Tara Tiger Brown is the founder of nonprofit organization LA Makerspace, the premier STEAM service provider for the Los Angeles Public Library. She’s also the co-founder of Kithub, creative electronics kits for kids, and co-founder of Connected Camps, which has online camps for kids including a Minecraft coding club.
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For years seeing a Torx head, that starry topped bolt of frustration, gave me pause.
I always seemed to be missing the right size Torx wrench! If I had the right size, it lacked the security dimple. This 13 piece Torx set is my solution.
Home electronics frequently want the T6-T8 stuff. Security bolts on my personalized license plates are in the T40-T50 range. Torx keys, or wrenches, are something I use just frequently enough to have been buying, and losing individually. This set has already saved me several trips to the hardware store.
The chrome plated ends are resisting the sea air out here very nicely, and even after a year or two, the set looks new. The long length of the handles on the keys comes in very handy, allowing you to reach many of the deepest-set screws by electronics companies. The grippy material is grippy. The holding case keeps them organized and allows me to resist the urge to just keep a key or two in my desk's pencil tray (there is a T6 there from a solo tool run years ago.)
No longer does seeing a Torx head make me sigh.
Included in the set are sizes: T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T15, T20, T25, T27, T30, T40, T45, and T50. The ends are dimpled for security screws.
Titan 12715 Extra-Long Arm Tamper Resistant Star Key Set - 13 Piece via Amazon Read the rest
Using a whisk makes for better beaten eggs, hot chocolate, and the list goes on. I avoided using my wire whisks because the cleaning was always a bit more trouble than I cared for. Having been introduced to the kitchen wonder that is silicone, I am now happily whisking away.
For $13 lucky dollars this simple set of 4 whisks, 2 larger and 2 smaller, can not be beat. They simple rinse off under hot water. If I've used them on something more sticky, they don't take much effort to clean. They also successfully come clean in the dishwasher's utensil tray, my wire whisks do not.
Silicone Coated Wire Whisk with Stainless Steel Handles, Set of 4, Colorful via Amazon Read the rest
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.) Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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.
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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!) Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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 Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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. Read the rest
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 Read the rest
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).
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