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

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   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

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

How To's Tools and Reviews

Allure Floor Installation and Review

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