Product Recall: Black & Decker GH1000 Grasshog XP String Trimmer / Edgers

Black & Decker GH1000 weed wacker recalled

About 202,000 Black and Decker hedge trimmers are being recalled due to being a projectile and laceration hazard as well as a burn hazard. There have been 707 reported incidents as well as 58 injuries. Sounds like this “made in China” but branded in the USA product is a real winner.

Here is the latest information from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission news release:

Hazard: The trimmer/edger’s spool, spool cap and pieces of trimmer string can come loose during use and become airborne projectiles, posing a laceration hazard to the user as well as bystanders. The trimmer/edgers can also overheat posing a burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Black & Decker has received 707 reports of incidents, including 58 reports of injuries. Serious injuries included cuts to two consumers’ legs that required medical attention. Minor injuries included bruises, lacerations, and facial injuries such as a welt and broken skin over a consumer’s eye. There were also reports of property damage, including two broken windows.

Description: The Black & Decker GH1000 Grasshog XP String Trimmers/Edgers are electric-powered. Trimmer/edgers with date codes 200546 through 200645 (representing manufacture dates of November 14, 2005 through November 6, 2006) are included in this recall. The date code is located on the underside of the trimmer/edger’s handle. Only trimmers with black spools caps are included in the recall. Those with orange spool caps are not included in the recall.

Consumers are advised to stop using the string trimmers / edgers described above immediately and contact Black & Decker for a free repair toolkit.

You can phone Black & Decker at 1 (888) 742-9158 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday.

More information is available at the Black & Decker Customer Center online or you can download the Safety Recall Notice PDF directly.

Recalled Black & Decker Grasshog GH1000 Trimmers / Edgers

Product Recall: Milwaukee Power Plus, Chicago Pneumatic, and Extractor battery packs

Recalled Battery Pack from Milwaukee Electrical Tool

1 million portable battery packs for cordless tools made by Milwaukee Electrical Tool Co. have been recalled as they may explode, posing a laceration hazard. Reported injuries have included cuts, bruises and hearing loss.

Here’s the scoop from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission news release:

Hazard: If a vent on the battery cell is damaged or compromised during use, the battery can explode and pose a laceration hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. has received 35 reports of incidents, including 11 injuries from battery packs exploding while in use. Injuries include minor cuts, bruises and some hearing loss.

Description: The recalled batteries are used to power drills, saws, radios, flashlights, wrenches and Extractor windshield glass removers. The recall includes 14.4 and 18 volt 2.4 Ah NiCd Milwaukee Power Plus, Chicago Pneumatic, and Extractor battery packs manufactured between July 1999 and February 2004. The brand name can be found on a label on most battery packs. However, some 14.4 Volt 2.4Ah packs did not have “Power Plus” on the label. The battery packs were sold both with tool kits and as individual battery packs. Battery packs manufactured after February 2004 are not included in this recall.

Consumers are advised to stop using the affected battery packs immediately and contact Milwaukee Electrical Tool to arrange a free replacement.

You can phone Milwaukee Electric Tool Co. at 1 (800) 729-3878 between 7 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

You can also download the the Battery Pack Recall Safety Notice (PDF) from the manufacturer website.

Innovative leveller sytem stabilizes wobbly and unsafe ladders

Base Mate Professional Ladder Stabilizer

The Base Mate Professional Ladder Stabilizer is a “revolutionary” solution to unstable and unsafe ladders for both do-it-yourselfers and home improvement professionals.

The Basemate Ladder Leveller … is an ingenious arc of hardened steel that cuts the risk of falls by allowing ladders to remain stable on uneven ground.

Opposing locks on each side of the arc replace the feet of a standard ladder. As the locks are released, the arc slides over until its rubber treads are firmly on the ground while the ladder stays plumb.
- Vancouver Sun

It looks easier to use than traditional ladder levellers. To see just how easy, watch the video available at the Base Mate website. You lean your ladder, tap-release the lock with your foot, and start climbing. Pretty cool!

The Base Mate Professional Ladder Stabilizer has been tested, used and now endorsed by Mike Holmes who calls it “the smartest foot system of any ladder leveler on the market”.

Some Specs & Features:

  • wider base which gives added support / stability to extension ladders
  • strong enough for the heaviest construction ladders
  • exceeds Grade 1 CDN and type 1A USA ladder requirements by 20%
  • made of hardened steel
  • insured by Lloyds of London
  • patented triple action locking system with one foot operation
  • installation to most fiberglass, aluminum and wood extension ladders (12” to 20” rung width)
  • weight tested to 1,200 pounds

Check it out at the Base Mate website. The Base Mate Professional Ladder Stabilizer is available in Canada and the UK. Hopefully US distribution will be coming soon; the distributor plans to launch in the US after finding success in other markets.

Note: The system was originally developed in 2001 by home improvement contractor Martin Dennis (Surrey’s Precision Gutters). It received the “most innovative product” award at the Canadian Hardware and Building Materials Show the same year but hasn’t been professionally marketed until recently. Just goes to show you that brilliant ideas do not go out of style.

The latest hardware gadgets & garden products

… from the National Hardware Show in Orlando, Florida.

  • Slime – smart solutions for flat tire prevention and repair,
  • the Scratch Patch – the memo pad you can stick anywhere,
  • the Allas NT – a designer, resizable toolbox,
  • Trimergy – an ergonomic accessory that helps take the work out of using many large garden power tools, and
  • Soil Most – a soil additive that reduces the amount of moisture needed for your plants to thrive.

Read more at The Daily Herald.

The #1 source of Home Improvement related injuries?

Your trusty lawnmower. Although nail guns are in the news, ladder falls and lawnmower-related injuries are far more common. So while spring means getting your home improvement projects off the ground, it can also mean an unexpected trip to the hospital emergency room.

Lawnmower injuries tend to be foot and hand related.

People slip on a hill or on wet grass and their feet slide underneath the lawn mower … lawn mowers can shoot out projectiles. Especially for children, playing in the yard is not a good idea if you’re out cutting the grass.
Dr. Jon Olsen via Patrick Kampert, Chicago Tribune

Ladder injuries tend to be fractured legs and feet, with 10% of the people injured needing hospitalization.

Nail gun injuries are in the news because they’ve tripled in the last 15 years, reflective of an increase in DIY activity and the greater availability of nail guns to the general public; contractor and construction worker rates have stayed about the same. The nail gun seems to be a manly thing too, with men accounting for 96% of the injured.

According to other researchers:

Injuries included puncture wounds on hands and fingers, eye and nerve damage, fractured bones, and in severe cases, nails embedded in the head. Few were hospitalized, though.
Tracy Wheeler, Beacon Journal

Why the increase? In addition to the usual suspects (DIYer inexperience), researchers point to nail gun safety as a major factor. They say better safety mechanisms (such as a sequential trip trigger meaning you have to press the trigger for each nail “shot”) would have prevented about 50% of the accidents.

From the Consumer Reports blog:

The study suggests that the increased number of injuries stems in part from the design of the dual-action firing mechanism — in which the manual trigger and nose contact element are both depressed for a nail to be discharged to allow for the rapid fire of nails and speedier production.

The study urges consumers to buy nail guns that use a sequential-trip trigger, which requires the nose contact to be depressed before the manual trigger, rather than simultaneously. Thus, it’s less likely for unintentional nails to be discharged. If you already have a gun, the study suggests you buy a kit to convert the nail gun to the safer sequential mode.

Read the original CDC Report on nail gun injuries.

Read Toolbox Talk: Hammer Home Nail Gun Safety, a good article on general nail gun safety from the National Association of Home Builders.

Hot New Gadgets & Products for a better garden

Check these out:

  • the Cordless Chainsaw from Black & Decker – lightweight and convenient
  • Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait by Spectrum – safer and more environmentally friendly
  • ReelSmart Hose Reels by Hydro-Industries – no cranking required, powered by water
  • Ooze Tube by Engineered Water Solutions – keeps new plantings “watered”, even through severe conditions
  • Termite Killer Granules by Bayer Advanced – single treatment,easier to use, and safer around children and pets after drying
  • the Adjustable Auto Wrench from Black & Decker – battery powered wrench that puts “190 foot-pounds of torque grip onto stubborn nuts and bolts”

For the full story, read A gaggle of gadgets for the garden.

Chick Picks – DIY Tools for Women

Did you know that women are the fastest growing segment in DIY Home Improvement retail sales? I found that quite surprising. Women also spend more when they go shopping for tools than men. Is that because we don’t know what we’re doing? Ha! Hardly. It’s because we want quality and do our research before we buy.

And what women have been buying in increasing numbers are Redback Tools. Redback makes tools for professionals but has also recently introduced a line of tools for women. According to the Aussie-based company’s recent survey, 80% of the people who bought their products in the last 6 months are female.

The first major product in the US market is the MaxiStrike hammer. Winner of the prestigious USA Dealers Pick Award for Outstanding New Item, the MaxiStrike has some innovative features that make it a great hammer, and a great hammer for women in particular.

Why choose the MaxiStrike:

  • more “strike” power than ordinary hammers
  • “maxi-access” – the ability to use the head of the hammer to reach over obstructions and deep into recesses
  • an extra hard head
  • an ergonomic, shock absorbing grip, and
  • twist and slip resistance.

According to the designer,

With a traditional hammer, you get overstrike and reverberation up your arm. My design eliminates a hell of a lot of that … And, because of the arc design, you can nail over, say a roof rafter or around a piece of piping. It eliminates the need to pull out a nail punch to finish it off.
Jake Tyson, president, designer and Australian-TV home-improvement personality

A slick new hammer isn’t going to get me anywhere near a roof rafter. But if it makes hammering jobs more comfortable and convenient, count me in.

MaxiStrike models cost between $16.49 and $29.99 and are available from big box stores and

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