Dads need power tools! Power tools make the perfect gift for Father’s Day, a birthday, or anniversary. What man doesn’t want to grunt as he makes a beautiful cut on his mitre saw, or drives in a screw like buttah with his cordless drill?
We’ve compiled this list of the top 6 power tools that every dad should own. These are all tools that will help make projects, repairs, and that honey-do list enjoyable!
A jigsaw is great for making all kinds of curved cuts, plywood shapes, and quick cuts. The many different, and easily interchangeable jigsaw blades can cut different materials like metal, fiberglass, and even drywall.
If you’re sanding your wood projects by hand, for the love of your sanity and time, get an orbital sander! You’ll never look back. Easy and comfortable to use, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get a smooth surface.
Have you ever wanted a tool that can cut through nails, remove trim, and remove old grout and caulking? The oscillating multi-tool can do all of that and more. So many uses, and let’s be honest- it’s a good time.
Miter saws just make life easier. Installing new flooring? You’re going to need a miter saw. They can cut complex angles, straight cuts, can cut multiple pieces at once, and will make projects like installing baseboards and trim a breeze. Even a basic miter saw is a gift that will keep on giving for years to come.
The Cadillac (shown in video) – Dewalt 12” Double Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw ($539): https://geni.us/5sl5
A circular saw is another incredibly useful power tool. Use it to build a deck, frame a basement, cut trim, do lap cuts, rip lumber, and more. Every DIYer, from the weekend warrior to the avid project doer, needs one of these.
Enough can’t be said about a great cordless drill set. You will never regret this investment. Have you ever assembled furniture with a screwdriver and ended up in the fetal position, wondering if life will always be this terrible? Invest in a good quality cordless drill set, and renew your faith in humanity. They’re amazing. They are life changing. That’s why they’re #1 on the list.
Pro Tip: Spend a little money on these. A cheap drill is going to be frustrating, and will put you right back into the fetal position. This is a quality of life thing.
My Top Recommended Drills, Lifetime Warranty – Ridgid Octane Cordless Brushless Drill Set ($299): https://geni.us/5Pimxqj
After trying out several sets of those clunky “muffs” designed to keep your ears safe, you’re gonna miss your tunes. Whether you want to rock out to some classic rock or stay up on your latest audiobook, a good pair of Bluetooth Noise Canceling headphones can be a life saver while still performing the essential function of protecting your hearing from whining saws and clanky hammer drills. This isn’t your average, every day power tool but it’s the perfect companion to it.
No Hubs. You don’t need a hub nowadays, with all of the hub-less smart home devices out there
Amazon or Google You can do an Amazon Alexa-based smart home or a Google Home-based system – either works fine. Apple HomeKit and other systems are powerful but generally more limited
Decent WiFi everywhere you want to use a smart home device
A smart phone or tablet
(Optional) Some basic tools if you want to do any electrical work
The 9 Tips
For Indoor Lights, Smart Switches Are the Way to Go so long as you have a neutral wire available.
You can use whatever bulbs you want, including LED bulbs.
You typically have more than one bulb in a fixture
Bulbs will burn out at some point. Light switches won’t.
Like every rule, there are exceptions
ForOutdoor Lights, try Dusk to Dawn Sensor Bulbs or Smart Bulbs
Philips Hue bulbs cost $150 for a 4 pack with the hub. At $37.50 per bulb, that’s a crazy amount, especially if you have fixtures with 2 or more bulbs each. Gosund has comparable LED smart bulbs that are 2 for $25 and have no hub. That’s $25 less per bulb than Philips Hue.
Foroutdoor cameras, you just have to do your homework, there are a lot of options. I’m spoiled by the Wyze Cams and want all the same features so I installed the indoor Wyze Cams with an outdoor enclosure and powered it by ethernet using a 5v ethernet to micro USB adapter and a powered switch. Please be aware that doing this voids the warranty on the cameras but for $20 I’m willing to risk that. That said, between the enclosures and a protective eve on your house, these things can easily stand up to the heat, snow, ice and rain. I’ve been super impressed.
Wyze is coming out with an outdoor camera later this year so check the description for updates on that.
Aside from the Wyze Cams, if you only need events, the Arlo Pro system is a good option but it’s not cheap at all and has issues of its own. Many of the reviews address its many glitches, like missed recordings, dead spots and weather issues. Going totally wireless (including no power cord) means you have to recharge batteries. Many reviews state that you have to charge the Arlos every 1-2 months, which sounds like a real pain to me. Plus, if you mount them anywhere that requires a ladder, that’s even more of a pain. They do, however, come with 7 day rolling cloud storage, which is pretty good. 1 Camera = $180, 2 Cameras = $278, 3 Cameras = $366 and 4 cameras = $400, etc. up to 6 cameras at $850.
The Nest Outdoor cameras are also great cameras but they’re $190 for one or $300 for 2 and they still require power. There are expensive monthly fees for cloud storage and no SD slots for recording locally.
By contrast, three Wyze Cams cost $60, plus $30 for power adapters, $26 for housings and $40 for a powered switch, then $27 for ethernet cables, so $183 for 3 cameras, 14 day cloud storage, no fuss and great features. That’s hard to beat.
When it comes to Indoor Security Cameras, Wyze Cams can’t be beat, you can’t beat the Wyze Cam. Here’s why:
They cost $20 or, if you want pan and tilt, $30.
They’re full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution)
They have a completely free cloud backup feature where all events are backed up to the cloud for free forever. No fees and you get 14 days of events backup at all times for all cameras
2 Way Audio
Continuous rolling footage with a MicroSD card
SVery easy to mount and daisy chainable
Routines I went with the Amazon Echo system for several reasons. One is that you can get the echo dots really cheap. They’re $45 or $50 new but you can buy a previous generation version for $25 and they often go on sale. We have them in most of the bedrooms in our house and they’re awesome. You can also usually find them in the classifieds for cheap, like how we bought a full sized Amazon Echo and two dots for $80 and they all work great. You can also buy the new 7” Fire tablets that work as an Amazon Alexa and they sometimes go on sale as well. We got two for $90 on Black Friday which means we can video chat and see recipes, videos and more, so they’re super convenient. If you want to use these as an Alexa device, I recommend hooking them up to an external speaker as the speaker on these is pretty poor.
Smart Plugs are the cheapest way to get your smart home going. are a great device to have and they can be really inexpensive. We use ours for all kinds of things, like controlling fans at night, lamps, cabinet lights, 3D Printers and more. They can often be found for $33 for 4, or sometimes even less when on sale. They’re easy to set up and very convenient. You can set timers and even use the Alexa app to create routines. I hooked up a small motor to a stick and created a routine to close my door automatically so I could be Wall-E level lazy and not get out of bed to close the door. The routine turns the motor on, announces something that takes about 5 seconds to announce on the Amazon Echo in my wood shop, then turns the motor off so it doesn’t burn out. It’s super dorky but super convenient.
Smart locks are really smart these days. are still pretty pricey but they’re incredibly convenient. I purchased my smart lock and Amazon Cloud Cam combo on Black Friday but they typically start at around $200 – $250 and a great upgrade for your home. You can unlock or lock them remotely, use smart patterns and features, and more.
Choose the right smart devices for your home – Other smart devices are really handy too. For $79 you can make any garage door opener a smart door opener, even programming it to automatically open or close when you come home or leave the house. I also have a smart sprinkler system which makes maintaining and updating your sprinklers a breeze, when you can control them from your pocket as opposed to running to the garage and back a hundred times. It also makes sure that your sprinklers aren’t on when it’s raining or has recently rained. Smart thermostats are nice to have as well, though I’ve found that mine doesn’t get much use. Maybe that’s the point – it’s pretty maintenance free, it uses a sensor to see when someone is home and then it controls the temperature based on that. You can even do smart devices that control your USB ports or power strips and each plug on it can be powered individually, which is pretty nice.
Garage Door Openers ($79) – TAOPE: $69.99 https://amzn.to/2MiOwJl
Smart Sprinkler Systems
Smart Thermostats, like Nest
Smart Power Strips with USB ports
Take advantage of IFTTT – If This Then That is an app that allows you to apply logic to your different devices and applications. It allows you to use a recipe format called applets to specify what you want to happen when something else happens. We’ll get more into some of the applets as we go through the rest of the tips today but IFTTT can really add a lot of the ‘smart’ to your smart home.
Movie night at our house is one of our family’s favorite activities. We’ve had a 1080p Optoma projector for a couple of years and it’s been great. After putting a couple of 4K televisions upstairs and watching a bunch of UHD content, it made me think it might be time to look into 4K projectors again. Last time I looked they were in the $8k – $10k range so when I checked recently and saw that they were $999 and up, I thought it was time to look more seriously.
I did some research on several A/V forums and then started digging into Amazon. I looked at projectors in the $999 – $2500 range and picked ten projectors that were pretty well rated and in the price range. After reading a ton of reviews I decided to look around the web to get the full specs on each of the projectors. I put together a 4K Projector Comparison Spreadsheet comparing each one and then used that to decide on four projectors to buy. The goal was to find the projectors that I’d be most likely to buy and that were the best bang for the buck. I ended up with these four.
Check out the video that accompanies this article:
Epson Home Cinema 5040 UB
Most reviews and forums suggested that this is one of the benchmark projectors when it comes to image quality, contrast and overall performance. The UB stands for Ultra Black and it has an amazing contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. Pretty impressive. The colors look really good and it’s a bright and powerful projector with 2500 lumens. One of the things you need to know about this projector is that it uses a technology called 4K Enhancement Technology. The native resolution is only 1080p but it has 3 chips that each project a 1080p image and slightly overlap to create a picture that appears to be comparable to a 4k resolution projector. This is also called 4Ke and is nicknamed FauxK. More on this in a bit.
Epson Home Cinema 4010
The 4010 is a lower model than the 5040 UB and costs several hundred dollars less. It has better reviews on Amazon but that’s partially due to some defective 5040 UBs that were sent out. The 4010 uses the exact same housing and remote control as the 5040 UB though the 4010 is newer. It also uses the 4Ke technology so, like the 5040 UB, it is not actual 4k.
My previous projector was an Optoma so I was excited to see how the 4k version performed and what its picture looked like. It features native 4k resolution (3840×2160) and, like the more expensive 5040 UB has a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and boasts 3,000 lumens of brightness – one of the best in its class. To top all of that off, it costs less than the Epsons! Needless to say, I was anxious to see it in person.
Viewsonic PX747 4K
I had to try out the least expensive 4K projector I could find and this was it. Coming in at $999, this was the most affordable of the bunch but still had native 4k resolution. It has a much less impressive 12,000:1 contrast ratio but has a super bright 3500 lumens, which is the brightest of all the projectors I compared. Could this projector stack up to the competition at such a low price? I hoped so.
Now that we know what we’re working with, let’s take a look at how each of these differ. We’re going to cover several areas:
Lens Shift vs Keystone (plus zoom)
Picture Quality (at regular viewing size in the dark)
Picture Quality (at regular viewing size with ambient light)
Picture Quality (close up)
First: Let’s Talk About Size
Are you seeing this? Holy moly! The Epsons (bottom) are gigantic! They’re easily 3x as large as the Viewsonic – maybe 4x. They weigh in at 24 lbs and you’re not going to want to mount these to the ceiling with a flimsy little 4 arm projector mount. I recommend a dedicated shelf for these. The Optoma (middle) is pretty large as well but seems moderate compared to the Epsons. It weighs in at 16 lbs, as compared to the Viewsonic PX747 (top), which weighs only 8 lbs. So that’s a 1x, 2x and 3x factor as far as weight is concerned. One area of note is that the lens on the Viewsonic is on the right side of the projector while the others are centered. I recommend choosing your projector before placing your projector mount (if possible). The difference is only 5 or 6 inches but it could affect the alignment of the image.
While we’re on the topic of size comparisons, it seems that Epson felt that large projectors needed large remote controls. Have a look:
The Epson remotes (the rear-most remote above) are probably the biggest remotes I have. They’re pretty massive, especially in today’s world of more moderately sized remote controls. They’re ultra functional and I don’t mind the larger remotes but I found it interesting that they match the projector in terms of relative size. The other two remotes are the Optoma (center) and the Viewsonic (front). Another area to consider is the backlighting of the remotes. The Epson is, in my opinion, just right. It’s amber colored and soft. The Optoma has the same candle power as the Bat Signal, just in case the power goes out or you want to cruelly wake up your annoying roommate. The Viewsonic is also overly bright but pales in comparison to the Optoma.
Lens Shift vs Keystone
One are that was completely new to me when researching and then trying these projectors out was Lens Shift. Lens shift is the ability a projector has to move the lenses inside the projector to displace the projected image. In other words, you can set up your Epson projector only to find out that the projected image is 22″ too high and 9″ to the left of your projector screen. Bad news, right? Nope. The Epsons let you use the remote to move the image up to 97% vertically and 46% horizontally. In other words, you can just push a few buttons and line it up wherever you need. It’s really impressive to see.
If you don’t have that option, like on the Viewsonic projectors, you can manually adjust the position of the projector itself and then set your keystone settings. Keystone lets you control the width of the top or bottom of the projected image, to get your trapezoidal image to look like a rectangle with parallel sides.
The big difference? Lens shift is an optical shift so there is no loss of pixel quality. Keystoning is a manipulation of existing pixels so you’ll experience some level of image quality loss. Plus, Lens shift is honestly way more convenient too.
Picture Quality (at regular viewing size in the dark)
This is what really matters. How does the image look while watching video? How bright is it? How dark are the darks? How’s the color? How’s the saturation? Is it realistic or is it distorted somehow? How’s the sharpness of the image?
I can talk all day about my findings but let’s keep this simple. I rolled the exact same footage on the default settings on each projector, then recorded video on my mirrorless camera of each video on each projector. I shot video with the lights fully on, as well with zero ambient light, then I shot some close ups just for fun. Take a look and see for yourself.
For starters, here’s my projector environment, so you can get a feel for how bright it is and how far back the projector is relative to the screen and the viewer.
Actual shots of the various projector images:
Picture Quality (at regular viewing size with ambient light)
I shot all of the same video with the lights on, and with the lights off, then far away and up close. This image below represents the results of the lights on experiments pretty accurately. In a well lit room (I’m talking pretty bright) the two Epsons look nearly identical. The Optoma looks pretty great for the most part and may actually be the winner of the ambient light contest, and the Viewsonic looks terrible.
Picture Quality (close up)
Up close, the results are really interesting. The Epson 4010 and the Viewsonic have the sharpest images and look really good resolution-wise. The Viewsonic still looks flat and dull color-wise. The Optoma is over saturated and the Epson 5040 UB looks ok. I think the close up winner is the Epson 4010.
What do you think? You can decide for yourself but I think it’s at least helpful to share my opinion since I saw all of the results in person.
As far as image goes, the Viewsonic PX747 is an immediate fail. It’s flat, dull and really ruins the 4K experience. It has a really sharp image – that aspect looks great – but it’s completely overshadowed by the ugly colors and foggy image. It’s got a “can’t open my eyes all the way” sort of look to it. I played with some settings and no matter what I adjusted, it just doesn’t compare to the others, which is unfortunate because it’s got great specs as far as lumens and resolution but it appears that the contrast ration (12,000:1) is really bringing this one down.
The Optoma UHD60 is actually a pretty solid image. It has great contrast and is nice and bright most of the time. The colors are definitely over saturated in my opinion and I couldn’t adjust those back to reality, unfortunately. That said, I didn’t mind the over saturation because it’s not extreme. It’s a bit much, but not crazy. The image (despite some of the photos above) is actually super sharp. I could be totally happy with buying and keeping the Optoma UHD60.
The Epson Home Cinema 4010 looked pretty fantastic. I had no idea what to expect from “Faux K” since it isn’t actually true 4K. I was very impressed. It looked incredibly sharp and, in many cases, sharper than the actual 4K projectors. The colors were superb. It has, in my opinion, the most realistic and balanced image of all four projectors. As far as image is concerned, the 4010 takes the cake.
The Epson Home Cinema 5040 UB also look fantastic. The big question for me was whether or not it got the blacks really black in an ideal (pitch black) setting. It did a great job but to me the blacks looked maybe a few percent darker than the 4010 – not enough to be super noticeable. The two looked so similar in terms of contrast that I was shocked that there was a 5:1 difference in contrast ratio specs. On top of that, it seemed to lag just a bit behind when it came to colors. The 4010 just looked more balanced, more natural and more believable when it came to color and saturation.
Personally, as long as there was a modern HDMI interface on each of these, I didn’t care about any other aspect but for you, it may be important to have multiple HDMIs, VGA, trigger ports, fiber optic or some other connection, so here are all of the connections available for each.
When it comes to value, the current price on a projector is a critical factor. When I purchased these four projectors, their prices were $2099 (Epson 5040 UB), $1799 (Epson 4010), $1679 (Optoma UHD60) and $999 (Viewsonic PX747). With only a $120 difference between the Optoma and the Epson 4010, I think the 4010 would win as the best value. Since purchasing them, the 4010 has gone up in price (at least on Amazon) to $1999, making it less of a bargain. I think, at that price, that the Optoma is the best value. Other than being a bit oversaturated, it’s a very solid projector. If the 4010 goes back down again, or if you can get it elsewhere for less, I think it wins in the value category.
Just For Fun
One fun little tidbit about the Epsons; when you power them on or off, there is a motorized lens cover that opens and closes automatically, protecting your lens when not in use.
In addition, the Epsons are the only projectors I’ve used or tested that have an easily accessible filter that requires no tools to access. Very clever on both accounts.
Having the opportunity to buy all four at once and test them side by side was super helpful to me. In the end, I decided to keep the Epson Home Cinema 4010 as my family’s projector. The image quality, the Lens Shift, easily exchangeable filters, the reasonable lamp replacement cost, the contrast, the sharpness and, of course, the motorized lens cover, all made it stand out as the best projector for the money. That said, I think I could have kept the 5040 UB or the Optoma UHD60 and I would have been really happy. It was a tough call but in the end the 4010 edged over the competition for me. Another part of that is the reputation of Epson projectors. From what I’ve read, they’re a higher end projector than the Optomas or Viewsonics or BenQs of the world. Ultimately, however, I hope that what you’ve seen here will help you decide for yourself.
I’d love to hear what you think! Leave a comment with your thoughts, opinions or experiences so others can benefit from the community. Thanks for reading!
PRODUCTS (these are affiliate links):
• HDMI Over Ethernet 4K HDMI Extender (the one I use): https://amzn.to/2TZi3rb
• Cat 7 Ethernet (30 ft): https://amzn.to/2DTNCgL
• Optic HDMI Cable (33 ft): https://amzn.to/2Q4yt3p
• 1080P Wireless HDMI Kit: https://amzn.to/2KMdr3O
• 4K 60Hz Wireless HDMI Kit: https://amzn.to/2SmKkGM
• Active HDMI 30 ft: https://amzn.to/2DWrsdR
Standard (passive) HDMI cables aren’t meant to send a reliable signal over 15ft. Receivers and media devices aren’t built to power cables that are over 15ft long either.
HDMI cables have different ratings for different signals. They also come in different versions, currently ranging from 1.0 to 2.1. HDMI cables may or may not be able to handle the following:
4k at 24hz vs 30hz vs 60hz
HD or UHD Signals over 15, 30, 50, 100 ft, etc.
HDMI 1.0, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.0 or 2.1
5k, 8k and 10k at 120 Hz
You have several options for running HDMI over longer distances:
HDMI Balun (HDMI Converter Kits) over Cat
Priced from $30 – $300, depending on what you need
Read the specs carefully
They often give you other features, like IR extenders
I bought a kit for $100 that includes infrared extenders and can handle HDMI 2.0, which support 4k at 60hz and is only powered from one side.
Be sure to consider future needs
Optical HDMI Cables
Priced at $100 – $400
Starting price is higher but they’re more of an all-in-one solution (no adapters, no kits
These combine the technology of fiber optics and HDMI, letting you run VERY long distances (up to 1000 ft).
Wireless HDMI Kits
Range from $130 – $400
Very mixed reviews and ratings
No wires between source and display, which is incredible!
Up to 660ft of range (for the pricier versions)
Priced between $20 and $130
They use a chipset in the cable which leverages the 5 volts of power from the source to provide a more stable long range feed
They’re uni-directional, so you have to put the source end at the source and the display end at the display or it won’t work
Cheaper than most other options but there is still a lot of controversy over their functionality. The reviews tend to be quite mixed.
If you have a receiver that has a fried HDMI board or doesn’t support HDMI at all but supports fiber optic you can leverage one of the above options and just use the fiber optic output on your source to plug into the receiver, assuming it has fiber optic out (like Apple TV or most Blu-Ray players). If that’s not an option and your receiver can still output audio from the HDMI inputs, you can use an HDMI splitter to send one signal to the display via the options above and the other to the receiver just for the audio portion.
Learn to build a simple but cute bunk bed for 18″ dolls like the American Girl Dolls or the Our Generation line of dolls. This bed size is patterned after manufactured 18″ doll beds and fits the dolls comfortably. The plans use simple and available lumber, including 2x4s or 2x2s, 1x4s, 1/2″ plywood and 1/8″ plywood. You can also substitute the 1/8″ plywood for 1/2″ plywood if need be.
Click the image below to download a PDF of the woodworking plans for this build.
Installing insulation yourself is not a difficult task. It doesn’t take too long and, contrary to what some believe, is not typically a super-itchy experience. The last couple of times I did this it was easier than I expected and definitely worth doing myself. You don’t need much at all by way of tools, either.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A quality mask to prevent breathing in particles
Gloves and full skin protection
Utility Knife and several blades
A staple gun (if you’re using faced insulation)
That’s it! Pretty simple as far as tools go.
What is “R” Value and what do I need?
The “R” in R-Value stands for resistance. R-Value is a measure of how well a material can resist the transfer of heat. Heat transfer is a two way street. When it’s hot outside, your insulation resists letting heat in. When it’s cold outside it resists letting your warm air out. In the United States, there are different requirements based on where you live and what type of insulation you’re doing. Here’s a chart to help you determine what you need. If you live outside the United States, be sure to check what you’ll need for your area.
As far as how to actually install the insulation, please check out this video with step by step instructions for both faced and unfaced insulation.
Because I spend so much time at my desk, I wanted to create a unique and beautiful desktop that I could place atop a motorized base. I started researching and discovered these gorgeous desk by a French designer in the Caribbean. He uses local stone, some serious machinery and a boat-load of epoxy. There’s a catch, however – his tables sell for anywhere from $12,000 – $60,000 each! A bit out of my budget, but I still love his work and wanted to try something that was original using wood. Continue reading “DIY Ocean Desk – A Standing Desk with Personality”
When my wife’s sewing machine was broken I decided to call a sewing machine repair shop but they told me it was going to be $90 just to take a look at it. I’m a cheapskate so I decided to do a little internet research to try to figure out how to fix it myself and, fortunately, as you’ll see below, this was just a fix that required some adjustments – no parts or anything like that. Continue reading “How to Fix the Hook Timing on a Sewing Machine”