Our guest on the Cool Tools Show podcast is Jimmy DiResta. He is a maker, toy designer, and TV show host. He’s been the host of a number of DIY shows including Dirty Money, Trash to Cash, Against the Grain, and Hammered with John and Jimmy DiResta. He co-hosts the Making It Podcast, and has a fantastic YouTube channel called DiResta with videos on his latest builds and handy tool tips.
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This acrylic shaving mirror ($10 on Amazon) is a bit larger than my iPhone 6. I feel like I'm taking a selfie when I shave. To prep it, just hold it in the stream of hot water for a few seconds to get it warm so it doesn't fog up. (I'm a very quick shaver and I use a water saving shower head so I don't waste too much precious water.)
Hangnails bother me so much that when I get one, I can't think of anything else until I get rid of it. I will even bite it off if I am without clippers (this doesn't work well and usually results in blood being drawn). The Tweezerman Power Hangnail Clipper ($8 on Amazon) is the ultimate hangnail clipper. It removes hangnails down to the nub without going too deep into the skin. They are sharp and easy to control.
The Speedy Stitcher sewing awl ($10 on Amazon) is anything but speedy, but it is useful to have around when you need to repair canvas, leather, or other heavy fabric. Take a look at the video below to see how they work.
Artist Lee John Phillips has begun to lovingly draw the over 100,000 items housed in his late grandfather's toolshed. He plans to catalog every single tool, part, gadget, and bit of hardware over the course of the next five years.
I adore old tools and hardware, and I find that his illustration style is wonderful at capturing their essence. I'll be following along on his Instagram page, and would certainly purchase a print edition should he make one available (hint, hint).
Artist Celebrates Late Grandfather by Drawing the 100,000+ Items in His Tool Shed (Thanks, Oh Soon!)
Alexander “Zander” Rose is the executive director of The Long Now Foundation, which was founded in 1996 to become the seed of a very long-term cultural institution that fosters very-long-term planning. He was hired to build their clock that lasts 10,000 years. He’s also the founder of the Robot Fighting League, and a contestant on the ABC series Battlebots (airing Sunday nights). In this episode of the Cool Tools Show podcast, Andrew recommends several tools I've never heard of: Knipex Parallel Plier Wrenches, Gear Drive Case Ball End Hex Keys, Bafang Mid Drive eBike kit, Yuba Boda Boda Family Cargo Bike, Chinese High Power Bike Lights, Water Activated Resin Cast Material, and a Skin Stapler (for "people who are not good at suturing"). See the show notes here.
Image: Alexander Rose (r) and Reason Bradley (l) with Bronco.
A screw with a stripped head can be difficult to remove.
There are a number of ways to remove screws with stripped heads. Lifehacker has a nice article on this subject.
My favorite method of removing a stuck/stripped screw is with a pair of screw removal pliers. They bite into the exposed sides of the screw head and you can twist the screw loose, then finish the job with a screwdriver. It's also a nice brute-force workaround for tamper-proof screw heads. This is the kind of tool you want to have in your toolbox now, instead of having to run out and buy one when it's needed.
If the screw is really stuck, you risk breaking the head off the screw. If that happens, all is not lost. You can try to drill a small hole into the center of the screw shaft and pull out the screw with a screw extractor.
From what I've heard, these "Curvy Lady" torso shaped screwdrivers were someone's bad idea, and now the person who ended up with them wants to unload all 20,000.
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When I need to tighten my glasses, or put batteries in a children's toy, I can never find a tiny screwdriver. This $2 set is a steal!
With No.1 and 0 phillips heads, 3mm, 2.4mm, 1.8mm and 1.4mm flat head screwdrivers this kit has me covered. I actually ordered two, one I keep on my desk and the other in my tool bag.
If I make sure to put them back in the plastic case, I may not lose them.
Darice Precision Screwdriver Set via Amazon
Marketed as packing twenty-three functions into one pocketable gadget, the Kelvin 23 is a screwdriver with 15 bits, a hammer, a level, an LED light, a tape measure, and a magnetic picker-upper.
When it arrived, I decided to use it to hammer a nail into drywall. The hammerhead broke off on the third strike.
Don't buy the Kelvin 23 Multi Tool.
I keep frequently-used household tools on the powerful magnetic tool holder in the garage. It beats digging around for a screwdriver in a drawer or tool box. It's $19 on Amazon.
I am a huge fan of this Gerber survival series fire starter. It is cheap, rugged and easy to use.
After nearly 30 years of camping use, a block of magnesium I used as a fire starter wore away to nothing. They still sell the same tiny blocks of alloy, but I wanted to try something new. Maybe I felt in a rut. This Gerber Bear Grylls tool is a welcome replacement. Well sized to fit both my hands, the striker is easy to scrape down the rod and throw off some good sized, hot and long burning sparks. Snapping the two together results in an o-ring sealed tube with space for tinder. Gerber recommends jamming some cotton balls in there, I can fit 5 or 6 but also carry a few sticks of fat wood with me on every camping trip. Fat wood always works.
This is a simple, well thought out tool that easily fits in my backpack or sidebags on the bike. I'm looking forwards to decades of easy use.
Gerber 31-000699 Bear Grylls Survival Series Fire Starter vis Amazon
At $7 for two, this Magnetic Clip Light with 8 Super Bright White LEDs is a good deal. I used one over the weekend for illumination while I was repairing a Wii-U controller charger cord that one of our cats chewed through. (I also covered the cord with split-loom tubing to protect my cats and the cord from now on.)
It has a magnet in the clip so you can attach it to a metal surface, and it stands upright on a table (though it is easy to knock over because it has a high center of gravity). It uses 3 AAA batteries (not included).
The $10 Monkey Business Clippa Mini Tools Clip is a hair-clip with a sawblade, trolley coin, wrench, phillips screwdriver, ruler, and eyeglass screwdriver.
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Defense Distributed sells a $1500 digital mill called the Ghost Gunner. Among other things, it can carve an aluminum AR-15 rifle body without a serial number. FedEx refuses to ship it.
“This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals,” FedEx spokesperson Scott Fiedler wrote in a statement. “We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated.”
But buying, selling, or using the Ghost Gunner isn’t illegal, nor is owning an AR-15 without a serial number, says Adam Winkler, a law professor at UCLA and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America. “This is not that problematic,” he says. “Federal law does not prohibit individuals from making their own firearms at home, and that includes AR-15s.”
I got the Schrade Key Chain Pry Tool as a birthday gift and it’s been on my keychain since. It’s about 3.25 inches long and about an inch at its widest. It has several tools including: pry tool, bottle opener, seat belt cutter, screw-driver, and a wrench driver that accommodates a variety of bolt/nut diameters.
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