Christmas Trees; Safety Equipment; Caulking a Window - Recap

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Sent to select and retrieve a Christmas tree, Roger first appears with a scrawny tree right out of the Charlie Brown television special. Kevin sends him back to the forest, where he meets with Bill Gauld, a Christmas Tree farmer. Together they present the usual selection of trees available for sale, showing how they grow from tiny seedlings over a span of about ten years to become the right size for harvest. The Balsam Fir is their first example, with a nice smell and soft needles. The similar but darker Frasier Fir has in recent years gained in popularity. Its needles are shorter and stiffer. Roger finds a Douglas Fir, a tree he has used himself. It has lighter and very soft green needles. Next up is the Concolor Fir. Like the Douglas, the seeds for it come from the West Coast. Roger has used Concolor Fir trees in landscaping, and appreciates how slowly they grow.

On the fifteen acre farm, home to nearly 14,000 trees from thirteen species, Roger and Bill seek a Frasier Fir. Bill shows Roger how to use a shearing knife to shape a tree – trees don’t grow in a conical shape, they need help from the farmer! To finish the shearing, Bill nips the bud from the top of the tree to encourage growth. Roger and Bill find a nice tree – conical, uniform color and the right height. When Roger selects it, Bill offers him a bow saw – this is a cut your own tree farm! Once Roger cuts the tree, he and Bill carry the purchase to the shaker. This device removes dead needles and other debris from inside the tree by literally shaking it loose. Then they carry it to the baler, which captures the tree in a mesh net that protects the branches from damage during the trip home.

Back at the loft, Roger cuts an inch or so from the bottom of the tree – the original cut can seal shut in as little as six hours. He also cuts a few lower limbs to ensure the tree sits solidly in the stand. Trees not sitting on the end of their trunk are not stable and can fall. Prompted by Kevin, Roger debunks the idea of adding sugar or aspirin to the water. Trees harvested during the winter have already gone dormant and do not use nutrients. Cold tap water is sufficient.

What Is It? offers an old tool, with a barrel down the middle and on the left a screw. On the right side is a spring loaded lever. Roger explains how dentists, before Novocain, used the tool to distract patients from the pain of dental surgery – by creating worse pain in their finger, as the spring loaded lever snapped shut on it! Tom suggests that before nail aprons, craftsman used these in quantity to hold individual nails! Kevin then reveals the truth. Patented in 1857, the device is a burglar alarm! The user screwed it into the door frame and packed gunpowder in the barrel, then set the lever. An intruder opening the door tripped the lever and fired the powder, creating a noise sufficient to rouse the occupants of the house.

At the loft’s work table, Rich talks about safety equipment, starting with the old style plastic goggles and progressing to more modern “face hugging” goggles, some with UV protection and replaceable lenses for different lighting conditions. A lanyard helps ensure the goggles are near at hand, which increases the chance they’ll be worn. Since part of safety is a clear view, Rich demonstrates safety goggles that have LEDs mounted on the temple pieces. They’ll always point towards what the wearer looks at. Moving on, Rich shows several kinds of ear protection for loud situations – ear plugs (with and without lanyards) and over the ear protectors, including one that houses a radio. Rich concludes with lungs protection. From basic masks that keep dust out to larger masks with activated carbon filters to keep volatile chemicals out, lung protection is a matter of getting a mask that fits well, and is designed to handle the particular substance present in the air.

Tom finishes the show in Taveres, Florida (not far from Orlando). First he gets a tour of a very beautifully laid out workshop and sees several planes the homeowner inherited from his grandfather. But the real goal of the visit is a window. In his email, the homeowner explained that driving rain has forced water into the wall through the window, and he hopes Tom can help him correct this problem. Tom discovers that the caulking has failed and there is no longer a good seal between the vinyl window and the concrete sill. That starts with a five-in-one tool which Tom uses to clean all the old caulk and putty out. That step is vital to a good seal. Once the window is clean, Tom recaulks it with a latex acrylic caulk that contains silicone. Flexible and paintable, it will form a waterproof seal to keep the driving rain out. Loading it into the gun, Tom shows how to cut the tip (about halfway up and at a forty-five degree angle) and how to lay down a good bead of caulk by drawling the gun slowly away from the direction the tip points. Using a bucket with some water and rags, Tom moistens his finger and draws it gently along the caulking, forming a nice concave surface that will shed water.