A-O Pro Tip – Hiding a Skimmer with Demi Fortuna

Welcome to our new series, Learn From The A-O Pro’s! This is a video series hosted by Atlantic-OASE where our water feature contractors share their expertise in the field! We’re collecting all the helpful tips and tricks our contractors gave us while creating their water features and sharing them with you! Our first A-O Pro Tip: hiding a skimmer on the edge of a pond in a unique way!

Kicking off our first Learn From The A-O Pro’s series set of videos, we’ll show you tips from the build in our new Sandbox at Atlantic-OASE’s headquarters in Aurora, Ohio. Contractors from Art of the Yard, Alpine Custom Hardscapes and our very own blog-writer, Demi Fortuna, owner of August Moon Designs, came to Ohio to dig in the dirt. After the 5-day building palooza, they created 3 incredible water features including a pond and waterfall with a custom copper bowl fire feature, a pond-free waterfall and a formal fountain hardscape.

A-O Pro Tip #1 – Hiding a Skimmer

Our first A-O Pro Tip of the series comes from Demi Fortuna, Director of Product Information at Atlantic-OASE and owner of August Moon Designs. He shows us a tip on how to hide an Atlantic Skimmer on the edge of a pond.

Watch the A-O Pro Tip video here!

Demi explains that he would rather not see the skimmer anywhere in the pond so, he shows us how he likes to hide a skimmer by turning it sideways. He turns the skimmer so it’s perpendicular to the viewpoints from the pond, directing the water to come into the skimmer from the side. By doing this, you can accelerate the water coming in the skimmer due to the narrower channel.

When you install a skimmer sideways, it’s important to make sure you have enough liner to go around the skimmer. Once positioned, you can start rocking around the skimmer. Then, Atlantic Rock Lids come into play. Place the Rock Lid on top of the rocks that have capped the skimmer. Atlantic Rock Lids look great when placed on top of other rocks to blend in better. With this tip, you’ll never see the skimmer face at all!

Want to be featured in the next A-O Pro Tip Video?

Do you have some unique and helpful tips and tricks on installing water features? We’re looking for the next A-O Pro to be featured in our video series and we want to visit you! Tell us what upcoming water feature builds you have planned and what A-O Pro tips you have for us and we’ll send someone from the Atlantic-OASE team out to video you and your work!

Contact your Regional Sales Manager to learn more on the A-O Pro Series. Not sure who your Regional Sales Manager is? Contact us at marketing@atlantic-oase.com

Stay tuned for more A-O Pro Tips here on the blog and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube so you don’t miss out on all the Learn From The A-O Pro’s videos!


About the Author:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.

Introducing: The Learn From The A-O Pro’s Series!

Introducing the latest project happening at Atlantic-OASE: The Learn From The A-O Pro’s Series! In this new series we meet with some of our most valued contractors to learn how they work. We get to see the behind the scenes, in-action, tips and tricks for how they build their water features!

What is The Learn From The A-O Pro’s Program? 

Learn From The A-O Pro's Logo

The Learn From The A-O Pro’s series is a new video program at Atlantic-OASE where contractors share their expertise in the field. Once a year, we will be selecting contractors to come build in our new SandBox to show us how they create beautiful and unique water features. 

Throughout the rest of the year, we want to visit you at your builds! Tell us what awesome projects you have planned and we’ll send someone from the Atlantic-OASE team to come visit you! Big or small water features, we want to video all your tips and tricks for how you build. 

Building in the SandBox

Art of the Yard, Alpine Custom Hardscapes, August Moon Designs and Atlantic-OASE staff in front of a pond-free waterfall

To kick off the first year of the Learn From The A-O Pro’s Series, we were joined by contractors from Art of the Yard, Alpine Custom Hardscapes and August Moon Designs to come build in The SandBox. 

Art of the Yard, Alpine Custom Hardscapes, August Moon Designs and Atlantic-OASE staff standing in a formal fountain hardscape

Together in a 5-day long demonstration of building techniques, our APC’s (Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractors) created 3 incredible water features. A unique designed hardscape area with combined Atlantic and OASE products. An outstanding Pond-free feature and a one-of-a-kind pond and waterfall showcasing a Copper Bowl with custom fire feature. 

We videoed the entire event and grabbed some helpful water feature tips and tricks to share with you! Watch the introduction to our series below. We gathered some of those tips in our first video but, the full version of each tip will be in coming soon in other videos! Visit our Instagram and YouTube for more coming soon!

Want to be an A-O Pro?

Are you a pro at installing Atlantic-OASE products? Do you have some great tips and tricks to share with other contractors? We want you to be an A-O Pro and feature your projects in our next Learn From the A-O Pro’s video! Tell us what upcoming water feature builds you have planned and we’ll send someone from the Atlantic-OASE team out to video you as you work and get some great A-O Tips along the way!

Contact your Regional Sales Manager to learn more on the A-O Pro Series. Not sure who your Regional Sales Manager is? Contact us at marketing@atlantic-oase.com

What To Expect?

We want to come out and film you and your team at the job site! What will you expect when a member of that Atlantic-OASE team comes to visit? This is what you can expect for each A-O Pro’s event:

  • We’ll film video of you and your team working on your water feature project
  • Film your A-O Pro tips while your project is underway
  • Shoot photos of the completed water feature
  • Film a fireside chat with our Atlantic-OASE staff about your business

Along with the photo and video content, which we’ll give to you after we’ve edited it, contractors will also receive:

  • A complimentary TT-Series Pump or your choice (TT7500 or lower)
  • A Learn From The A-O Pro’s Series custom jacket
  • Photo & video content from your build
  • Social Media exposure for your business

Stay tuned for more blogs on the new Learn From The A-O Pro’s Series and read more great water feature articles here!


About the Author:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.

Benefits of Water Features for Distributors, Contractors and Homeowners

Water features aren’t just beautiful and attractive. They also offer concrete benefits to Distributors, Dealers, Contractors and End Users, the homeowner, alike.

Homeowners

Homeowners appreciate the many ways that water enhances the view of an area. A waterfall may shimmer and sparkle in the light, while it hides an unwanted view. The surface of a reflecting pool may mirror the sky or reflect the background. At night underwater lights make water glow, ripples on the surface creating dancing bands of light that play on walls and overhanging tree canopies. And let’s not forget the sounds of water that delight the ear. Water also tames elemental extremes, warming a frigid corner so tender plants can make it through the winter, or cooling a sunny patio in the summer, or adding welcome humidity indoors.

Pond with lily pads and purple lily flowers

Contractors

Contractors appreciate that homeowners love the sight and sound of water, but they really like that water features cause their projects to appreciate in value. A well-designed water feature in kit form can greatly add to the bottom line. All you need to know to specify a Water Garden or Pond-free Kit is the finished size – everything is included down to the glue and fittings. Likewise, Atlantic Project Bundles come with everything needed to add water to Hardscape walls. They install in a couple of hours, with video installation guides to eliminate any guesswork. and typically return their cost in profit. With virtually no maintenance needed, and all components designed to work seamlessly together, callbacks are eliminated.

Dealers and Distributors

Dealers and Distributors appreciate the ease and speed these products, kits and bundles can be ordered. The Catalog shows every product and lists all complementary products. Project Bundle sell sheets list all components, with a beauty image of the finished project; a single sku for every bundle makes ordering the perfect water feature easy. And working with Atlantic-OASE is easy, from ordering to delivery, with an expert Customer Service team for any questions from sale to installation.

Overall, adding a water feature to any landscape is a win-win-win. It’s an easy way to make the world go round. Whether you’re a homeowner, a contractor or a dealer/distributor, water features are the way to go! Learn more on water features and which you should install next on our blog!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Zooming Around The World: 2020 Atlantic-OASE Virtual Conference

Hey All! It’s Demi, we’re all still fired up about our first Virtual Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor Conference last Wednesday and Thursday. Zoom allowed us to reach hundreds of attendees from Europe to Australia, Mexico to Canada without a hitch, and without the hassles of travel, masks and distancing.

Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic-OASE kicked off the Conference, welcoming attendees around the globe from Aurora, Ohio. Next, Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water, presented a riveting recap of how OASE started, and where we’re going, speaking from World Headquarters on the other side of the world. When the head of the world’s largest manufacturer of water feature equipment speaks, it’s the real deal and we were very excited to have him join us!

Next up, from Michigan, our recently promoted Training Manager, Jim Chubb, showcased OASE Advanced Filtration systems, and how they dovetail perfectly with Atlantic’s Skimmers and FilterFalls. From a mile high, Kyle Weemhoff and Sean Bell continued the theme of ‘Two Is Better Than One’ with a detailed look at a Denver pond with both an OASE pump-and-filter setup and a traditional Atlantic skimmer/falls combo. We’re calling this the “A-O Water Feature.” It’s the perfect combination of both brands to create the ultimate water feature.

After a short break, newest member to the Marketing Team, Leah La Farciola, flew attendees via camera drone all through the 170,000 square foot facility. The highlight was the SandBox Training Center, something we’ve been working on for a couple of years on paper and has finally come to fruition! The Training Center combines the hands-on training areas you’d expect to find (it ain’t called “SandBox” for nothing) with a beautiful fully landscaped façade and “back yard”, complete with sod lawns, plantings, walks and patios. Not only can we train in the dirt and host on-line events year-round regardless of weather, we now have an indoor backdrop for Marketing’s photos and videos. We’re ALL thrilled. Next Frayne McAtee covered calculations for single and multi-nozzle fountain systems, followed with participants continuing lively discussions of the benefits of the pair-up in Round Table discussions.

The first day of the Conference ended with attendees splitting up into ‘Zoom Rooms’ to network during a virtual Cocktail Hour – mine was the Long Island Ice Tea Room.

Day Two opened with Frayne and yours truly presenting New Products – new filters for smaller water gardens and hardscape features, Product Bundles that add water and light to hardscapes and cool new hand-hammered brass bowls similar to the Copper Bowls but heavier, with an amazing patina. My friend and Category Manager, Maximilian Colditz, was up next with an informative presentation on state-of-the-art Natural Swimming Pools from Germany, a topic of particular interest to many, including me. Frayne followed up with what’s coming to North America for Natural Swimming Pools. Then, we Zoomed back to the States where Regional Manager, Sean Bell, unraveled the knots of Estimating Hardscape Water Features. Jim Chubb batted cleanup with an in-depth inspection of the latest in remote control of filters, pumps and lighting via wifi and applications with the Easy Garden Control system or EGC.

In closing Thursday afternoon, Jeff Weemhoff, presented the President’s Award to renowned sustainability expert, fitness coach and award-winning designer and builder of water features Mike Garcia of Enviroscapes LA for his years of teaching the responsible use of water in the landscape. The Pond Monster, Lloyd Lightsey, presented the Monster Award to Art of the Yard’s Shane Hemphill and Heath Webb for their selfless and constant support of other contractors across the industry. Jeff ended the Conference with the presentation of the APC Contractors of the Year Award to Jason and Tony Lenox and their crew at Ponds Inc. of Illinois for their public promotion of excellence in pond construction and practices. “The Conference went off without a hitch”, commented marketing director, Kendahl Kreps, “but we’re looking forward to seeing everyone in person next year!”

Thank you to everyone who attended or registered and watched the conference on demand this year!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

2020 Virtual Conference – Classes, Camaraderie and Communion

It’s that time once again, although this year has “encouraged” a number of business and lifestyle changes, for all of us, everywhere. 2020, wow! We’ll be meeting virtually, but that hasn’t affected the lineup at all.

We’ll kick off two days of classes, camaraderie and communion with live introductions from President Jeff Weemhoff here in Aurora, Ohio and CEO Thorsten Muck from World Headquarters in Horstel, Germany. As befits the greatest strength of Atlantic-OASE, our theme Two Brands Are Better Than One echoes throughout the event. Day One, classes on Advanced Filtration and the A-O Water Feature offer solutions for perfect water clarity by combining American ecosystem and European pump-in-pond methodology. We’ll have updates on products and the new Training Center (don’t miss that!), a tour of the factory, Round Tables with all your friends here and a Virtual Cocktail Party, a BYOB schmooze and booze.

Day Two will kick off with New Products, always a favorite, then Natural Swimming Pools, THE up-and-coming new water features, with my buddy Max Colditz from Across The Pond, a Continental expert on Natural Swimming Pools, review the latest in WiFi-enabled equipment control and host more Round Tables before Jeff closes the Conference. Along with all of our live classes the two days, we’ll have a section of prerecorded classes to go watch at your own leisure! We’ll go over quoting hardscape projects and chat with special guest Jason Lenox about the challenges of LARGE ponds and boulders, show you how to shoot videos and photos with a drone, learn social media tips for your business and more!

Along the way we’ll be sending you a bunch o’swag, offering exclusive pre-recorded content for you to enjoy anytime and giveaways and streaming our always-anticipated annual Awards Ceremony. Guests from around the world have already registered (Hi David!) – what are you waiting for? See you soon! Demi

Click here to register!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Tools That Don’t Suck: Kneeling Pad

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty and sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls. We also value anything that makes the job faster, easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time and effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

After years of kneeling there are certain accessories we don’t even think about working without. We take them for granted, but maybe they actually rise to level of a TTDS (Tools That Don’t Suck). For example, these photos show the pocket I’m in – sharp rock, no flat spots, all points and ridges. I’m working down the wall and across the bottom, attaching liner to rock. There’s no way to avoid kneeling, and your knees wouldn’t last a minute unprotected. The solution that we found our way to, maybe you did too? Is double knee pants and kneeling pads.

We like pads with yellow stripes on the back, look for a “23-in x 11.5-in Foam Kneeling Pad”, for just twelve bucks. You can find all kinds and brands of foam kneeling pads out there but if you want to find one easily Lowe’s sells them here. These pads get a workout. Constantly underfoot, so to speak, they get stomped and rolled over by every tool and fool on the property. They hold up to a surprising amount of abuse before they tear, and we keep using the pieces until they shred.

Now sure, I have worn about six different kindsa strap-on knee pads, with long pants and shorts, in winter and summer, and always had trouble with either slippage or irritation to the back of the knee. This makes perfect sense. Either they’re loose enough to be comfortable and they slip, or they’re tight and they rub. Not any more. These days I wear Craftsman double knee cotton duck pants and throw a pad or two down. I know, sounds sweaty, but I’m actually comfortable in 80-degree weather (with a breeze), unless they get wet.

So, I want to hear what you use to kneel on sharp rock. Are you a kneeling pad fan, or do you prefer traditional kneepads with straps? Sound off below in the comments!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Capturing the Perfect Water Feature Picture

Today, June 29th, is National Camera Day and in honor of National Camera Day, we wanted to share some tips and habits to take up on photographing your water feature projects!

Your Camera

You don’t need a fancy, expensive camera to take pictures that look professional! You have one of the best cameras in your pocket with your smart phone. Today, smart phone cameras are so advanced that you can’t tell the difference between a picture shot with your phone versus a camera, so use what you have available! If you have a physical camera, by all means, don’t let it go unused! Dust that baby off and start snapping!

Use a Tripod

If I recommend you buy anything to help take better pictures of your work with, it would be to purchase a tripod stand to put your camera or phone on. One of the biggest struggles people have with taking pictures and videos is keeping their hands steady to take the picture. Setting your camera or phone on a tripod allows you to capture exactly what you’re looking for and helps eliminate the blurry photos.

This is also a great tool to use when you want to capture videos of your water features and eliminate the shakiness. Put your phone on the tripod and just hit record! A tripod is the most simple tool to help you create professional worthy pictures and videos!

Move Your Camera

To give yourself the best range of photos, move your camera and tripod to different spots around your water feature! Take some pictures of the feature straight on, then move to the left and to the right to get some different angled pictures. Be creative with your photos, adjust the height of your tripod to be closer to the ground or high up for different view points. Take some close ups as well!

Form New Habits

I ask contractors and sales reps all the time for pictures of the projects they’re working on. Most of the time, I get the “I forgot to take pictures” response. I get it. When you’re out on the job, that’s the last thing you want to worry about. Time gets away from you and you forget to take pictures of your work. We want to change that! Because the best way to get more work is to show off the work you’ve already done!

Start trying to form new habits while out on the job site to include photography into your routine. Think of what you want to show your future clients. Homeowners want to see examples of what you can create for them. Take some before pictures, document the progress of the project and the crew helping on the job and then, of course, the finished job.

The easiest way to make sure you’re grabbing the pictures you need is to set times during the day to take your pictures.

  • Take pictures the morning of right before you start your project.
  • Take pictures when you stop to take a lunch break. This is will be great progress pictures!
  • Take pictures when you leave the job site.
  • Take the final finished project pictures.

Usually these are times where you’re not working for a moment and can snap a few shots. And let’s be real, when you’re not working, you’ve picked up your phone anyways. Why not make a habit to quickly take some pictures?

Make Time to Go Back and Photograph

To get some great final pictures of your water feature, schedule a time to come back and take some pictures once the water has settled and the flowers and greenery all have grown in! It makes such a difference in your photos and gives you an opportunity to show more before and after pictures!

Save Your Pictures!

There’s nothing worse than losing pictures of a completed project, especially for contractors who travel for their projects. We all know it’s not easy to get back to the same location to take pictures if you lose them. There’s plenty of ways to back up or save your pictures in more than one location to make sure you don’t lose them if your phone takes a plunge in the pond. Whether you simply just email yourself your pictures or have a system for uploading, find the best way to save, store and organize your photos so that they’re easy to go back and find what you’re looking for!

What other tips would you like to see from us? Leave a comment below!


About the Author:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.

Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor Spotlight – Mike Garcia

From all the way over on the west coast, join us in recognizing another outstanding Atlantic-OASE Professional contractor! Mike Garcia is a California landscape contractor that offers sustainable and environmentally friendly designs!

Mike Garcia, Enviroscape LA, California

Where are you from: Redondo Beach / Los Angeles

How long you’ve been working in the industry: 40 years

What you love about what you do: Building water features comes from inspiration at the deepest level. Tying these into aquaponic systems gives people the most nutrient dense food on the planet.

Favorite Atlantic-OASE product: This is perhaps the hardest question I have ever been asked! I originally learned about OASE about 15 years ago and instantly knew it was way different from anything else in the pond world. I love the new Koi pond filter that is app based and will be installing my personal one this year. I love the Quintet because you can break up the set and place them individually in the garden to create magic. Atlantic pumps are amazing for the American style water gardens. OASE pumps and filters put a pond contractor on another level compared to the average pond contractor who only uses conventional methodologies.

One of your favorite projects you’ve done: One of my favorite projects was the water garden that we built for my next door neighbor about 13 years ago. Atlantic Water Gardens provided the materials  and we did this in conjunction with the California Landscape Contractor Association (CLCA). This pond still looks amazing and the original AWG pump it is still working……AFTER 13 YEARS!!!!!!

Recent projects I’ve worked on: We were recipients of the 2019 California Landscape Contractor Association (CLCA) Best Pond of Los Angeles division at the annual pond contractor competition. We won’t 1st place! 

Anything else you’d like to share with your fellow APC’s: For the past century, our planet has been under assault from pollution, chemical insecticides, herbicides, global climate change and a plethora of other challenges that call into question whether mankind will continue to have a future on our planet. There is hope. We can change the course we are taking, but everyone must be a part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Ponds are truly a part of the solution because ponds help the natural cycles of life and create a water source for pollinators. Ponds also help reduce high blood pressure and it is encouraging to see ponds becoming a major part of the Aquaponic community.  Aquaponics grow food while recycling the same water over and over, which gives us hope for the future because one of the side effects of global climate change is drought. The case for pond building could fill a book. Ponds are a part of the solution for a better planet. Ponds give us hope!

For more from Mike and his team at Enviroscape LA follow him on Facebook and Instagram! Check out his YouTube channel as well!


About the Author:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.

Atlantic-OASE Staff Picks: Three-Way Diverter

When our Social Media Director, Caitlyn, asked me to jot down something on a favorite product, I realized it might not be as simple a task as it sounds. There are so many Atlantic products that I personally find literally extraordinary, as in “beyond the ordinary.” I’m not alone. Contractors, especially those with little experience with our line, usually notice that our FastFalls, FilterFalls, Skimmers and Basins are all built a little differently than everyone else’s.

Thinking back, I remembered the first time I saw an AWG product that was definitely out of the ordinary. It was at the Winter Workshop for Pond Professionals in Lawrence, Kansas, presented by Water’s Edge, a deceptively small water garden specialty distributor that punches waaaay above its weight. Deb Spencer and Susan Davis have quietly promoted the highest ideals, standards and education in water gardening for decades. The Workshop presented the latest trends in water features to contractors from all over the country. Brandon Dwyer, the new product development guy at AWG, was doing the Pond-free presentation. I was pleasantly surprised when he asked me for info about my (competing) product line to include in his presentation. We started jazzing about a couple of his current projects. He waxed deservedly enthusiastic about his revolutionary new check valve and asks if I’d like to take a look at what he called a three-way diverter.

A little background, I had just built a small fountain requiring multiple water returns for a customer. The valved manifold I constructed separated the flow from the 1½” outlet on the pump to three ¾” spouts. It cost me $40 in fittings: two tees, two elbows, three close nipples, three reducing bushings, three valves and three barbed adapters. It took me 45 minutes to cut and glue, ended up 14” wide, was impossible to hide and looked like hell.

So, this thin, well-spoken bespectacled young man reaches into the bag on his shoulder, pulls out this polished piece of black plastic with two red handles and asks my opinion. My first thought is, I’ve met Skinny Santa Claus, and I musta been good, because this is a gift of genius. He’s stuffed an 1½” threaded inlet, three valves and three ¾” barbed outlets into a single fitting the size of my fist. I would be lying if I said I was impressed; I flat flipped out. This Brandon was not only thinking up terrific new products for contractors, he was actually building them!

Years before I landed at Atlantic, I knew I wanted to work with the skinny dude.

Still do.

By the way, those FastFalls, FilterFalls, Skimmers and Basins that are all built a little differently from everyone else’s? Right outta the same bag.


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Tools That Don’t Suck: Kershaw SpeedSafe Pocket Knives

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty and sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls. We also value anything that makes the job faster, easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

I won’t leave home without a pocketknife unless I’m going through Security. I’ve had dozens over the years, starting with my trusty Buck 110, the old school model with ebony wood scales. They all shared the same drawback; they were difficult, or impossible, to open safely with one hand. I tried going to fixed blades, but standard side sheaths were bulky and very noticeable. Cross draw sheaths, set horizontally on the belt at the small of the back, seemed menacing. These might not have presented too much of a problem on the worksite but both were certainly less than optimal in any formal setting. The same could be said of the one automatic knife I brought back from Italy. That raised eyebrows everywhere.

A few years ago I discovered Kershaw SpeedSafe knives. The assisted opening system, a beautifully engineered internal spring, allows a small flipper tab on the top of the blade to quickly open the knife with the touch of a finger. It is NOT an automatic knife, a switchblade or anything illegal; the spring just helps the knife open, safely, with one hand. The system is available on a multitude of models, some pricey, some very inexpensive.

I am a huge fan. I own a number of Kershaws, choosing between them depending on what I’ll be doing that day. My current favorite for field work is the sturdy, somewhat heavy Freefall tanto style blade. The textured scales offer a good grip even in wet hands, while the sturdy edge is easily sharpened and stands up to abuse.

At the office or going out I really like the lightweight Zing, which I find as attractive as it is functional. It is hardly noticeable when parked in my right front pocket, but always at hand when I need to open a package or share an apple. One last point that has kept me from getting into too much trouble with my very patient but always budget conscious better half, Susan. Many Kershaw blades retail for less than $35, including the two mentioned here. At work or play, Kershaw SpeedSafe knives definitely qualify as Tools That Don’t Suck.

Want to see more Tools That Don’t Suck by Demi? Read all about the DMT Diamond Sharpener for your knives or read more of his articles here!


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.