Monday, December 26, 2011

Does It Work?: Furniture Fix, EZ Moves, Half Time Drill Driver, Clean Step Mat, Swivel Store

Promises, promises.We all want to believe products' claims that they'll make our home lives easier. But as the Does It Work? testers have learned, promises and reality don't always match.
For this story, Akron Beacon Journal food writer Lisa Abraham, consumer reporter Betty Lin-Fisher and home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge put five home products to the test. Here's what we found:
Furniture Fix
Maybe you've tried the trick of putting plywood under the cushion of a sagging seat to firm it up. Furniture Fix works on the same principle, except it's plastic and provides a little more give than rigid plywood.
Furniture Fix is a set of interlocking plastic panels that slide under a seat cushion in an upholstered chair or couch. Each box contains six panels, or enough to support one seat. For a regular-size couch with three seats, you'd need three sets.
We tried out one set on a co-worker's aging sectional sofa, where one particularly well-worn seating area sagged and tended to cause the sitter to lean to one side.
The Furniture Fix made the seat noticeably firmer -- maybe even a bit uncomfortably firm, although not as hard as the board we also tried. And we still found ourselves leaning.
"I think it's an improvement," Betty said, "but I wouldn't spend $15 on it."
Considering we'd need at least two and perhaps three to shore up the sagging portion of this particular couch,

we'd be looking at an investment of $30 to $45.
That's still considerably cheaper than new furniture, but we thought it was a little pricey for a solution that's less than ideal.
Betty: It depends.
Lisa: It depends.
Mary Beth: It depends.
EZ Moves
Somehow I missed the physics lesson that explained why certain materials reduce friction and make heavy things easier to move across a surface, but apparently the makers of EZ Moves paid closer attention.
EZ Moves are plastic pads that are placed under furniture legs to make the furniture easier to slide. Each pad has a foam insert with a felt backing that can be used on hard-surface floors to prevent scratching.
We tried the pads on Betty's heavy sleeper sofa. Without the EZ Moves, it took all three of us working together to move it across her carpeted floor.
With the EZ Moves, each of us could move it alone. Even Betty's 11-year-old daughter managed to move the couch by herself with the help of the EZ Moves, albeit with considerable effort.
I thought the plastic was a little flimsier than the furniture-moving glides I already had at home, but the pads still seemed sturdy enough to hold up to repeated use.
We all liked the lifting tool that comes with the glides, which uses leverage (see, I did remember something from physics) to help you lift a corner of a heavy piece of furniture so you can slide the pads underneath
It might even come in handy for cleaning under furniture, Betty noted.
Where we disagreed a bit was on the value
"It's a little pricey at $19.99, but it does what it says," Betty says.
Lisa and I disagreed. "I don't think $19.99 is unreasonable for that package," Lisa says, especially considering that it included the lifter and eight pads.
Betty: Snap it up.
Lisa: Snap it up.
Mary Beth: Snap it up.
Half Time Drill Driver
This device works with a power drill to let you switch bits quickly.
It's a hinged gadget that fits into the drill's chuck, allowing you to drill a hole with one bit, flip the device and drive a screw with another bit.
We barely had it out of the packaging when our male colleagues started offering opinions.
When we tried it out, the whine of the drill drew guys to it like moths to a flame.
Note to single women: Looking for a man? Ditch the perfume. Go for the power tools.
It didn't take us long to recognize a problem: The Half Time Drill Driver puts the base of the bit a good 5½ inches away from the drill. Add on the length of the bit, and you have a real challenge trying to drill a perpendicular hole or keep a screw from wobbling as you're driving it.
Beacon Journal maintenance guru Ed Grohosky took one look at the construction of the Half Time Drill Driver and voiced his doubts that it would hold up to hard use.
Both he and photographer Mike Cardew noted that a quick-change chuck would let you change bits just as quickly.
Betty: Skip it.
Lisa: Skip it.
Mary Beth: Skip it.
Clean Step Mat
This doormat's highly absorbent fibers are supposed to trap water and dirt instantly, so you can just walk across the mat and not even have to stop to wipe your feet.
It didn't quite work that way, at least in our test.
Each of us muddied our shoes, walked across the mat and then walked onto plain newsprint we'd spread on the floor.
All three of us left dirty prints on the paper, indicating the mat hadn't done its job.
One thing I'll say for the mat is that its mix of dark brown, tan and white fibers did a good job of hiding the mud once it had dried. But as Lisa pointed out, that color scheme made the mat look dirty in the first place.
What's more, as Betty discovered, drying it in a clothes dryer takes quite a long time.
Lisa's comment pretty much summed up how we felt: "I see no benefit to it beyond a regular doormat."
Betty: Skip it.
Lisa: Skip it.
Mary Beth: Skip it.
Swivel Store
Organizing freak that I am, I had great hopes for this swiveling spice rack the first time I saw it advertised. It promises to hold spices -- or pill bottles, craft supplies or whatever else fits in it -- in just a 4-inch-wide space.
The unit has two racks that you pull forward from the base and then swivel to access.
But you need 4 inches of clearance on either side of the unit so you can turn the racks. Devoting that much cupboard space to storing 20 spice bottles didn't strike any of us as a good use of space.
The plastic used to make the Swivel Store seemed flimsy to us, and the pull-out racks were a little wobbly.
"That, to me, feels like it's rockin' 'n rollin'," Lisa said.
I liked the side rails that kept the bottles from tumbling off the racks, but we discovered the racks were too narrow for some larger spice bottles.
The unit was also just a smidgen deep to fit within the frame of Betty's cabinet, although we were still able to close the cabinet door completely.
Betty: Skip it.
Lisa: Skip it.
Mary Beth: Skip it.

By Mary Beth Breckenridge
Akron Beacon Journal

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