How to Install the Blade on a Black and Decker Power Saw

This button — on the right — affects the install & release of the blade. (If the blade doesn't line up? Use a flat-head screwdriver and try again, with the screw perpendicular to the blade hole.

Or: Cool Tip for a Very Cool Tool

I won’t carry on about what an great cool tool the Black and Decker Power Saw is, because you can visit YouTube,, or anywhere to find glowing reviews.

What you WON’T find, though, are instructions for installing either of the two blades included, although you will find lots of people talking about the trouble they had figuring it out.

(They call one of these blades “large capacity”, but you’d ask someone to hand you “my saw,” and “metal saw,” also known as “the hacksaw I keep meaning to pick up new blades for.“)

I know why you won’t find instructions now, but I will break down and give them to you, because I don’t mind showing you how easy it is, and how dumb I felt overlooking it.


If you’ve ever watched a toddler sort shapes, and thought to yourself: “that doesn’t look so hard,” then you’re on to the solution already.

Black and Decker wants, for safety reasons, to ensure you LOAD THE BLADES FROM THE BOTTOM.

So do that.

To try to make SURE you do? They’ve sort of engineered a screw so the blade only locks in if you hold the saw upside down, and push the button on the side as the insert the blade.

(Hang in, I know this sounds weird, but if you’ve struggled with this, you know what I mean.)

If you see THIS screw?

Semi-ovoid screw, found on left side of Black & Decker power saw; this needs to fit into the same-shape on the blade.
Semi-ovoid screw, found on left side of Black & Decker power saw; this needs to fit into the same-shape on the blade.



And this hole?

Blade with semi-ovoid hole: see ...? Shape sorting!
Blade with semi-ovoid hole: see …? Shape sorting!


The trick to this installation is to make SURE these shapes align.

This button — on the right — affects the install & release of the blade. (If the blade doesn't line up? Use a flat-head screwdriver and try again, with the screw perpendicular to the blade hole.
This button — on the right — affects the install & release of the blade. (If the blade doesn’t line up? Use a flat-head screwdriver and try again, with the screw perpendicular to the blade hole.






Then lower the saw into place. I know you’re not supposed to “force” a machine, ever — but trust me. This WILL work.


You’re welcome.

Gender Bender Spender, or, I Could Be Completely Off with This One.

Hair ties (& jaw clips)
Hair ties (& jaw clips)
Hair ties (& jaw clips) Manly, yes. But I like it, too.

Hang on, everybody. This isn’t just gonna be gender-bending; it’ll take a few twists here and there — but worth it, as long as you have a sense of humor. You’ll also learn why a few gorgeous girlie things are essential for every man’s workshop. (Then again, maybe I’m wrong.)

(NOTE: While this sounds sexist, it is not: women already know these tips.)


Finn from "Adventure Time" walking; caption reads: "Haters Gonna Hate."I’m a woman, the home handyman, and NOT a shopper. Groceries get delivered, I avoid any and all buildings labeled “Galleria,” and my favorite of my three or four pairs of shoes are my Dollar General flip-flops. Apologies for this seemingly sexist post which appears to presume readers live in homes where the opposite is true. That said, anyone who still has an issue*, I suggest you embrace the following:
Haters Gonna Hate.


Next time the shopper in your home says “Hey! Let’s go spend money recreationally!”


(In response to Reee Witherspoon's Legally Blonde character's derision that "orange is the new pink."
Do not be afraid; rely instead on U.S. President Obama, who assures us (in reference to House Speaker and faux tan addict Boehner’s ill treatment in DC) that orange is the new BLACK.


Stop sulking over visions of more pink, orange, or whatever, imagining all the home improvements The Good Men at The ABCs of Home Improvement could have done for you instead. Try this:

YOU: “Can I come?”

PARTNER: “Wait, what?”

YOU: “I want to come with you.”

(Here is the part where you get to blow someone’s mind. Ready?)

YOU: “I need stuff from the Dollar Store Hair & Accessories aisle.”

reaction GIF, woman blinking in confusion.
This a good way to get your shopper into a Dollar Store, and also a good way to keep your relationship FULL of surprises. WARNING, though: do NOT laugh. Not only is it essential to good comedy to avoid laughing at your own jokes during delivery, it is essential to survival to avoid laughing at a confused woman.


While You’re Down There…

This is what you want, and why you want it.

Hair ties:

Hair ties (& jaw clips)
Hair ties (& jaw clips)

also known as ponytail holders. These look like rubber bands but are far superior in function. To avoid damaging human hair, which is fragile, they’re coated with fabric – and this vaults them over rubber bands for use in your workshop to corral power cords, holiday lights, or anything you can wrap up lasso-style and turn into an ersatz “ponytail” for storage.


Because PHYSICS: The numbers are NOT in your favor. Nearly infinite ways to tangle; one way NOT. WORST Vegas odds EVER.This is key because PHYSICS: the same reason those earbuds you struggle with are eternally tangled, and why those holiday lights are every season. Physics is basically numbers, like casino slots, and those numbers are NOT in your favor. There are nearly an infinite number of ways for cords to arrange themselves to tangle, versus ONE way for them NOT to tangle. Dollar Store hair tie beats infinity … pretty impressive.

Hair ties come in various sizes, and can be ridiculously expensive outside dollar stores, so stock up.

Jaw Clip, or Hair Claw:

Closeup, giant jaw clip keeping my own badly-designed vacuum cleaner cord in place. (Told ya women know these tips.)
Closeup, giant jaw clip keeping my own badly-designed vacuum cleaner cord in place. (Told ya women know these tips.)


These are named for the way they look: Typically made of plastic, these hinged, levered accessories are basically like a toothy mouth that will ideally sweep up sections of hair and hold them – duh – in its jaw.

These are FANTASTIC for the same reason, but function as a sort of “quick release” cord holder. They also work well in tandem with hair ties, holding together several lightweight but related cords: think phone chargers.

Jaw clips are also good for taming items which are too cumbersome to get a hair tie or rubber band all the way around – for instance, the power cord from a computer monitor that may be affixed to the monitor. Some jaw clips are big enough to catch the cord and the tool.

Most jaw clips, since they’re designed to be decorative, have a place you can hang them from if you want.

Since jaw clips also vary in size – far more widely even than hair ties – get yourself a bunch.

The warning here for you is that these clips are NOT STRONG, so don’t pick them up in the hopes of finding yourself a treasure trove of extra clamps. They’re designed with HAIR in mind. Hair. Fragile, breakable, HAIR.

Fragile: unlike women. (grin.)


* If I wrote it, I believe it, or did at the time, so I’ll woman up to it, but if ever you find a factual error, let me know and I WILL correct it at once, along with a humble apology. ALSO? Feel free to let me know how you feel any old time. 

Who Lost the Good Scissors?

Yellow handled scissor & knife sharpener

Part of my self-appointed mission is to keep phrases like THESE out of your life:

“THIS is why we can’t have nice things.”
(Actually, this one is weird: poor guy stops a terror attack on a train in France, only to get stabbed multiple times in his own hometown. One street over from where I myself was one week ago. Lucky for the stabber, not so lucky for the airman. I wish that guy well.)

(From tumblr) "ok Sacramento stop shooting people it's not even the new year yet #thisiswhywecanthavenicethings
Um… Ok. Nothing I can do here …


“What am I, the maid?”

Minion as maid



For everyone who has ever screwed their good scissors into the drawer onto a chain (unless that’s just me), or who ever has Sharpie’d onto the orange handle “Mommy will be VERY cross if these get lost” (unless that’s also just me), I offer hope:

Two at-home DIY sharpeners which actually WORK.

(On knives, too.)

Safe enough to hand over the chore to those pesky scissor-misplacers, as well — as long as they’re in the neighborhood of say, 13 and older.

Yellow handled scissor & knife sharpener
Looks good. Tastes better. Wait… No…


The above is both a knife and scissor sharpener, and depending how you hold it, for righties or lefties (that is, those few of you southpaws who stubbornly refuse to adjust to the rest of the world — meaning almost none of you.)

With a surprisingly few number of strokes, your blades will be sharp again. Unless you’re DYING to use your Dremel for SOMETHING… finally?

This is pretty neat.

Where do you get yourself one? Anywhere. Any major chain, but please try a local place first: it’s called “Mr. Smith’s sharpener” if that helps.

Bring on da noise

Phone in glass
Phone in glass
Phone + glass= noise

Bring on da noise – believe it or not – from your frustratingly NOT loud smartphone with THIS surprising cool tool.

Funny how the simplest things turn charmingly cool once you find their secret superpowers.

If you’re like me — and seemingly everyone who likes to work with their hands — you like music while you work.

If you’re also like me, you‘ve found yourself frustrated more than once by the fact your smartphone doesn’t “go up to 11.” Or even to a reasonable volume.

These go up to 11 a it's one louder.
You thought YOU liked Spinal Tap: at THIS Etsy site, one fan even offers Russian nesting dolls in the fake band’s image.


Since only the insane would consider earbud cords near power tools, and only the foolishly hopeful still purchase wireless headphones, you may feel as though you’re out of options.

Hope is here in the humblest of household items.

The simple drinking glass.

Place your smartphone, speakers down, inside a glass tumbler, and find your ears delighted at the sound boost. (Or is it “bass boost?” I’ve always wondered….)

Water, Water Everywhere

This etching of the unhappy sailor with his albatross necklace, scholars now believe is the first recorded facepalm
Once an albatross, now a Cool Tool. Not even Nikki Minaj could make this siphon hose work as a necklace do...
Once an albatross, now a Cool Tool. Not even Nikki Minaj could make this siphon hose work as a necklace do…



When faced with water up to the lid of our old washing machine, and a choice between bailing with a Disney princess cup (the biggest we could find that would fit; the bucket would NOT) or letting the machine spill over with our girly tears, my daughter and I opted for Door Number Three: Science.

Here’s how we figured it out. Hang in there. If you follow along, you’ll be able to use this process yourself. {Also, you‘ll see it actually pays off to pay attention in school.}


Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink,” lament the forlorn, stranded sailors in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The sailors are lamenting this because they’re stranded at sea – which is full of (duh) seawater, and therefore unfit to drink.


This etching of the unhappy sailor with his albatross necklace, scholars now believe is the first recorded facepalm
This etching of the unhappy sailor with his albatross necklace, scholars now believe, is the first recorded facepalm.


In case you’re curious as to how that happened, one of them commits the heinous crime of killing an albatross, is punished by having to wear the dead bird around his neck, and things, well, just sort of circle the drain from there, if you’ll excuse the pun.

{You won’t, actually, so I’ll apologize now, shall I, while we work this drain thing into the ground.}


Speaking of drains, water, and an albatross around your neck — oh, come on: where else will you find a blog like mine? You know you LOVE me …

Not long ago, my teen was doing laundry…

…when the washer stubbornly refused to drain.

{Go on. Sit down. Get over the shock. Yes. My daughter DOES do the household laundry. Dishes, too. Ready to carry on? Okay…}

When she came to me, I gave the problem some thought. As I told the boys on the radio this morning, my first thought was: “There MUST be a Cool Tool for this …”

I COULD bail. Except nah. Because SCIENCE.


If FE= iron, does FEMALE= Iron Man
Yes. Yes it does.


Then it hit me: my youngest daughter had an aquarium – once – complete with gravel siphon to clean it. (See how I bring all this together?) I still have not been permitted to discard the empty tank and accoutrements, despite the fish long having shuffled off this mortal coil, so I‘ve long considered the kit and kaboodle an “albatross around my neck.”

Water+albatross+siphon hose=Archimedean Eureka moment.

{and yeah, this really IS how I think, sad to say…}

The siphon hose is basically set up so you create a vacuum with motion, rather than sucking on the opposite end with your mouth, which is a huge improvement over the way drug addicts try to steal gas out of your vehicle.

=====SPOILER ALERT:=======


  • Place the larger end of the siphon hose in the water; grip in firmly (your hands WILL be wet.)
  • Place the OTHER end in a large enough bucket to catch the runoff from the washer; remember, the water will come out here, and it will come out rather fast once it starts.
  • To begin the siphon, use a firm, fast back and forth motion — (sigh…) one I am SURE everyone over the age of 13 is familiar with…
  • Right. Exactly: as if you’re sandpapering a table. You guessed it.
  • At any rate, I do hope you’ve got the other end of the hose in the bucket when the water comes …

Because it will come quickly.

{Okay. I’m getting carried away.}

If you live in drought-stricken California, like I do? Recycle the water if you can.

DO NOT DRINK it, of course, if you’ve already added soap.

Be aware though, that soapy water is GREAT for misting plants and keeping pests away.

Flex that power.

flexible power strip

I don’t know how YOU find a place to power your GIANT plug for your printer, AND your JUST too-fat phone charger plug, AND all the other cords you need power for in these “wireless” things which nevertheless have a zillion cords powering them all, jammed into an inflexible strip somehow, gathering dust behind the table/sofa/desk  …

… Well. Someone has finally heard my prayers, and decided the POWER ought to be as flexible as I’ve had to be.

While it comes in all colors, and sizes, my fave was DeWalt black and yellow. (Natch.)

See the pictures below for a (sort of) demonstration of the thing in action.

This one folds up nicely when not in use on a job.
This one folds up nicely when not in use on a job.
The cord keeps tidy with a SWEET clip. Sturdy, too.
The cord keeps tidy with a SWEET clip. Sturdy, too.
Even sweeter: a handle.
Even sweeter: a handle.


There are smaller, rounder versions available in pink, blue, green, and multi-versions. All durable, all WAY cool. Check them out: it’s about time someone thought up a better way.

Less Screwing Around Means More Satisfying Screwing: Or, Size Matters. Again.

A tool box sink vanity! ... I'm all a-flutter...
i keep everything handy for quick daily stuff:: drill, hammer, measure ... THE GOOD SCISSORS ...

i keep everything handy for quick daily stuff:: drill, hammer, measure … THE GOOD SCISSORS …

Bigger is NOT better …

… when it comes to tool boxes, as anyone who has ever searched fruitlessly for a screwdriver — or worse, has fished for the precisely right-sized screw tip for an IKEA-esque nightmare assembly in the unseeable bottom of Grandpa’s loud, clanking tool box.

The floor of the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench seems easier to find.

Why, you, wonder, are you somehow working free, to finish assembling furniture for a company you could SWEAR you just paid

… Meanwhile? Excited, waiting smiles keep you going — flashlight (or spotlight) in hand, exploring your cavernous collection of tools, screws, bits, etc.

One of these days,” you swear, (and also you swear like a sailor during Fleet Week), “I GOTTA get this together.”

Passenger in car: "My mom used to swear so much when I was little, I thought my name was 'fuck.'"
Just like this.

No problem: downsize. The GOOD way.

STOP with the HUGE, multi-drawer, jump-start-your-testosterone-style tool holders that look like tractors without wheels.

tool boxes supporting truck
THIS is too much toolbox.

Shrinkage. (Yeah, I said it.) Shrink it down.

Go mobile. (Uh-huh, like the web. Also like The Who.)

Break the tools down JOB: and use smaller, portable bags, with lots of pockets, and HANDLES, and without EVER having to become annoyingly anal-retentive, you’ll NEVER search again for the right tool, or the right SIZE tool.

Believe me: most dudes who see my own setup actually stop, stare, and comment how GREAT it is.

Here’s how YOU can:

Diaper Bags are GREAT for this. Lots of pockets, sturdy, & nearly ALL come with a good-sized changing pad that cleans up SUPER easy.

Overnight bags: splurge on a decent woman’s bag. We KNOW the value of extra pockets, fellas; I’m not steering you wrong — and fear not: they come in black. Check Ross, Marshall’s, TJMaxx, for sales & bargains. (These are all owned by the same company; and DO check these links — I looked up examples for you.) is another good spot. But? Buy better; it will be worth it.


A tool box sink vanity! ... I'm all a-flutter...
A tool box sink vanity! … I’m all a-flutter…

NO one probably NEEDS this, maybe, per se … I don’t know…

Yes I do know. I need this. I need this like I need AIR. I need this SO badly, OMG….

Hold This So I Can See

Magnifying glass with weighted stand & two jointed alligator clips
Magnifying glass with weighted stand & two jointed alligator clips
Magnifying glass with weighted stand & two jointed alligator clips

EVERYONE has stood in a workshop, frustrated enough to trade their self-respect for magnifying steampunk goggles and an extra set of hands, after growling at a helper for the fifteenth time: “Hold this still for me, PLEASE, so I can see.”

We all know this. I’m just the only honest one of us. It’s ok. Today’s Cool Tool means you never have to trade your self-esteem for brass eyewear loaded with useless gears. At least, not until Comic-Con; then, do all you want with your cosplay pals — what happens at Comic-Con, stays at Comic-Con.

Unless someone has a camera phone. Then everyone on YouTube sees. Okay: that’s a bad example.

But in your workshop? YOU reign supreme, and you alone, and when you ARE alone, here you go – an extra pair of hands, beneath a magnifying glass, no less.

Perfect for soldering, sizing, or what have you.

Also perfect for Father’s Day.

Getting there is NOT the fun, for the un-organized.

Colored tin cans on S-hooks

Colored tin cans on S-hooks

(Above: recycled, painted (tin?) cans on S-hooks, hung on a dowel – which in turn is hung on two 3M Command hooks: easy-to-move, won’t strip paint.)

When it comes to organization, the GETTING part of “organized” is most DEFINITELY not the “fun” part of the process. You NEVER watch anyone roll up their sleeves with enthusiasm and start gushing: “You think YOU’VE got a fun weekend coming up in Vegas! That’s NOTHING. I’m getting my garage cleaned out and organized.”

(ABOVE is a JOKE, not an ad.)

Be honest: which is more fun? Cobwebs, dirt, and dodging black widows (have I mentioned, those are REAL?*) Or rolling the dice and hitting a double zero? (Or at least getting drinks and meals free.)

Those of us whose workshops/garages/man caves** are less-than-ready for a spot inspection from Martha Stewart — or basically, any human being with (snort) “standards” — we dream of BEING organized, but the arduous task of GETTING organized is so NOT fun, it never seems to make its way onto the “to do” list.

What with all those hilarious cat GIFs on Facebook and whatnot.


And our own fabulous Pinterest for the ABCs of Home Improvement. (Surely you’ve whiled away many an hour there.)

Or, you know. Anything but clean and organize.

Here’s MY trick: do a little at a time, and try to make sure you can still SEE what you put into your organization container, or it’s useless.

Today’s trick, and it’s green, Pinterest-lovingupcycling,” and easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.


Save your cans.


Drill holes. (This is optional. You’ll see why in a minute. If you skip this, go to STEP FOUR.)


Insert S-hooks into the holes you drilled. Or didn’t. If you did, go to STEP FIVE.


You’ll need 3M command hooks for each can. Go to STEP FIVE.


Hang on pegboard in your garage. Insert whatever is lying around, needs a home, and fits.

If you DO have a garage and do NOT have a pegboard? HOW IT THAT POSSIBLE?

That’s IT. Really. The picture is a little different because reasons.

(Okay: the reason is my pegboard was too cluttered for a picture. Be easy. I’m GETTING THERE…)



* Yes, to my horror, as a CA transplant, I discovered the following horror movie creatures are not only real, but can be found in your mailbox, back yard, or school playground at any time — and if you think I’m funnin’ ya, Google it.

  • Rattlesnakes – the aggressive kind, not the sissy east coast kind that slither away and hide.
  • Black widow spiders – these won’t kill you; they WILL make you hospital-level sick. The Brown Recluse, however, WILL. Sneaky bugger.
  • Bobcats – one was seen frolicking at my kids’ school – which was nearly all-outdoors, like a strip mall.

**I even call MINE a man cave. Oh yes, I am ALL woman. Still, I can’t help but LOVE the name.


Size matters.

two apparently same sized drill bits in Palm

two apparently same sized drill bits in PalmSize matters as much as having the right tool for the right job, and there are few things more frustrating than looking for the right size drill bit and having to fish around for loose ones, then wondering which one is the 11/64th & which one is 3/16th, which your project calls for:

(draw deep breath …)

because like I said, size matters.

If you’re as busy as I am, you like to BE organized, but GETTING organized seems like time you never manage to find. Any shortcut to this process helps.

What also helps ME is that I get to shop in stores besides Home Depot or Ace Hardware, since (on the off-chance you haven’t noticed) I am a woman, and because (less obviously) I like to draw.

Here’s a little secreteven the most talented artists can’t draw a straight line, so ruler manufacturers will never suffer in an economic downturn.

Neither can artists — or anyone human — draw a perfect circle, which is why THESE exist:

circle template

You can find them pretty much everywhere: in art supply stores, in specialty shops, (for sure you can find them on*), and while often the circle size is marked in millimeters, (because America is the ONLY place that hasn’t gone metric) you can still find them marked in inches.

(*The above link to Amazon is in inches; I checked for you.)

Or? You can take a few moments and measure them (carefully) and write them in, using this oh-so-sweet conversion site, at the Engineering Toolbox, which comes complete with auto-converter (for those of you who can’t be bothered with math) and even a handy printable chart. (in Adobe® PDF format.)

logo: The Engineering ToolBox

Who could ask for more?

But either way? Once that’s all done? Which takes hardly any time at all, really…
… All you need to do is drop it in your tool box. It’s flat, and takes up almost zero space, so the next time you aren’t QUITE sure what size a drill bit IS? And even the boys know: size matters ….

Drop it into one of the holes until you find a perfect fit, and you’re good to go.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy.