Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links, which means I may make a commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you.

CONGRATULATIONS Rhonda Grisham! Best of luck with your primary bath renovations!

I’ve mentioned it before, but I have no curtains in my house. Plenty of blinds, but no curtains. This is not really by choice, it’s just that most projects have taken priority over spending hundreds of dollars on curtain rods (one large rod can cost $40 – 80, and I have several large windows I’d really like to cover, which is not in the budget right now). And then spending hundreds more on curtains themselves? Fuhgeddaboudit.

One in particular that I’d like to cover is not a window at all; it’s actually the sliding glass doors that lead to the back yard from the kitchen. Even though my back yard is enclosed, I still get paranoid about strolling in front of this thing late at night in my pjs. That is to say, my absent-minded strolling late at night when I’m searching for pajama bottoms in the clean laundry and walk to the sliding door to let the dog in. So basically, if there were someone in my back yard, they’d get an eyeful of me in about half of my pjs.

Sliding patio doors

And of course, I’d freak the heck out, because there really shouldn’t be anyone in my back yard, anyway.

Anywho, I get paranoid about walking around my house, and I’ve had enough. With a little help and test drive of an oscillating tool from Porter-Cable, this problem is on its way to being solved.

Porter Cable Oscillating tool

Unlike most blades that rotate or spin, oscillating blades move from side to side. The smaller movement allows for more precise and steady cutting. And when you’re about to try what I did, steady is definitely needed.

Porter Cable Oscillating tool

This oscillating multi-tool has several attachments that can (depending on the blade you choose) sand, cut through wood/drywall/metal, grind hard to reach spots, remove grout (something I might have to do in the primary bathroom very soon), and slice through baseboards (something else I’ll likely have to do soon).

Close-up of the tool-free attachment feature

While there are other multi-tools on the market, what sets the Porter-Cable tool apart is its Tool Free System – you don’t need an Allen wrench to remove and switch between blades. You simply press a lever to pop the blade off the end, and snap another in its place. For someone like me, tools that allow me to skip non-essential steps are made of win. I did my best to take a shot of it, but you need a good amount of pressure on the lever to get it to open, which didn’t lend itself well to staying steady for a camera shot. It’s considerably easier when you turn the blade the right way though (I didn’t read the directions and tried putting it on upside down).

Attaching the blade

Okay, so let’s move on to the actual project, shall we? Allison from House of Hepworths found an ingenious way of making her own curtain rods from electrical conduit, and I wanted to try my hand at it with a thicker pipe (she used a 1/2″ but I wanted something beefier). The only problem was finding a tool to cut the conduit pipe. I looked all over the improvement store by my house and couldn’t find the $6  pipe cutter that Allison referenced; everything that would fit the 3/4″ pipe I picked width was $30 and up. My inexpensive solution (only $4 for a 3/4″ conduit pipe at 10 feet long) was threatening to turn pricey fast (Don’t you hate it when that happens?).

metal and wood blade

But with the metal attachment of the oscillating tool, cutting the pipe was a snap. Even when it’s turned on, the tool is steady and comfortable in one hand, so I simply clamped the pipe down onto my work table in the garage and cut the tool to the length I needed (about 62 inches). From there, it was pretty much the same directions as you can find here.


Small slice

Slice through…

Cutting pipe

And done.

Cut end of pipe

The cut wasn’t perfectly even, but I was quite impressed that it cut through so well. I really expected that I’d destroy the blade by the end, but aside from removing the paint, the teeth stayed intact.

Teeth held up well

The only gripe I have about the tool after this project so far is that the cord is a little too short in my opinion. Getting into those hard to reach places (what this tool is made to do) might be a little difficult if an electrical cord isn’t close by. When I use it in the bathrooms where the electrical socket is as far away from the tub as possible, I may need an extension cord to really make it work (Sheesh, Builders of My House, it’s like you think using a power tool in the tub is a bad idea). Cordless is also an option (and cheaper), but I wonder if it might compromise power.

Adjustable speed

I like that it’s a really powerful little tool right in my hand, and that I can adjust the speed for different projects. I’m still planning on using it for the bathroom (grout and caulk removal/repair) and a few more small tasks around the house, so you’ll definitely be seeing this tool  in UDH projects again.

I still haven’t found finials I like or curtains I’d really like to use, but I’m considering painting it with a little of this:

Krylon spray paint in Pimento

That’s the benefit of a $4 version; you don’t have to be afraid of trying out something different just because. And now I’m also one step closer to having privacy at last. And speaking of at last, we’re finally at the end of this post. Which means it’s time for the Porter-Cable giveaway! Here we go…

  • WHAT YOU WIN:  One Porter-Cable 2.5 Amp 36-Piece Corded Oscillating Multi-Tool Kit (a $149 value)
  • GIVEAWAY CLOSES:  Friday, January 13th (FRIDAY THE 13TH!) at 8 PM.
  • SHIPS:  U.S. and Canada only.
  • Winner will be chosen at random and will be announced on this post.


  • Follow this blog however you choose (Facebook, Twitter, GFC, etc.). These giveaways are made possible thanks to loyal readership.
  • Leave a comment on this post and let me know what your top project is for 2012 (don’t forget to include your contact info!)
  • For up to two additional entries, you can retweet this giveaway on Twitter (please mention @uglyducklingDIY and @PorterCable when you do) or like Porter Cable on Facebook and leave a comment to let them know that The Ugly Duckling House sent ya. Leave a separate comment for each activity you did on this post.

Good luck!

This giveaway is sponsored by Porter-Cable. All opinions and reviews are 100% my own. A Porter-Cable oscillating tool was given in return for hosting of this review and giveaway, but this post (and others) may also contain sponsored links. Please also see my Disclaimer page for additional details on giveaway and advertising policies.
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  1. My top project for 2012 is putting in new baseboards.
    Girl, you should check out the curtains at Target or Ikea. They have a great inexpensive selection. But even fabric can be easily made into curtains if you have a sewing machine…or maybe just an iron.

  2. It's hard picking a top project as we have about a million to do this year… but I'd say finishing (well maybe even starting) the master bathroom. That's going to require picking out tile first. I wish we had a tile warehouse like the one where you just picked up your tile. We haven't found as many good options and online is tough to pick out the colors. I've been wanting one of those oscillating tools, though!

  3. @Allison I definitely have some Ikea curtain hacking plans. But I hate the idea of having all of them from there. Maybe I'll get lucky soon at an outlet.

  4. We are hoping to get started on adding 2 bedrooms and a bathroom to our unfinished 2nd floor. This might be a multi-year project!

  5. I've been reading your blog for a while but just “liked” you on FB. I like seeing what you can get done and still work full time–since that is our household…it's rough sometimes!

    Our big project for 2012 is a patio in our backyard. And finishing baseboards. And painting cabinets. And storage in our garage. The list goes on!

  6. My top project for the year is actually purchasing a home. So, once that happens, I have about a million projects to get started on :-)

  7. Putting the tile backsplash in the kitchen. I'm picking up our order tonight. Does this thing cut tile by chance???

  8. Top project for 2012 = buying a house. Beyond that I've got plans to build an outdoor sectional modeled after a CB2 couch.

  9. Huzzah! I hear that you can use these little bad boys to lift up linoleum! Hubs and I are removing all the linoleum from BOTH bathrooms, tiling and replacing toilets. After that, new countertop and sink in the guest bath, and possibly new fixtures all in the Master bath. I have one year to do all this. Ready? Set? GOOOOOOOO!

  10. What an awesome giveaway! Currently we are tackling our laundry room/ master bedroom. But I think our biggest project is transforming our 3 room basement into usable living space. We have to dry wall, carpet, paint, decorate… The whole nine yards! But we are having so much fun doing it!

    Thanks for the giveaway!!

  11. I am a follower via GFC.
    We are currently remodeling our kitchen
    littlegray88 at yahoo dot com

  12. Wish i only had one prodject. In the middle of Building a addition onto the house, along with my new shop. The shop is the big prodject, it's 40'x60' with 18' sidewalls. Have it all sheeted and wrapped, in the process of backfilling so i can get the concrete done and then the metal outside and roofing and electrical. But love watching what your doing to your place. went through a lot of the same when i remodeled my first house.

  13. Our big upcoming project is the master bed & bath reno, hopefully before the birth of our first child in July! :)

    I'm Kat, museforhire [at] gmail.com

  14. Love the blog! You have gotten me through 2 projects of my own so far. 2012 holds more fun with a bathroom makeover and a kitchen redo. I'm working on my own sliding glass door / window solution but I think I have decided on Ikea sliding fabric panels or something similar.

  15. My top project: Foil Printing!
    Same as last year :)
    sandyplot at gmail.com
    (following on g-reader)

  16. My project for this year is my master bath! It is driving me nuts. I WILL renovate it this year!!
    maggietucker10 at yahoo dot com

  17. My big project for the year will be to get the ugly wallpaper off of our bedroom walls. We just bought the house this past summer, and I cant stand the wallpaper anymore.

  18. My top project for 2012 is a train table for my little boy and a craft closet for my wife. More DIY than home improvement… more like family improvement. Scott kershaw_scott(at)yahoo.com or via Brookiesandbrowns

  19. Porter Cable knows I like you and their tool! I would like to give this tool a shot without taking a shot to the pocketbook. Scott kershaw_scott(at)yahoo.com

  20. First of all, great giveaway! We have been in a rut since hurricane Ike dropped a tree on our home! And on the two rooms we had just totally renovated! After putting on a new roof by ourselves and redoing the two rooms we were burned out! We are now ready to get back to it! This tool would be helpful in our bath remodel! Thanks! Hugs from Conroe, Texas

  21. I “liked” you on Facebook. I have several projects for the year – just bought our first house last May and have been working on it ever since. My most pressing project is a “Church pew” that I am using as seating in my dining room table – it needs additional support in the middle, and I'm making a foam cushion for it too. I would love to win the Porter Cable Oscillating Multi-Tool!

  22. I'm current working on transforming my basment into my bedroom so my mother can have the Master when she moves in!