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CD players

The familiar console CD player is rapidly being replaced by more capable devices. Delivering superb performance at an affordable price, the CD is the music medium of the moment, having turned vinyl LPs into niche products for audiophiles and music collectors. But regular console CD players are losing ground to DVD players, which can play CDs along with DVDs, and to units that can record as well as play CDs.

Niche models are still thriving. Jukebox models can hold hundreds of discs. Portable players are now incorporating MP3 capabilities.


Sony dominates the CD-player category, making nearly one in three CD players sold. Other big sellers are Pioneer and Technics.

Console models

Single-disc models have virtually disappeared. Multiple-disc changers, typically holding five or six discs, can play hours of music nonstop. A magazine changer uses a slide-in cartridge the size of a small, thick book. Cartridges double as convenient disc storage boxes. Carousel changers are easier to load and unload than the magazine type. (Most let you change waiting discs without interrupting the music.) They’ve taken over the market. Price range: $100 to $250.


CD MegachangerAlso known as CD jukeboxes, these typically store 100 to 400 discs. Marketed as a way to manage and store an entire music collection, most models let you segment a collection by music genre, composer, artist, and so forth. The unit flashes album titles as you hunt through the discs. Inputting all the necessary data can be a tedious task (made easier on models that connect to a computer keyboard). But it’s worth the effort, because you can then set a jukebox to shuffle and play random selections all night or play discs only from your genre choice. To fit all those CDs, megachangers can be quite large. In fact, some may not fit the typical stereo rack. And all models aren’t equally efficient: Some are inconvenient to load, or noisy and slow in selecting CDs. Price range: $170 to $450.

Portable players

Small, sporty, and single-disc, these have simple controls. A growing number of models also play CDs you record yourself, using both the CD-R and CD-RW formats and digital file formats such as MP3. Early portables often skipped or had poor-quality headphones. Today’s players skip less, and many have good headphones that will convey decent sound. But some still have mediocre headphones; you’ll enjoy better listening if you replace them.

Battery life is improving, but it varies considerably from model to model: batteries typically lasted 16 to 30 hours but went as high as 40 hours. Some models come with an AC adapter, and some have a built-in battery charger. Most portable players can be connected to other audio gear and in that case many will play music as well as any home unit. Price range: $30 to $200.


Console models come with more features than portables. Their controls should be easy to see in dim light. A calendar display shows a block of numbers indicating the tracks on the active disc and highlighting the current track. As play continues, previous track numbers disappear–you can quickly see how many selections are left. A numeric keypad on the remote gets you to a particular track more quickly than pressing Up or Down buttons.

CD remote

A remote control is convenient and now nearly standard equipment. Buttons should be grouped by function or color-coded and should be visible in dim light. Most CD remotes operate the player only. Some changers and jukeboxes have a handy single-play drawer or slot so you can play a single disc without disturbing any already loaded. Cataloging capability offers various ways to keep track of the many CDs stored inside a jukebox, such as categorizing by genre.

Memory features that make track selection easy include delete track, which allows you to skip specified tracks but otherwise play a disc from start to finish, and favorite track program memory, which lets you mark your preferences. Music sampling (also called track scan) plays a few seconds of each selection. Most models can be programmed to play tracks in sequence, to shuffle play (look for non-repeat shuffle), or to repeat a track. A volume-limiter switch lets you hear softer passages without having other sounds at ear-splitting levels.

People who do a lot of taping will appreciate auto edit (also called time fit for recording): You enter the cassette’s recording time, and the CD player lays out the disc’s tracks, usually in sequence, to fill both sides of your tape. With comprehensive time display, you check time elapsed and time remaining for the current track and for the entire disc. Running-time total lets you total the time of tracks to be recorded to fit the maximum on a tape. Music-peak finder scans for the loudest passage in a track you’re going to record, allowing you to adjust the tape deck’s recording level correctly and quickly. Fade out/fade in performs the audio equivalent of a movie fade for less abrupt starts and endings. Auto spacing inserts a few seconds of silence between tracks.

With a synchronizing jack, you can connect a cable to a tape deck of the same brand so you can run both machines simultaneously. Those recording digitally to a MiniDisc recorder or a digital tape deck need a digital output jack to attach a fiber-optic or coaxial cable.

Portable features focus on sound-quality enhancement and power management. Most portables have a bass-boost control to compensate for the thin bass of poorer headphones. Some have a digital signal processor (DSP), which electronically simulates the ambience of concert-hall music.

Most portables have a liquid crystal display (LCD) showing which track is playing and a battery-level indicator that warns of low batteries. (The best indicators show a shrinking scale to reflect power remaining.) An AC adapter runs the player on house current and enables some players to charge rechargeable cells. Rechargeable batteries may cost extra.

Colorful “sports” models tend to be pricier than the rest of the pack and differ in a few other respects: Their lid is secured with a latch and sealed with a rubber gasket, and they have rubberized plugs covering jacks for an AC adapter and headphones. The latch keeps the lid closed so successfully that some sports models are a bit hard to open. The gasket and plugs help resist sand, dirt, and moisture, though you’ll need to wipe off a player that’s dusty or wet before you open it. Keep in mind that these players are water-resistant, not waterproof–the difference between a splash and total immersion.

A car kit, standard with some portables, consists of an adapter that powers the unit through a car’s cigarette lighter and a cassette adapter that pipes the player’s sound through the car’s tape player and speakers. (You can also buy aftermarket kits at electronics or auto-supply stores.) Some adapters add noise to the sound or otherwise compromised performance. A line-out jack is a better choice than the headphone jack for connecting a portable to a component receiver or other gear.


Performance differences. Many CD players can produce excellent sound–accurate tonal balance and free of coloration or distortion. However, not all CD players are equally convenient to use.

Better home units have an uncluttered front-panel display with clearly labeled main buttons grouped together by function. They also include features that make it easy to produce tapes from CDs. For portable players, skip-free performance depends on a good buffer, a memory feature that scans the disc, continuously storing upcoming music (typically from 10 to 45 seconds, sometimes more) so the player won’t cause audio dropouts. Some models skipped with just a mild jouncing, others only when jolted hard. Battery life in recent tests varied from 5 to 40 hours of continuous play.

headphonesHeadphones differ in comfort and performance. Comfort is very subjective, depending on the individual. Headphones ranged from decent to mediocre. For some models, at least, you can improve sound by buying replacement headphones. A decent set costs about $10 to $30.

Recommendations. If you’re looking to play CDs in a home-theater setup, consider getting a DVD player instead of a CD player. Some are nearly as cheap as CD players are now. They’ve become less expensive. The price of CD player/ recorders has also dropped enough to make them a reasonable alternative, with the premium for the extra functionality perhaps $100.

If you want to play only CDs, a multi-disc changer will save you from having to swap discs in and out. Shoppers for portable players should weigh battery life heavily if they’re frequent listeners or pay particular attention to antiskip performance if they’re active users.

Sliding Miter Saw Understand The Sliding Miter Saw

In the past articles in you are revealed with the different types of miter saw. Introducing you one of the miter saw, the best compound miter saw.

What you need to know about the sliding miter saw is this is the tool that specialized in cutting mostly on wood and it is widely used in building construction. The name that has the word “sliding” is already showing that this tool is named under its ability to hinge backward and forward in cutting material to give you the precise and and clear result.

A lot of builders using the sliding miter saw to cut a large piece of wood into the shape and length that needed. This is a tool that using the sliding arms in order to cut a different straight and angled of a material with a good precision and accuracy.

A sliding miter saw is available in single or dual features. The single sliding miter saw has the ability to tilt only on one particular side. The dual sliding miter saw is the tool that poses dual compound sliding meter that tilt on both sides. Most of sliding miter saws are having these types of features, so you can choose your favorite one according to the brand, size and models that you can find in the hardware store near you.

Here are the features of a sliding miter saw:

  • A Sliding feature that enables movement from forward to backwards for the saw blade
  • To give you a clear indication on your cutting, sliding miter saw has a laser guide that casts a shadow-like beam that shows you a clear indication on where the cut is going to be.
  • You can see a blade guard on the sliding miter saw. This feature is to cover the sharp end of the blade teeth. It is also available to retract easily. You can retracts the blade guard by lowering the blade and then it will back into cover position if you raised the blade again after using.
  • A sliding miter saw has a dust bag that helps you to collect the dust that created from your daily work. This is an environmentally friendly tool that connected to the saw to keep the area dust free and clean.
  • Some of the sliding miter saw are designed with a special safety clamps that used as a lock to the piece or material firmly to the working surface so the miter saw can cut it nicely.

The advantages of using a sliding miter saw

A sliding miter saw comes with several benefits that you can enjoy to work with. Here are the benefits of a sliding miter saw as a work tool for you.

  • The biggest advantage is you can see how portable this tool can be. It designed with a holding handle and you can bring it from your workplace to another. It is not too heavy even the women can carry it and you will be comfortable to work with this tool.
  • You can read the manual instruction before start to use it for the first time. This is not a complicated tool so you can use it easily and setting it confidently. You can practice and adapt yourself to use your brand new sliding miter saw and you can master it fast. You just have to mount it, lower it, and cut it. Read the manual so you can find out more.
  • This is a good and reliable tool for you to create an accurate and precise cut without a fuss. Sliding miter saw is capable to produce a very clean and precise cuts according to the shape and angle that you already planned for the project. You can draw the line on the material or wood that you intended to cut and slide it all along and you can see it will cut the wood precisely according to your drawing line.
  • It is not only giving you a precise cut, but it is also saving your time in cutting material and you can move on in building or distribute the material on the same day. This is the reason why it helps a lot of builders and contractors.

Working underneath a street rod or at your workbench

Any project can be an ordeal or a satisfying moment, and oftentimes the determining factor is the tool or tools we select to do the job. The right tool for the job has always been a true statement but nowadays with portability (rechargeable batteries, lightweight, and compact design universal) it’s never been more easily attainable.

Hot rodders are all about cutting metal and putting it back together. Chopping a top or fabricating a bracket requires cutting. The problem that often occurs when working on a hot rod is one of location, much like real estate, location, location, location is often the determining factor on whether or not a job is done well.

Working underneath a street rod or at your workbench convenience is paramount. Cutting metal, wood, or “whatever” can be a challenge inside, outside, or underneath your street rod. The latest in portable tools, the MasterForce (PN 241-0440, $99.99) 18-volt cordless band saw is something you will appreciate from the get-go when working on your pride and joy. The MasterForce line of tools now offers a cordless band saw (sold at Menards) that functions with a Lithium-ion battery (but can work off of a NiCad battery as well; battery and charger are sold separately).

And what can the saw cut? According to the manufacturer it can handle a 2-1/2-inch cutting capacity, which is enough to slice your way through 2-inch square tubing and up to 5/8-inch rebar.

At a measly 7 pounds, 11 ounces with battery, the band saw is truly portable and working underneath a car isn’t a problem when holding on. Speaking of holding on, the soft grip handle and the non-slip auxiliary handle make handling the band saw that much easier. Swapping out for different or new blades is also an easy task given the tool’s quick-change blade release.

We asked Rod & Custom Tech Editor Kev Elliott to put the saw through its paces and give us some feedback.

When asked what he thought about the portability of the MasterForce portable band saw Elliott told us: “The band saw really came into its own when I had to cut the exhaust tubing while the tubing was still underneath the car. Truly portable and with enough battery power to complete my exhaust system project within one charge.”

When asked about the clean-up process after the job was finished he says: “Quicker and with less mess to clean up than when using a cutoff wheel in a grinder.”

Selecting the Best Blade for the Job

Using the correct band-saw blade can extend blade life, improve cut quality, and reduce costs. Selection begins by understanding the properties of various blade materials, tooth forms, and the effects of changing the number of teeth per inch.

Reducing tooling costs associated with band-sawing operations while continuing to meet productivity requirements can challenge the best fabrication shop manager.

To help customers meet the challenge, distributors need to cover four issues: selection of the band-saw machine, selection of saw blade products, determination of proper machine operating speed and feed parameters, and establishment of a machine preventive maintenance program.

Choosing the Best Band Saw Machine

  • The most difficult part of the process is the first–determining which saw to buy. Machine designs typically suit certain operations better than others. The specifics of machine design are beyond the scope of this article. Specifying certain features will help match the machine to the job.
  • Machine capacity is one of the most critical issues. The capacity specified is usually the width and height of material that will fit in the machine’s vise.
  • Keep in mind that as the width of the material, or bundles of materials, increases, the machine blade width capacity greatly influences its ability to cut straight.

For example, the capacity of the blade to resist bowing is called “beam strength.” During sawing in the horizontal blade position, while the guides push down on either side of the material being cut, the material pushes the blade up in the middle. When the upward force of the material exceeds the beam strength, the blade bows up in the middle, causing the tooth edge of the blade to become unstable, or buckle, resulting in a crooked cut.

The width of the blade and the distance between band guides determine a blade’s beam strength. Shops that anticipate cutting larger material, like wide-flanged beams or large bundles of material, need enough beam strength to make a straight cut. Other machine issues can affect ability to optimize blade use. These include feed control capabilities, band-speed range, and ability to adjust machine parts that effect blade alignment.

Even with existing band saw machines there is plenty to do to improve operations.

Selecting the Best Blade for the Job

Selecting the correct band saw blade is an important step in order to achieve longer blade life and reduce tooling costs. Consider three aspects of the saw: blade material, tooth form, and number of teeth per inch.

Band-saw companies manufacture three types of blade one piece carbon steel, bi-metal, and carbide-tipped blades. These account for the vast majority of all sawing.

Interior paint: a brighter picture

This is a good time to buy paint. Manufacturers have survived a period of struggle with changing technologies to meet stricter environmental regulations. Now the paint companies seem to be back on track.

Paints are better than their predecessors in several important respects: They spatter less and have ample tolerance for scrubbing. They also keep stains and mildew at bay. Those are major improvements if you’re ready to paint parts of the house that get heavy use–a family room, kitchen, hallway, or bathroom.

exterior painting

Such improvements result from several reformulations by many leading brands over the past few years. Two brands in particular have made large strides. The current versions of Home Depot’s Behr Premium Plus and Lowe’s Valspar American Tradition paints perform extremely well across the board and are very moderately priced. We’ve judged both CR Best Buys.

Major national brands aren’t the only good choices, however. A number of regional brands perform well and offer reasonable values.

There are also more celebrity paints to choose from, now that the home-improvement guru Bob Vila has lent his name to a Sears brand. Bob Vila Signature Collection joins Martha Stewart’s Everyday Colors for Kmart and Ralph Lauren’s paint. Among the celebs, Lauren’s was the best by a very small margin; none was excellent overall.


Begin with the color. Computerized color matching can produce a paint that’s the shade you want when dry, to complement draperies, upholstery, or accessories in the room. If you’re not sure you’ve made a good choice, many paint departments have interactive computer programs that let you see how a specific color will look in a room.

You can also select a color the old-fashioned way, using the color-chip samples on display. Color chips usually show the shade in a flat finish. A glossier finish may look different. If an exact match is critical, buy a quart of the paint and test it on the wall.

color chips

The color you select will be custom-mixed using an appropriate base, the uncolored paint formulated to accept a range of tints. A pastel base is meant for light colors, white for the very lightest shades, and a medium or deep base for darker ones.

Many aspects of paint performance depend on the quality of the base, not the color. We test each brand’s pastel and medium base as well as white. So if you want, say, a medium or dark color, it won’t matter if it’s brilliant red or deep blue or anything in between. Its performance should track with our findings.

Match the paint’s performance to the room. These are characteristics that matter:

  • Scrubbing. Heavily used rooms need a paint that can stand up to scrubbing. That characteristic depends on the tint base; the Ratings show how the bases for each brand perform.
  • Fading. Sun-filled rooms need paint that won’t fade quickly. In very general terms, that means avoiding colors such as yellow, tan, and green, which include yellow pigment; yellow is more likely to fade than other pigments. The Ratings highlight brands with yellows that are more likely than others to fade, based on our testing.
  • Mildew. Mildew can happen in any warm, humid room, not just a bathroom or kitchen. A paint with high mildew resistance won’t kill mildew already on the walls (that requires cleaning with a bleach solution), but it will slow the buildup of new deposits.
  • Sticking. This affects glossier paints, which are used to paint woodwork and trim. Even when dry, a paint that suffers from sticking makes doors hard to open and books seem glued to shelves. Check the Ratings. Many good brands don’t have this problem.

Stay with the top of the line. Most paint companies offer grades of paint, often dubbed Good, Better, Best. We have found that lower grades do not perform well and often entail more expense and work. Where two coats of a top-line paint will cover all but the darkest colors, a lesser paint may need three or even four coats. But plan on two coats even with a top-rated paint.

Choose the right gloss level to prolong a room’s good looks.


flat paint

Looks completely matte, with no shine.

Best for formal living rooms, dining rooms, guest bedrooms, and other spaces that don’t see lots of heavy use.

On the downside Flat paint may not hold up to heavy scrubbing. Rubbing with cleanser can burnish the finish, leaving shiny spots.

Low Luster

satin paintAlso called eggshell or satin; has a slight shine.

Best for family rooms, kids’ rooms, high-traffic hallways, and the like. Resists staining and scuffing. Holds up well to cleaning.

On the downside Some may be too glossy or too close to a flat. Check our Ratings. Looks best on a smooth, well-prepared wall; the shine will bring out imperfections.


It’s easy to pick a high-quality paint. However, even fine paints differ in important qualities. That’s why the Ratings highlight paints that hold their original color well and that slow the growth of mildew. We also show which paints can be scrubbed without damaging the finish.

We tested most brands in three finishes: flat, low-luster, and semigloss. In a few cases, we couldn’t represent a brand in all finishes because of reformulations.

The Ratings list paints strictly by overall performance. The Quick Picks, below, highlight paints that are well suited to specific situations.


Fine choices for most rooms and CR Best Buys:

1, 25, 45 Behr $20 to $22

3, 26 Valspar $18 to $20

6, 29, 51 Dutch Boy $13 to $16

Behr and Valspar are excellent overall. Given its price, Wal-Mart’s Dutch Boy represents an outstanding value. Most of these paints are excellent at resisting mildew, making them good choices if you have to paint a bathroom or kitchen.

For a very sunny room:

2, 32 Benjamin Moore $19 to $35

4, 36 Pratt & Lambert $33 to $34

5 Ralph Lauren $23

46 Dunn-Edwards $35

These faded the least in our tests, The Benjamin Moore (32) and the Dunn-Edwards (46) are glossier than advertised and may be more suitable for trim.

For the kids’ rooms:

27 Sears $20

28 True Value $21

29, 51 Dutch Boy $15, $16

These low-luster and semigloss paints hold up well to scrubbing and stains. If you want a durable flat paint, the best values are Behr (1) and Valspar (3).

For bookshelves, sills, and trim:

31 MAB $25

32 Benjamin Moore $19

53 Kelly Moore $33

These hold up well to scrubbing and don’t let objects stick. MAB (31) is sold in the East. Kelly Moore (53) is sold in the West. Benjamin Moore (32) is available nationwide.

High End Picking Up Steam: Pressure Cooker Focus

pressure cooker salesWith pressure cooker sales still hot, manufacturers and retailers are hoping to fuel the consumer trend toward better models by increasing awareness of the category through demonstrations, advertising and point-of-purchase displays.

According to suppliers and cookware buyers, consumers seeking convenient, time-saving cooking vessels helped revitalize the pressure cooker business about two years ago. Improved technology and better features on the cookers have renewed consumer interest in a category that was a household fixture for previous generations.

Pressure Cooker Focus

presure cookersThe popularity to fast cooking speed, energy savings, health concerns and improved safety systems. The large percentage of double-income families has also affected the surge in pressure cookers. Margie Davis, owner of two Culinary Corner gourmet shops in Colorado Springs, Colo., explained that the speed of a pressure cooker enables families to cook a complete meal easily, Davis said. If you use a best pressure cooker, a meal that might take two hours on a stovetop can be cooked in 40 minutes.

Health concerns are also an important issue for many customers. “We have customers who buy pressure cookers because they have become aware that the products retain the food’s natural vitamins,” explained William Sonoma’s McKenzie.

“Pressure cookers are starting to be popular at retail,” said Carrie Lynn Becraft, president of Kitchen Kaboodle, a four-store specialty chain based in Portland, Ore. In the past, consumers were afraid of pressure cookers because of their noise and tendency to burst from the steam, she explained, adding that with the newer technology, the products are quieter and safer.

Sales of the Pressure Cooker Supplier

Pressure Cooker SupplierProducts such as T-Fal’s Sensor pressure cooker feature improved technology that locks the lid until the sensor determines that the pressure is safely released. Chantal’s Speed Cooker features stay-cool metal handles with a patented air pocket that diffuses the heat from the pot before it reaches the handle. Chantal’s other safety elements include a multiple independent valve system. Cuisinarts’ pressure cookers have permanently affixed pressure regulators that cannot fly off. They also have quick pressure-release knobs in the handles, making it safer and easier to stop the cooking process, according to the company.

Suppliers representing the high end of the market which retail for $100 to $200 are Chantal, Cuisinarts, Fissler, Prestige, T-Fal and Bay City International, the U.S. distributor for the Hawkins Futura pressure cooker produced by Hawkins Cookers Ltd. of Bombay, India. National Presto Industries and Mirro-Foley, who have owned the pressure cooker business, carry moderate-priced products carrying suggested retails ranging from $30 to $75.

Some retailers noted that moderate-priced products are not matching sales of their high-end competitors.

“Over the last three or four years, sales in the traditional pressure cooker category have been flat,” said John Gadish, buyer for U.S. Merchandise, a six-store catalog showroom based in Cleveland. He added that stainless steel pressure cookers have been selling better than the aluminum.

A buyer for a Midwest major department store said that although he currently carries a moderate-priced product, it is not selling well at retail. As a result, he is considering bringing back a higher-end product he carried years ago. However, some retailers are seeing increases with moderate-priced stainless steel and aluminum pressure cookers.

Stove top vs Electric Pressure CookerAn associate buyer for a Midwest catalog showroom said sales have increased for Presto’s stainless steel and aluminum products. “Both of Presto’s pressure cookers are selling about the same,” she said.

The buyer also carries Nordic’s Tender Cooker, which has been “selling very quickly.” When Nordic Ware brought in its own staff to demonstrate the product, the catalog showroom experienced a boost in sales, the associate buyer said. However, she said it has not been necessary to demonstrate Presto’s items. “I find that people who buy traditional pressure cookers know exactly what they want them for, such as canners,” he added.

Many buyers say the key to selling pressure cookers is demonstrations.

pressure cooker guides“Customer education is the key to pressure cookers,” said a manager of an eastern department store chain. He explained that many consumers were intimidated by pressure cookers based on past experience or knowledge of older items. “We schedule a lot of demonstrations to explain the benefits of the product,” he said. “When we demonstrate, consumers are drawn to the product.”

“Sales of pressure cookers represent a real education challenge for the retailer,” Kitchen Kaboodle’s Becraft said. The biggest obstacle, Becraft added, was training her staff, which did not have any prior experience with pressure cookers, on the use and merits of the products.

Heida Thurlow, president of Lentrade Inc., which markets Chantal cookware, explained that manufacturers are faced with two consumer challenges: experiencedconsumers who were disappointed with the performance of pressure cookers in the past and consumers who have never used a pressure cooker. Because of this, Thurlow said, many retailers may find it necessary to demonstrate the products.

Sales of the Brand Pressure Cooker

Many suppliers report increased pressure cooker sales within the past year.

“I think the upscale, better quality stainless steel products are what’s trending up,” said Henry Read, vice president of sales and marketing for T-Fal Corp. According to a recent consumer survey, Read explained, people who have discovered the speed of microwave oven cooking but who have been disappointed by the ovens’ cooking limitations are now purchasing better quality pressure cookers.

pressure cooker guidesSales for T-Fal’s pressure cookers, carrying suggested retails from $69 to $99, have increased about 80 to 90 percent over its 1987 figures, Read said. “Pressure cookers are a very good category for us,” he said. T-Fal has expanded the number of retail outlets its pressure cookers are placed in by about 70 to 80 percent over last year, according to Read.

According to Art Krull, national field sales manager for Presto, stainless-steel pressure cookers sell better than aluminum. Many consumers, Krull said, prefer stainless steel to aluminum since it is easier to care for.

In addition to national advertising and demonstrations, Presto has been providing film strips for high school and college economic classes for the past few years to inform the latest generation of consumers about the benefits of pressure cookers, Krull said. “The more we educate the consumer, the more pressure cooker sales increase,” he said.

While the Tender Cooker does not compete directly with traditional pressure cookers, Dalquist said, “We have enjoyed the same success other pressure cooker manufacturers have had.” Except for the fact that the Tender Cooker only has a 2.5-quart capacity, Dalquist said the product provides similar results to stovetop cookers.

Nordic has been advertising the product on national television and in consumer print. “The more advertising we do and the more the consumer becomes aware of the product, the more our sales increase,” Dalquist said, adding that this year’s sales are about 25 percent ahead of last year’s. “I think our product will still maintain sales through the next few years,” he added.

The Pressure Cookers Should be Merchandised By Category or By Vendor

pressure cooker categoey

Lentrade’s Thurlow suggests that creating a pressure cooker category on the retail shelf may create additional consumer interest in the products. “Retailers that show all of their pressure cookers together are much more successful than those who show the products with other cookware items,” she said.

However, Dayton Hudson’s cookware buyer Karen Dodge said that the store prefers to display its pressure cookers with each manufacturer’s other cookware products. “A separate category might spark additional consumer interest, but we believe more strongly in a vendor statement,” she explained.

How To Paint And Decorating Exterior Walls of A House

About painting exterior walls of the house, by doing it on your own, it will save you a lot of money. It is an advantage if you know how to paint the exterior of your house and also the decorations. Here you are going to be revealed with the steps to paint your exterior walls, the suggestions of tools and how to do the preparation before start painting. It is easy to do this on your own, and you will never need a tradesman to do this for you.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Paint

choose exterior wall paint colorYou need a fresh coat of paint to improve the exterior of your house and the decorations are also becoming even more interesting and better. It is also can brighten the decorations and looks much tidier and newer.

For the best result, choose specialist exterior masonry paint, and you can choose what kind of color you wish for. Do not forget to discuss the color with your neighbor if your property is attached to theirs. For the joined buildings, different colors can look a little strange if you choose the wrong combination of color.

Most common colors to paint with are white and cream, but for the exterior, the color is too bright and blinding, it is also easy to show a speck of dirt.

Step 2: Painting the exterior of a house

You need to buy enough paint to start your painting job. You have to check the square meter coverage that’s available in each container. This information can be asked directly to your salesman in the paint store. Before deciding on the painting, you have to ask for permission to alter the exterior if your property is in a Conservation Area.

Step 3: Preparation for Painting Outside the Walls

First and foremost, you need to prepare the painting site. Lack of preparation is only increasing the chance for you to repeat the job all over again before you meet the perfect result. You have to make sure that the wall is clean and no dirt attached to the surface. Make sure the surface is dry as well for the easy application and it will avoid clotted look.

Use a wire brush to remove any mold or dirt with bleach and water solution for a complete dust, dirt and cobweb removal. You need to remove any flaking paint if the walls have been painted previously.

If you see any cracks on the surface, you need to fill it first to create a smooth finish after paint.

Mask all windows and door frames, to avoid the unwanted area to get painted. A part of preparation is also about safety, if your house is facing directly onto the street, a bright safety cones are needed.

Step 4: Equipment for Painting Exterior Walls

painting tools

Here is the equipment that you need to start painting:
-Scaffold tower or ladder to paint higher spot

-Roller to coat larger areas or you can use a paint sprayer to cut down the painting time (You can find more information about paint sprayer

on this website:

-Wide brush to paint a rougher surface

-Long extension handles to reach any spot easier

-Small brush for painting in small and hard to reach areas as behind or under down-pipes.

-Paint canister if necessary

-Comfortable flat shoes while working

-Coverall to cover you from splashed with paint

-Eye goggles to prevent your eyes while painting something that on top of your head

Step 5: Get Painting Your House Walls

After you’re done with all required preparation, you can start with the painting part. To make everything effortless, you have to start at the top and work all the way down. With this way, you can ensure to finish your job early without excessive drips and runs.

Use a small brush first to cut-in around the edges while painting, and then continues with a bigger or larger brush to finish the part. If possible, try to follow the sun around the building, so the paint dries perfectly.

You need to have a good time management so you can finish your painting in one go, so you can avoid visible lines that occur when you stop the job and continue again the next day.

Cover all the surfaces well, use your roller and brush with enough paint to give a good thick coat of paint to the walls and decorations. The paint need to be not too thick, but not so much drips and runs while applying them to the wall.

Be careful when using the roller, and cover yourself well before getting splattered with paint.

Most exterior paints require two coats of paint at least. You can refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding drying time and second coating.

If you want to paint behind downpipes, you can wrap around the pipes using an old newspaper so that you can paint easily without getting the paint on the pipes.


Remember to use these steps to complete your painting job for exterior walls of your house:

Step 1: Choosing the Right Paint – Important step to have a tidy and new finish

Step 2: Painting the exterior of a house – Estimate how much of paint you will need

Step 3: Preparation for Painting Outside the Walls – Remove all the dirt and let the wall completely dry before start painting

Step 4: Equipment for Painting Exterior Walls – Get all your equipment ready for the job including your personal protective equipment

Step 5: Get Painting Your House Walls – Paint it thoroughly, covered the unwanted spot to paint, and give two coats of paint for exterior wall


Whether you’re throwing a fancy holiday party or having a casual celebration with family and friends, chances are your home could use a festive face-lift. Target spaces where visitors tend to congregate: the living room, kitchen, dining room and family room. Don’t forget the powder room — a common stop for most guests. Since shopping, baking and gift wrapping top most people’s “to do” lists, four metro Atlanta interior designers offer spruce-up-the-house tips that don’t require a lot of time or money.


living room decoration for holiday

Cynthia Florence, owner, Cynthia Florence Interiors (e-mail:

“The mantel and the living room are usually the first thing people see when they come in. They set the tone for the whole ambience in the house,” Florence says. “Stay with one scheme to create harmony. If there’s too much going on, your eyes go from one thing to another, and it’s too busy. It just causes chaos.”

Pick a theme and color scheme that complements furnishings. Don’t be afraid to incorporate nontraditional holiday colors, such as bronze and copper. Lime green, orange, purple and pink are also hot.

Choose a focal point, such as the mantel, and decorate around it. Framed art above a mantel doesn’t have to be removed; drape garland around the top of the frame.

The sight, smell and feel of the holidays can be created by using candles, fresh greenery and a cozy throw. Accent pillows also warm up a room and add to the decor. Adorn coffee and sofa tables with floral arrangements and potpourri.

Less is more. Use a few striking festive items, and pare down the knickknacks. “People are going toward more elegant decorations than the cutesy stuff,” Florence says.


dining room decoration holiday

Bob Brown, vice president, Pineapple House Interior Design (Web:

“Don’t be intimidated. Setting a table is so basic, anyone can do it. Everything can be pulled from your everyday china, your grandmother’s china or china from a tag sale,” Brown says. “I like to have a flower on the table for each guest; it makes them feel special. And don’t worry about place mats. I love to show my table.”

Chargers — oversize plates that sit under a dinner plate — decorate the table even after the meal is over. Chargers with silver, gold or metallic finishes add glitz this time of year.

Repetition is the key to smart design. Instead of dressing a table with one candle and one centerpiece, consider placing votive candles and flower buds at each place setting.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match plates, stemware and eating utensils as long as they complement, rather than compete with each other. Table linens don’t have to be traditional fare. Consider using a throw or quilt as a tablecloth; substitute a decorative washcloth, tea towel or hand towel for napkins. Chairs can be adorned with scarves or throws instead of slipcovers.


powder room decoratingVonda Dickerson, designer, Vonda Dickerson Interiors (e-mail:

“Powder rooms should be jewel boxes. They should be something that when your guests close the door, they feel like they’re in a special environment.”

The space should look like you, not sterile and new with items you just ran out and bought.

Be creative with bathroom accessories. Instead of holiday towels with Christmas emblems, use colored towels you already have. Embellish them with ribbons and jewelry such as beads, earrings or shoe clips, to give them a festive look.

If the powder room is large enough, add a chair or bench to provide another canvas to display decorative pillows or wrapped, empty boxes that look like presents.


kitchen decorating for christmasBeth Farwig, designer/retail manager at Insperience Studio (Web:

“Take things you already have and put a new twist on them. Most people don’t use their kitchen appliances every day, so why not have fun and put last year’s ornaments in them?” Farwig says.”Ornaments come in so many colors, it’s easy to find something that blends with the color scheme in your kitchen.”

Add seasonal flair to kitchen cabinets by arranging faux garland on top. Hang wreaths over windows or above the sink.

Decorate surfaces such as cake stands and dessert trays with holly, garland or ornaments. Put peppermint and other Christmas candy in cookie jars.

Use festive napkins, tea towels and area rugs to spread holiday cheer. If counter space permits, display a few holiday cookbooks.

Plugged in: with this new option, adding home automation to a home plan is as easy as flipping a switch

Installing structured wiring typically hasn’t been that easy when working with a pre-drawn home plan–until now. A new option for the plans in this magazine allows you to include home automation details for just $250.

These details provide direction for wiring every room and beyond–from the front porch to the backyard, and from the attic to the basement. This infrastructure will give your clients centralized control over the systems and electronics in their home.

Unlike robot maids and other gadgets of an imagined future, home automation improves upon the functionality and convenience of devices today’s families already depend on–televisions, smoke detectors, thermostats, speakers, security systems, and motion sensors.

home automation

For example, the door and window sensors of a typical home security system are triggered separately wherever monitored doors and windows open or close. Any motion sensors located on the property are also triggered wherever the hardware senses motion. The triggers are isolated, binary events in a typical system and are not interfaced to provide a more meaningful report of the home environment. By contrast, an integrated home-automation system creates relationships between hardware components.

An automated system can distinguish between “motion sensor triggered, window contact triggered” (homeowner walks across room, opens window) and “window contact triggered, motion sensor triggered” (someone opens window, enters home). The first event has bearing on the temperature system, which would compensate by lowering the thermostat in the affected area of the home. The second event concerns the security system, which would notify the monitoring center about a possible break-in.

Home automation providers can work with pre-drawn plans to provide a whole-house wiring map and components list in the same way modification designers provide customized blueprints. The components list also serves as a cost estimate and payment schedule that the subcontractor or “system integrator” will use to order the hardware used in the design. The integrator will, of course, also charge for labor and any additional design that becomes necessary on site.

Developed by Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA)-certified installers, the Home Automation Upgrade package equips your blueprints with everything you need to hire and work with an installer during construction. It provides a short explanation of the various subsystems, a wiring floor plan for each level of the home, a detailed materials list with estimated costs, and a list of CEDIA-certified installers in your area.

Flip a Switch

Among the systems Home Automation can manage:

home theather

  •  Shade control
  •  Video surveillance
  •  Entry access control
  •  Video gaming

Custom Blend

Home automation is just one of the ways the blueprints in this issue can be customized. If you want to add living space, change a roofline, adjust ceiling heights, or just about anything else, there’s no need to wrestle with redrawing blueprints or finding a local architect to make changes. Hanley Wood can help you customize a plan in five easy steps:

  1. Purchase the reproducible master for the chosen home plan;
  2. Pay the $50 consultation fee and you will be sent a customization Change form via e-mail or fax. Complete and return the form, outlining the changes and tensions you want the customization specialists to make. (Note: if you decide to use the customization service, the $50 consultation fee will be applied to the total cost of the modifications.)
  3. The customization specialists will review your changes and provide a detailed cost estimate within 48 hours or two business days.
  4. After you review and approve the estimate. return a signed copy and the customization specialists will complete the plan.
  5. The customized plan will be completed in two to three weeks following the approval of any preliminary designs. You’ll receive either five sets or a reproducible master of your modified design, plus a detailed materials list and any other options you select.


Choosing a mower: the world of walk-behinds offers many options (Final part)

High-powered high wheelers

The usual solution resorted to by home owners facing an acre or more, or even upwards of half an acre, is the riding mower or lawn tractor. With cutting widths ranging from 30 to 50 inches, these machines can lop a third to more than half off your mowing time. For people who want the faster cutting speed but still prefer to walk, there are two other types of machines to consider. Both will let you cut a wider swath while still enjoying the exercise afforded by a walk-behind mower.

powered high wheel mowerThe first of these are what I call the high-powered high wheelers. These machines are superior to, and should not be confused with, the less expensive highwheeled models mentioned earlier. These mowers also take advantage of the flotation and hole-hopping ability of large wheels, but because their engines and their balance points are located over their rear-wheel axles, they turn and pivot easily, a capability enhanced by swiveling, caster-type wheels in front of the deck. In addition, the large models of this type are powered with 8-, 8.5-, and 9-horsepower engines that are far more ruggedly constructed than consumer-grade mowers, so they can safely and efficiently handle extensive rough-cutting chores. This versatility makes them ideal for rural owners who have not only lawns but other areas that need a mowing once or twice a season to keep the place neat and the alders out.

One example of a high wheeler is the DR[R] Country Lawn Mower sold by Country Home Products. The model I favor is their largest, the 825, which has an 8-horsepower engine, cutting heights ranging from one and a quarter to three and a half inches, and a 25-inch cutting width. Because it is five inches wider than my present mower, this model would knock at least 20 minutes off my mowing time on my heavily obstructed lawn. Country Home Products estimates their machine can handle half an acre per hour at moderate speed, three-quarters of an acre per hour “at a fast pace.” List price for the 825 is $1,238. If you watch for special offers, you can buy it for around $1,000. That may seem expensive, but you get a lifetime warranty on the deck and frame, a five-year warranty on all other nonengine parts, and Briggs and Stratton’s standard warranty on the engine.

Another company with an even more extensive line of self-propelled, highwheeled mowers is Sarlo Power Mowers. Sarlo offers models with cutting widths from 22 to 30 inches. Again, for the combination of shortest cutting time, maneuverability, power for the rough stuff, and a rugged, professional quality machine, the 26- and 30-inch mowers are the best choice. Cutting heights are one and three-quarters inches to four inches. With an 8-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine, the 30-inch mower lists for $1,299; with a 9-horsepower Kawasaki engine, the price is $1,499.

The ultimate pros

The last category of mower is one that most home owners probably never consider, thinking these professional, self-propelled, walk-behind machines will be too big, too heavy, too expensive, or too something or other. But you get a machine that cuts fast and smooth and has refined control features such as heavy-duty wheel brakes and up to seven forward speeds. Perhaps most important, you get a durable machine that will probably outlive you, and what may seem like a lot of money to spend up front will be a savings in the long run. If you have a large, well-kept lawn that you want to keep looking spectacular with the least investment in time, one of these professional mowers makes great sense.

Snapper professional walk mower

Unlike the high wheelers, these machines are not designed to do double duty as rough-cut machines. They are exclusively lawn and turf types of equipment. Some manufacturers–like John Deere and Snapper–may be familiar to you from the lawn and garden center, some others–like Bunton and Exmark–may be new to you. (In the world of riding mowers there are similiar commercial lines offered by well-known manufacturers such as John Deere and Kubota and by lesser-known companies such as Grasshopper and Dixon.)

The smallest of the professional self-propelled, rotary mowers cuts a 28-inch swath. Cutting widths typically available are 32, 36, 42, 48, 52, and 60 inches. A 36-inch mower of this kind can mow an acre in 40 or 45 minutes, which is ideal for a large home lawn, and combines cutting speed with excellent maneuverability for tight quarters. If you have narrow gates to go through, then a 32-inch model may be the better choice. Like the high wheelers, these mowers balance their weight over the rear axle and have caster-type front wheels that allow extremely tight, controlled turning. The wide tires provide the extra flotation needed by a heavier machine.

Bunton specializes in golf course equipment ranging from huge five-gang reel mowers for fairways down to exacting, precision-cut greens mowers. The list price on their 36-inch commercial rotary mower with a 14-horsepower engine is $3,200. This is a hefty price, granted, but not when compared with the prices of consumer-type riding mowers and lawn tractors. A Gravely 32-inch model with a 12.5-horsepower engine lists for $2,350.

If I owned a few acres of velvety greensward, I would select one of these professional walk-behind mowers. But with my half-acre of Maine bumpysward, I’ll stick to the push reel mower most of the time, haul out the little rotary if I forget to mow for two weeks in June, and once during the summer borrow my neighbor’s high-powered high wheeler to knock down all the knee-high stuff that will never be lawn but that I don’t want to become woods. Fitting the tool to the job is what it’s all about, and, happily, there are more tools available than just the ones in front of your neighborhood hardware store.