Posted in guides

What You Need To Know About Steel Before Buying Hand Tools

It’s no secret that to perform at your greatest potential, you need to work with the best. If you’re in the market for reliable new hand tools,  then this guide is for you!

Typical consumers are largely unaware of the differences between steel grades, and what to consider when deciding which tool is right for a specific skill set. There are numerous types of steel that encompass varied properties. These properties can be physical, chemical and environmental. All steel is produced from iron and carbon. It’s the amount of carbon, and the additional alloys which determine the classification of each grade.

We’ve categorized the three most common groups of steel based on chemical composition:

  1. Carbon
  2. Alloy
  3. Stainless

Carbon Steel

Carbon Steel can be dispersed into three main categories: low carbon steel, medium carbon steel and high carbon steel.

Low Carbon Steel (0.04-0.30%) is the largest group of carbon steel and possesses an alloying element made up of a relatively low amount of carbon. The most popular type of steel, low carbon steel is used in manufacturing a variety of goods because it is less expensive than other types of steel.

Applications: girders, car body panels, nuts and bolts, food cans, car body panels.

Medium Carbon Steel (0.31-0.60%) is stronger than low carbon steel, more difficult to form, weld and cut.

Applications: Nails and screws, metal chains, wire ropes, screw driver blades, engine parts, bicycle wheel rims.

High Carbon Steel (0.61-1.50%) is commonly known as “carbon tool steel” and  is very difficult to cut, bend and weld. Once heat treated it becomes extremely hard and brittle.

Applications:  Chisels, hammers, drills, files, lathe tools, taps, dies.

Alloy Steel

Alloy steel is a steel that has had small amounts of alloying elements (aside from carbon) such as manganese, silicon, nickel, titanium, copper, chromium and aluminum added to its compound. This produces specific properties that are not found in normal carbon steel. Alloy steels are workhorses of industry because of their economical cost, wide availability, ease of processing, and good mechanical properties.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a steel alloy with increased corrosion resistance compared to carbon and alloy steel. Common alloying ingredients include chromium, nickel, or molybdenum. Common applications include food handling and processing, medical instruments, hardware, appliances, and structural/architectural uses.

Choosing Steel Tools

Nisaku manufactures professional quality hand tools for lawn, garden and outdoor applications with unmatched design and function.

Each piece is forged by master blade craftsmen with the highest grade Japanese stainless steel for durability, precision and control that withstands intense use and harsh conditions.

Prepare for indoor and outdoor jobs, big and small, with specialty tools that outlast and outclass ordinary lawn, garden and survival equipment.

Field Knives

Designed for rugged outdoor adventures, Nisaku genuine Japanese field knives are forged from high-grade stainless steel with precise multipurpose cutting edges and ergonomic handles for firm gripping and comfort.

Don’t face Mother Nature alone – prepare for your next fishing, hunting, boating or wilderness excursion with a faithful survival blade engineered to take serious punishment in any environment.

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EXPLORE FIELD KNIVES

DIY Hand Tools

Tools with stainless-steel working ends deliver the best durability and performance while resisting rust.

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Nisaku Japanese stainless steel precision hand tools are an ideal choice for demanding homeowners and satisfy a multitude of DIY project needs that require intensive scraping and stripping.  From caulk to paint removal, Nisaku putty knives, spatulas and curl scrapers feature easy-to-grip ergonomic handles for comfortable use during the toughest tasks. Specialty blades provide strength and flexibility to coast through hardened, thick and stubborn material with controlled use and precision to ensure perfection upon project completion.

EXPLORE DIY HAND TOOLS

Paint Tools

Finely crafted from heavy-duty Japanese stainless steel, Nisaku paint tools resist rusting, pitting and corrosion for exceptional performance during vigorous home improvement jobs.

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Designed with a variety of specialty blades, Nisaku joint knives, putty knives, scrapers and multipurpose tools seamlessly spread compound, smooth surfaces evenly, patch holes, scrape away stubborn material and assist with various drywall and plaster applications for a perfectly finished look on a variety of surfaces.

EXPLORE PAINT TOOLS

Posted in design, weekend projects

4 Home Improvement Projects To Beat The Winter Blues

We’re already halfway to spring, but the coldest months of winter still lie ahead. And if you’re anything like us, the thought of being stuck inside is not one that is met with content.

Cure cabin fever with some fun, easy and inexpensive home improvement projects that are not only rewarding, but can increase your property value, conserve energy costs and improve your quality of life.

Walls That Wow

Many homeowners underestimate the power of the obvious. Refreshing your walls with a bold coat of paint and adding modern trim and molding can completely change the aura of a room.

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Create visual interest with an accent wall, add texture and pattern with printed wallpaper or create a custom design using painter’s tape to achieve a scratch-board effect.

cozy-blue-living-room_amazing-tosca-wallpaper_elegant-transparent-flower-vase_amazing-blue-velvet-couchhoneycomb_wall_calloutWe also love the new paint roller trend, which is lovely for layering dual tones.

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Add A Splash Of Personality

Update your kitchen by adding a DIY backsplash. Go natural with stone, classic with subway tile, modern with metal or funky with geometrics!

Not too familiar with laying tile? No problem! Most Big Box home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot offer free workshops. Plus, many backsplashes come in large mat-like pieces and even peel and stick applications, making it very easy for a novice to create a beautiful accent without all the frustration and mess.

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The best tip we can give you on installing your own backsplash is to prep and plan! Lay out a template before application to ensure you do not run into any irregular lines or spaces. And failing to clean the excess grout off the tile when wet will cause a glaze that is almost impossible to remove once dry.

Light It Up

Instantly brighten and warm up any room with new lighting.  Opting for a modern standing lamp with an edgy shape or a table lamp with a colorful shade can transform any space.

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Swapping old bulbs for LEDs or installing dimmers are both cost effective upgrades that allow you to customize the ambiance of your space.

Adore Your Entryway

Usually an afterthought, the doors in your home could probably use some TLC. One of the most used access points, bedroom and entryway doors are subject to unavoidable scratches and cracks from longtime use.

You may consider switching to a whole new type of door which is more functional and attractive pertaining to your style. For example, double doors are a great alternative to sliding or bi-fold models, while famed French doors let in natural light and add architectural detail to fuse indoor and outdoor spaces.

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And updating to new knobs or hinges is another great change DIY job that can easily be done in a weekend with instant results.

Posted in tips + tricks

The Gadget Guru: Battery Adapters – Do They Really Work?

Here’s a common problem: you need to power a device that runs on C cells, but all you have are triple A’s.

It’s really quite easy to convert an AAA battery into a larger sized canister. What is not commonly known is that a C battery is nearly identical to its AAA counterpart in terms of height. The only difference is the diameter of cylinder which holds the metal and chemicals that power the battery.

Practical and helpful, a battery adapter is an essential gizmo for having on hand during emergencies or just to save a few bucks! AAA batteries are notoriously less expensive and more efficient than a C size.

The best part about an adapter is that the conversion doesn’t involve dangerously altering any internal function of the battery, and saves you the frustration of fidgeting with scissors, cardboard and tape that homemade conversion methods require.

And when you need a larger sized battery on short notice, like during a power outage, that most flashlights, radios and other equipment require, scouring the house for all those items is just not practical.

For only $8.00, you can pick up a 3-pack battery adapter set from Nisaku. We find their version has the most sturdy construction and easy use factor – simply slide 4 AAA batteries into the shell).

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Pros:

  • Compact in size and light in weight
  • Comes with 3 adapters
  • Convert any AAA battery to a C battery
  • Perfect for electronics and emergency situations
  • Bright colors make them easy to find in a draawer or bag
  • A  handy gadget to keep close at hand, at home, at the office, etc

Check it our for yourself by clicking here

Posted in how-to's

Remove Old Caulk in 5 Easy Steps

Several readers have recently asked us what the best method is for removing peeling, grimy and frankly, ugly, caulk around fixtures in their bathroom and kitchen. The answer is that this project can be very simple and even more gratifying with the right tools and a lot of patience.

What You’ll Need:

  • Caulk remover
  • Caulk scraper (removal tools by Nisaku are more effective to use than utility knives or blades)
  • Tweezers or needle nose pliers
  • Paintbrush, foam brush or toothbrush
  • Alcohol
  • Bleach
  • Clan rag or cloth

Step 1

Soften the caulk by applying a remover. This requires patience. Most product instructions require an absorption period of 2-3 hours, but the longer you wait, the more effortless it will be to strip the caulk. If the material is very old, hardened or was applied with multiple layers, it  is best to wait at least 24 hours before attempting removal.

Step 2

Using a specialty caulk removal tool, pry the caulk loose. Nisaku has 3 caulk scraping tools: a straight edge .3 inch blade, a straight edge .5 inch blade and an angled .5 inch blade.

We recommend homeowners and DIY enthusiasts use these tools because they remove caulk without scratching glass, painted surfaces, tile or stone. The long, thin applicator is strong, yet will flex under pressure for controlled use and precision, to ensure smooth perfection upon project completion.

Most professionals use a utility knife or blade, but unless you have a very steady hand, you risk easily damaging the shower, sink, tub or wall you’re trying to improve.

Most of the caulk should dislodge in long strips that you can easily peel away from the wall, though you may need some assistance from a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers to get those stubborn bits.

Step 3

Using a putty knife with a curved tip, like this 4-inch model from Nisaku, or the hook end on a painter’s tool, like this one from Nisaku (equipped with a hammer end if you need extra leverage) scrape away any material left behind.

 Step 4

Deep clean the surface with alcohol and then use a solution of 1/3 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water to eradicate any mold or built up mildew. Using a paintbrush, foam brush or even an old toothbrush, work the mixture into the gap and scrub it clean. Lastly, dry the area with a clean cloth.

Step 5

If you’re re-caulking the surface, be sure to use a formula that contains a fungicide to combat future gunk and grime.

Posted in how-to's

How to Remove and Strip Paint from Wood Surfaces

Various home improvement projects involve a fresh coat of paint, but before you add a new one, the old material must be removed. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you get the job done with considerably less effort.

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What You’ll Need

  • Paint Remover
  • Sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Chemical-resistant gloves
  • Plastic film
  • Tarp (optional)
  • Scraping tools

Choosing The Best Scraping Tools

The secret to a perfect paint job is taking the time to properly prep the surface prior to painting, which in most cases, means scraping away the old finish down to bare wood.

While this is no one’s idea of fun, it is absolutely necessary, and requires the right tools.

Nisaku brand scrapers have super-sharp stainless steel blades. These professional quality scrapers vary in price and offer superior performance that will last a lifetime.

Nisaku paint scrapers come in a few different grade models and offer many different size and shaped blades:

Putty Knife

These tools come with both stiff blades, like a chisel, and flexible blades, like a spatula.

The stiff blade types can be resharpened and are very effective at removing loose or peeling paint. They may also have hammer ends which allow for maximum leverage to remove tough material.

Thin or flexible blade putty knifes are best used when applying spackling paste or putty.

Multipurpose Tool

These are the Swiss army knives of the painting world. Multipurpose tools are capable of performing many tasks beyond just removing loose paint.

With so many possible uses, this tool is an excellent choice to add to your work station.

Specialty Scrapers

If a piece of wood trim or cabinetry has a complex profile, you might consider a scraper made with that in mind.

With much scraping ahead of you, be sure to choose models that have ergonomic handles, like Nisaku, to ensure you’re comfortable throughout the entire project.

Stripping Methods

Chemical

Once applied, a chemical remover allows you to easily scrape paint off, and in most cases, it washes away nicely with water. Chemical removers come in both liquid and paste form for ultimate versatility.

Liquid

If you only need to remove a few layers of paint or varnish, a liquid remover is the best choice, as the solution dries too quickly for larger jobs. Liquids are also preferable if working in complicated or irregular areas.

Brushable

Brushable removers have a paste-like consistency and allow you to apply thick layers to any surface, which is ideal for stripping many layers of paint in one application.

Spray

A spray remover is very easy to apply, washes away with water, but still has enough tackiness to cling to any desired surface.

Aerosol

Aerosols are the cheapest stripping agents. They spray on as a foam and let you remove multiple layers of paint easily with a scraping tool. This method works best on small projects and detailed surfaces with many nooks and crannies which require precision.

Application + Removal

When applying the remover, be sure to only do so in an area that is small enough to manage. You do not want to cover an area which is too large because the chemical will dry out. We also recommend placing cardboard, newspaper or a tarp around your work area to make clean up easier.

If you’re taking on a big job, you can expedite the stripping process by using coarse sandpaper to scrape the surface. Just take special care not to scratch the material underneath. Apply the chemical solution and seal it under a plastic film to prevent it from drying out before it gets the chance to penetrate.

Most chemical agents typical need to saturate for 20-30 minutes, but be sure to follow the instructions on your packaging. Test the progress by scraping a small area; if the scraper blade has reached the bare surfacing, the remover has soaked long enough.

Once the chemical has softened the paint, it’s time to scrape! Keep your scraper level with the surface as best you can to avoid creating divots or making marks on the wood surface. After most of the paint has been removed, you can get any leftovers with steel wool or another abrasive tool to ensure a clean surface. Sometimes, you may have to apply another coat of the stripping agent in stubborn areas.

High-grade solutions can usually be rinsed with fresh water. Allow the surface to dry and then sand it lightly to prepare for the new coat of paint or varnish.

Posted in tips + tricks

Holiday Hosting Hacks To Create More Table Space

Thanksgiving is only days away, and Christmas isn’t far behind. The “how am I going to get this all done?” anxiety has started to settle in, and while you’re happy to open up your home to friends and family, there’s always an issue with space…and we all know sitting on the sharp corner, straddling one leg is the worst seat when trying to enjoy dinner.

Tight seating may seem to be a rite of passage at holiday gatherings, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve collected some tricks to help make seating arrangements more spacious.

Less Is More

Clear the dining room table of non-essentials. This minimalist approach may impede on your décor ideas, but it will make the room appear more spacious and comfortable.

Remove any small furnishings nearby as well, which could crowd the table and make moving around more difficult.

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Opt For Buffet Style

Direct guests away from the dining room and into the kitchen. A buffet takes the burden off your table, and makes it much easier for guests to access food without reaching over one another and passing hot stoneware.

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Add A Bench

Chairs, especially with arms, are bulky and take up a lot of space around the table. If you find your guests are habitually squished, elbow to elbow, considering opting for a bench, which will fit more people and allow everyone to get seconds and dessert without having to fuss with a chair.

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Create a Kids Table

If your friends and family are large in numbers, avoid overwhelming the dining room and establish a separate table for the kids. It will free up some seating and allow rambunctious little ones to keep their energy contained.

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Head Outdoors

If you live in a region with a warmer climate, take the annual feast outside for limitless space and a bit of sunshine!

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Get Creative With Space

If you still need some length, and do not have a table that extends, try placing a sheet of plywood over your table top. With a tablecloth draped over, no one will know the difference.

You may have to reposition the table if you’ve added some length. Try moving it diagonally to give a little more breathing room to guests on the ends, and add a few more seating spaces.

 

Posted in outdoor innovation

The Snow Melt Effect: New Versus Old Pavement

With the weather soon promising to deliver snow, now is the best time to stock up on ice melt. This habitual routine may be something you do mindlessly. But it’s interesting to know that the amount of snow melt you may need will differ heavily depending upon the age of your driveway.

Older asphalt and concrete pavements are not treated with the same materials that newer pavements are given. This treatment for newer pavement allows snow to melt faster and decreases accumulation, making the roads easier to travel.

The different types of treatments for pavement is important to understand, especially when replacing your own driveway. Using newer treatments and surfaces will make your driveway a better tool for melting snow, and seasonal clearing less strenuous.

Snow Melt Effects On Pavement

Older driveways that are untreated by default are more susceptible to the buildup of ice and damage from snow removal tools such as corrosive salts, shovels and snow blowers.

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Newer asphalt roads are designed to allow snow to melt easily and drain from the surface. Chemical treatments that are added to the finish aid in this increased melting by raising the temperature of the surface so that they can retain heat and melt snow.

Using Snow Melt Technologies On Driveways

Whether your driveway is old or new, we’re going to share our best secret to effortlessly melting wintry messes and reducing the amount of clearing you’ll have to do.

Our favorite blends of snow melt comes from Snow Joe, who has 3 different types of formulas (calcium chloride crystals, environmentally friendly crystals and calcium chloride pellets) designed to quickly, safely and effectively tackle frozen snow, sleet and ice around your property during the winter season.

Specs:

  • MELTS DOWN TO -25°F: MELT effectively melt ice and snow on contact, even at temperatures as low as -25°F
  • INSTANT HEAT: MELT generates heat instantly upon contact with snow and ice, thereby accelerating the melting process.
  • FAST ACTING: MELT is specially formulated with super-enhanced melting properties to deliver fast and reliable results.
  • LONG LASTING: Formulated to last up to 24 hours, MELT goes to work immediately upon contact with snow and ice and continue working all day long to ensure your surfaces are safer and ice-free.
  • NON-TRACKING: When used as directed, MELT will not track from your shoes onto your home’s floors or carpets.
  • EASY TO DISPENSE: MELT is treated with an anti-caking agent to extend shelf-life and improve spreading.