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November 19, 2011

How to rejuvenate rechargeable NiCd batteries

NiCd battery pack, assembled

NiCd battery pack

This post is about a method to restore (rejuvenate) NiCd (NiCad) battery packs that are failing to charge. I have 2 sets of cordless tools (drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw and more) that use rechargeable NiCd battery packs. Three of the battery packs were failing to charge. Having had some previous success with rejuvenating apparently expired NiCd cells, I decided to do some tinkering, and I was able to restore the packs such that they will now charge to a usable level. I’ve previously used the same procedure, at lower current, to rejuvenate NiCd cells for cordless phones.

These tool sets and battery packs are very common. Mine were MasterCraft brand purchased from Canadian Tire, but there are many similar ones on the market with other branding. I’d guess millions of similar cordless sets have been sold, so maybe someone else can benefit from this post and save a few $ on new batteries. Perhaps more significantly, maybe this will save some battery packs and even the tools themselves from adding to our garbage output; the Cd in the cells is very toxic, so the less of it we put into use and the less that goes into the waste stream, the better. (more…)

June 16, 2011

Don’t wash your paintbrushes!

Used paintbrush, still wet from use.

Used paintbrush, still wet from use.

If you do a lot of painting and staining around your home like I do, you’ve probably gone through quite a few paintbrushes and may have tried to clean them after use with various nasty solvents or water. Here’s a simple tip to avoid using those solvents entirely, while keeping the brushes ready for next use. Just seal the used, still-wet brushes in plastic bags. I tend to use old bagel or bread bags since they are about the right size. Make sure the bag is airtight. Just flatten the bag to remove excess air, and knot or secure the bag opening once the brush is in, then store it. With this trick, I’ve found I can keep brushes ready-to-use for many months. This pretty much limits you to using the brush with one paint color or stain, but brushes themselves are pretty cheap. A fairly obvious tip and surely not a new idea, but given the benefits of reduced solvent use, and even time saved, this is probably worth posting.

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