Author Archives: Arons DIY Tips

STIHL Electric Chain Saw Review MSA 120 C

I took ownership of a STIHL electric chain saw about three months ago. It’s the battery-powered MSA 120 C.

Over those ninety days I’ve used the saw extensively on all sorts of different jobs around my home.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m one of a very few tool reviewers that puts a tool through rigid testing before sharing the news about it’s performance.

I know of one tool reviewer that publishes some tool reviews within hours of the UPS truck pulling away from his apartment. You can’t evaluate a tool in just a few hours.


Sharp & Sassy

This handy STIHL chain saw really surprised me. When you first pick it up, you think it’s a toy. It’s that lightweight.

It’s a great example of the old saying, “You can’t tell a book by its cover.”

While this micro saw doesn’t pack the power found inside its gas-powered big brothers that work in the deep forest all day in the hands of professional loggers, this saw is able to cut down a sizable tree with little effort.

I know as I did it in my own backyard.

Here it is doing what it does best. Yes, I should have had a glove on for the photo. Yes, I should have had on safety boots with kevlar uppers. Yes, my left hand should have been on the black ring to balance the saw. Guess what? It was being used to take this photograph. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW the safety instructions found in the owners manual. NOTE: The was was NOT in use. The chain was not in motion while the camera captured this shot. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

The 40-Foot Oak

I decided to go big with the first job. I had a 40-foot-tall oak tree that needed to come down. It’s trunk just a foot off the ground was 7 inches in diameter.

After making the suggested cuts in the trunk to fell the tree, it came down exactly where I wanted it to fall and the little STIHL saw never flinched. It’s sharp teeth bit into the oak wood like a bald eagle’s talons grasp onto a fish from the lake I live on here in central New Hampshire.

Wood chips were flying in all directions and within a minute the tree was on the ground.

Trimming Branches

This saw is now my go-to tool for trimming any branches on the many trees at my home. Since it weighs so little, you have excellent control and rarely experience fatigue.

Sips Oil

As with any chain saw, you need to fill the oil reservoir with lubricating oil. I prefer to use the oil from STIHL because I know it’s been formulated to work best with the saw and chain.

Fill the saw up and check the oil level regularly. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

The Battery

This is a battery-powered saw. It’s new technology for STIHL. The battery should last you long enough that you need a break. It charges fast and you can get back to work. If you want to keep working, then purchase a second battery.

Here’s the beefy battery. It’s got a handy LED power-level meter so you can judge when to stop for some liquid refreshment or a whoppie pie. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Five Stars

I’ve owned STIHL chain saws for decades. It’s the first saw I ever used. This new addition to the line rates five stars. If you care for it, it’s going to work hard for you for many many years.

How to Clean Vitamix

I get questions all the time about how to clean a Vitamix blender.

Over the years I’ve become an expert at cleaning organic stains and my wife and I developed a fantastic product called Stain Solver.

Stain Solver is made with FDA-approved food-grade-quality ingredients. There are only two and both are made in the USA.

Stain Solver is MADE in the USA with USA ingredients that are food-grade quality. CLICK THE IMAGE to order some NOW.

Stain Solver is certified organic, so it’s safe to come into contact with your valuable Vitamix blender.

It’s very simple to clean a Vitamix mixer and requires NO SCRUBBING.

Step One: Purchase a 2.2-pound container of Stain Solver Certified Organic oxygen bleach.

Step Two: Fill the blender with HOT tap water to the top and set on a level surface.

Step Three: Add two tablespoons of Stain Solver powder and let sit overnight.

Step Four: Wake up to clean blender! Rinse well and make a smoothie!

Your Vitamix blender will look BRAND NEW like this one after using Stain Solver.

August 16, 2017 AsktheBuilder Newsletter

I’m sitting at gate 54A here in the San Francisco airport waiting to get back home. I’ve been out here on the Left Coast of the USA for over two weeks.

Two weeks ago, I was just starting a very interesting tour of the KEEN shoes and boots factory in Portland, Oregon. CLICK HERE to read that story and watch a video of me making boots!

I then had to be in San Francisco yesterday for a small conference at Google’s offices at 345 Spear Street. Here was my view from the 7th-floor roof deck as I ate lunch.

In between the two business events I wandered down through Oregon and Northern California. This past weekend, I was blessed to stay with my oldest daughter Meghan and her husband Brent.

We had dinner on Sunday with some of their friends. Tanya was there and she came to the USA from Vietnam about forty years ago. She told us the harrowing story about how she and dozens of people were rescued minutes before their leaky boat sank in the Pacific Ocean. It was a riveting story of survival.

Two days ago, I received a second blessing and got to meet Beth, a long-time subscriber. She uses my Stain Solver for all sorts of cleaning chores around her home, and for several years, I promised to stop by as I drove past her in Palo Alto, CA.

I’m so happy to be going home to see Kathy and get back into a normal routine! My guess is Lady the dog is going to be quite happy to see me tonight.

Steel Beams & Wood

Overnight Dan emailed me. He’s building a home in Crown Point, Indiana. Look at a photo he sent me. Pay attention to where the red arrow points. What’s wrong there?

What you’re looking at is a treated lumber sill plate and an untreated block of wood under the steel I beam. There are some thin steel shims on top of the untreated wood.

Dan wanted to know if this was acceptable.

The answer is NO!

Steel beams must be placed on solid masonry or something else that can’t compress or ROT.

Yes, treated lumber ROTS. CLICK HERE for proof.

Building On Solid Rock

Topsoil is often not too thick. You may have to build on solid rock.

What are the challenges and what should you avoid at all costs?

There are quite a few things you need to know when faced with rock.

My college degree is in geology and I was intrigued with hydrogeology while in school. What’s that?

CLICK HERE do discover more and how to protect yourself when faced with bedrock.

It’s getting close to boarding time. I’ll have more news and photos probably this weekend.

Oh, you may want to read about the most exciting thing that happened to me last week! I was deep in a redwood forest in California.

CLICK HERE and tell me what you think about this story!

Tim Carter

Founder –

Do It Right, Not Over!

Hackers Help: KURA bed side panels necessary in low position?

KURA bed storage

Hi! Can anyone tell me if the side panels on the KURA bed are structurally necessary in the low position? We’d love to leave them off to keep storage space underneath. Thanks in advance!





Looking at the assembly instructions, the side panels do not appear to be load bearing or used to secure the beams together. The side panels are slotted into the grooves along the beams, so it may be possible to omit them. That said, without the side panels there may be a slight wobble.

KURA bed storage

I’ve seen hacks where drawers are added to the KURA. Here are two to get your creative juices flowing.

Kura with underbed storage

Kiki and Zoe created the space under the KURA bunk bed structure for two drawers with MALM drawers on wheels.See more here.

Kura with underbed storage

A KURA bunk bed with a line of drawers under the bed.

Hope that helps.

Happy hacking!


The post Hackers Help: KURA bed side panels necessary in low position? appeared first on IKEA Hackers.

KEEN Factory Tour Summary

The first week of August, 2017 I found myself in Portland, Oregon. As fate would have it I arrived in the midst of an historic heat spell.

I had been invited to visit the KEEN Utility factory, headquarters and epic KEEN Garage where they have a retail store in downtown Portland’s Pearl district. About ten other hobby bloggers and one or two full-time professional members of the media like myself were part of the tour group.

This is the company canteen side of the KEEN Garage. On the other side of those garage doors with the glass panels is the retail store. CLICK HERE to read a story about the amazing restoration of this historic building built in 1907. Copyright 2017 Tim Carter

Best Tour Ever

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been a member of the working media for so long that I’ve lost count of the number of factory tours I’ve attended. The reason is I cover an industry that makes lots of tools and products.

The company owners are always proud of what they make and they invite media to see and share with their audiences how things are done. Some tours have been fascinating as you sometimes don’t realize how many aspects of building a thing are still done by humans. That may change moving forward, but that’s a story for another day.

This KEEN tour was the best ever for a number of reasons. KEEN is a family-owned business. Rory Fuerst, Sr. started the business just a mere fifteen years ago in 2003. Two of his sons work each day in the factory, Rory Jr. and Connor.

Connor Fuerst is holding his arms up praising the members of the media. No, seriously, I caught him at an awkward moment. His brother Rory, Jr. is in the blue t-shirt opening the door to lead us out to the factory. Marshall Alexander, a member of the KEEN marketing team is on the left against the wall. The woman between Connor and Rory, Jr. runs the quality control lab at KEEN. I forgot her name! Sorry! Copyright 2017, Tim Carter

I got to spend lots of time with them and they are as friendly and normal as can be. Both were wearing t-shirts and you’d never know they were part of the business if you just happened to see them walking around the factory.

On a selfish note, I felt it was the best tour I’ve ever attended because they allowed me to work on the assembly line! How silly is that, but it meant so much to me.

Three people are going to wear a pair of boots that I helped work on. I was able to fit an upper onto the form before it goes into the assembly line, I got to load two soles into the forms and I got to trim off the urethane flash from one boot.

Connor had to do some extra trimming because my workmanship didn’t meet their standards, but he was very understanding of my first attempt!

The Process

Watch this video to get an idea of what it’s like to be in a factory that makes amazing boots and shoes. I could write about it, but it’s better that you just see it.

The People

At the end of the tour everyone gathered in a conference room at the factory. It’s somewhat normal for this to happen. The purpose is for those on the tour to ask follow-up questions.

A few of the hobby bloggers asked some tech questions, but I then jumped in with my over-arching question I always ask. I pointed the question to both Connor and Rory Jr.

“If you could wave a magic wand that would allow you to communicate to all consumers messaging you feel they don’t really know about KEEN Utility and what you do, what would that message be?”

You could hear a pin drop. Connor and Rory, Jr. looked at each other and with their eyes said, “Dude, you go first!”

I think Rory, Jr. finally said, “Boy, that’s a great question.” He shook his head and then said, “Connor, you go first.”

Connor thought for a second and replied, “I really would love consumers to know about the dedication and values of the entire team that assembles here each day to make our boots and shoes. These people love to come here and they work hard. They take real pride in what they do and I feel it shows when you open the box and try on your boots.”

Rory, Jr. then jumped in. Rory runs the Fuerst Innovation Lab where all the conceptual ideas are born about all new products and processes. They often look at failure points of products made by others and try to solve them with a new KEEN product.

“I think that our customers need to know that money doesn’t drive all decisions. We try to remember that all the time. I’d like them to know that we thrive on doing things that are challenging. It’s easy to do easy things.

What’s more, I’d love for them to know that sometimes you have to ignore the experts and consultants who say you’re going to lose money on something. In certain situations you need to do what’s right, not what’s going to make you the most money. Finally, I’d like our consumers to know we have fun here.”

The Takeaway

I think Rory Jr.’s comments hit the nail on the head for me. After all, the motto is:

Do It Right, Not Over!

I could see the workers at the factory trying to do it right. Everyone was diligent that I saw. They want your boots and shoes to fit perfectly, be comfortable and last a long time.

It’s also about fun. What a dream to have a job that’s fun. I’ve got that with my vocation and it’s obvious Connor, Rory, Jr. and the other dedicated employees at KEEN Utility in Portland have this rare gift where work is fun.

What you see under the signs is a tiny fraction of the KEEN product line. CLICK THIS PHOTO now, buy a pair and you’ll get them delivered to your home in days. You’ll have a similar smile on your face once you try them on!

CLICK HERE now to purchase a pair of KEEN shoes or boots and put a similar smile on your face when you insert your foot into the cocoon of pleasure. That’s what I call my KEEN boots!

Average rents in Scotland standing at 569 per month

Your Move has announced in its latest Scottish Buy to Let Index that average rents in Scotland stood at 569 per month in June, that’s 1.8% higher than a year ago and 1.4% higher than in May.

Edinburgh and the Lothians attract the highest rents with the average being 661 whereas the East of Scotland is currently the cheapest place to rent which an average property being let for 541 per calendar month.

Brian Moran, Lettings Director for Your Move in Scotland commented:

“Slow and steady is the name of the game in Scotland. While the political landscape has changed dramatically the rental market continues its solid progress.

To see the full Scottish buy to Let Index please visit our Media Centre at