a great job.  I use it all the time now to lop limbs of the oaks here, this is something I have to do yearly as they constantly coppice back.  I want them all pruned up high enough that you don’t take out an eye walking around.  I have also used it to top quite a few trees that needed to come down and were far easier to fell correctly once topped.

This tool has its limits mind you, it is perfect for the small homesteader that will use it a few times a month or a quarter for the type of work it is intended for.  If you have other Black and Decker stuff with 20V Lithium Ion batteries you can buy it as a bare tool, and if you won’t use it much that makes sense.  However as a battery by itself sells for 30 bucks picking up an extra battery and charger for a 35 bucks makes more sense to me.

So if you need to use a pole saw daily I would say look to a quality gas tool, but if you will have the occasional homestead need, this thing rocks, and it could save you from injury or death.  Some things just should not be done with a regular saw from a ladder or up in a tree.

As a teenager I spent one summer working for Asplundh and did a lot of topping.  I saw two pretty shitty injuries occur to guys that said, “don’t worry I got it”.  Don’t be that guy!  Instead check out the Black and Decker 20V Lithium Ion Pole Saw today.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

Porter-Cable 9-Inch Pruning Reciprocating Saw Blades – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Porter-Cable 9-Inch Pruning Reciprocating Saw Blade.  I have always been a fan of using Reciprocating Saws (IE Sawzalls) as a tool for pruning trees or removing small trees where a chain saw would be over kill.  It is especially nice for small trees that you want to cut off flush to the ground.  They also make a less damaging cut when pruning large branches on fruit trees.

The big thing though is safety.  I have used chain saws since I was 12 years old and thank God I have never hurt myself with one.  I have seen quite a few injuries though and they are pretty awful.  One thing I realized is that these injuries almost never happen when felling large trees, or bucking trees.  Then tend to happen when people are doing work on small trees and small slash.

The rule is simple, TWO HANDS ON THE SAW AT ALL TIME THE CHAIN IS MOVING, the end, infinity.  But when working with bushy stuff sooner or later the temptation becomes too great, a hand comes off the saw and in time sooner or later flesh and bone meet moving chain.  My grandfathers words ring true,

Moving machines and tools have no sympathy, no conscious and no respect for human beings.  They don’t care if they are cutting wood and metal or flesh and bone.  You are the one with the brain so act like it!

In that spirit many years ago I thought, wow all this little bushy crap doesn’t really need a chain saw.  Took out my sawzall and instantly was a convert.  If it can be easily cut with a reciprocating saw that is what I use.  It is lighter, quieter and safer so why not.

Over the years I tried a lot of different blades, the blade in the video below is just a stock “wood blade”.  Most left something to be desired when cutting trees.  I found a few good “specialty blades”.  They were however expensive and the best one I ever found was the T-Rex Extreme but they went out of business.  Trying to make a company on one product is pretty tough!

So one day I decided to give these a whirl and to this day they are the best, highly available and affordable pruning blade I have found.  They end up costing about $3.70 a piece and you get a LOT of cutting out of a blade before you need to switch it out.  If you look at the tooth pattern it is clear why they work so well, it is very similar to a scaled down bow saw blade.

One of the best uses for this set up is one you don’t really think about until you need to do it.  You are digging a trench for say some irrigation pipe and you come across a root, a big root, one that is really hard to cut out with a shovel or a mattock.  Are you going to shove your chainsaw down into that dirt and rock mess?  Nope but two swift cuts from a sawzall and you just pop it out and move on.

So if you own a reciprocating saw, consider picking up a set of these.  Again I have tried a lot of different blades but bang for the buck I see Porter-Cable 9-Inch Pruning Reciprocating Saw Blades as the best you can get right now.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – If you are in the market for a reciprocating saw I truly do bleed yellow and black Dewalt blood.  This is the saw I would recommend, The Dewalt 20V MAX.  However it is a bare tool only at 107 meaning you need chargers and batteries so I only recommend it if like me you want to standardize on Dewalt.

I have to admit that the maker of these blades Porter-Cable makes damn decent tools and they have great pricing as well.  This set of a Porter-Cable Drill and Sawzall will give you a 20V Saw, a 20V Drill, a Battery and a Charger for about the same cost as the bare Dewalt saw.  Is the Dewalt a better tool?  Yes.  If I didn’t already own Dewalts and needed something for home owner level use, would I say it is that much better?  No.  Brand loyalty only goes so far.


Note this video is old, really old, I have lost a lot of weight
and gained a lot of gray hairs since then.


Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition – Item of the Day


Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is Work Sharp Knife and Tool Sharpener Ken Onion Edition.  Recently I was asked my opinion of electric knife sharpeners on the air.  My opinion in short was NOT GOOD, having examined many, they all have one thing in common, well two, first they don’t really work, second they damage knives.  I also said if anyone finds a good one, let me know and I will evaluate it.

Then someone called in who had just bought Work Sharp he was quite satisfied with it and asked me to evaluate it.  The Work Sharp comes in two models

The chief difference between the two being that the Ken Onion edition handles knife angles from 15-30 degrees and is 100% integrated.  It also has some added features like a blade guide and I prefer the way the belts are removed.  So while the caller bought the base model I opted to buy the upgraded model.

The unit arrived Saturday, considering Patrick Roherman’s comments on the Work Sharp that you can read here, I decided to start our with a “junk knife”, a discolored old plastic handled Mora in the back of the drawer seemed to suffice.  It did have a faint remainder of an edge but had been well abused.  I started with the coarsest (sharpening belt), chose a 20 degree angle and went to work, 5 minutes including two belt switches to finer grain belts and my knife was arm hair shaving sharp.

From there I touched up a few of my everyday kitchen knives using the fine belt, very quick a pass or two and nice and sharp.  Time for a real test I thought.  We have a small cheap Santoku Knife that was not just dull, the edge was gone.  My wife kept abusing it and I just never fixed it.  So I dropped down the the coarsest belt they give you, one for “sharpening tools and fixing knives”.  There was literally no edge at all, and lots of dings and nicks in the steel.  Figured a 18 degree angle would work, dialed it in, and went to work.

Total job took me about 15 minutes (going really slow to learn the tool) but in the end, once again I had a bare patch of skin on my forearm as proof the tool works and works well.

Again I invite you to read Patrick’s comments on this tool both pro and con.  I will point out one of his cons that the belts are “proprietary and expensive”, should be taken with a lump of salt.  Patrick is a pro who sharpens thousands upon thousands of knives, the belts are 10 bucks a set on prime and would sharpen a LOT of knives for the homesteader before needing replacement.  And I think Patrick’s final comment sums it up perfectly, “If I didn’t have the equipment I have I would probably consider purchasing one myself.”

I do want to point out that my fast results may be partly because I both do know how to manually sharpen and do have some machining experience.  You may want to pick up some true crappy junk to practice on.  One thing Patrick said about it is that the short belts can over heat faster.  I agree but you get the hang of it pretty fast and it is variable speed so that helps you learn slowly as well.

My advice is if you want sharp knives and don’t want to rely on a pro to sharpen them for you, get one of these and learn to use it.   I know a guy that sharpens knives at a Farmers Market for 5 bucks a knife for small knives and 10 for larger ones.  When you do the math it doesn’t take long for a tool like this to pay for itself.

And personally I see the extra money for the Ken Onion Edition (Ken is an award winning custom knife maker by the way), well worth the extra cost.  No extra parts to loose, easier belt changes, more flexibility, and sharpens more tools than the base model.  That said if you just want something for your kitchen and carry knives, the Basic One will likely make you happy too and not stretch your budget.

Again though, I do want to caution PLEASE if you get one, spend some time using cheapo practice knives with it before putting your expensive blades into it.   And I would go ahead and pick up a second set of belts right away too.  The cheapest practice knives I can recommend to practice with are something I think everyone should have a bunch of anyway, and you should not get these on Amazon, get them from a dirt cheap company called BudK.

The knife is a mora clone called the wahoo killer, these are used by every fishing guide I know in South Florida.  To these guys time is money so when one gets to dull to cut bait they toss it out and buy a new one.  At 3 bucks a piece they are a good value and frankly you won’t care if you screw one up.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – Since I ran this item the first time in 2016 over 100 members of this audience purchased one of these tools.  I have heard back from ONE and only ONE who had a problem, where a part broke.

They contacted Work Sharp who promptly apologized about the part, said just throw it away and immediately sent them a brand new one.  I am now absolutely sold on this product and more so the company that stands behind it.


Oregon Self Sharpening Electric Chain Saws – Item of the Day

Special Note – I am running this again today because the corded saw currently has an instant 20 dollar coupon on Amazon, just tick the box to apply it.  That brings the cost down to 107 dollars on the corded saw.  Only 18 are available at the time of this posting.  I think this is a great tool for any prepper and at 107 bucks it is stupid cheap.  Thanks to Derek C. for bringing this to my attention.

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is a two fer.  They are the Oregon Cordless Self Sharpening Chain Saw and the Oregon Plug In Electric Self Sharpening Chainsaw.

cordedsawIn the video below I use both saws to cut seasoned live oak.  I can’t emphasize how hard this wood is, it will plumb smoke a drill bit.  I decided to do a seasoned hardwood log rather than a live piece of wood for the video to demonstrate a worst case scenario rather than a best case one.

You will note the plug in saw has a 18 inch vs. 16 inch bar compared to the cordless.  It also has considerably more power as you would expect.  The beauty of the plug in saw is cost, for only 135 dollars you get a self sharpening saw, that simple always works.  The down side is working with an extension cord attached to your saw.  I see this saw as best for bucking in one location or for the small property owner, say and acre or less that just needs a saw they can count on.

cordlesssawThe cordless saw has plenty of power, I really should have cut some green lumber with it to show the difference.  I have dropped, slashed and bucked quite large live oaks with it, say with trunk sizes of 10-12 inches.  It is very light weight compared to a gas saw and even if I am using my gas Husqvarna I still tend to have this with me for limbing and slashing.

The common attributes these saws have that make them wonderful are as follows.

  • Noise – they are much quieter than a gas saw, and they only run while cutting, no constant idle.
  • Self Sharpening – pull a lever and run the saw a few seconds you are back to a seriously sharp chain.
  • Self Breaking Chain – while the plug in is better at this (it is instant see the video) the cordless only lets the chain run for about 1-2 seconds after you let the throttle go.  This way reduces injuries.  Most not all but most chainsaw injuries happen after the throttle is released.
  • No Tool Chain Adjustment – the number one reason your saw will start cutting poorly is the chain gets loose.  With most saws you loosen the cover with a wrench, tension the chain with a flat screw driver, then re-tighten the cover.  With these saws you have two dials, both can be turned by hand and proper chain tension can be restored in a few seconds.

Again while these saws have many advantages over a gas saw, they are not equal to one.  If I had to drop several trees I would reach for my gas saw.  However my little three acre homestead has been very well served by these saws.

They are ideal for small property owners, people that use a saw say a dozen times a year of less, etc.   Franky they are a pleasure to use, the self sharpening feature makes up for having less power then a gas saw.   Sure I can sharpen a chain, but that takes time, and like many time is one of my greatest assets, anything that saves time is valuable to me.

These saws do use special chains, which are sold with the sharpening stone.  I get a lot of use out of one chain though, I cut up a lot of dead stuff, prune a lot of trees and go though about one chain a year.  That isn’t much.

  • Here is the chain/stone set for the plug in 18 inch saw the cost is 36 bucks.  Get it Here.
  • Here it the chain/stone set for the 16 inch cordless saw the cost is 36 bucks.  Get it Here.
  • If you have the first generation of the cordless saw, it has a 14 inch bar.  Get it Here.

Please note that if you have the first generation saw with the 14 inch bar and want to upgrade to the new saw with the tool free chain adjustment (like I did) you can buy the bare tool and use your existing battery and chargers.

In any event if you are in need of a chain saw that will just work, all the time, be easy to maintain and won’t beak the bank or your ear drums, check out either the Oregon Cordless Self Sharpening Chain Saw and the Oregon Plug In Electric Self Sharpening Chainsaw today.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. –  Chainsaws are dangerous tools, even modern saws like these with great safety enhancements.  I think anyone using a saw for the first time should take a class or get an experienced person to teach them safe use. 

I have some personal rules I follow.  One is I don’t let anyone near me when I am cutting, if I can touch you with my saw without taking a step you are too close.  I also always make sure to clear two avenues of escape when felling a tree, in case it falls other than were planned.  There is a LOT more, again if you are not experienced do not use these or any such saw without getting some instruction.

I have seen several chain saw injuries and they are really awful injuries!

Black & Decker 6-Amp Angle Grinder – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Black & Decker 6-Amp Angle Grinder.  This tool is a bit of a departure from my normal choice of tools which is normally “get the best you can afford and if they are power tools, go cordless”.

So why did I choose this one?

Well I am not a welder, I am not using this thing for typical “grinding” the main thing I use angle grinders for is cutting.  Specifically the things we cut most that an angle grinder excels at are fencing, hog panels and hardware cloth.

What does all this add up to mean?  That I will need an angle grinder 4-8 times a year on my property and will run it for about an hour or so maximum per year.  So I initially looked at this beauty, the 20V Max Dewalt Angle Grinder.  I was tempted and 100 bucks is a good price for this tool, and if I used it a lot or even frequently it is what I would buy.  But does it make sense to pay 100 dollars for a tool that basically does what a 30 dollar tool will do if you only use it an hour at most per year.

To me it doesn’t, and I can reach an extension cord to about 80% of the places on my property, additionally I have portable generators and I have a Steven Harris Battery Bank in my F-350.  So I decided to save the 70 bucks and invest it elsewhere and buy this one.

I started as I always do with Amazon reviews 4.5 out of 5 stars with 100 plus reviews.  It was also the number one best seller in power angle grinders on Amazon.   Also since you can return anything to Amazon and it was only 30 bucks and a best seller, I went ahead and got one to try.

Overall I am very pleased with it.  Plenty of power, easy to use and I had no trouble cutting the few things I tested it on.  Black & Decker offers a 2 year warranty on the product, though I doubt with limited use that I will need it.

The grinder comes with a standard 4.5 inch grinder disk, but since I will use it mostly for cutting I picked up a ten pack of PowerFlex Premium Cut Off Wheels for 13 bucks, likely they will last me 5 years or more at the limited amount I will need use of this tool.

Here is the big thing until you own one of these tools you won’t realize how valuable they are when they are what you really need.  The things they do well, they do better than any alternative.  So you really should have one for your homestead or shop.

I’ll reiterate if you are going to use a tool like this a lot I would recommend either the 20V Max Dewalt Angle Grinder or if you want a corded beast that will grind like all get out check out the Dewalt DWE402 but if like me you are going to use it occasionally on projects here and there, I say save your money and pick up the Black & Decker 6-Amp Angle Grinder and just call it a day.  In any event in some form factor an angle grinder belongs in the shop at every homestead.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – If you are going to get any and I mean any cordless angle grinder make sure you have extended amp hour batteries for that tool, these things are power pigs and draw a lot of energy fast.

Dewalt 20V MAX Cordless Drill – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Dewalt 20V MAX Cordless Drill.   Any long term listener will know that I am a huge fan of Dewalt tools.  I have a large existing collection of old school 18 volt power tools.  Most are over 10 years old and still work as good as the day I bought them.

Last year I found out about the 18 volt to 20 volt adapter, I picked up one as a kit that included two batteries and a charger, since then I have decided whenever an 18vdc gives up the ghost to replace it with new 20Volt batteries and move on to better technology.

In fact I liked the adapter so much I bought a second bare one so that I don’t have to keep switching between tools.  I realized recently that Dewalt made a very savvy business decision in coming out with the adapters.  For a long time they seemed to be trying to smoke old guys like me out!  Charging more and more for the old batteries and offering no conversion solution to the installed base (the installed base is people like me).

Then a listener told me about the adapter and I got one.  So now when I need a new tool, what do you think I am going to buy?  Well more 20v lithium ion of course.  I have my eye on an angle grinder right now, but don’t need it yet.  I am doing a ton of projects right now though and decided to get another drill.  I like this one because it will also give me another battery and charger for less then I could buy them separately.  One can never have too many batteries or chargers you know!

This is not Dewalts top end drill by any measure but it is a damn solid tool for what most people need a drill for, drilling and driving.  When I picked up mine I also found a great add on item.  It is this, 30 Pack of Dewalt #2 Bits for $4.94 but again it is an “add on item” meaning your total order must be over 25 dollars to buy it.

My view on #2 screwdriver bits is this, buy them when ever you can at a discount, they are the single most used driver on the planet in my view and they absolutely wear out in time, then they strip screws and need replacing.  With this add on price they are 16 cents a piece.  In have made a note to always check my bit supply when spending over 25 dollars on Amazon on anything.  This is the best deal on these things I have found.

So if you are in need of a new drill/driver consider the Dewalt 20V MAX Cordless Drill as a new addition to your tool kit today.  It will get you into the 20V Dewalt world with a great drill, two batteries and a charger all for under 100 bucks!

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com

P.S. – I noticed a significant number of one star reviews on this drill and almost every one was about the “batteries not charging”, this made absolutely no sense to me, at all.  Dewalt is an incredible company with a multi decade rep for quality.  It is why I am so loyal to them.

Then it hit me, such reviews only showed up on kits like this, where you get the batteries and charger with the kits.  Many are clearly from people who are not well, “tool people” and I thought back to when I got my first ones.  When you put the battery in the charger it seems like it is seated, and it may or may not charge when you do so.  Leading you to think, well I did it right, nope, no you didn’t.

The battery must be pushed all the way in, until it clicks.  Further if you do it wrong, and then push it in without pulling it our first it also won’t work.  Check this quick video to see what I mean.  I wonder if Dewalt themselves have figured out this problem yet?

Dewalt Compact Drill/Driver Kit – Item of the Day


Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the Dewalt Compact Drill/Driver Kit.  I have been a huge fan of Dewalt tools for over twenty years.  Here is why, in 1996 I was working in outside plant CATV, that means I ran a company that installed cable TV infrastructure both underground and aerial.

One day driving down a road I found an 18 volt Dewalt drill in the middle of the road, it had a 625 coring tool in it.  Don’t worry to much about what that means, but it did mean that a CATV worker was the owner.  I took it into the General Contractors office, told them to notify the crews that a drill was found, and only if the owner could ID the coring tool and a self made copper belt hanger to give it to them.

Three weeks went by and while two people said they lost a drill neither described the drill I found.  The General Contractor gave it back to me.  I used it until this summer with never a hint of failure.  Keep in mind this was used for who knows how long before I found it and likely took a spill off a truck doing 55 MPH.

Well this year my old drill finally died and you know how.  A well meaning person who I will not name used it and put it in a bucket, said bucket was left outside and we got 4 inches of rain!  By the time I found it the damage was done!  Had that not happened it may have gone another 20 years!

So I went out to find another drill and found the Dewalt Compact Drill/Driver Kit.  Dewalt has higher end drills and they also now have Lithium Batteries but this one looked like a good entry into Dewalt tools and as though it was all I needed in a drill.  Besides I have two NiCad chargers and many batteries already.  This was a great way to test this drill to see if I would recommend it.

Let me say, hell yea I recommend this drill.  It is every bit as powerful as my old drill, and it came with a charger and two batteries.  Total price with free shipping on Prime, 99 bucks.  The reason I got this drill is I own almost every other Dewalt power tool you can buy, and about 6 batteries and two chargers.

If you have chargers and batteries you can actually buy this drill as a bare tool for only 40 dollars on Prime!  But to me 60 for two more batteries and another charger was really worth it, so I bought the kit to expand my battery depth.  I will also say if you have 18 volt Dewalt tools already, 40 bucks for an extra drill, man what a steal.

For a new tool buyer though what this kit does is let you get into Dewalt tools at a very low price point.  You can down the road add say a circular saw, reciprocating saw or impact driver.  If you decide you want Lithium batteries, you can just buy them along with a charger and rock on.  If you want higher amp hour NiCads than come with this kit, the included charger will charge them just fine.

There is the one downside of this kit, the charger will not charge Lithium batteries, it just won’t.  In the end I have simply decided that the cost at this point of Lithium batteries for Dewalt exceeds the value they bring to the table.

If I was back in the contracting business using my tools all day, everyday, I might feel differently.  But for homestead tools, the old school Dewalts do two things I look for.

  1.  Maximum Value to Price Ratio
  2. Just Work Period for what I Need Done

So I see this as the sweet spot entry point into Dewalt Tools, and I see a cordless drill as likely the most useful single power tool you can own.  Like I said down the road you can add other tools or upgrade to Lithium if you feel you need it.  I have thought about it many times and I just sit there looking at a 100 dollar battery and ask myself this, in the last 20 years, with keeping two chargers and at least 4 batteries around, have you ever needed a tool, and not had a hot battery.  My answer is always no.

And in the end there it is!  No, my tools are always there when I need them, as long as I can find them anyway, but that is another story.  On another note if you need NiCad Dewalt batteries, get these. They are higher amp hour batteries than the ones in the kit, but will fit all Dewalt 18 volt tools and work with the kits charger just fine.

Do not buy any of the after market stuff, the price is tempting but they are all in my experience junk.  And when you figure that out and want to return them, Amazon won’t let you because they say they are “too dangerous for you to ship back”.  Seriously!

And one more thing before I sign off today, I am not a Dewalt snob, I know some are and think any other power tool is just crap.  There are some other great tool makers out there.  I also really like Bosh, Makita and Milwaukee as great value for the money tools.

I have settled on Dewalt, simply because every tool, I have ever owned by them just worked and has done so flawlessly for a long time.  And if you happen to want a more heavy duty drill from Dewalt, I would recommend the Dewalt DCD950KX.   Or opt for the same drill as the Dewalt Bare-Tool DCD950B if you already have batteries and chargers and don’t want or need more.

And there in lies the beauty, you can start out with Dewalt tools for under 100 dollars, and add batteries, chargers and bare tools as you feel you need them over time.  On this drill though the bottom line is, I would have to go back to coring cables and drilling telephone poles before I think I’d find something my new Dewalt Compact Drill won’t do well.  I mean there is a reason it has 3200 plus reviews on Amazon and 93% are 4-5 stars.

Remember you can always find all of our reviews at TspAz.com