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April 2009

April 23, 2009

Cool 4-plug adapter with rotating outlets

Transformers are receptacle hogs.  They clog up power bars and often take up two spaces.  So someone really smart came up with this beguiling little unit with outlets that rotate 360 degrees so you can put four transformers to work at once without a bar fight.  Not bad looking either, and way tidier than a gawky power bar with its stiff unwieldy cord.  By the way, it's also a heavy-duty surge protector.  $16.95 

Where to buy:  Lee Valley Tools.

4 outlet rotating plug adapter 4 outlet plug - loaded

April 20, 2009

Recession Rekindles Love for Do-it-yourself

From Hardlines, the rockin' Canadian company that follows trends in the home improvement industry ---

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — It turns out that people aren’t just turning to DIY projects to save money — they actually like doing home improvement projects.

Lowe’s Cos. conducted a consumer survey recently of more than 500 U.S. homeowners, who revealed projects they’re planning over the next 12 months and what motivated the process. Of those people planning a DIY project, 35 percent say they will do it themselves to save money. But in a very close second, 32 percent cited “pleasure” as the reason they do it themselves.

“Purchasing a home is one of the largest single investments a person will make during his or her lifetime. In good times and bad, homeowners remain committed to preserving their investment by maintaining and improving their homes,” says Larry Stone, Lowe’s president and COO. “While time constraints encouraged many people to say ‘do it for me’ in recent years, perhaps the silver lining of the current economy is that homeowners can save while they rediscover the fun of doing projects themselves.”

April 19, 2009

Avonlea online Q&A tonight

Tonight at 6:00 pm Eastern I'm going to be typing as fast as I can to answer questions posted at Avonlea Kindreds by fans of Road to Avonlea and Anne of Green Gables.  Join us if you have an hour and ask me anything, I mean anything. 
Picture 2

A good friend told me that my photos belong elsewhere so...

I got a Flickr account.

April 14, 2009

My new bamboo plywood desk - oh baby.

I finally finished my desk. 

Mag Ruffman's bamboo plywood desk

I cajoled the chair mat and mousepad into matching the carpet (using my iron-on technique, covered a few weeks ago).  The floor of the house slopes so much I had to prop up the south legs to make the desk surface horizontal.  You'd slope too if you were 150 years old.

Mag Ruffman's bamboo plywood desktop


P.S.  I got my FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council, meaning the bamboo was harvested sustainably) bamboo from a great local supplier, SilkRoad Toronto.

Mag Ruffman and her DeWALT circular saw

The tenon at the top of each bamboo leg fits into a mortise (hole) on the underside of the desk.  Rudimentary but enduring.  Like leg hair.  Wonder how I made the desk's legs?  It was easy on my lathe (video)

Turned tenon inserts into mortise on underside of desk

April 07, 2009

Shellawax - nice food-safe wood finish in just one coat

I'm finally finishing the bamboo desk I started last year.  I just love the finish I found at Lee Valley Tools - Shellawax Liquid - it's made by an Australian company and it creates a tough semi-gloss finish in one coat.  That's beyond awesome.  And it smells good too, kind of like men's aftershave mixed with pipe tobacco and good port.

Shellawax is actually meant to be used as a polish for woodturning projects on a lathe, but I've been so happy with the finish it's given me on my turned projects that I decided to try it on a (huge) flat surface.  I'm working in small 6-inch squares to apply the finish, then hitting the area with the heat gun to simulate the heat caused by friction on a lathe.  Then a quick rub with a cotton rag to even out the warm finish, which is dry-to-the-touch pretty much instantly after heating.  Shellawax is non-toxic after curing, and low-odor during application (even my chemical-sensitive husband wasn't bothered by it).  After three weeks of curing the Shellawax finish is alcohol and water-resistant - good news for us spillers. 

Mag Ruffman putting a Shellawax finish on bamboo plywood

A small setback for the 'Spring is here' thing

The great April dump of 09 A good excuse to hang out in the workshop thinking up new stuff to build.

April 04, 2009

My moment in the New York Times this week

Short feature by Steve Kurutz about shopping for tools in Manhattan with Mag

Mag Ruffman - Photographed by Librado Romero - the New York Times

April 03, 2009

Gear Alert: Camping season is almost here...

Wearable sleeping bag...and who can live without a wearable sleeping bag?

PRO:  Limits potential intimacy with unattractive tent mates.  

CON:  Limits potential intimacy with attractive tent mates.

CON:  Difficult to get dressed inside your sleeping bag without loss of dignity.  

PRO:  Attractive loungewear for sitting around the campfire at night.

CON:  Difficult to put shoes on to visit potty in middle of the night.

PRO:  Fun to tighten down hood so only mouth and nose show, then go for a Zombie Walk at 3:00a.m. and freak out other campers.

April 02, 2009

5 Reasons to Gear Up with Power Tools

Mag Ruffman with her twin DeWALT 18-volt drills

  1. Owning your own cordless drill makes you want to rush home after work.
  2. You get to use suggestive terms like 'torque' and 'ratcheting chuck'.
  3. You can say stuff like, “With this much torque, screwing is more satisfying”.
  4. Putting on a tool belt makes you look like Cat Woman, only with more torque.
  5. When they watch you working, your male friends will experience an increase in their angular momentum.


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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie