Tools and Reviews

Review of Sun Joe 10 inch Electric Convertible Pole Chain Saw

I purchased the Sun Joe SWJ807E-SJB 10 inch 8.0 Amp Electric Convertible Pole Chain Saw a couple months back. I had a number of trees to trim and many of them are on a rather steep hillside. I trim the trees each year to maintain our view (below).


  • Price.
    I paid $52 (including shipping) when I purchased this pole saw. For that price, I felt I couldn’t go wrong
  • Modular / Convertible
    This saw allows you to detach the handle/switch and attach it directly to the saw so that you can use it like a traditional (small) chainsaw. This makes the final cutting of a limb at ground level an easy job.
  • Powerful Enough
    This surprised me the most. If you are patient, you don’t need much.
  • Reach
    This pole saw telescopes to about 9′. This was plenty for most jobs.


  • Corded
    Limited by the cord. Easy fix by replacing this unit with a cordless one. A little more money, but knowing how will this unit works, I would step it up to the following

[amazon_link asins=’B07DHZSYMX,B01N2QVZIR,B073ZFC1FQ’ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’wnyhandyman-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bafbfd0f-1df2-4fdd-9582-8df3af324ba2′]
   Hillside trees to trim

The trees on our hillside grow very quickly and I have used a standard pole saw over the years. Well, those things are a bit of a pain when you are on a hill and reaching out. I figured an options where I didn’t have to manually cut was called for. The manual saws can be great (mine has a lopper blade at the end), but as you get older, shoulder issues can make them unusable. Here is a link to the manual saw if you are interested. The lopper is the best part IMO.

If you notice, the manual saw is about $40. When I received a newsletter that listed the Sun Joe electric saw for $52 shipped, it was hard to resist. I figured that even if it didn’t work all that well, I would only be out $52 and I could justify that.

The saw exceeded my expectations. The saw is modular. In this case, the handle and head unit (blade) can be removed from the saw and then attached to each other (see video demonstration below). This allows for easy clean up when everything is on the ground, or is good enough when a gas saw isn’t handy.

I really don’t have much negative to say about the saw. The negative of it being corded is the primary one and I could get a battery powered saw to get around that. These have really come down in price and you can see one for about $85 below. I will probably purchase that next year when we are trimming in an area that is not too close to an outlet.

I hope that this helped someone. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

General Improvment Tools and Reviews

Nest Products for Your Home

We have referred a lot of folks to replacement units for their faulty Kidde smoke detectors over the past few years.  We ran into an issue with our Kidde 1275 units and were forced to replace the units. Providing a plug and play alternative for folks has been a help to many.  If you are like most, you don’t want to deal with household wiring. But, if you can replace a ceiling fan, or light fixture, you can replace your some detectors.  A few wire nuts and  you are all set.  I have an example of the Nest Protect installation instructions linked at the bottom of this post.  As you can see, a few wire nuts (much like a ceiling fan) and you are all set.  If you have a lot of units to replace, you are looking at quite a few dollars ($99/unit as of this writing), but some of the features are invaluable.

One of the primary pluses with the Nest Protect is that it has to be the ability to communicate with a nest thermostat and stop the furnace from running during a CO alarm.  CO would continue to be generated if you had a faulty furnace or, hot water tank, and the combination of the Nest Protect and the Nest Thermostat would aid in preventing a more dangerous situation. There are far too many carbon monoxide related deaths.  If the Nest Protect could help to prevent those, it could really make a difference.

For those who haven’t heard of the company, Nest was created by some former Apple iPod folks and then purchased by Google. The company appears to be building an entire suite of products for the “wired home” that currently include the Nest Learning Thermostat, the Nest Protect Smoke Plus Carbon Monoxide, Battery S2001BW and the Dropcam Pro Wi-Fi Wireless Video Monitoring Camera. Expect more to come from this Google subsidiary.

We have been using the Nest thermostat for the past couple of months now. It has the “cool” factor and is supposedly able to pay for itself over time, but my favorite feature has got to be the ability to alter the setting without having to go upstairs or downstairs to do so. If you have a smartphone or a tablet near, you can simply make your changes from where you are.

Nest Protect Wiring Instructions

Nest protect wiring


How To's Tools and Reviews

Make a New Top with an Accurate Fence for a Cheap Table Saw

If you are like me, you might have an inexpensive (“cheap”) table saw that you use as a job site or backyard saw.  If you don’t, you can pick one up for about $100 from most big box hardware stores.  If you do have one, you will also know that these are not very well made.  The deck of the saw is just fine and the motor will get the job done, but the fence system is another story.  In addition to that, the size of the deck will limit the ability to cut pieces of any significant size.

Well, this clever handyman (Wooden Tool Man) came up with a simple design for a new table top along with a very simple, yet functional fence system that can’t help but stay square to your saw blade.  As most of you know, a fence that is out of square does not lend itself to a nice looking finished project.  I know that a few of you have probably developed techniques with the poor quality of the fence.  How many reading this cut things a little proud since they know they will have some rather large swirl marks to remove?  Hands down.

The following video runs through the building technique for the tabletop and fence.  This is one that I will have to build myself.  Thanks “Wooden Tool Man“.

Tools and Reviews

Why Choose Bosch Power Tools?

People, who are looking for the power tools for their household purposes or for their home improvements, are often on the lookout to find the best in the industry. Bosch power tools are one such brand that stands apart from the other brands with an experience of over 100 years in the industry of manufacturing tools. Prominent features of Bosch power tools are that they are user friendly and have very less vibration rate compared most of the other tools that are available in the market today. Following are some of the reviews of Bosch power tools and their advantages over the other brands.

Bosch Multi-X

This is one of the best Bosch power tools that is capable of performing multi tasking. Using Bosch Multi-X you can perform various types of cutting works with wood or any other material that you can see in a household. Apart from having minimal vibrations, Bosch Multi-X produces minimal noise. As far as the pricing is considered, it is very cost effective compared to its competitors. For example, if we consider Fein’s Multimaster which performs the same task as that of Bosch Multi-X, there is a huge difference in the price tag. Fein’s Multimaster is sold at a price of $270 and Bosch Multi-X is sold at half of its price and is capable of performing the same tasks with ease and is very reliable.

Bosch’s Jig Saw

Jig saw is a tool that is used to cut materials that need a precise shape, such as, curved edges and round patterns, etc. Bosch was the first company to introduce jig saw and are considered as pioneers in manufacturing jig saws. This instrument is capable of withstanding the most demanding situations where extensive work is performed. Other tool makers such as DeWalt, Screwfix may offer these kinds of tools at a lower price but they are not as powerful as Bosch’s Jig Saw.

Bosch Power Drill

In Bosch power tools category, another item that is worth mentioning is Bosh Power Drill. This elegant looking power drill is compact and yet power-packed. These come in various styles and shapes suiting individual needs. These light weight Power Bosch Drills have a great endurance capacity and also have a long durability. When compared to other power drills from Makita ,DeWalt or other companies, Bosch Power Drill is the best bargain for it market price starting from as low as $15.

Whichever Bosch power tool you may choose, they are manufactured with the best technology and with the end user in mind. It is very hard to find a reputable company which manufactures the power tools with such a precision and yet sells the tools for an affordable price. Bosch power tools are empowered with advanced engineering coupled with an experience of over 100 years in the power tools manufacturing industry. Apart from the industrial usage, people who are buying Bosch power tools for their kitchen, bathroom, furniture and other household needs can also be rest assured that they get the best deals and every single cent spent on the power tools from Bosch range are worth it.

General Improvment Tools and Reviews

Laminate or Hardwood? Here is the Truth

One of the most common questions that I am asked when friends are renovating is “Should I use laminate or hardwood?”.

The answer to this question depends on a few of factors.

Location: Primary residence or rental
Keep hardwood out of your rental unless you get a screaming deal, don’t mind a finish that gets destroyed, or want to keep a fantastic (and responsible) long term tenant happy.

Pets will destroy the finish on hardwood flooring. If you have pets, and don’t want to refinish every few years, consider a high quality laminate floor.

The easiest installation will be a plank vinyl.  You will achieve the look of a hardwood or laminate.  To achieve the look, we recommend the “plank” product. Some think that I am talking about vinyl tile when I suggest plank vinyl.  It is very different in terms of the look, but similarly simple in terms of the installation.

Your primary question has to do with the location of the flooring being put in.  If this is your primary residence, I would almost certainly answer “Hardwood”.

If you are talking about a rental property I would recommend a laminate, or plank vinyl, depending on the age and condition of the underlayment along with the skill of the installer.

If you are considering a laminate, I would strongly recommend that you consider a plank vinyl instead.  The look is nearly identical to a laminate and the installation is much easier.  We wrote a review about the Allure brand of plank vinyl here.  The tools needed to lay a plank vinyl floor are probably sitting in just about anyone’s tool drawer.  Laminate flooring will require a couple of saws and many sharp blades.

Many will tell you that laminates look just like hardwoods now.  Don’t buy it!  They will look great compared to an old carpeted floor, or sheet vinyl floor, but there is simply nothing that matches the look of a true hardwood floor.  There is a difference in the look, sheen, feel, and temperature.  Yes, temperature.  Your hardwood is going to retain warmth better than a thin laminate floor will.  The warmth of a true hardwood is not just in the beauty of the wood, it is also in the warmth that the hardwood retains.  The hardwood will hold some of the warmth from your heating source.

Bouncing / Punky floors

Many people who install laminate flooring will complain about the “bounce” in the floor.  This happens when you have an uneven floor and the laminate spans that section.  The laminate wants to hold its straight line.  Because of that, it will feel punky, or bouncy, anytime it goes over a depression or sits on two uneven sections.  In addition to that, it could weaken the tongue over time and destroy that joint.  The manufacturer will recommend using a floor leveler for areas that are uneven, but many people won’t even be aware of the depressions until after their laminate installation.  Plank vinyl is nice in that it will take to the wavy floor. I had an incredibly wavy area to address in a 100+ year old home.  The plank vinyl did the job perfectly. Hardwood is nice because it is fastened to the underlayment.  There are glue down installations, but if you are doing a glue down, the leveling of the floor is a must.


laminate flooring up close tongue and groove

Plank Vinyl:

Plank Vinyl Flooring


hardwood flooring up close

It is hard to argue with the finished look of a hardwood floor.


Oak hardwood floor

Plank Vinyl:

Plank vinyl in a wet entry

Tools and Reviews

From Design to Completion… Lay it Out to Get Ahead

If you are a handyman, contractor, or house flipper, you can always get ahead of yourself by designing your projects in a program like Sketchup (formerly Google Sketchup) prior to beginning your work. I’ll give you a couple of examples of how I use this technique below.

Typically I will use Sketchup prior to owning a property, or prior to getting approval from the person I am working for (my wife).  The window seat bookcase below demonstrates the technique.  We purchased a property (0ur cottage project) and since we are in NY, had about 60 days from the time we went under contract and the time we closed on the property.  This time can be used wisely.  Most contractors will have other work occupying that time, but there are certainly rain days, or sick days, where sitting at a computer is not a burden.

The window seat bookcase was designed in a couple of hours.  We took measurements of the window during our home inspection and built the 4 basic boxes used in this design (2 towers, header shelf, seat box) off site.  Designing in Sketchup allowed us to review design options, shelf spacing, and divider spacing.  By doing so, we were able to bring the pieces in, level, fasten, and then work on our face frame that tied everything together.  By doing it off site we were able to utilize our best tools rather than our site table saw, limited clamps, etc.  Click the image to view the full size collage.

Designing in Sketchup before a project begins

The scale used in Sketchup can literally be anything you want.  You could work on a 4mm watch gear, or something the size of the Eiffel tower.

I began using Sketchup years ago when working on a fixer upper house (Garfield Project).  Again, with 60 days until closing, we had plenty of time to plan.  This project was a complete gut job and Sketchup allowed us to test some wall removal, kitchen layouts, flooring choices, transitions, and front elevations.

floorplan garfield

If you have done a fixer (flip) before you know that creating a plan is the key to getting the project done quickly.  You can literally have your demo plan, rough plan, and purchase list complete before you ever close on the property.  This is a huge time saver and will result in a much better finished product since you will be able to focus on the details that will set the property apart from others.

Give Sketchp a try.