top of page

Search Results

136 items found for ""

  • Lawn Mower Blade Sharpening Techniques, Tips & Tools

    Here are some great ideas and hints to help you sharpen your lawn mower blades the easy way. In this article I feature a few fantastic tools to help make sharpening blades much easier. One of the initial challenges that you will likely encounter when you attempt to remove your mower blades after of full season of operation is the difficulty of loosening the retaining nuts that hold the blades safely in place. These fasteners are usually very tightly secures and take significant force to loosen. You can achieve the necessary leverage to loosen the nuts by using a breaker bar or torque wrench, however that second issue that you are likely to encounter is that it is likely to be extremely difficult to keep the blades stationary so that you can exert the necessary force needed to loosen the nut. In order to secure the blades to keep them stationary it is necessary to safely block the movement of blades. This can be easily done by securing a piece of wood on the inside of the deck. The block of wood should be large enough to catch and stop the movement of the blade. The wood should be secured by a large c-clamp and you should also use a smaller, protective block of wood on the exterior side of your mower deck to prevent damaging of the painted surface. When securing the wood to your deck keep in mind the old adage "righty tighty, lefty loosey", In other words, you will need to turn the nut to the left, (counterclockwise), in order to loosen the nut. Conversely, you will turn clockwise or to the right when you want to replace and tighten the blades. With the blade secured from movement and with the correctly sized socket and proper leverage, you are now ready to remove the fasteners to release the blades. Although I have not tried this tool, there is also a device listed on Amazon that attaches to your mower and is described as capable of holding a blade in place for faster, safer removal. it is recommended for walk-behind and riding lawn mowers, either single or twin blade models. It is touted by one reviewer as "the most practical and useful thing I've bought to help with my mower." I'll leave a product link below. With the fasteners off, you want to note the position of the blades before removing them from the deck. It is recommended that you mark the down side of the blade as an indicator of the correct side to mount the blade after sharpening. Otherwise you chance mounting the blades upside down. Before sharpening the blades you should visually inspect the blades for fitness of operation. If the blades are bent, are worn or thin, have cracks in them or have chunks of metal missing, then they should be discarded and replaced with new blades. Assuming the blades are is good condition, you should prepare for sharpening by donning some personal protective equipment, (PPE). Proper PPE includes having a sturdy pair of work gloves and protective eyewear. The work gloves protect your hands from possible cuts or burns from metal sparks that may be produced by grinding of the blades. The protective eyewear will shield your eyes from the molten sparks. With your protective gear in place you are now ready to put a nice sharp edge on those blades. Blade sharpening can be made easier and much safer with the proper tools. I know many how recommend a hand or bench grinder for sharpening, however these tools can be dangerous to operate by the inexperienced user. On a bench grinder the mower blade can be accidentally lodged between the grinding wheel and the tool rest. If this happens the grinding wheel could explode causing wheel fragments to be hurled at you at unimaginable force and speed. The same is true of the disk on a handheld grinder if improper angle and force is placed on the grinding disk. A safer solution is a grinding stone drill attachment specifically made for sharpening blades. The blade sharpener that I use and recommend in the Arnold Lawn Mower Blade Sharpener which can be found on Amazon. This fantastic tool fits any 1/4" or 5/8" electric drill, gives you a sharp edge in minutes to ensure clean cut for a healthy lawn. I also recommend that your use a good blade balancer to ensure proper balancing of your blades. Blade balancing is essential for smooth mower operation. More importantly, properly balanced blade will eliminate blade vibration. A vibrating, unbalanced blade can result in premature wear and possible damage to your mower's engine or deck blade spindles. You should begin sharpening once your blade is secured in a proper bench vice. The vice should be capable of holding your blade securely while you use your drill mounted blade sharpening wheel to grind the cutting tip of the mower blade to perfection. Using the Arnold Blade Sharpener, you should place the grinding wheel on the edge of the blade with the plastic disk of the flat side of the blade. Be sure to keep the wheel horizontal and perpendicular to the blade. Just take your time and move the grinding wheel up and down the blade wheel with smooth movement and light even pressure. After grinding both sides of the blade to sharpness, test the blade for balance. If the blade does not rest on a level horizontal plane, you will need to remove additional material from the side of the blade that rest lower on the blade balancer. One you achieve a good edge and the blade is balanced you are ready to mount and start mowing. I trust that you have found this post useful. If so, be sure to check our and sign-up on my website, Bud's Odd Jobs as I will be posting many more helpful time and money saving tips. Additionally you can subscribe to my YouTube channel, Bud's Odd Jobs for helpful videos on many of the topics listed on my site.

  • Attractive & Low Maintenance Landscapes

    Attractive landscaping can add additional value of your home. Knowing how to design, layout and install low maintenance landscaping can save you precious time and money. In this article I will give you ideas, free tips and tool suggestions to assist you in installing edging, landscape cover and plants that will result in an attractive, low maintenance landscape that is likely to add much value to your home. Did you know that proper lawn care and landscaping can differentiate your home from other homes of equal perceived value? Many sites estimate that proper and attractive landscaping can add 10 to 15 percent of additional value of your home. However, if not done properly, maintaining that lovely landscape can require too much time and money. You want to be able to enjoy your floral and plant beds, not become a slave to them. The answer, low maintenance landscaping! Read on to learn about the tools, tricks and tips for installing plastic edging to achieve attractive, low cost and time saving landscapes. Materials Needed In preparation of your project you will require the following landscaping materials: Plastic Edging 25 Yr Landscape Barrier Cloth Landscaping Stakes Brick Nuggets Plastic Planting Pots Having the necessary tools to prepare your landscape beds is essential to your success. To ensure that you are able to properly prepare your beds I recommend the following tools. Garden Hose Hand Trowel Garden Hoe Garden Rake Edging Tool Long Handled Sod Plugger (Also called a bulb planter) Wheel Barrow or Utility Wagon Garden Gloves I also recommend the following tools for the cutting of plastic landscape edging and the trimming of barrier cloth. Rubber Mallet Utility Knife Tin Snips or Pruning Shears Wide Blade Putty Knife Knee Pads Cardboard (as a surface to cut barrier cloth) Layout the Design The easiest way to layout a functional design with gradual and uniform curves is to use a fairly rigid garden hose to form the proposed lines of the edging. Laying a garden hose does two things for you; first it allows you to visualize your design before excavating your lawn, and second the hose can be used to mark and guide you in cutting perimeter line of your bed. Another thing to consider when laying out your intended design is the size of the plants, bushes, etc. that you plan to use to fill the landscaped area. Obviously, the larger the plants or bushes, the larger the area needed to accommodate them. Finally, you must consider the cost of covering the surface area of your bed. Be aware that the larger the design, the more costly it will be for the surface materials that you plan to use as a decorative cover. Once you are content with the design it is time to cut in the edging trench. If you intend to incorporate curves into your landscape designs you need to make certain that the curves in your design are functional, subtle and uniform. To ensure that the curves in you layout are functional, consider the type of mower that you have and whether it will be capable of following the radius of your design. If the radiuses are too tight you will have a tough time following the curves as you attempt to mow against the edging. Personally, I make my radiuses fairly tight around landscaped shrubs and trees because I use a lawn tractor with four wheel steering which allows me to easily follow a fairly curvy design. If you do not have this type of mower you should consider making your curves more subtle. Cutting in the Trench Using the garden hose as a guide, carefully begin cutting in the edging trench. The depth of the trench should be about four to five inches, depending of the depth of your edging. The trench should be cut as perfectly vertical as possible on the outside edge. A good edging tool makes cutting the trench much easier and the tool will help you maintain the edging going forward. Once a horizontal outside edge is cut in, place an angled cut on the inside portion of the horizontal cut toward the bottom front edge and remove any sod within the bed. You are now ready to insert the edging. Place the edging in the prepared trench and secure the edging against the outside edge using plastic edging stakes. You should drive on edging stakes using a good rubber mallet. They should be driven were two sections of edging are joined and approximately every four to five feet depending on the number of curves in you edging design. If you need to join sections of edging you will want to cut the top and bottom portions of the leading edge of the plastic edging using a utility knife or tin snips. This is necessary so that the joining sections can be overlapped creating a solid weed barrier. Now secure together the two sections of edging with the provided connector pin. With the edging is place, it is now time to backfill the edging. Backfill the Edging Rake the some loose soil to create a sloping surface toward the outer perimeter of the prepared bed. Make sure you tightly pack the loose soil against the inside edge of the entire length of the installed edging. The packed soil helps the edging stay firmly in place. When the soil is firmly packed, you should have about two inches of space below the top of the inside surface of the edging. Install Barrier Cloth When buying barrier cloth, be certain that you purchase a thick and sturdy premium cloth rated for at least 25 years or greater. If you by purchase a thinner cloth it will be necessary to double up the layers to ensure proper protection from weeds. Roll out the barrier cloth ensuring that you overlap each additional row about three to four inches. Also, ensure that you extend the cloth at least 4 inches beyond the farthest section of the outside plastic edging. This excess is important to ensure you have ample coverage. The cloth tends to pull away from the edging when you place the weight of the brick nuggets on the cloth surface. Once the barrier cloth is in place, you will need to lay cardboard under any portion of the barrier cloth that extends outside the landscaped bed. We need to trim any excess cloth that extends far beyond the bed’s plastic edging perimeter. Using the utility knife, cut any excess barrier cloth using the cardboard as a cutting surface. You should cut the cloth about four inches out past the outside edge of the edging layout. Once the barrier cloth is trimmed, you are ready to cover the cloth with brick nuggets, stone or lava rocks. Fill with Brick Nugget Landscape Cover Medium I incorporate brick nuggets into my landscaping. A rule of thumb, you want to lay about 2 to 3 inches of cover material on top of your barrier cloth. Be sure to check the coverage instructions on the bag of your selected landscaping cover material. I have found that you will always require about one third more material then that which you had initially planned. The moral of the story, don’t skimp on the brick nuggets. Once I have adequately filled the area, I pack the nuggets firmly in the sloped area next to the edging. This provides additional lateral support to the edging. Packing gives the edging some structural integrity for the weight of the mower for when you edge your grass against the landscape perimeter. As a finishing touch, I use my wide blade putty knife to neatly tuck the excess barrier cloth down between the nuggets and the inside of the edging. This helps discourage any weed growth into the bed and gives the edge a clean and tidy finish. Planting One key to ensuring your landscapes stay care and maintenance free is incorporating perennials plantings into your design. There are many strong, attractive perennials to choose from for your landscape, including: Forsythia, Asters, Texas Ranger, Chrysanthemums, Daffodils, Hostas, Hardy Hibiscus, Purple Coneflower, Peonies, Russian Sage, Siberian Iris and Hardy Lilies. One of the more predominate perennials that I use in my designs is Hostas. Hostas are low maintenance, shade-tolerant and will thrive in almost every soil type. Additionally, hostas can be divided to expand the plantings in your landscape. There is about a four-week window during September to October to divide and plant your hostas. You should allow at least three or four weeks for the hostas to become established before the soil freezes solid. I use incorporate several varieties of hostas for color variation. I typically alternate these colors when placing the plants into the landscape design. To discourage uncontrolled spreading of my hostas and other perennials I pot my perennials in containers. To incorporate my containers into my landscape design I follow these four easy steps: Position the containers proportionally on your landscape ensuring that your plants are correctly proportionally spaced. Brush away the brick nuggets from the area of the intended planting and use a utility knife to cut an “x” in your barrier cloth. Fold back the barrier cloth to expose the soil. Use a long handled sod plugger to make a receiving hole that is large enough for the container. Prior to placing the container into the hole. remove the bottom of the container with a utility knife Finally, place the planting into the landscape, backfill with soil, reposition the barrier cloth and brick nuggets around the new planting, and water the plant. Low maintenance landscaping simplifies your life and gives you more time to do things you really love. Try some of these landscaping methods and plants for easy gardening. You are certain to increase the value of your home and you’ll have much more free time to spend with family and friends. Whatever in on your list of your home project endeavors; I wish you safety and success! Here are links to additional videos in this series: - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 2) - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 3) - Repairing Plastic Edging - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 4) - Landscaping with Brick Nuggets (Part 5)

  • 7 Essential Tools for Easier Oil Changes

    The purpose of this article is to review the tools that are essential to help make the job of changing oil much easier. In this article I feature a few oil changing tools that I find useful and functional as a do-it-yourselfer. The seven tools that are essential to any oil change include a proper funnel, a bright an effective work light, oil catch pan, a good socket wrench set, a functional pair of filter pliers, a good maintenance creeper and a properly sized set of vehicle ramps. Without these tools in the proper type, size and form, the task of changing oil can be very difficult. A large capacity oil funnel and a bright utility light are self explanatory. You cannot perform that task without a bright, low profile work light and an you cannot ensure the accurate placement of oil without a proper funnel. When it comes to oil drain pans I highly recommend the FloTool 16-Quart Drain Container featured in the video and also in the link provided below, (see link for price and reviews). This pan is wonderful and has made my oil changes far easier. It is particularly helpful in reducing cleanup as the basin is designed to drain the oil into a contained compartment. This fantastic design greatly simplify the task of filling recycle containers with the used oil when the job is finished. The Kobalt Socket Set is great for this and other tight spaced jobs as the sockets are designed to attach inside the wrench. This design results in making the combined depth of the socket and wrench much more shallow than a standard wrench. Additionally, these sockets are designed to fit both standard and metric bolts so you do not need to invest in both types of sets. A good maintenance creeper is essential to making the job more effortless. You should look for a crawler that rolls easily and has sufficient padding. In the video below, I feature a homemade crawler that does the job nicely. Finally, proper vehicle ramps are essential to provide the necessary clearance to properly access the oil pan plug and oil filter. One thing to be mindful of when selecting a ramp is to ensure that your car's spoiler will not get damaged when you attempt to drive up the ramps. You can purchase low profile ramps or you can adopt the solution that I featured in the video that turned my higher profile ramps into a functional and effective solution. I feature these items in the follow video and provide some additional valuable tips for helping to ensure that your oil change is done efficiently and and with minimal frustration. Amazon reviews and price information for Tools I used in the above video: - FloTool 16-Quart Drain Container - Kobalt 38 pc Xtreme Access Socket Set

  • Maintenance Free Gutters & Downspouts

    Regular cleaning and maintenance of your gutters and downspouts is essential to preserve the value of your home. If this water conveyance system gets clogged, the rain water coming from your roof is no longer routed safely away from the foundation of your home. This can result in numerous issues including foundation damage and water seepage into your basement or crawlspace. However, if you are like me, I have found few things more dreadful than the annual ritual of cleaning out those nasty gutters. The decaying leaves make a smelly mess on both you and your landscaping. Not to mention the fact that you risk life and limb when traversing up and down that slippery wet ladder as you struggle with the lawn hose to attempt to blast out those decaying debris. Hiring someone to clean your gutters for you is possible solution. However, depending on the size and height of your home the cost of this solution could run between $50 to $250 a year. Well about five years ago I stumbled across a very practical and effective solution that I want to take a moment share with you. To be totally honest, at first I was very skeptical about the durability and effectiveness of this solution. I simply was not confident that the product would stand the test of time and do the job as described. However my initial impressions were wrong. The solution? Gutter guards. These DIY gutter guards are an easy to install and are an economical solution. They are snap-in, white plastic filter guards. They are 3 foot in length and six inches in width. They are designed to easily snap in between the front lip of the gutter and the under edge of the shingles on your home’s eve. They are made to create a smooth transitional surface from your roof surface to effectively shed leaves and other debris while allowing filtered rain water into the gutter and downspout structure to be safely conveyed away from your home’s foundation. To determine the number of panels needed, I first measured the length of each section of spouting and record each length. Next I added the various lengths together to get total footage needed. Keep in mind that you will need to measure and cut several of the three foot panels so that you have the proper length at the end of each spouting run. This is necessary to make a clean/flush finished end. As such, you may want to purchase extra product to compensate for possible spoilage. I am pleased to recommend this solution as it has eliminated my need to clean out my gutters for more than five years. This is all because I took a chance on an inexpensive solution that turned out to be an excellent time saving idea. If you are tired of doing this annual odd job, you may want to check out the following affiliate link here. This link will give you additional information and product reviews about this practical time saving solution. Buy the way… If cleaning out gutters or installing gutter guards are on the list projects that you intend to do, be sure that you follow sound ladder safety practices. Allow me offer a few important and practical safety tips that can ensure that you have a safe and successful project. Inspect the ladder for any defects that may make the ladder unsafe. Make certain that you place your ladder on a firm and level surface. Check the ladder cleats to ensure they are in good condition. The ladder should be safely positioned one foot out (horizontally) from the mounting surface for every four feet of rise (vertical height) to the working surface. You must have three points of contact on a ladder at all times. This means that you should use a tool belt and other method to convey materials to upper work surfaces so that your hands are free to climb safely. You should be sure to wear non-slip shoes and also be mindful of power lines. You can insert a length of 2 X 4 stud into the section of gutter assuming you need to position the ladder against the gutter for support. This will help protect the gutter from collapsing from the lateral force created by the combined weight of you and the ladder. Whatever your list of your home project endeavors; I wish you safety and success! And should you decided to implement this time saving idea, may you never have to clean your home gutters again! See this product featured in the following video: Again, I highly recommend this product as it has proven to be effective and time saving idea. If you are tired of doing this annual chore, be sure to click here for more product information.

bottom of page