Swiss Army knife in a credit-card shape


This small, flat, semi-translucent plastic card contains a sharp blade, an even sharper pair of scissors, a file, a tweezers, a toothpick, and a pen. They all slide into the card, and come free of it for independent use. The whole kit is the size of a credit card, and about three times as thick. It lays flat in my pocket and weighs very little. I use it daily. It prompts a smile most every time I do, and it’s a good conversation piece. Highly recommended and undeservedly under-popular. -- Gru

Victorinox SwissCard ($25)

What the director of marketing at American Apparel carries on business trips


I asked my friend Ryan Holiday, director of marketing at American Apparel and author of The Obstacle Is The Way, to take photos and write about the stuff he takes on trips. Take a look at Cool Tools.

Useful kitchen tools from the previous homeowner

Author of the new book, Borg Like Me, Gareth Branwyn tells Cool Tools about the set of household tools he inherited from the former occupants of his house that have proven their usefulness and longevity over the years. In this episode of the Cool Tools Show he talks about what makes these tools so special and how we all can prepare to pass on our household’s best suited tools to the next generation of homeowners.

Golden Mean Calipers

calipers

I absolutely love these things and have used them for a couple of years. I enjoy wandering around with my kids and having them put it up to just about everything. (“Dad! this has a golden mean in it as well!” — I’ll never get tired hearing that). You can also use them to bring some simple relational beauty and balance into anything physical that you make.

You can go to this website for some very well made ones (and a little pricey) or just download some plans for a few bucks and make your own. -- Eric Warner

Golden Mean Calipers ($35)

The tools Tim Jenison used to make Tim's Vermeer


Tim Jenison, Founder of NewTek and star of Tim's Vermeer, a critically acclaimed documentary about his discovery of a possible tool used by hyper-realist painters throughout history, takes Kevin Kelly and me behind the curtain to see what tools made this investigation possible.

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Inkssentials Craft Sheet


From online discussions and reviews, it seems that nearly everyone who buys one of these non-stick, heat-resistant worksheets has the same initial reaction: “I paid $14 for THIS?” Quickly, that skepticism turns to appreciation, if not outright tool evangelism. I am one such skeptic. For too long, I’ve taken the “self-healing” billing of my cutting mat far too literally, subjecting it to paints, glues, epoxies, clay, heat — all sorts of indignities from which it never heals. Besides cutting, every other crafting/hobby activity should happen on some other surface, and for me, I now don’t want to use anything but one of these heavy duty (5 mil) PTFE (Teflon) sheets.

The Craft Sheet first seems rather fragile and insubstantial, but it’s virtually indestructible. Almost nothing sticks to it. And besides it acting as a protective surface, you can also use it for techniques like low-brow paper marbling (mix some paints on the sheet and swirl paper through it). To clean the sheet, you just wipe with a rag – good as new. You can buy direct from sealersupply.com for cheaper (and larger sizes), but you’ll have to pay for shipping. -- Gareth Branwyn

Ranger 15-Inch-by-18-Inch Inkssentials Craft Sheet: $14

Bike commuter super transformer bag full of stuff

Check out all the stuff that Long Now Foundation Director of Operations Laura Welcher brings with her on her daily bike commute in the San Francisco Bay Area. There's an awful lot in her bag, but it makes sense!

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Favorite apps and tools of Creative Good founder Mark Hurst


Mark Hurst, CEO and founder of Creative Good, is our guest on the Cool Tools Show this week. Our highly productive discussion yields tips on how to properly rinse your text, type more efficiently, and learn Mandarin Chinese in your spare time.

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Vacuum stainless-steel coffee press


For French press coffee geeks who also happen to be klutzes like me, no more broken carafes with this bad boy. I’ve had mine for years and it is still like brand new. Also for whatever reason, the plunger mesh is MUCH tougher than on the Bodum products and does not shred nearly as easily. Next time you smash your carafe on your Bodum just buy one of these. -- A.T. Salzman

Thermos 34-Ounce Vacuum Insulated Stainless-Steel Gourmet Coffee Press: $40

What’s in My Bag? James Altucher


Author James Altucher doesn't really have a bag. Instead, he puts his stuff in a doctor's coat: $2 bills, a waiter's pad, and an iPad Mini. Read all about it on Cool Tools.

Howard Rheingold on the Cool Tools Show

Howard Rheingold joined the Cool Tools podcast this week to discuss how his budding interest in woodworking has enriched his creative projects and led him to amass a whole new arsenal of cool tools. In this episode, Howard shows us a thorough list of must-haves for any beginner in woodworking or circuit tinkering, as well as some quality-of-life items to cultivate a healthy working environment. Show notes

Clive Thompson -- guest on new Cool Tools podcast


Kevin Kelly and I launched a new podcast at Cool Tools. In this entertaining second installment of the Cool Tools podcast, Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better, discusses the problem with laptop calculators, a surprising use for uncommonly bad tools, and what we all can do to stop stock photos from ruining the internet… all while introducing us to some terrific cool tools. (Listen to episode 001 with guest David Pogue here.)

David Pogue -- guest on new Cool Tools podcast


Kevin Kelly and I launched a new podcast at Cool Tools. In our inaugural episode, we pick the brain of guest David Pogue, founder of Yahoo Tech, for some lesser-known tips, tools, and life hacks. We move from discussing productivity apps, to office products, to kitchen appliances.

The highest quality garden watering nozzle

I can’t count how many cheap watering implements we’ve gone through since we bought this house fifteen years ago. Big box store watering widgets seem to last just a few weeks before heading to the landfill.

I think I’ve found a solution. During the Garden Blogger’s Fling I attended back in June there was a demo by a Dramm Company representative. What impressed me most at the demo was Dramm’s simplest products, the Heavy-Duty Aluminum Water Breaker Nozzle combined with their Aluminum Shut-Off Valve.

The breaker nozzle provides a gentle shower, much like a Haws Watering Can and would be appropriate to use on seedlings and vegetables. The shut-off valve is extremely durable. Neither item has plastic parts. They are sold separately.

While a lot more expensive than those plastic watering wands at the big box store, I have a feeling that these two high quality Dramm components will last a lot longer. -- Eric Knutzen

Dramm 82342 400AL Heavy-Duty Aluminum Water Breaker Nozzle: $16

Dramm 22373 Aluminum Shut-Off Valve: $17

Hand crank extension cord winder

I use several corded power tools around the yard and garden such as a chain saw, leaf vacuum, hedge trimmer, etc. Many’s the time I would put off a chore using them because I would have to uncoil the 100′ of power cord and probably have to untangle/unkink it before using it. After the job was done, it would take another few minutes to coil up the power cord and try not to tangle it in the process.

A couple of types of cord reels I tried didn’t work particularly well. So I bought this weird looking cord winder a few years ago. After installing the wall mount near the power outlet in my garage and winding my cord into the basket, I was quite surprised to discover I could pull out the 100′ of power cord, tangle/kink free in about a minute to the end of my driveway. I would do my chore (usually the leaf vacuum for lawn clippings and leaves) and, in another minute or two I could wind up the cord, detach the cord winder from the wall mount and put it on the shelf. Those chores now get done when needed instead of being put off since the cord unwinding/re-winding takes so little time. -- Jim Service

Wonder Winder Hand Crank Extension Cord Winder: $20