But Honey....I really need this....

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Blog entry by MilFlyer posted 05-21-2014 04:44 AM 2583 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch


So the wife got me the Black and Decker Matrix and I started looking on youtube for what other people had been doing with it. That was when I decided that palletwood was going to be the way to go. There wasn’t a Lowes or a Home Depot within a couple of thousand miles and I couldn’t read any of the signs in this country to figure out what a local Lowes looked like! I went down to the Base Exchange here (Military equivelant of a Wal-Mart/K-Mart, but not as cheap generally) and cut a deal with the manager to let me grab a couple of pallets here and there and break them up for the working stock. And THAT was when I realized just how much you can miss the “power” in power tools. The matrix simply couldn’t even rip through the pallet boards, much less crosscut. So of course I realize that now I’m going to have to go buy myself another circular saw…to match the one that was sitting in permanent storage back in the States. Jen (the wife) was sure to give me some ribbing over that request. I of course also realized that a Sawzall would also really making breaking the pallets down go soooo much faster. And yes, I also have one of those in permanent storage….back in the states. Go figure.
So I decided to go talk with Jen and figure out a way to cut a deal for some tools…pretty much a second set of what I already had back in the states and she just smile when she saw me coming from messing with the matrix and the pallets. She said it was real simple…I get new tools…she gets a couple of end tables and a new coffee table. I had never even tried furniture making but I wasn’t about to pass up a good deal on getting some tools just because it meant learning how to do something I had absolutely no idea about!
After that I went off base exploring and looking around for any sort of lumber yard or hardware store. I mean how hard can it be. All lumberyards are gonna have a big patch of space with lumber stacked up all over under awnings or something. Should be easy to spot right? Yeah…not so much.
It wasn’t until I had lived here for about three months before I ran into a guy at the base post office who was a woodworker who told me to hang around for a few. He got off work and drove me straight to a lumberyard that was only about a 7 minute drive away and I must have driven past at least 10 times and never noticed! For any of you guys or gals coming out to Osan the place is called Gaya Housing Supply and is located on “Little Highway 1” right next to the Pyeongtaek Fire Station. And he speaks perfect english!!!!
Needless to say, I was pretty happy. He had a great deal of pine boards from Europe and Australia. A small smattering of hardwood that seemed mainly ready to be used for baseboards or something like that. He had a fair number of namebrand tools, but everything was about half again the price it would be back in the states. Off brand cordless drills were going for about $200. That and the fact that they were 220V told me I wouldn’t be buying any powertools from him. I did look through the lumber some more and that’s when it dawned on me that I now lived in a foreign country….I now had to think of all my board measurements in metrics!

-- VR, Richard "Fear is nothing more than a feeling. You feel hot. You feel hungry. You feel angry. You feel afraid. Fear can never kill you"--Remo Williams

16 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5622 posts in 3860 days

#1 posted 05-21-2014 04:49 AM

It looks like you’ve found yourself an interesting predicament. Sounds like you have a plan though!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View stefang's profile


15951 posts in 3482 days

#2 posted 05-21-2014 07:52 AM

You will learn to love the metrics. So much easier than working with fractions.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jinkyjock's profile


488 posts in 1722 days

#3 posted 05-21-2014 09:21 AM

+1 with stefang re. the metric system, find it so much easier than Imperial.
I am also +1 with yourself in your current position re. the costs of material and tools, I sometimes feel I am living in a foreign country as the wallet is opened further year-on-year.
You guys in the States are so lucky with start-up costs, and your timber is a fraction of what we pay in Scotland.
Moans aside, we still do what we do, so more power to you.

View Picklehead's profile


1043 posts in 2077 days

#4 posted 05-21-2014 09:23 AM

Be sure to print out and save this record of your adventures. Someday, maybe long after we’re all gone, somebody might find an envelope taped to the underside of the as yet nonexistent coffee table and discover the true story behind it.

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29878 posts in 2486 days

#5 posted 05-21-2014 10:07 AM

Metrics are much easier. It’s tough to convert for Americans but we need to. When I was in Russia, I was amazed how different it was to do things that we take for granted.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Dutchy's profile


3085 posts in 2316 days

#6 posted 05-21-2014 12:10 PM

Wenn I,m making a (USA) Toy and Joy model the measerment is Imperial. And I don,t want to be arrogant but I can,t understand that the american,s still use it.


View smitdog's profile


404 posts in 2253 days

#7 posted 05-21-2014 02:40 PM

I just recently got the B&D Matrix system with a few different attachments and it’s a great little ingenious setup for battery powered hand tools. There is even a recip saw attachment, though I don’t have it and it looks to be a bit smaller than standard traditional ones. The impact driver and sander are the bees knees though!

That being said, for breaking down pallets you definitely need to get yourself a sturdy set of corded tools. Especially when you run into those nice old hardwood ones! Good luck with the metric conversions, while I agree with everyone that doing the math is much easier, it will take quite a while before your brain will start to “see” in m/cm instead of ft./in., like that guy is about 6 ft. tall instead of he’s 180 cm!

Dutchy – It’s not arrogant at all! English units make about as much sense as the English language… I’ve often wondered why we don’t switch and the only thing I can come up with is the cost, well and stubbornness too… But can you image if every manufacturer in the world that used English units had to change their tooling/setups/logistics over to metric? The cost would be astronomical…

-- Jarrett - Mount Vernon, Ohio

View Sylvain's profile


727 posts in 2647 days

#8 posted 05-21-2014 03:52 PM

Why not trying the “hand tool” approach.
Isn’t your appartment wired in 220v?
Maybe you are living on the base where it might be in 110V?

Here in Belgium 230/400V is available nearly everywhere.
Why does US stick whith 110V? You need much heavier cords.
Of course we made the change a long time ago, when electricity was mainly used only for lighting. Changing a few bulbs was not that expensive.

coming back to woodwork, if I remember well there is an ” occasional table class” on LJ by RGtools.
You could also look at the PAUL SELLERS Masterclasses.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View BigDumbAnimal's profile


65 posts in 1954 days

#9 posted 05-21-2014 06:53 PM

You should hop back on youtube and check out izzy swan’s pallet pal. Pretty easy to build and makes quick work of breaking down pallets.

-- Semper Fi BDA

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2635 days

#10 posted 05-21-2014 07:48 PM

When I was over seas in the 70’s I took a 2000 watt sine wave inverter with me. While on base I bought some deep cycle 6V golf cart batteries at the BX. I also bought a decent battery charger.
4X batteries= $75 at that time. Probably $175 now.
heavy cable. Free. We won’t discuss where it or the connectors came from.
2kw sine wave inverter, $200 in the US, about $500 where I was.
proper extension cords. = $15 but had to get the correct ends. Probably $25 or $50 now, but buy a long one, cut and add ends as needed. I still have 2 I bought in Singapore back then.
The ends have been changed a dozen times.
I had a friend send my hand held electrics as I could afford them (I was an E-5 and E-6 during that time).
When I came back to the world I sold the whole mess for more than I bought it for new to a 2nd LT who loved making stuff.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1295 posts in 1782 days

#11 posted 05-21-2014 08:03 PM

Never buy B&D, they are just crappy tools. I don’t know why they are in business.

It’s like they take money and give you nothing in return.

Ryobi another home use tool is way better. So that just gives you something to think about.

What country are you based in?

-- Jeff NJ

View dawsonbob's profile


3033 posts in 1903 days

#12 posted 05-21-2014 08:11 PM

“Never buy B&D, they are just crappy tools. I don’t know why they are in business.”

Because most people don’t know the difference. A lot of them remember the B&D name from when they made good tools, so they think they’ll get good tools now. When the B&D tool breaks down, they just buy another one, because they simply don’t know the difference: they think that’s normal.

-- Mistakes are what pave the road to perfection

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5622 posts in 3860 days

#13 posted 05-21-2014 10:57 PM

Smitdog I wonder how many manufacturers outside the USA still use imperial, especially if they are not exporting to the US? I suspect most manufacturers already are metric and are probably waiting for the day that the imperial measure system stops being used. It always surprises me that with the huge help France was in fighting the war of Independance that the new USA just didn’t start using the system of their benefactor and drop the system of their ‘enemy’. I guess thats why they say war makes for strange bedfellows.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2155 days

#14 posted 05-21-2014 11:30 PM

Thanks for your service !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Mean_Dean's profile


6881 posts in 3295 days

#15 posted 05-22-2014 12:53 AM

Sounds like you’re getting a plan together—and some new tools!

Would it be possible/expensive to get your tools shipped from the States to you? Maybe someone at a base near your tools could get them, and send them on the next transport out?

(Of course, when my buddy was down in Panama for exercises, a radio broke on one of his F-15’s. Since these were graded exercises, they needed the part ASAP. But getting it from the PANG base to Howard AFB in Panama via AF transport was going to take too long, so the comm shop at PANG sent the part down FED EX next-day air…....)

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

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