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Phase II of life: Handing over of the toolbelt

May 1, 2017

As I enter the new phase of my life I am looking back at all the good and bad my career in construction has afforded me. There were multiple lessons, many of them painful, that I learned in the past 13 years as a business owner and handywoman. I wish I could say it was easier than I had thought it would be, but I would be lying to you and to myself. Many nights I was awake worrying about my customers, my future, my finances, my ex-partner and that business fiasco: I could go on and on.  And then there were the nights that I didn’t sleep because I was so ramped up about an upcoming class (I taught women home repairs) or a job I had lined up and couldn’t wait to start or finish (to see the results of my labor/love). And then there were the nights I was awake because of just plain excitement about my business and how it was thriving. I remember clearly when I changed the name of my company and took on the name that had been my persona for the first 10 years of business: ToolBox TomGirl.


ToolBox TomGirl became my alter ego. I wore pink work boots, shirts with a logo (pink work boot with tools), wore pink cowboy boots to any networking event I attended, I carried the tools of the trade around in my truck, and talked shop every chance I got. I was hooked and my passion I wore proudly. I am not a pink person but I needed something to keep my feminine in a man’s world (oh, and I always had a good manicure). I read everything I could get my hands on about maintenance, home repairs, and women in construction.  My favorite magazines were (and still are) Qualified Remodeler, Handyman, and anything with a DIY content. I joined other women in organizations that matter to the construction industry and I taught women how to do home repairs at the college, senior centers, private homes, and businesses. I gave speeches on being a woman in construction and about being a business owner and what it took to stay the course. I suffered through men who would not shake my hand at networking events, women who asked me where my husband was (insinuating I could not do this by myself), men and women who questioned my integrity and most of all I lost my heart when a good friend told me to stop playing and “get a real job.”


But you know what? I loved it anyway! I would not trade one minute of what I have been through, good and bad, for another career. I had worked in a professional environment for over 25 years and knew I had found the real me when I started my first business and continued to become ToolBox TomGirl, both the person and the business.


Now, you must be wondering why I am telling you all this. Here you go. I am officially handing over my pink toolbelt to my now assistant, Danielle Hall. Danielle started as my student at the college, interned with me for a year, and then became my right hand (and left hand on occasion). When I told Danielle that I needed to move on to other things (all personal for me, nothing to do with business) she asked if she could take over the Maryland branch and I open a branch in Michigan where I am now living with the love of my life. Of course, my answer was yes. I also handed over my teaching work at the college to a colleague who is also a woman in construction.  So, this brings me to where I am now.


I have officially decided to be semi-retired. My Maryland office will become Danielle’s and I will work for her in the facility maintenance field as needed in Michigan (we have retail stores that are county-wide and I can work with them outside of Maryland). At this stage in my life I am no longer interested in building a whole new company. I am having fun meeting new friends and building a personal network instead of a business network.


I do sometimes feel a loss for my teaching and learning new skills in construction. But, I am also relieved to be able to spend time with my new man, my new home, and my new life!  I know that I am moving into the second phase of being myself. This came a lot sooner than I had expected: as our parents tell us so often “time goes faster the older you get.” I am living and breathing that truth right now. Scary stuff, but so nice to look back and see the legacy I created. My passion gave a lot of women the confidence and drive to move forward themselves both in home repairs, and in building a business. I gave a lot to charity, mentored construction students, and stayed true to myself by doing things with passion, integrity and hard work.


I truly feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to both discover my passion and live it. I gave my all and I feel now is the best time to move on.


I will continue to share my passion in my writing. I look forward to being someone that women will still turn to for guidance but at a slower and more peaceful pace. It is time to hand the toolbelt over to the younger generation and simply be here as a mentor and friend.


Thank you for all your support and love over the years.


If you are in Michigan and want to spend some time together, look me up. If you are out there someplace else, hook up with me on Facebook or LinkedIn. And, of course, if you need facility maintenance help in your business or retails shop – call me!

I will never let go of my dream to “put a hammer in the hand of every woman and teach her how to use it.”

Easy to follow painting tips for painting a room

February 21, 2017

Have you ever walked into a room and saw, black…if not a very deep burgundy wall color….what was your first reaction!?!? Maybe, scream…run away…thinking – “How will I ever be able to cover this up!?!?”

First, let me start off by saying that if you are going over a dark color you will need to use a primer to cover the old color, or you will get a blend of the two colors (old + new) and it may not look like what you were expecting. (And yes, I know this from experience – the wall turned out like baby throw up….yuck.) Also, spackle and fill any nail holes or imperfections. Be sure to sand smooth your areas and use a tack cloth to remove the drywall dust). These few steps that may sound minuet….are actually very important!

Be sure to gather everything you need before you get started. It really is a hassle to keep stopping and getting things together. Here is a short list of the things you will need (add to this as you wish).

1. Various sized paint brushes (4” (can use a slanted/angle brush) for cut in edge between wall and ceiling and a 1” for around the window frames).

2. Rollers (get good quality and de-fuzz them using the 5 in 1 tool to run the roller through against the nap to release most of the fuzz).

3. Extension pole and roller handles (be sure you get the right sizes for the rollers you are using).

4. Tarps or plastic to cover furniture or the flooring.

5. Paint tray for the large areas and paint buckets for trim work.

6. 5 in 1 tool (you can open the can, roll off the fuzz from the roller before you start and roll paint back into the can when you stop). You can also use this to scrape off imperfections in the wall and if you missed any nails you can use it to take them out and use the straight edge to apply a small bit of spackle into the hole).

7. Rags (to clean up spills or to wipe off dust/dirt before you paint a section).

8. Paint! Most important!  Have all of the paint(s) you are planning on using. Be sure to have a separate tray/pan for each color.


Follow this order so that your room comes out looking smooth and the transitions are clean lined. (ceilings, walls, windows, trim and doors).

1. Prepare the room. Cover any items and flooring with tarps or plastic. Remove all hardware; including door knobs, and outlet covers. Here is a helpful tip – tape the outlet cover screws to the cover they go with.

2. Once the main ceiling area is painted you can continue by painting around the edge of where the ceiling and the wall meet. Use a brush and overlap slightly onto the wall.

3. Roll paint evenly on the walls in vertical sections getting close to where the walls adjoin.

4. Cut in with the wall paint the walls between the ceiling and the wall (typically using a 4” brush).

5. Overlap the wall paint onto the baseboard slightly (or if you have natural wood you want to cover the baseboard with painters’ tape).

6. Paint the window frames (typically using a 1” brush). Be sure to open the windows so you can get all areas. Paint the area between the window casing and the wall creating a smooth line (cut in).

7. Paint the baseboard by starting in the middle and working your way to the floor. Next cut in the baseboard towards the wall creating the cut in smooth line.

8. Paint the doors (all hardware including door knobs should have been removed). Follow the grain of the wood for a smooth finish.

9. Paint the door casing. Cut in around the door and wall creating a smooth line.

10. Stand back and admire your incredible handiwork.

11. Clean up your mess. Wash and store your paint brushes for use at another time. Label your paint to which room you used it in and the date.

Power Equipment Preparation For All Seasons

January 29, 2017

I am thankful to Gold Eagle Co for sharing this extremely important information. Although it is well into the Winter season, there is still time to stay on top of the winter maintenance! In case you have not done the proper maintenance on your power tools…it’s not too late! 1, 2, or even 3 months into winter… you should still try and winterize your power tools, as it will help prolong it’s value.

I am a person that strives to learn something new each and every day. I love sharing information that will help benefit others. With sharing our experiences among each other… what has worked…or has not worked… can only help us all grow our knowledge! So, if you have something you feel is valuable to others regarding facility maintenance or home repairs, please feel free to send it to me for possible inclusion on this blog site. I will do my best to offer guest writer spots through out the year, such as the article below.

Power Equipment Preparation For All Seasons provided by Gold Eagle Co.


  1. When autumn and winter seasons seem to appear out of nowhere every year, many people are caught with their lawn tools not ready for storage and their winter power equipment unprepared for the cold and snow. Improperly stored gear often becomes less effective in the spring season, a problem that could easily be prevented with a little preventative maintenance. POWER EQUIPMENT PREPARATION FOR ALL SEASONS
  2. Rather than waiting until the last minute to pack up lawn and garden equipment, potentially causing issues in the spring, each one should be carefully checked over and prepared for a season off. These are a few of the ways that several common power tools should be readied for the winter:
    • Remove the spark plug wire before working on engine-powered equipment.
    • Wear proper safety equipment, including glasses and gloves where appropriate.
    • Assemble the proper tools for all maintenance as described in the equipment owner’s manual; make sure tools are in good working order.
    •  Gasoline-powered equipment should be worked on outside or in a well-ventilated place with no potential ignition sources (water, space heater, etc.).
  4. LAWNMOWERS One of the largest pieces of equipment and one of the most important to fix if a problem occurs is the lawnmower. While homeowners need to replace their mowers approximately every six years, that figure could become much more frequent without proper winter storage precautions.
  5. With such a large apparatus, there are many different parts that need attention prior to winter storage:
    • Give the mower a thorough cleaning, making sure that all mud, leaves and debris are removed from the body and the blades.
    • Really work to clean the mowing deck which can become caked with grass clippings and mosses. This process will likely require a strong scraper to pry off the caked bits and a hose to rinse it completely clean.
    • Remove the mowing blade and sharpen it now rather than waiting until one day in the spring when it is time to mow and the blade is too dull.
    • Change the oil in the mower.
  6. Remove the spark plug wire and old spark plug. Add one (1) teaspoon of oil to the spark plug hole. Install a new, properly gapped spark plug. Slowly pull the engine rope a couple of times to distribute the oil. Replace the spark plug wire when all maintenance is complete.
    • Check the air filters, replacing old paper filters or cleaning foam ones.
    • Examine all the belts, cables and gear drives, looking for signs of overuse or the need for lubrication. Replace or lubricate as required.
  7. Make sure all the wheels are sturdy and do not need to be replaced.
    • Run all existing/old fuel out of the equipment, or drain the tank and safely dispose of the fuel. Fill the unit’s tank to 95 percent capacity with fresh fuel treated with fuel stabilizer, and run the engine for two (2) minutes to distribute the treated fuel. If no fresh fuel is available, leave the tank empty — no fuel is better than old fuel!
    • Store the mower a safe distance from fertilizers, cleaners and chemicals that could cause corrosion if in contact with the mower.
  8. GARDEN TILLERS Whether a garden tiller was recently used to turn over the soil of a completed plot or was not used since last spring, care must be given to this equipment because it will be one of the first tools enacted once warm weather returns.
  9. Run all existing/old fuel out of the equipment, or drain the tank and safely dispose of the fuel. Fill the unit’s tank to 95 percent capacity with fresh fuel treated with fuel stabilizer, and run the engine for two (2) minutes to distribute the treated fuel. If no fresh fuel is available, leave the tank empty — no fuel is better than old fuel!
    • Carefully clean the body of the tiller, washing off caked mud and plant pieces.
    • Check the tiller blades, and sharpen or replace them as needed.
    • Make sure that all the nuts and bolts of the equipment are properly tightened, and lubricate connections, cables and levers so they move easily.
    • Check that tires are properly filled to optimal pressure.
    • Remove the spark plug wire and old spark plug. Add one (1) teaspoon of oil to the spark plug hole. Install a new, properly gapped spark plug. Slowly pull the engine rope a few times to distribute the oil. Replace the spark plug wire when all maintenance is complete.
    • Store the tiller in a dry location that is kept under cover and out of the winter weather.
  10. STRING TRIMMERS After the final grass mowing of the season, it is time to clean up and store string trimmers as well. Proper care for this equipment is somewhat dependent on its type.
  11. Electric – and battery-powered string trimmers should be checked to ensure that all the fasteners are tight. Unplug electric trimmers and fully charge the batteries for cordless trimmers. Store them in a dry, protected place.
    • Gas-powered string trimmers need to have the spark plugs and filters checked for maintenance or replacement. Run all of the old fuel out of the equipment, or drain the tank and safely dispose of the fuel. Fill the unit’s fuel tank to 95 percent capacity with fresh fuel treated with fuel stabilizer. If none is available, leave the tank empty — no fuel is better than old fuel!
    • Check the trimming line to be sure that it is full and wound correctly. It is a good idea to replace the line each year, and this is the perfect time to do it for next year.
    • Clean the string head, and sharpen the string-cutting blade as necessary.
    • Store a string trimmer by hanging it or placing it in a clean, dry location.
  12. FUEL STORAGE There are some differing opinions about the best methods for storing fuel. While most manufacturers encourage users to run all lawn and power equipment until leftover gas is gone, others recommend adding a stabilizer to fresh fuel and storing it virtually full (95 percent) instead. This prevents water contamination of the fuel. In any case, storing the equipment with old, unstabilized fuel is a recipe for problems next spring.
  13. Adding a stabilizer to fresh fuel, fueling the unit with this fresh fuel, and running the engine for a few minutes has been proven to prevent fuel problems for up to 12-24 months. This is more than enough time until spring and summer weather return.
  14. CHAINSAWS Although a chainsaw can be run during any season, most are not frequently utilized during winter when it can be difficult to access, cut and haul trees or tree branches. If it is a possibility that the chainsaw will not be used in the next 60 days, there are a few maintenance suggestions that can save a lot of time and effort the next time the saw is needed.
  15. Instead of using regular fuel, carefully mix fresh high-octane fuel, 2-stroke oil and fuel stabilizer to help protect the chainsaw’s engine during storage.
    • Check the spark plug and replace if necessary.
    • Very thoroughly examine the chain for damage. Sharpen a dull chain! Dull chains make the saw work harder, cut more slowly and can cause clutch damage. Always keep an extra chain on hand, as well as bar and chain oil.
  16. SNOWBLOWERS as the most frequently used piece of winter power equipment, it is imperative that the snowblower be in perfect working order when winter begins.
  17. Follow many of the same provisions suggested for a lawnmower or string trimmer to get the snowblower in good working order before the first big snowfall.
  18. Autumn and winter seem to appear out of nowhere every year. Many people are caught off guard with their lawn tools not ready for storage and their winter power equipment unprepared for the cold and snow. Improperly stored gear is often hard or impossible to start and less effective at doing the job when spring returns — a problem that could easily be prevented with a little preventative maintenance.

Click here to learn more from GoldEagle – Driven to Protect & Preserve the Things You Love

Who Let The Girl’s Out

October 25, 2016

As a woman in construction, I am often seen in blue jeans, a tee shirt or uniform shirt, and my pink work boots. Most people don’t know about the “underneath” me. Who would have thought… I love the lacy, frilly, woman-type of lingerie that can stay hidden. This makes me feel feminine, while being a woman in construction. I had no idea that the new addition to my collection would cause such a wardrobe malfunction at work!

The day began as any other. I arrived at the customers house, prepared to install a new bathroom faucet. Instead of the woman who hired me… her husband was home for the day. Lucky for me, he was the perfect customer staying in his office while I crawled under the bathroom sink.

Once finished and cleaning up, I told him to come and take a look at the faucet. He came in, told me that the work was great… and he wanted me to know that most of the contractors he knows do not amuse themselves as much as I did. He smiled and said he was listening to me laugh the entire time – wondering how I could enjoy my work so much. Oh…. little did he know the reason for the laughter! Thankfully, he is not signed up for my newsletters, so he will never know. It is our secret… 🙂

I pride myself on never showing the “plumbers crack” so what do I call this…“woman crack”???

I can definitely say, that I am thankful that I have not had the same problem since, because that nice new bra is now only worn on days I am not under the sink! She is on “restrictive duty” from here on out.

Here’s to lacy, frilly, womanly things that make us smile and feel good about ourselves no matter what our profession.

Girl VS Boy

March 12, 2014

Women bending over toolbox

Last week I was asked the question “What does a handyWOMAN do?” because this person knew what a handyMAN did but they could not understand what I did for a living as the ToolBox TomGirl (a handywoman). Hmmmmm. How was I to answer that without a smart$$$ remark? After all, I AM a professional. I am. Really.

First answer would be that being a “handyperson” is not gender specific. We are people who do a vast array of projects and take care of small projects around your home and business. We can also do things such as kitchen and bath remodels and some handypersons do home remodeling and additions. I believe the world of handy…… (Whatever label you put after that first part) has changed and it can be as little as you want or as big as you want. But, I digress. Let me get back to explaining what I, as a handyWOMAN, do for a living vs what a handyMAN does.

So, let me take you through my day. Perhaps it is different from that of a handyman. I wake up at approximately 5:00 a.m. I don’t shave my face but I do brush my teeth and take a shower. I brush my hair and I do put on some mascara and eye liner (hopefully the handyMAN does not do this). I sometimes go to the gym and swim. I sometimes have a morning meeting or a client to see for coffee or breakfast. I like those meetings the best. Food is my friend; and my enemy looking at my waist and hip size – but, if I was the handyMAN I most likely would not worry about that, I would just buy a bigger belt or wear my pants lower. (Need I talk about the “crack” here? – nope, not going there)

My typical day consists of herding my crew(s) out to jobs and getting them started with whatever we have going on, maybe doing an estimate or two, and possibly running a facility maintenance call here or there myself. I may attend a networking meeting at night if I want to meet new clients or see old friends. I answer some calls and call clients, other builders, and my workers. I make trips to Home Depot, Lowe’s or other types of supply shops as necessary during the day. I go to the county dump a lot! The routine varies but most days I am in the field doing what needs to be done to keep my company running.

I hammer, saw, drill, spackle, paint, screw, lift, drop (not always on purpose), carry, haul, trim, cut, measure, sand, and repair things all day and all week long. I may not be as physically active as the handyMAN but I do these things. I come home from a day of those things and typically cook dinner, read a little and then get on the computer and type estimates and invoices, work on social media, and then do something fun. After that, it’s off to bed to start it all over again tomorrow.

So, after all is said and done, it seems that what I do as a handyWOMAN is the same as a handyMAN except for the words MAN and WOMAN. It’s a boy/girl thing getting ready for work and may be a little different after work but not much is different about the work getting done in the field. He does his MAN thing and I do my WOMAN thing before and after.

I am a handyWOMAN and proud of both parts of that word! Love being the handywoman and love being a WOMAN even more. Rock on.

To women holding hammers,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

Fake It Til You Make It

December 10, 2013

practice makes perfect

“Fake it til you make it.” I have no idea who said those words to me first. I remember hearing them when I was a kid and thinking they were so stupid. Some adult must have made them up to make me feel better about some sport I was trying to play. I always sucked at sports. I had no skill and was the sister of the captain of the football team. That should tell you enough.

When I became an adult and wanted to become part of the man’s world of construction those words were REALLY important to me. I had to fake it because I had a lot to learn and I didn’t want to look like an idiot. I knew I had to at least “look” like I knew what I was doing. A lot of times it came back to haunt me because it took me hours, and hours, and hours (or so it seemed) to do a job that took them an hour to do. I took the words way too seriously. I should have asked for help instead of “faking” it. Somewhere along the line I realized that even though I am in a man’s world, I don’t have to be like the man. I can be ME and do it MY way. And, I now know that it’s okay to ask for help without looking stupid or like an idiot. Being REAL is a good thing.

I think that is why I LOVE being the ToolBox TomGirl. I am learning something new every day AND I am teaching something new every day. I don’t have to “fake it” to “make it” any more. If I screw up – I say so. I can laugh about it, I correct the mistake, and I move on. Oh – the power of being a woman. If I was a man – well, you know – I might not admit I made the mistake. They have been taught that they can’t make mistakes. Whew – glad I don’t have that pressure on me.

So my advice to you, is this; DIY is NOT about “faking it til you make it.” It’s about practice, practice, practice. It doesn’t cost much to do a job – Even if you have to do it a couple of times. With the right tools, and sometimes the written instructions, or a phone call to someone who has some experience (man or woman), you can accomplish your DIY project. YES – you may have to ask someone for help the first time. SO WHAT?????  Does it matter that you asked for help? Really, does it matter?  No – it does not. In the end – YOU still accomplished the task.

Again – DO NOT FAKE IT……Practice til you make it. Do it til you make it. Laugh til you make it. SMILE – you MADE it!!!

To women holding hammers,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

Staying Warm Safely

November 7, 2013


Although I personally have converted my wood burning fireplace to a pellet stove to supplement my electric heat, I want to offer some safety tips to those of you that are still using wood stoves and fireplaces. Because more than one-third of us are using wood burning stoves, fireplaces and other fuel burning appliances as a primary heat source, I feel it important to know some basic rules. Also, statistics show that heating fires account for 36 percent of residential home fires in rural areas every year.

With that said, please consider the following:

  1. Have your chimney, wood stove (and pellet stove) heating flues inspected and cleaned annually by a certified and licensed chimney professional (you all know how I feel about licensing<span). You can check for a licensed chimney professional at and then check their license status at
  2. Remember to only use seasoned wood (hardwood) in your fireplace. According to AARP, when wood isn’t properly seasoned (ideally for 2 years) the heat producing efficiency is reduced as much as 30%. Dry wood has cracks on the ends of the logs and running through each piece. Wood that has been split for a while should be gray, and the logs should feel dry and produce a hollow should when banged together. And, soft, moist wood accelerates creosote buildup which is harmful to your lungs. NEVER burn trash, paper, cardboard boxes, etc. in your fireplace (I remember as a kid when my Dad would burn different color coated wiring to make the flames different colors – yikes).
  3. Stack your firewood away from your house at least 30 feet away and keep it covered so it can season well. This also keeps termites away from any wood structures near your house. I learned about the termites the hard way when I had my fireplace.
  4. Keep your roof and gutters clear of leaves, pine needles, etc. so if sparks do come out of the chimney and land on the roof there is nothing for them to catch fire.
  5. This is something I hope you already do but it is worth repeating. Have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms on every level of your home and be sure you have them inside and outside the sleeping areas if you keep the doors shut on those rooms at night. CHANGE the batteries at the same time you change the time on the clocks; you did it this past weekend – right?
  6. Finally, yet another vent to keep clean. I know, I know, you just love me when I find ANOTHER vent for you to have to remember. However, this one is a major vent and should be properly maintained. Everyone who has a gas or oil heat system has a vent that goes with that system. They must be kept properly cleaned and maintained. Ask your chimney service professional to care for this for you.

Before I leave you with all this warming knowledge I want to thank James Horne, Owner of Old Line Chimney Sweeps, in Pasadena, MD for some of the information provided in this article. Check them out at

To women holding hammers,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

Are You Winterized?

September 30, 2013

Woman with snow shovel

Have you given any thought to the upcoming winter weather? I know that I have heard rumors that the Farmer’s almanac is predicting a bad winter for us. Who knows, it could be a rumor, but then again, it could be the truth. Either way, a smart woman wants to be prepared.

So, besides getting your best boots, coat, gloves and hat ready, I want you to winterize your home. You need to be able to snuggle up inside when you have to. I want you safe and warm. I also want you to save money so that you can afford those awesome new boots. So, here are some things I want you to do around your house to make it draft-free, more economical, (saving on your BGE bill so you can buy that awesome pair of winter boots), or that are just plain necessary in the long run.

  1. Participate in the $100 energy audit by BGE is a deal. Go online and sign up. You get some $300-$400 worth of freebies in the end so you actually save money and you learn what needs to be improved around your house. It is worth it!
  2. Install a programmable thermostat to save on energy at night and when you are not home during the day.
  3. Caulk and weather strip doors and windows.
  4. Caulk and seal leaks around plumbing, duct work, electrical wires coming through walls, floors, ceilings and any outside-to-inside areas.
  5. Install foam gaskets behind outlet covers and switch plates. (they come precut to fit each size outlet)
  6. During the winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to let the sunlight into your house and close them at night.
  7. Check for open fireplace dampers.
  8. Wash only full loads of clothes and dishes to save on energy.
  9. Air-dry your dishes in the dishwasher instead of using the drying cycle.
  10. Turn off the exhaust fans in the kitchen and bath 20 minutes after you are done cooking or bathing.
  11. Clean snow off overhangs so that it does not accumulate and cause too much weight on the structure.
  12. Shovel walkways and steps frequently so the snow does not pile up and become too heavy for you to work with. Waiting too long puts a strain on your heart and back.
  13. Check now to be sure your window ice scraper, generator, snow blower, shovel, ice melt, salt, etc. are all there and are all in working condition and easy accessible. Do NOT wait for the first snow to arrive.
  14. Check to be sure your hat, gloves, boots, scarf, and coat are the latest style and fit properly. A DIY woman wants to be well-prepared as she is shoveling her walkway and talking to the news media about why she was the ONLY one in the neighborhood so prepared. (smile)

To staying safe and warm this winter season,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, The ToolBox TomGirl

Made In The USA

September 8, 2013

Made in USA

As a handywoman I am always reading various magazines on new products and trends in building and construction. Recently I was surprised to read in my Green Builder magazine about how rare it is to find a green building material made in America.

Green Builder magazine sent out an invitation to over 2,000 companies encouraging them to share information about their American-made green products, receiving only a few dozen submissions. The conclusion is that U.S. made green products are a rare and special breed, even though they are making use of the triple advantage of creating domestic jobs, reducing the impact of overseas shipping and making use of locally sourced raw materials.

Because I found this so interesting and because I do have a few customers who ask me about USA made products I decided to share with you a list of the companies and what they offer. Some of these names you may already know but you might also be happily surprised to know you have been buying an American made product. I personally do not mind foreign products or some non-green products but when my customer asks – I deliver on their requests. Happy shopping.

1SolTech Reflection Series – 80 Cell (solar panels)

Anderson Windows and Doors 400 Series (windows and doors)

Bazzeo Marron Glace Cabinets (kitchen cabinets)

Boral Cultured Stone Southern Ledgestone (stone veneer)

Boral TruExterior Beadboard (beadboard trim)

California Faucets Aliso 8” Widespread Lavatory Faucet (bathroom faucet)

Cambria Bellingham (countertops, walls, tub/shower surrounds, fireplaces)

CanCoverIt from EcoCycle Solutions (insulation for can lights)

Channellock 440 Straight-Jaw Pliers (12” pliers)

Crossville Manoir Collection (porcelain tile collection)

Earthwise Double-Hung Replacement Windows (windows/patio doors)

EcoDomo Recycled Leather Tiles Echelon Collection (recycled leather tiles and sheets for walls/floors)

Fireclay Tile Crush Recycled Glass Tile (interior/exterior floor & submerged surfaces)

GAF Roofing – Timberline Cool Series Energy-Saving Architectural Shingles (roofing shingles)

HAI by Leviton RC-1000 and RC 2000 Omnistat2 Thermostats (HVAC thermostats)

Hansgrohe Croma 100 C100 Green (3 jet handshower)

Mansfield Plumbing EcoQuantum High Efficiency Toilet (toilet)

Maze Stormguard “P.T.L.” Nails (pressure-treated lumber nails)

Owens Corning EcoTouch Insulation (batt insulation)

Pella Architect Series Wood Windows (wood windows)

Pine Hall Brick RainPave and StormPave Permeable Pavers (pavers)

Sloan Solis Solar Powered Flushometer (automatic flush for toilets)

SMA America Sunny Boy Inverters (automatic grid voltage detection)

Taco Variable-Speed Solar X-Pump Block (heat exchanger)

Toto Eco Guinevere HET (1-piece toilet)

Uponor Reclaimed Water AquaPEX tubing (reclaimed water tubing)

Polycor Vetrazzo Recycled Cobalt Skyy Countertops (countertops)

VT Industries Architectural Wood Doors Artistry Collection (flush wood veneer doors)

Wellborn Cabinet Milan Oak (cabinetry)

Whirlpool 4.3 cu. Ft. Duet Steam Front Load Washer with Precision Dispense Ultra (washing machine)

Xero Flor America Green Roof (green roof)

To women holding hammers,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, the ToolBox TomGirl

Do Over For Your Deck

August 8, 2013

Male Carpenter Applying Varnish To Wooden Furniture.

Know how much better you feel and look when you get new makeup and you have it on for the first time? Well, this is how your deck will look and feel with Behr’s DeckOver Premium Wood Coating. And, it will last MUCH, MUCH longer!

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a hands-on demonstration put on by Behr paint about their DeckOver product. Believing fully in hands-on testing before trying a product I want to use, this Home Depot presentation was perfect for me and my fellow DIY’ers.

We were given a chance to ask questions before and after the class about the product (and boy, did we!). This was more beneficial than I expected because I got to hear what my customers wanted to know, not just what I wanted to know as a contractor.

Not only was the paint easy to apply (and no expensive roller was needed), but the double coats were not gloppy or super messy. The dry time between each coat is set between 8-10 hours, which several woman thought was extreme but I figure if you don’t have to do the major work again for 25-30 years, how can you complain about waiting for it to dry in between coats? Exactly. I can wait for that kind of return on my investment of time.

Preparation of the deck is straightforward also. Using Behr’s All-In-On Wood Cleaner you remove mild stains, mildew, mold, algae, grease, to prepare the wood for better adherence of the product. The wood looks new after that but you will be excited to add the color and the non-slip durable coating with the DeckOver. Once the deck has had several days to cure again, you are on your way!

Another nice feature is that DeckOver comes in over 100 color choices. You can paint the deck and railings in DeckOver or you can use DeckOver on the flooring and top rail only and do the side rails in regular paint to match (a cost savings). It’s nice to have choices.

I know this was not one of my own personal classes where I was the teacher but I had just as much fun and I asked a lot of questions. Who knows, maybe I will teach next time….. (come out, you can help with my deck and I will teach you so you can do it on your own).

P.S. It is reasonably priced… a woman, I know you were thinking of asking. No coupons though. Darn it.

To doing over your deck,

Jo Ellen Soesbee, the ToolBox TomGirl