Mechanical muscles These two friction jacks can give you up to 3,000 lbs. of pushing or pulling force. Although they are called jacks (named Monkey on a Stick and Bodymate), they are not designed to lift or support vehicles, but they certainly can move heavy objects.

The 55-in.-long friction rod can be used in either direction anywhere along its solid steel bar. It features a three-position jack handle and a multipurpose sliding hook. The jack head uses five hardened friction plates to provide an infinite number of positions for secure locking. To operate, depress the locking tabs to slide it into position and then use the jack handle to apply exactly the pressure needed to push or pull heavy objects to where you want them. Price: $120 for #77043. Contact S&H Industries Inc., Dept. FIN, 5200 Richmond Rd., Cleveland, OH 44146, 800/253-9726.

Who wants to win a prize? Do you know someone whose motto is, "If it's broke I'm fixin' it and if it ain't broke I'm still gonna fix it"? If so, you could win $4,000 worth of Snap-On tools for this person by writing an essay about him or her. Lava is sponsoring the Salute to Hardworking Hands to honor people who build, fix or create. The grand prize tool set (awarded based on the essay's originality, creativity, concept and sincerity) comes with a five-drawer box and more t han 200 tools. Other prizes will also be awarded. The essay must be no more than 500 words, typed double-spaced on 8_1/2- x 11-in. paper. Attach a photograph of your nominee and on a separate page include your name, age, address and phone number and the same information for the nominee. Send by July 14 to "Salute to Hardworking Hands" Contest, Dept. FIN, Box 880464, San Diego, CA 92168-0464.

Videos for welders by Roxanne Furlong Although Steve Bleile of Wall Mountain Company has every reason to brag about his welding knowledge and skills, he doesn't. In fact, the soft-spoken man is modest to a fault. He describes his expertise at welding like this: "It's not brain surgery. If you like detail work, this is fun; if you don't, don't even try. For me it was real easy to do."

Bleile started out with "real easy" jobs: He welded high-pressure vessels where every weld was x-rayed to be sure the weld was confident; he was a certified welder on refinery and petroleum chemical plants in the southwest and northwest; and he welded oil field equipment. He says that for 13 years he traveled the U.S. going from one welding job to the next. Right now, he is working on high-end houses worth $2_1/2 million.

Several years ago Bliele started teaching welding clinics for farmers, local industries and loggers. "I realized that many people with an interest in welding didn't have access to necessary information," he says. That's when he started making his own instructional videos. The videos he now has available are filmed with high-quality equipment; all of them offer close-ups (no still photos) to show minute detail of his perfect welds or cuts. A welder of any skill level can take information to the shop after watching any one of these videos. All are produced with the farmer in mind.

Welding (2 hrs.) covers the basics of oxyacetylene torch cutting, arc welding, mig welding, weld joints and more. $30.

Oxy-Acetylene Welding (42 min.) shows how to join thinner metals. It is excellent for learning the fundamentals of controlling the molten weld puddle. $20.

Oxy-Acetylene Torch Cutting (45 min.) is an upgraded version of the torch-cutting section from the original Welding video but has more practical close-up demonstrations. $20.

Arc Welding I (45 min.) is an update of the arc-welding segment from the original Welding video. For beginners and intermediate welders, it covers equipment, types of welding rods and the fundamentals of running weld beads. (It includes amperage settings, arc gap, travel speed and rod angle.) The video shows great close-ups of actual welds with rods in flat, horizontal and vertical positions. Arrows show you exactly where to watch the molten weld puddles. $20. Contact Wall Mountain Co. Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 1167, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805, 208/267-6122.

Welding tips from Steve Bliele, pro welder Safety is an attitude; you need to anticipate what will happen as a result of what you are doing: * Always wear safety glasses. * Take your time and look up from your work occasionally. * Wear protective clothing. Bliele prefers a starched shirt because sparks will bounce off it. * Avoid clothing made from synthetic material; it will melt to your skin. * Wear boots without laces; sparks burn them. * Keep a fire extinguisher handy and know how to use it.

Torch cutting takes a lot of time but will make the difference between a good cut and a sloppy cut: * Always keep your cutting tip clean. * To cut straight, first draw a straight line. * Take time to adjust the gas pressures properly. * Cut the longest pieces first.

Arc welding. The arc gap is the most important thing; good hand/eye coordination is imperative: * A smooth, uniform bead comes with practice; there's no magic rod. * Get comfortable and don't hold your breath, and if you need a magnifying glass, use one. * Don't stand on your leads. * Put ground clamp as close to weld as possible. * The penetration and surface tie-in are more important than what you can see. * Use a smaller rod for better control. * When in doubt, turn the amperage up.

Wire feed welding. Take extra time to be sure the metal is clean: * Use a 75/25 gas mix; it's more expensive but worth it. * Spend money on power; a 250-amp wire feed machine does nice work. * The wire is dirtier than it looks and will plug up guides and liners. * Dual shield, flux-cored wire with a gas purge is the best wire for welding on equipment.

Squeeze clamp or spread This Quick-Jaw power clamp and spreader uses a pistol-style squeeze grip that's easy to use, but keeps a tight clamp. You can reposition and retighten the clamps with just one hand to keep your other hand free. And for wide clamping or spreading jobs, it features greater travel per squeeze of the lever than competitive brands, says the company.

The clamps are 6 in. to 36 in. long and have spreading capacities of 8 to 14 in. up to 8 to 44 in. They weigh 17 to 20 lbs. Price range: $17 to $28. Contact Wolfcraft Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 687, Itasca, IL 60143, 630/773-4777.