We bought our house 5 years ago now, and have replaced all the terrible floor surfaces except the kitchen. This was largely due to lack of options, and also the fact that we didn’t like the idea of cold, hard, tile. I personally think hardwood in the kitchen is a bad idea (dings, divits, water damage, etc), and carpet is obviously right out. When, about 3 months ago, my wife found modern “luxury” peel and stick, grout-able, tile (Lowes page) she suddenly got very interested in replacing the flooring. The current floor was an “orange” rock looking sheet vinyl from the late 70′s, and had since become impossible to clean.
Since installing hardwood in my house, and dealing with the mass amounts of saw dust that created, and the realization that sawdust “bags” don’t work very well, I’ve had to manually switch on my shopvac then start using the saw, or the orbital sander, etc. This is annoying, so I started looking for solutions. The internet consensus seemed to be either a Smart Strip, or cheaper/easier is the Craftsman Auto Switch. The annoying thing, as with most of the Sears experience, is their site didn’t say if the local store had any in stock. But, a quick trip over there found one on a random shelf for $20. I picked it up, and quickly came home to try it out.
Simply put, you plug the device into the main outlet, and then the vacuum into an “accessory” outlet (and maybe a work light into the other). When you switch on the primary load, a simple hall effect sensor sees that, throws a relay, and the accessory comes on. After the load switches off, the accessory continues to run for 3 seconds to clear the line (which is awesome). Since using it while my wife has been sanding cabinets, the dust creation has been minimal, and there’s been no more forgetting to turn on the vacuum.
Sure, a whole shop vacuum would be better, but I don’t have a shop… I have a garage. So using my shopvac, and an auto switch, is far superior when it comes to multi-taskers, and space usage.
In February of this year, I bought myself a Dymo LabelManager 420P because the price point was great for the feature set (can be hooked to a computer, rechargeable battery, barcodes). One of the big reasons I purchased it was because my ancient Dymo LabelPoint 1001 was printing crappy labels2, and chewed through batteries (it takes 6 AAA batteries). I purchased the unit off Amazon marketplace for a steal ($55), and received it a few days later.
The unit is a bit large, but the screen is very readable (backlit), and the keys easy to use (though, they’re in alphabetical order rather than QWERTY. I don’t mind this (since I type in Dvorak), some do). The battery meter, however, is extremely inaccurate. A full charge results in the meter fluctuating between half and full, and it stays this way for some time. I don’t know if the battery is faulty, or if it’s the unit. I really need to email them about this.
Printing is fast, and changing the labels easy. Much like most labelers, it tends to waste a lot of tape at the start and end of the label, so you’re generally best off (if doing multiples), writing a label, putting a few spaces, then another label, etc. Then manually cut them up at the end.
Dymo tape is always easy to peal the back off of (it’s split down the middle), but as I found out, the new unit printed similarly crappy on the label tape I’d been using. Doing some reading online, it seems that the tape doesn’t last forever, and printing problems are usually due to bad tape. I ordered a replacement cartridge, and viola, it prints great. So I’m guessing my old LP100 would have worked just fine with new tape (but, I do like the new model much better). Aside from the battery meter3, and the occasionally confusing interface, I really like the unit.