My Personal Bucket List

my-bucket-list

A few years ago, a started writing up a “bucket list” of things I would like to do while on Earth. It started off with about ten items and I’ve been gradually adding to it. It’s to the point where I’m not sure it’s doable but I’ve got a few things checked off which I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Here we go…

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Choosing a Secure Gun Cabinet

buying-gun-cabinet

If you’re like me, safety is of utmost importance when it comes to being a gun owner. There are a lot of gun cabinets in the market today of all different brands and sizes. Being a gun enthusiast requires you to think responsibly especially in choosing the right storage space for your firearms. With this, you have to think about a few things when you are looking for a gun cabinet to place in your home.  

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Top Woodworking Projects for Kids

birdhouse
Woodworking is a popular hobby and a good way to introduce kids to tools. The concepts of simple machines and safety learned in basic carpentry will apply to almost any other project. Introducing kids to basic projects will show them how easy and functional carpentry can be. Adults also use more complex tools, but they are based on the same principles, so learning how they work as a child will lead to more options.

Tool Box (easy)

toolboxOne of the first projects for kids to work on is a tool box. This is a popular choice because it demonstrates how a few common tools can be used to create a sturdy and useful item. Keep in mind, you don’t need to spend a fortune for the best hand tools. I trip to Harbor Freight is all that’s needed. Since it can be made from a single piece of wood, it shows kids how to make the most of the available resources. As a bonus, they are easily customized with paint so they will have a handy tote they decorated on their own.
Assembling a tool box requires the use of the following:
  • handsaw
  • hammer
  • screwdriver
  • nails
  • screws

To show how to use additional tools, a square will help make sure the pieces fit together neatly. When kids see how easy it is to follow the plans, they will be encouraged to try another project.

Jewelry Box (Medium)

jewelry-boxAnother project that is commonly used to introduce kids to carpentry is a jewelry box. One of the reasons this is a popular choice is that it can be given to the child’s mother when it is complete. The same plan for a box is also easily adapted to other uses depending on the need. Boxes are a interesting choice because they offer options for those with different skills or who want to learn how to use more tools. One option is to use a miter box to cut the boards at an angle for a more sophisticated look.

Those who are ready for more advanced techniques can learn to cut dovetail joints in the pieces used for the sides so they fit together snugly. When giving boxes like this as a gift, the chance to add a finish will teach kids the value of preserving and protecting the wood with a sealer or a stain. Assembling a lid means learning the value of taking fine measurements so it fits exactly and how to add hinges to improve the quality of a project. For some good tool buying advice be sure to do your research online so you don’t waste money on tools you don’t need.

Bird House (Advanced)

birdhouseBuilding projects that are clearly functional will appeal to kids when they can see them being used everyday. This is where a bird house is an excellent choice as it will be highly visible and put to good use. Since it provides shelter for local birds, it will be appreciated for more than just a way to practice using tools. Some of the features of bird houses and feeders make them good for demonstrating additional techniques.

The roof will be more attractive when it is cut with a clean mitered joint. The walls and sides can be cut to any shape the child desires, as long as the front and back and both sides match. They also offer the chance to practice using drills to add openings for birds or to make small holes so a dowel can be inserted as a perch.

Learning to use carpentry tools safely is a valuable skill that gives every one a chance to build some of the things they want instead of buying them. Woodworking also gives kids an outlet to express their creativity in ways that will impress their friends and family.

Why You Should Change Your Own Oil

oil change

I’m by no means comfortable with doing my own major car repairs but there are a couple things I always do myself: wash my car and change the oil. Something I learned early on in life is that in order for a vehicle to run properly, it must be well maintained. If you want your car to run well for as long as possible, you will need to have the oil changed regularly. You may want to consider changing the oil in your car on your own. It is not overly difficult to do and there are many benefits to doing the work yourself.

Save Yourself Money

Changing your oil on your own will save you a lot of money. You can compare the cost of the filter and oil to be sure that you are getting the best price possible. There are times when you can find oil on clearance and save yourself even more money. If you plan on doing other maintenance and repair, I’d highly recommended investing in a floor jack. A good car jack under $200 will last you a lifetime and save a bunch of time and effort.

Save Yourself Time

Changing the oil yourself will save you time because you can do it whenever it is convenient for you. You will not have to spend hours on end waiting for a mechanic to change the oil. Many mechanics have numerous oil changes to do in a day and this can cause you to have to wait two to four hours just to get an oil change.

Get Peace of Mind

Mechanics are often in a hurry when changing oil. They want to get as many jobs done as possible to ensure that they are able to make as much money as they can. By doing the oil change on your own, you will be able to rest assured that the job was done the right way, that no plugs are missing, and that the filter was put into the car the right way. Don’t be like my friend who went into one of those speedy oil change places and the attendant there forgot to fully tighten the oil pan bolt. By the time he got home, there was no oil in the car and the engine was smoking. Now he’s fighting them to get reimbursed for the damage.

Changing your own oil will take less than an hour, once you get used to doing it. When you consider the time and financial savings that come from changing your own oil, you will realize that it is well worth the effort.

Essential Woodworking Tools for the Garage

woodworking-shop

I love working with wood. It’s relaxing and gets the creative juices flowing. Woodworking as either income or hobby entails the use of certain tools. Once you decide to convert your garage into a shop, you will need to know the best choices for a limited space. Some tools are indispensable while others can be passed by depending on what you expect to achieve from your shop.

We can start by listing the most needed power tools followed by hand tools and incidentals. If you know exactly what you’ll be doing, tools may be added and removed, but we can make a good beginners list here.

Table Saw

table-sawThe biggest tool you should have will be your tablesaw. For accuracy, for ability to make repetitive cuts and for the ability to handle large sizes of board, this tool can’t be beat. The drawback is the amount of space it takes up. Being a cabinetmaker, I like my tablesaw bench to be large enough to handle at least a 4X8 sheet of plywood. That means my bench would be nine to ten feet from front to back and nine feet wide with the saw blade being center of that span.

An alternative to such a large piece of real estate in your garage is a portable tablesaw that can be stored under a workbench, but they have never been known for accuracy. For accuracy, you should turn to your circular saw, a good straightedge and clamps. It takes a bit to set up but it will give you a far better cut than the portable.

Power Tools

cordless-drillNext up is a drill. Some think that this is where it stops. Of course, you can put a screwdriver bit in and run screws but woodworking often requires a more delicate hand. In my opinion, drills are for drilling but screwguns are for screwing. They can be adjusted to stop before blowing through the wood.

A jigsaw is the next tool, preferably one that can scroll. This is followed by a router. Obtain an extra base for your router so that you have the ability to use it by hand and attach the other base to a router table. In a perfect world, your shop would have at least two routers, one with a ¼-inch shank and another with a ½-inch shank. Keep in mind, router bits can get very expensive.

Sanders are up next. You can certainly do ninety-nine percent of your sanding with a random orbital sander. However, a belt sander for large jobs certainly makes the job easier. For the small spaces, a triangular sander gets it done.

An air compressor is probably the most versatile piece of equipment in your shop or garage. Whether you’re using it with an air sander or just blowing off sawdust for cleaning, it’ll be used quite often. Since you’ll probably be in a small enclosed air, a quiet air compressor such as this one or this one are the best options. Feel free to check out various other air compressor reviews online if you need something larger.

Finally, the indispensable compound miter saw or “chop saw” as it’s called in shops. This saw will cut straight, clean miters for corners, compound miters for angled corners such as crown molding and repetitive crosscuts. This tool can be built into the workbench or used away from it with collapsible supports.

Hand Tools

hand-toolsHand tools are the remaining link between past and present. No matter how many innovations are made to power tools, there will always be a time when you’ll reach for a hand tool. The list can go on forever but here are the necessities:

  • Chisels for cutting and cleaning up your projects. Chisels range in size from ¼-inch to 2 inches.

  • Squares come in several styles and you should have one of each. Framing squares, adjustable squares and T-squares are the most used in a wood shop.

  • Clamps, hand planes, screwdrivers, wrenches, tape measures and folding rulers round out the list.

Brains

The most important tool is your common sense. Be sure the garage is well ventilated, always wear safety equipment and work smart.

Top 10 Things to Do in Hawaii

hawaii

Hawaii stands alone as the only state that is composed entirely of islands. The Hawaii contains several climate and terrain types, including tropical, mountain, and flatland. Each one contains diversity that is unique to the island chain.

Explore the Islands

The Hawaiian island chain is filled with many things to discover. As you explore Hawaii, you will come upon well-known beaches, breathtaking views, and experience a very unique environment.

hawaii-beaches1. World famous beaches are the main attraction. Hawaii has an astounding variety of beaches, including white, red, and black sands. The Travel Channel has a good list of beaches in Hawaii but here are my favorites:

  • Poipu Beach is one of several that have been awarded “America’s Best Beach.”

  • Hanalei Beach is renowned for it’s alluring sunsets.

  • Papohaku Beach is one of America’s largest white sand beaches.

  • Punaluu Beach is a black sand beach composed of volcanic ash and rock.

2. Hiking is a wonderful experience. You will find some of the best views on foot, away from the bustle of other visitors. Be sure to visit Leahi (Diamond Head) to enjoy some of Hawaii’s most breathtaking views.

3. The Beauty of Nature can be found everywhere. From pineapples to colorful shells, Hawaii offers something for everyone. Be sure to include a visit to Hawaii’s volcanoes, the natural forces that raised these islands out of the sea.

Experience the Sea

hawaiiIsland life has grown up around what the sea has to offer. Whether you go by boat, in the water, or beneath the waves, you will bring home wonderful stories.

4. Boating and Day Cruises will allow you to get as close as the original island inhabitants. This is the only way to reach some of the more secluded beaches and sunken vessels.

5. Unsurpassed Surfing is abundant in Hawaii. Beginners and experienced surfers alike will find ample opportunity to hone their sport. Hawaii has some of the largest waves in the world.

  • Kahaluu Beach Park is excellent for learning to surf.

  • Waikiki Beach, one of Hawaii’s best-known beaches, is great for beginners.

  • Waimea Bay is regarded as the birthplace of big wave surfing.

6.  Snorkeling and Scuba Diving are popular. Whether you are searching for the rare pearl, taking a closer look at tropical fish, or exploring a historic shipwreck, a mask and a pair of flippers will give you the best view you can get.

Investigate the Culture

Hawaii has been populated for more than a thousand years, and contains a variety of history, unique cuisine and island culture. Hawaiian culture is both educational and entertaining.

7. Hawaiian culture reaches back into prehistoric times. One example is Kaunolu Village on the island of Lanai. In Honolulu, tour the residence of Hawaii’s last monarch, Washington Place.

hawaii-food8. Hawaiian cuisine is a memorable experience. The islands have several world famous chefs. Hawaiian cuisine is best known for it’s meats and produce raised in the rich soil of volcanic deposits.

9. The island chain’s National Parks contain diverse examples of endangered species, including the majestic humpback whale. For up close fun, the tidal pools of Hulopoe Bay contain a variety of marine species.

10. History is everywhere you look. Prehistoric village ruins, early Asian influence, and colonial expansion are some of the historical treats, along with the wartime artifacts of World War II.

  • Kaunolu Village marks the oldest prehistoric village on the island chain.

  • Pearl Harbor, Oahu, is the place where the United States was officially drawn into World War II.

  • Kona is home to many temples, including the first Christian church on the islands, and Ahuena Heiau, built by King Kamhameha I.

Hawaii really does have something to do for everyone and it’s a very safe place to visit for the most part. Because tourism drives its economy, thievery does exist here. If you must take valuables with you, I highly recommend making sure the hotel you are staying at has a safe in your room. My friend Tim, who runs the site gunsafeadvisor.com, is an expert in gun safes which are frequently used as safes for other valuables. Since he does a lot of traveling, he has been a good resource on Hawaii. Be sure to read his article on his recommendation of the best gun safe for cars which would prove to be interesting for those who prefer roadtrips to flying.

Cell Phone Tips When Traveling Internationally

cell-phone-mountain

You cannot assume that your popular cellphone will work internationally, or that your current plan will cover the costs of using it. If you insist on using your own phone overseas, have your carrier set up an international plan. Even then, you need to wary of costly surcharges and exceptions that affect phones when they leave the country.

Avoid Fees

Even if your cellphone will work outside of the country, your service provider may charge you outrageous fees or surcharges to use it. Even companies that advertise global access may have hidden costs that only become apparent when you receive a bill for usage. Contact your provider and go over the details of what you need to have available when traveling abroad, and get the facts in writing.

Beware of Data Rates

You may have unlimited data usage within the United States, but those rates seldom follow you other countries. Be sure to look at the current rates in your destination, and schedule or restrict your usage accordingly. Be sure to turn of automatic updates before you leave on your trip.

Data rates apply to many categories, including:

  • Downloads
  • Email
  • Phone and App Updates
  • Streaming Media
  • Texting
  • Web Usage

Plan for Power Needs

AC power in the United States is different from the default power available in other countries. Make sure you know what is coming out of the outlets in your destination, and buy the necessary power adapters to fit your cellphone. American standard connectors will probably be useless when you visit foreign lands.

Reception

cell-phone-international-travelLike in the US, cell phone reception around the world varies greatly. If staying in a hotel that’s far enough outside a city where reception is weak, a good cell phone booster for travel that’s rated for international frequencies can mean the difference between good reception and no reception. As always, do your research to make sure the unit will work outside the country by visiting various reviews sites such as this one.

Understand Your Plan

Even if you have the broadest domestic plan, it may not work for you abroad. Roaming charges are one example where a domestic plan can turn into a financial nightmare overseas, and you could find yourself paying upward of $1.00 per minute on a plan that is usually free to use.

Verify Your Cellphone

Just as the power and data options are different in overseas locations, the phone you use may not work either. Very few countries still use the cellphone networks that Americans think of as state-of-the-art. Even the SIM card in your phone may be incompatible with services in other countries. To overcome this and most other problems, consider buying or renting a phone once you arrive at your destination. If you do this, be sure to make a written copy of the numbers you may need to dial so you can enter them in the new phone.

Use WiFi When Possible

Instead of relying on your cellphone, it might be more affordable to leverage the power of WiFi. Take along a laptop or netbook, and use Internet cafes or free Wifi. By logging in to free WiFi along the way, you can avoid data charges, network compatibility problems and data plan surcharges.

WiFi can be used for most cellular communication, such as:

  • Internet Surfing
  • Magic Jack to Mimic Landlines
  • Skype or other VOIP Communication
  • Social Networking
  • Video Conferencing

Building a Kids Bunk Bed

build-bunk-bed

Let’s face it… any kid would love to have a bunk bed in their room. I still remember when my dad built my brother and I our first bunk bed. It was nothing fancy but to us kids, it was the coolest thing. Bunk beds are actually quite easy to build although a bit time consuming. If you decide to do the job yourself, then you can save quite a bit of money. For a very inexpensive way to please your kids all you need is a few basic tools and pinewood. Using pinewood would make the bunk very durable, solid and safe.

bunk-bed-safetyIt’s important to remember that the top portions of bunk beds should not be used by very young kids. It should be reserved for those at least 4 years old. Younger kids can be on the bottom. My grandkids are 5 and 3 so obviously, the younger one will be on the bottom. He still loves sleeping in his favorite toddler sleep sack so it’s much safer if he’s on the bottom. BTW, if you’re looking for one, I’ve been told that Woolino makes the best toddler sleep bag.

Materials and Tools Needed

  • 6/4″ pine
  • scrap wood
  • 4×4 pine
  • 1×2 pine
  • 1×4 pine
  • plywood
  • screws
  • table saw
  • miter saw
  • circular saw
  • router
  • pencil
  • chisel
  • jigsaw
  • flush cut router bit
  • drill
  • drill bit
  • screwdriver
  • measuring tape
  • safety glasses

Instructions For Building A Kid’s Bunk Bed

  1. All boards must be sanded smooth with power sander.
  2. Four 2x6s must be cut down to 39 inches.
  3. You can use the same blade to cut 8 2x6s down to 78 inches.
  4. The 2x6s should be glued and screwed together.
  5. The box should be placed on the plywood so you can trace outline with pencil.
  6. The plywood should be cut to the size of traced box.
  7. The plywood piece should be glued and screwed to the bottom of the box. Now the mattress should fit in the box.
  8. The lower bunk is ready to be set up. Spaced four feet apart, place the 4×4 pieces of wood on the floor. Make a line and this will give you the lower mounting point for the box.
  9. The mattress box should be placed so that it is even with the line. It should be 18 inches from the ends.
  10. Now the points for attaching the lower bunk must be set up. Using the line as a guide, drill 2 3/8 inch holes in the 2x6s and in the 4x4s making sure not to come through the other side.
  11. The drill hole must be counter synced to 3/4 of an inch. Use the 3/4 inch spade bit.
  12. Glue and screw lag bolts into holes using socket and ratchet. Do this on both sides of the box.
  13. Place other 2×6 mattress box 12 inches from top of 4x4s. Attach the box same way as the lower box.
  14. Place legs in place. 4x4s should be placed on the ground 4 feet apart. Flip edges of box over on 4x4s. Glue and screw legs to bed.
  15. Stand the bunk upright. Lift the bed onto its 4×4 legs.
  16. Stabilize the bed, attach 6 foot 2x4s to front and back. Glue and screw them to boxes.
  17. Build a ladder by cutting 2x4s 24 inches long and set at 12 inches apart starting from the ground. Glue and screw the 2x4s to the ends.
  18. Safety railings should be built and should measure 3 inches up on the side of the 4x4s on the top bunk. Glue and screw the rest of the 2x6s to the sides.

My Grandson’s Favorite Toy

kettler-cat-tractor

The Kettler Cat Kid Tractor

First of all, this review of the Kettler Cat Kid Tractor is written from a grandpa’s perspective. Like other boys, our son loves any kind truck, tractor, or other construction toy. I have to first say that WOW, what a cool toy the Kettler Cat Kid Tractor is. At my age, this is the kind of toy I wish was around when I was a little boy.

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