It takes certain hubris to commit a crime with a 7-ton, 20 mph max speed vehicle. On January 4 in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, unknown suspects tried to smash open a Bank of America ATM with a Caterpillar 420D. A similar incident happened a few days prior in Bessemer City, NC. (They should probably design the ATMs to look like giant pigs.)
In late February, a Rochester, New York, man was arrested after he dug a 40-foot-long, 12-foot-deep hole in a rural road at night using an excavator, apparently for fun.
One of the most versatile tools and fasteners is the humble hose clamp, invented in 1921 and marketed as the Jubilee Clip. Besides their intended uses in plumbing and automotive, they can be used to fix an exhaust, fasten parts on a bike, and make DIY camera parts. I've used them in prototyping: for instance, quickly holding together parts for a rainwater pump.
Who knew that hose clamps were such big business? Not one, but two reports recently came out on this growing segment: "Global Hose Clamps Market Size, Trends, Forecasts, Market Research Report 2015" and "Global Hose Clamps Industry Report 2015". They both make for exciting reading, through of course, not as gratifying as the masterwork, "The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China".
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
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)
Our guest this week on the Cool Tools Show podcast is Ryan Block. He’s the co-founder of gdgt, and the co-founder and former editor of Engadget. These days he is VP of Product at Aol, and is co-host of MVP, a show about technology products. He recommends Amazon Prime, the Bruer cold brew coffee maker, the KitchenAid Stand Mixer, and an iOS calculator called Tydlig.
My friend and Cool Tools partner Kevin Kelly went into Adam Savage's man cave to talk about some of the 1,500 tools reviewed in his Cool Tools Catalog.
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.
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Author and entrepreneur Seth Godin was the guest of the Cool Tools show this week. He recommended a website development tool called Strikingly, his complete collection of Wired magazine, a health website called One Lucky Duck, and the Penguin Magic site. Kevin and I had a great time talking to Seth about all these things and more on the latest episode of the Cool Tools Show.
I have used this tool for years, most recently in a whole-house renovation. It allows you to reach high places around the house without a ladder and with more flexibility than a simple stool or step ladder. This tool is specifically great for painting high trim like crown molding and ceiling lines. The platform is textured and provides stability, even when reaching into high corners. It also folds flat for compact storage. I couldn’t imagine painting any room without this miniature scaffold. -- Sarah Akers
On the latest episode of the Cool Tools Show, Lifehacker founder and ThinkUp co-founder, Gina Trapani introduces us to a few web based apps that offer elegant design and features well worth their minuscule prices.
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.
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On the latest Cool Tools Show podcast, Robot Turtles creator Dan Shapiro recommends inventions and innovations that offer a surprisingly valuable experience for their price.
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)
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.)
AJ Jacobs, bestselling author and journalist, shows us how he rids himself of life’s common nuisances and hazards like an untied shoe, a noisy environment, or a half hour wasted in traffic so he can focus on larger pursuits, like bringing the world together in one great big family reunion. AJ reminds us that we are all cousins and encourages all of us to explore just how we are related by hitting up some of his favorite genealogy resources. Oh, and we’re all officially invited to The Global Family Reunion on June 6th, 2015. Don’t forget the potato salad!
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.
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When I travel I often use earplugs at night (E.A.R foam are my preferred brand) to mute the sounds of strange places and get a good night’s sleep. Only problem is, the pathetic “eep eep” sound of a typical travel alarm cannot penetrate the earplugs. For years I have searched for a truly heavy-duty portable alarm, and finally found a good candidate at the Petro Truck Stop in Kingman, Arizona: The Screaming Meanie.
Also available from online sources, the Screaming Meanie is not a clock. It is a countdown timer. You set the number of hours and minutes between now and the time you want to wake up. You can also set the volume, either to “loud” or “frighteningly loud.” In case 110 decibels is not enough (“loud enough to wake the dead!”), they have a 220 decibel version too!
When you start the Screaming Meanie the alarm is ON by default. This eliminates my habit of waking up five or six times just to check whether I set my travel alarm correctly. You just know this thing is going to work. You can’t possibly sleep through it because while the 10 and 5-minute warnings can be turned off with one button, it takes 3 buttons pushed simultaneously to silence the final alarm. My only quibble is that it should be smaller (it is a rounded plastic block, 1″ by 2.25″ by 5.25″) but hey, it was designed for truckers. -- Charles Platt
Screaming Meanie ($25)
I often mix stuff into my coffee: cream, coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides, taurine, even some resistant starches like inulin as part of my low carb life. Previoius to getting the slickfroth, I had to choose between a small hand blender or a spoon. I did not expect much (you know, a battery powered small toy) but I have found that this device works much better than I expected as a mini-handblender for liquids and powders. While it will not chop up the contents of thick smoothies, it will mix liquids together or powders into liquids very well. It offers a very useful tool in-between a hand blender (over-kill for many situations) and just mixing with a spoon (often not adequate). -- Dale Simpson
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
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.
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
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