Top Picks from the 2009 National Hardware Show

By: Allen Lyle


Recording Homefront radio show at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.

The month of May has been one of the craziest, busiest, most tiring months I’ve had in a long time, and it’s not even halfway through yet! Danny & I had back-to-back trade shows in week #1 of May. The first was the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Atlanta followed by the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, with working on both the television show AND radio show, I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked looking over all the new stuff at K/BIS.

I did, however, get to spend more time exploring the Hardware Show and have my Top 10 Picks Plus One Bonus. Let me emphasize, though, that these are not listed in any preferred order. In fact, I’m going to list them alphabetically by company simply because they all deserve the #1 spot! And, even though I got to see a lot, I only scratched the surface. I’m sure there were many more amazing products that I’ve overlooked.

EarthTronics Honeywell Wind Turbine

The Honeywell Wind Turbine from EarthTronics is an energy generator for both homes and businesses that was a definite eye-catcher. I know that there’s nothing new about wind turbines, but what really set this one apart was the fact that it can generate energy in winds as little as 2 mph. It won’t be on the market until December 2009, and when it hits the shelves, it will run you around $4500, but it will start saving you money immediately on your monthly electric bill.

Fiskars Rainwater Harvesting Systems

The Smart Rain Barrels from the folks at Fiskars blew me away. Yeah, I know…a rain barrel is a rain barrel. It’s just a big tub that catches water. What makes this system unique is Fiskars’ downspout water diverter which automatically channels water from your downspout to the barrel. When the barrel gets full, instead of an overflow that just dumps the excess water right on the ground next to your home’s foundation (which you don’t want), it allows the water to continue down the downspout and drain away from your house. It’s really quite innovative.

General Tools Dovetail Jig

I’ve been a General Tools fan for a couple of decades now. It all started with a doweling jig I purchased back in 1989. I still have it, use it, love it. This year, they introduced their new EZ Pro Dovetailer Jig, and it is one of the most unbelievably cool tools I’ve seen in a long time. Any woodworker will tell you that a dovetail is one of the best joints you can have, and for less than $60, you can make a PERFECT dovetail joint right out of the box. My birthday is in September…..anyone?

Giani Granite Countertop Paint

If you ever wanted to start a heated debate/argument with me, tell me how smart it is to paint your countertops. I have NEVER recommended that. The paints I’ve seen have never been able to withstand the abuse and, frankly, they look ugly. Last year, Floyd Thomas impressed me with his stainless steel paint. Well, he did it again this year with their new Giani granite paint. It’s a mineral infused, water-based resin that you paint over your old laminate tops and, I have to admit, it looked unbelievably good! In fact, I found it hard to believe the tops were actually painted laminate. To address the durability issue, the topcoat is the same type of polymer you would find on car bumpers. I’ve switched sides. I love this paint, and I think I’m going to give it a shot in my own home. The best part is that for the price of a single square foot of granite, you can transform your average size kitchen countertops into a granite lookalike.

Green Toad Pivoting Paint Brush

The Pivoting Paint Brush by Green Toad is just one of those “gee-that-makes-sense” products. With its ergonomically-designed handle and a 360° rotating attachment, it makes any painting job a breeze. What’s really cool is that this product was actually designed using the recommendations of physical therapists! The whole system comes with five different brush sizes and styles, two rollers and two size handles. But wait, there’s more! Get this…the whole thing is biodegradable, compostable and recyclable! These folks were really thinking.

Lehr Propane Powered Lawn Equipment

Lehr Incorporated out of Los Angeles has “environmentally friendly technology” as their byline. They’ve proved it with the new Eco Trimmer, which is a string line trimmer powered by propane. You’re talking about no gasoline and oil to purchase, mix and store…no spilled gasoline…no evaporative emissions…no hydro-carbons killing the ozone…and only Lehr has it, because it’s a patented product. The propane canisters are available all over the place and you’ll get a full two hours of run time on a single canister. They also have a propane-powered blower and later this year, they’re coming out with a lawn mower version! I would definitely look into replacing your gas-powered tools with these.

LiquiLock Toilet Gel

I love this stuff and hate myself for not thinking of it! Any time you have to pull a toilet, whether it’s for repairs or new flooring or what-have-you, there’s always some water left in the bowl. If you’re not careful, it’ll spill all over the place and you’ve got this gross, unsanitary mess to mop up. Or, you can sponge it out, which is equally disgusting. Enter LiquiLock. This is a little 0.4 oz packet of granules that, in essence, turns the remaining water into a gelatin. You can remove the toilet with zero water spilling anywhere, and when it’s time to replace the toilet…get ready for this…you hook it back up, turn on the water and the gelatin starts breaking up. All you have to do is flush it down and you’re done. My hat’s off to the guy behind this one, Adam. I’m definitely adding some of these packets to my toolbox.

Orcon Natural Pest Control

Admittedly, I first visited this booth just to see how they were keeping 15,000 ladybugs in check. I kid you not, they had 15,000 live ladybugs. Orcon Organic Control was there promoting 100% pure, safe & natural pest control. In addition to ladybugs, they had worms, beneficial nematodes, mason bees, and organic repellants for gophers, moles, deer, rabbit, dogs and cats. What was truly refreshing was how passionate these folks are about their products. We’ve all become too accustomed to pouring chemicals all over our yards when Mother Nature has some pretty awesome pest control devices.

Rapid Warrior Utility Knife

The Rapid Warrior from Rapid Tools definitely gets the Transformer Award. This is, at first glance, a simple utility knife, but it has the capability of switching to become a mini-saw. I’m not sure how they came up with the design, but it’s really impressive. With just the flick of an interior toggle, you can switch from a utility blade to a reciprocating saw blade. The whole transformation takes mere seconds, and the really cool part is that you aren’t tied to using only their blades. Any utility knife blade or reciprocating saw blade can be used.

Red Toolbox Tools for Kids

I think these tools are the absolute bomb. Red Toolbox has designed REAL tools to fit in a child’s hand. Along with the tools, they have projects the child can do with their parent. I’m talking about birdhouses, toolboxes, treasure chests and games galore. To quote from their press kit, “Red toolbox is about you and your kids working, creating and learning together. It’s a chance to have loads of fun and spend quality team-time” together.

My bonus pick is every bit as deserving as the previous 10

Slice Ceramic Safety Cutter

This company debuted a ceramic cutter that was simply amazing. The Slice Safety Cutter is a little green machine with a recessed ceramic blade that will slice through paper and plastic like nobody’s business, but you can’t cut yourself. You know those hard plastic blister packs that so many things come in today that you have to resort to nuclear weapons to get them open? Yeah, it cuts through those, too. The blade stays sharp, never rusts and the design is very finger-friendly. Plus, it has a magnet imbedded, so you can slap it on the fridge and it’s always handy. Since it only costs about six bucks, you can get a couple so you have one in the house and one in your toolbox.

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2 Comments on “Top Picks from the 2009 National Hardware Show”

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  • Kevin Mullins Says:
    October 20th, 2009 at 1:39 am

    I recently purchased the Giani Paints and I will say that I was skeptical at first. I had 1978 harvest gold countertops and harvest gold appliances. the Piant and the Stainless Steel appliance paint is AMAZING!!!!!!!!! I did my entire kitchen for $159.99 for EVERYTHING! the final cost if I purchased all materials from a store: $ 12,000.00 !!!!! It’s an amazing product!!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED~!

    Kevin Mullins
    Culloden, WV



  • Bugler Says:
    May 12th, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    The Giani paint looks great! It might be just the thing for my lovely 1961 green-swirl formica countertop.


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