Friday, April 24, 2015

Find the Right Circuit Breaker the Easy Way

Sperry CS550A Circuit Breaker Finder

Remember the last time you did any electrical work at your place? Maybe it was installing a ceiling fan, putting up a security light, or replacing a toggle switch with a dimmer; but it’s a safe bet the first instruction went something like: 

"Shut off power to the circuit." 

Oh, sure. Easy for the writer to say: he probably has every circuit in the breaker box labeled. If you’re like the rest of us, your breaker box is labeled (if at all) with little notes like "Sara's rm," "mst bth" or "dk lts." It’s more likely that the breaker box has no labels at all. So how to turn off the circuit without resetting all the clocks in the house? Plug in a boombox and crank Katy Perry up to eleven? Do you use a helper and a cell phone, asking each time you click off a breaker, "still on?" Been there, done that - and found out  the correct breaker is always at the opposite end of the board from where you start. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Band Clamps: The Answer to a Question You Haven't Yet Asked

Pony 1215 Band Clamp

Band clamp in use
Despite the name, band clamps have nothing to do with Sousa marches. They’re different animals from other clamps: while most clamps are rigid metal or metal and wood (or plastic) devices that use levers and screws to force the pieces together, band clamps manage to be both simpler and more complex. 

They’re a lot like the belt you’re wearing, except that instead of 30-some inches of leather, this belt is fifteen feet long and made of nylon webbing an inch or so wide. Instead of a "buckle," there's a gear-and-pulley device, spring-loaded. You use it by looping the band around a work piece, like looping a belt around your waist. Then you use the pulley system to tension the band. Think of someone with a 42” waist buckling a 36” belt, and you see how such clamps can apply great pressure.