"Big T" measuring tape looks like Mr. T

The Fisco "Big T" measuring tape resembles Mr T. "I pity the rule." Read the rest

Easy to use, camping and emergency fire starter

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

$3.50 magnetic clip light beats a flashlight for many uses


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).

Read the rest

Multitool in a hair-clip

The $10 Monkey Business Clippa Mini Tools Clip is a hair-clip with a sawblade, trolley coin, wrench, phillips screwdriver, ruler, and eyeglass screwdriver. Read the rest

FedEx won't ship milling machine that makes untraceable guns

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.”

Read the rest

Schrade Key Chain Pry Tool: a half-ounce multitool

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. Read the rest

Bifocal safety glasses

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] Read the rest

Dark mornings: tool to help you calculate gloomy commutes

The toughest part of the Winter season isn't the cold, the blues, or December's annual cramming of a full month's work plus last-minute whatevers into three actual work weeks (are you on Boing Boing pre-holiday procrastinating? Hey, me too!) The hard part is commuting in the dark. Read the rest

Want to try making a video game? Visit the Sorting Hat

If you have ever read anything I've written about video games, you will have heard me insert notations about the democratization of tools. The business of making games used to necessitate access to bureaucratic, white-guys-only organizations and their social and professional lexicons. But now there are radical tools that anyone can use to make games about anything they want.

That's good in theory, but how do you know where to start? Developer Zoe Quinn has made a simple new online utility designed to help experimental developers and new creators alike see which tools are right for their vision. Sortingh.at makes recommendations depending on your aspirations and existing abilities, and also provides links to resources online you can use to learn how to use those tools.

Lowering traditional barriers to entry and de-mystifying aspects of game creation is a great way to welcome new creators to the table in a space that arguably needs some fresh voices and different perspectives. Read the rest

Innovation in lockpicks: the "hall pass" and the EOD speed-picking set

The Hall Pass is a stainless steel, credit-card-sized pick designed to be slid between the door and the jamb (saving you from cracking your credit cards); the EOD is an extensive speed-pick set that is nevertheless optimized for portability and compactness. Read the rest

An Introduction to Hand Saws

Steve Hoefer offers another tutorial in basic skills that everyone should know.

Gerber's money clip/utility knife

I've used a money-clip for years as an alternative to a wallet, and the idea of having a small, sharp blade (Gerber makes great tools!) built into it is immensely appealing, especially given the copious positive reviews for Gerber's $19.26 version (but I worry that I'd forget it and lose it to a TSA checkpoint). Read the rest

Foolproof tool sharpening

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. Read the rest

How to stay safe in the workshop

Steve Hoefer still has all his fingers.

Guide To Wire Strippers

Steve Hoefer explains how to use your teeth to... wait, that's what he says not to do.

Carabiner box-cutter with a ceramic blade

Slice's $19 box-cutter is a clever design -- a combination of carabiner and a knife, with a long-lasting, replaceable ceramic blade. It comes in orange and yellow, and gets myriad positive reviews.

Slice 10400 Box Cutter with Ceramic Blade (via Canopy) Read the rest

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 Read the rest

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