Like any proud homeowner, I love the idea of feathering my nest. Most weekends you'll find me right at home, getting things done. Whether it's cleaning up the yard, building a set of shelves or repairing a hole in the drywall, there's nothing quite as satisfying as getting chores scratched off the honey-do list.
And like any red-blooded homeowner, I've got a garage full of power tools: belt sander, orbital sander, planer, reciprocating saw, circular saw, table saw, mitre saw, bandsaw, cordless drill, corded drill - you get the idea. Each and every one of them has its place, and there's no denying they can help you get more done in less time. But lately I'm taking a new tack: manual tools.
Yes, those high horsepower gadgets are getting a rest once in a while. There's just something elegant about pulling out a mitre box and fine tooth handsaw to finish cutting some molding right inside the house - and not waking up the neighbors' new baby in the process.
Power orbital sander to smooth out that drywall patch? Leave it be. The rhythm and feel of a sanding block in my hand becomes a meditation on smoothness.
A leaf blower? Please. Not only are they now officially illegal in my town, there's something downright wrong with the man who's in such a hurry he can't find time to enjoy raking leaves on a fall afternoon.
You probably know where all this is going. Using less electricity isn't just good for your planet and your pocketbook, it's also good for you.
Harvard Medical School estimated the calories burned for a 185-pound man doing a few routine home improvement activities:
Raking the lawn: 178 calories/hour
Painting: 222 calories/hour
Carpentry: 266 calories/hour
Cleaning rain gutters: 222 calories/hour
Now there are times when a power tool is just the way to go - you've got a big job to do and not enough time; the storms are coming; the kids need help with their science projects. It happens. But here's a bid to slow down, unplug and take care of some of those satisfying home projects the old-school way: by hand. You may find that unplugging gives you a newfound energy.