I replaced my D battery Mag-Light with this small LED light that only needs AA batteries. I get whiter light, longer life, and more intensity. Tripod lights have always been great tools (I work at Amazon, so I see a lot of gear). The problem with the traditional ones is they get very hot, use lot of battery power, and burn out fast. Stanley’s tripod light – the first LED version – takes all the advantages of LED and combines it with the convenience of a fold up stand.
I have already used it for a variety of household projects since I bought it last year. The best use has been to install dimmers. Usually I’d have to do this during the day or ask my wife to hold the flashlight. With the tripod light, I can now do it by myself at any time. -- Jason Goldberger
This is a 5-inch diameter magnifying glass mounted on a swing arm, and the assembly has a vice clamp to mount itself to the edge of a table or desk.
Read the rest
A friend gave my dog the Hol-ee Roller ($6) in January, and my dog and I like it so much that I have since started to phase-out other dog toys. It is durable. My dog is a strong chewer, and has destroyed many a lesser toy. It is attractive. Who doesn’t love a geodesic dome? It is light and squishy, bouncing off objects denser balls would damage. It is large. This might not seem important, but my dog has been known to attempt furniture disassembly while attempting to retrieve a ball that has rolled under the sofa. Despite its size, it is easy to pick up. Dogs can chomp on a vertex, and I can hook it with a finger. Touching it is not disgusting. Despite its size, it has little surface area to get slimy. And no tennis ball fuzz. -- Jonathan Harford
The "quantified self" personal measurement tools all seem too constricting to me, at least at this point in my life. But, as one who cringed when I needed to buy my late-model Mazda3 for a commute, the concept of a "quantified car" makes a lot more sense. Buying a car means investing a decent sum of money in a depreciating collection of metal that requires sizable ongoing investments. Even when experiencing the joy of the open road, I'm still haunted by how much this contraption costs me. So, to ease my heartburn over car ownership, I bought the Automatic "Smart Driving Assistant" ($99) in early 2014.
Read the rest
I happened upon these Bifocal safety glasses
($11) while on vacation in a hardware store (yes, I go to hardware stores while on vacation). These safety glasses provide great eye protection and the bifocal lens allows me to perform closeup tasks without resorting to pulling them off for my reading glasses. A perfect solution for those who work in a shop with "older" active eyes. – Mark Ramirez [I have a pair of these and love them -- Mark]
I bought the "Fantastic" Ice Scraper I have now in 1982 at a gas station in Wisconsin. It’s such a superior scraper that I’ve been careful to make sure it transferred from disposed-of vehicle to replacement vehicle four times since then. The thin, stiff, but mildly conforming brass blade slides easily between ice and glass and does so without scratching because brass is softer than glass. Oh, yeah, it still costs $2. Important: don’t use it to hack at the ice because you may deform the brass blade, after which it won’t slide between ice and glass well at all. – Jeff Morrow
Brass blade is the real deal. I’ve given these to friends and family because they are so much better than the crappy plastic ones. Brass is soft enough to not damage the glass. The blade is thin and not really sharp to the touch, but is great on ice. The plastic scrapers get dull pretty quickly and then just skip over really tough ice. – Scott Christensen
Had one of these for years and it was the best I have ever used. You just have to be careful about hitting the rubber gasket with it – it will cut. That is the reason the blade is not as wide as the blade holder. – Jim Sheafer
Fantastic Ice Scraper with Brass Blade ($6)
As a practicing magician, playing cards are just one of the many tools in our “magical toolbox.” For the causal card player any pack of cards will most likely do. But for anyone who practices card magic or just plays a lot of card games, cards might be a subject of interest. If you’re looking for quality long-lasting budget playing cards, I highly recommend Tally-Ho cards. They’re inexpensive and can be subjected to being bent and abused, while maintaining their ease of handling. Tally-Hos’ durability can be attributed to its linoid finish, which also helps prevent the cards from sticking together. Unlike most other playing cards such as Bicycles or Bees, Tally-Hos are rather resistant to warping after heavy usage. In fact, a pack of Tally-Hos I own for five years and counting, still springs and fans just like it did first out of the box. -- Jefferson Deng
[The magicians who hang out at The Magic Cafe message board seem to agree that Tally Ho cards are more durable than Bicycle cards. Another interesting thing about these cards is that the Circle back design is slightly asymmetrical, which makes the cards useful for mentalism tricks. The one negative thing about Tally Ho cards is that spectators are usually more familiar with Bicycle cards and unfamiliarity raises suspicions about whether or not a deck is gimmicked. -- Mark]
Tally Ho Circle Back Playing Cards ($6)
I feel like I’ve discovered a sort of breakfast unified field theory. And it’s all thanks to an impulse purchase at an awesome new homesteading supply shop in our Los Angeles neighborhood, The King’s Roost. My credit card discharged from my pocket like ectoplasm at a 19th century seance when I spotted the KoMo FlicFloc.
The FlicFloc manually flakes oats, wheat, rye, barley, millet, spelt, rice, sesame, flax seed, poppy and spices. The breakfast possibility it opened to me? Fresh muesli is thy name. Finally a filling and healthy alternative to my Grape Nuts addiction.
The FlicFloc is elegant and simple. There’s not much to say about it. You put grain in the top, turn the handle and deliciousness discharges into a glass, thoughtfully provided. I’ve owned a KoMo grain mill for a year now and it’s been a life changer in the kitchen. I really like having access to freshly milled whole grains when I need them. It eliminates waste as ground grains spoil. And whole grain, including oats, get bitter if they sit around too long.
And cancel the Neflix – Below is KoMo’s Austrian/German design team demonstrating their products. All this video needs is Werner Herzog to narrate the English language version. Note the solar powered manufacturing facility and German breakfast porn. Also note the mouthwatering array of whole grain baked goods. -- Erik Knuzten
KoMo FlicFloc Flaker ($178)
I wear glasses. Mine are good ones, and I have little clippy sunglass “covers” for them that are polarized and work pretty well too. But they’re sorta delicate, and really take two hands to properly fix to my specs. Not ideal for driving, when I may want to stick something on quickly and with a single hand.
Read the rest
How Your House Works is a great visual resource and introduction for anyone not acquainted with the workings of a house and is a great companion for more in-depth DIY guides.
Read the rest
Smart homes continue to get smarter and the Nest Protect Smoke and Carbon Monoxide (either battery or wired) is everything you would expect from the people who brought you the Nest thermostat.
We have had this 5 inch x 5 inch x 1.5 inch smoke and CO detector on the ceiling of our kitchen since it became available. What I think is especially cool about it is…
- It can be checked for readiness from a simple smart phone app indicating its state as well as that of the battery (if that’s your choice of model).
- When it does go off for reasons other than an actual fire (like your bacon is burning) or CO2 alert, simply waving your hand underneath it, turns the alarm off. The Nest also gives you a gentle verbal warning rather than an unexpected shriek. when an actual alarm is coming.
- Testing consists of pressing the center most button and the Nest announces its intentions – to perform a simple test including a countdown. All steps are verbally communicated so you know exactly what’s happening.
- Should you be a Nest thermostat user as well as a Nest Protect user, and should there be an actual fire, the Nest thermostat will shut down the gas furnace as that could be a further source of fire or ignition.
- And, should the alarm go off for any reason, a message is sent to your smart phone.
- Especially cool is that the illuminated ring around the center of the monitor acts as a night light when the lights in the room are turned out and also does such in the event of a power failure.
- And for those who really care about such things, it’s beautifully designed.
Worth the $100 when you can get one for $15? If you’re into the smart home thing, certainly. But, even if not, it just seems more than worth it given the long lasting battery with no chirping to awaken you at night when batteries run low, really easy testing and just a bit more gentle on the senses than the standard howling alarm. -- Neil J. Salkind
Nest Protect Smoke Plus Carbon Monoxide ($99)
Let me start by saying I like coffee; strong, black coffee. Some years ago I treated myself to a proper home espresso machine. I also bought a burr grinder. I didn’t go as far as buying green beans and roasting them myself (I did consider it), but I did by small batches of freshly roasted quality beans.
Read the rest
As an amateur guitar player, this is a fantastic tool that allows me to achieve the following:
Read the rest
The sheer number of OXO products available and the variety of price points they are built to makes it inevitable that some of them will be duds. Indeed, over time it has become clear that the presence of the brand on an item does not necessarily guarantee good design or build quality. That said, I have found their Good Grips steel measuring cups to be a great success in both regards. After more than a year of daily use, I still can’t think of anything that would improve them.
Read the rest
This bottle opener takes a relatively mundane task and turns it into a pleasurable aesthetic experience. The beauty of this opener is in its design simplicity. It is made of a piece of wood, a bent nail and two magnets. That’s it. The leverage from the nail opens beer bottles easily, one magnet catches the bottle cap and the other magnet makes it easy to mount on a fridge or other metal surface.
I have owned one for over a year and it is always my go-to bottle opener above any of my skeleton key style bottle openers. The handle is comfortable and, while the magnetic cap catching capability might seem superfluous at first, I am always grateful for it once I’m a few bottles into the evening. The mounting magnet keeps the handle open from the perspective of the plane of the surface to which it is mounted making it easy to grab in a time of need.
I was originally gifted this tool and have gifted it myself on several occasions. All recipients have reported back with delight at this opener’s simple beauty and practical usefulness.
Of course, there are much less costly alternatives (including your teeth, the edge of a hard surface or the lighter trick) to opening bottles and the size of the handle does not make this tool something you want to carry around in your pocket all of the time, but that isn’t it’s point. This opener combines a sophisticated design sensibility with functional effectiveness that elevates the status of an every day utility to a cool tool. -- Eoin Russell
Areaware Bottle Opener in Walnut ($14)
This bag has been my indefatigable mobile office for the past 2 years.
I am a train commuter navigating from Boston’s suburbs into Kendall Square (MIT), Cambridge five days a week. Productivity is important to me during my commuting time and the bag offers outstanding organization and comfort to allow me to work anywhere.
This bag is loaded with organizational features, durably crafted and stylistically elegant (and customizable!). Few bags excel in all three of those critical elements. I use the large size, and while it can be roomy for lighter daily travel, having the extra space accommodates the occasional overnight trip or the large object that I need to tote into my work-space. -- Nathan Chesley
Timbuk2 Classic Messenger Bag 2014 Large ($109)
It is amazing how different the same tea tastes when you have the ability to consistently experiment with the brewing temperature and steeping time. Different teas require different brewing temps and steeping times to bring out the best flavor. I like green tea. The Breville allows you to set the temperature by degrees and the steeping time. Do you like strong tea? Set it to steep longer. Once you set it, it is all automatic. No more waiting for your tea to cool from boiling to drink it. Would like another cup of tea? The Breville will keep the tea at your set temp for 60 minutes.
Yes, this appliance is expensive. However, after using it nearly each day since November 2010, it is totally worth the money, and remains one of my favorite purchases and is very reliable. I’ve had zero problems with it. Breville makes great appliances, and they are very well made, with excellent customer support. -- Kevin Lindsay
Breville One-Touch Tea Maker ($250)
I ran across these gloves when I did a bathroom remodel around 2 years ago. Basically, they are a thin synthetic knit glove that has a palm and fingertip area that’s coated in a “polymer.” Traditionally, I’ve worn those cheap rubber dipped gloves when working with tile, but these gloves are far superior. The best part of these gloves is that they are really thin and allow for all the manual dexterity that you would have in a nitrile glove, but the Gorilla Grip gloves are much more durable. They’re great for wet work because they let the back of your hand breathe and dry out.
When I did tile work with them, they were really great for using with the wet tile saw. Even though they were wet, they didn’t slide around, get soggy, or come apart – even when soaked in water. I’ve used them as a go to general purpose glove for most home improvements. Just this past week, I used them on a drop ceiling project and an attic insulation project. They were great in that they protected my hands from the ceiling tiles and insulation while allowing me to switch tools and do fine motor tasks while wearing the gloves.
These gloves are the perfect medium between a disposable rubber or nitrile glove and a heavier work glove while being better than other rubber/vinyl dipped gloves. -- Chuck Balog
Grease Monkey Gorilla Grip Gloves ($9)
I’ve used this laptop stand for six years after discovering it branded and sold by Targus (where it can no longer be found). After losing mine, I found it again branded under “Hercules XStand Portable Notebook Cooling Stand” and “Opteka X-Stand Ergonomic Portable Airflow Cooling Stand.”
The stand is beautifully built, light (all-aluminum structure), and well-designed. It’s for 15″ – 17″ laptops, and easily folds down to something you could slip into a pocket. The stand tilts the keyboard a few degrees, which is nice, but its primary use is to allow plenty of airflow under the computer for cooling; I find it substantially reduces the temperature, which is not only nice for me, it certainly helps lengthen the life of my laptops. It has to be used on a flat surface – not your lap. I use it everywhere.
The stand is far-and-away the smallest and lightest laptop stand I’ve ever seen, and retails online for anywhere from $15 to $23.-- Barry Schwartz
X-Stand Portable Notebook Cooling Stand ($23)
I have used this one for over a year. My grandmother was thrilled to have a couple during an extended power outage last year. When we got power back we passed the lanterns on to her friends until they had power restored. We never changed the batteries and neither did they. My grandmother gave one to all her friends last Christmas — best received gift ever. One of the best features is that it is actually bright enough to be useful. I love the hook on the bottom that lets me hang it from a fixture or pipe. (There was a huge battery shortage before, during and after the storm so now I keep a set of rechargeable batteries on hand for them.) -- Tim Stone
eGear 30-day lantern ($40)
Of all the ways to navigate cities, I find I get to know them best on a bicycle: not too slow, not too fast, just high up enough to observe, and quasi-meditatively conducive to thought.
Read the rest
Any chef will tell you, a sharp knife is the most important tool in the kitchen. I have tried many different types of sharpening methods, from stones to steels, electric to manual. Stones are hard to use because you need to maintain a very consistent angle while using it, and other gimmicky sharpening tools are just not good enough to give you a good edge. And very, very few can sharpen a serrated blade. I won’t lie — I can’t use a manual sharpening stone to save my life.
My dad got me the Work Sharp WSKTS Knife and Tool Sharpener and I swear I’ve never seen its equal. It is approximately the size of an electric drill and uses sanding belts of three different grits: 80 for repairing blades, 220 for sharpening, and 6000 for putting on that smooth polish. The sanding belts are very easy to change and last long enough for you to sharpening everything in the house, from your scissors and kitchen knives to axe and lawnmower blades. The head of the tool swivels so you can use it free-hand to sharpen very large items, like shovels.
One of the best features is the guards that attach to the tool that keep the sharpening angle perfectly consistent. The first guard offers a 50° angle for large hunting and butchery knives, and a 40° angle for thinner knives. The second guard allows you to sharpen serrated blades and heavier outdoor blades.
Best of all, this sharpening system only costs around $70 and packs of 6 replacement belts cost around $9. They also offer packs of 2 diamond belts for around $26 for sharpening those pesky ceramic blades. -- Joel Roush
Work Sharp WSKTS Knife and Tool Sharpener ($69)
For some reason my ears get clogged up with earwax (cerumen is the technical term) about two to three times a year. When it first happened, I was told to use a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide and one of those rubber bulbs you use to clear a baby’s nose. This strategy never worked for me, and I would inevitably end up in a doctor’s office hard of hearing.
Read the rest
This little gadget hones your razor after each use, and extends its usefulness by keeping it sharp longer. It’s a strip of silicone rubber in a plastic holder. You push your razor along the strip a dozen or so times after you’ve shaved. I’ve used it for about two years and it works well – it gives me at least double or perhaps triple the number of shaves before the blade becomes too dull to use. I’ve tried other similar things but this is the one that works best. — Stephen Saxe
Blade Buddy ($20)
I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a good kitchen novelty, and it was certainly that affliction that initially drew me to the Boska Holland Toastabags, but it turns out they’re both practical and really useful too.
Read the rest
Shaving in the shower this morning I was trying to think of a tool that is really useful as I’ve appreciated all the tips others have provided.
Then I looked at the fogless mirror I’ve been using for nearly two years now. (Never ran across the smaller Shave Well shaving mirror recommended here back in August. Shave Well is 6×4″ as opposed to 7×5″ for this product.)
This fogless mirror, with the unfortunate company name of Toilet Tree, is the best we’ve found for this task.
Nothing fancy, just a mirror filled with hot water in a container. But it works. Even the silicone glue has been working great in adhering to the shower tile.
Simple and utilitarian, it the “#1 Selling and Ranked” product in its category by customers on Amazon. -- Ira Altschiller
Fogless Shower Mirror with Squeegee ($30)
I have been using a rubber finger tip for about 4 months, 5 times a week, 2-3 times/day for approximately 5 minutes a session. It enables me to flip through a large stack of pages quickly.
If you want to flip through a large stack of matte paper, your finger just won’t do. The oils on your finger are not enough to grip letter paper and licking your finger to improve grip gets tiring, is messy, and leaves you… parched. This tool leaves no mess, is cheap, and highly consistent in its usefulness. Different sizes available. -- Josh Miller
Rubber Finger Tips ($3/Doz.)
I have dozens of tools and gadgets in my kitchen. Years working in the restaurant and catering world left me with an inventory of items that I bought for this job or that party.
Read the rest
I was introduced to Hugo's Amazing Tape several years ago by a colleague. He uses the tape to keep board game boxes closed for storage, and it has quite a following in the board game and collectible card game community.
Read the rest