One of my most useful tools is invisible, infinitely recyclable, and free — well, in a sense. It’s AIR. You do need another substantial tool (compressor) to use it; but then endlessly refilling your tank only costs the electricity or other fuel to run it. A compressor has so many uses for any serious “maker” that any list is bound to be wildly incomplete. I got my first (largish) machine decades ago to blow water out of copper plumbing pipes that needed soldering.
You only need a hose and cheap end fittings for simple tasks like pressurizing tires and balls, blowing dust out of computer/electronic innards, wood/metal chips out of deeply drilled holes, debris from vehicle vents, clogged vacuum cleaner filters, etc. etc. I’ve also found multiple uses for spray paint gun, abrasive cutoff tool (for metal), air hammer, ratcheting wrench, impact driver (nearly essential if you do any vehicle tire work). My air powered stapler, finish nailer and framing nailer have seen much use in carpentry and fence construction over the years; many other specialized air powered tools exist. When I no longer needed the large compressor, I replaced it with a more compact, less capacious unit that’s incapable of large flow tasks like spraying paint, but still incredibly valuable for almost everything else. Compressors (electric or gas powered) are widely available new and used, from under $100 to well over $1000 — pick a size and quality proportional to the sustained air flow (CFM) you need and how heavily it will be used. Read the rest
Duralex is a French manufacturer of glassware, tableware and cookware. Picardie is one of the lines of of glassware they sell, and it is actually somewhat famous on their own, for good reason. I have had sets of the 3 3/4 oz. and the 12 oz. glasses for about 12 years.
They are made from tempered glass, like car windshields, so they are tough and resistant to breaking and chipping. They will survive most falls from table-height, even onto stone or tile floors. In fact I have yet to break one, and I have gone through perhaps six wine glasses in the same time. When they do break, they break into little squarish pebbles rather than sharp shards. (But that is not unique to Duralex.)
They come in nine different sizes, from little 3 oz. Old-Fashioned glasses to 16 oz. tumblers.
They are relatively thin and light, their strength notwithstanding.
They nest and stack nicely.
The faceted, swelling design makes the glasses easy to hold, even for small hands, and even when wet.
They have an absolutely classic design. They might be the only glasses that people will actually recognize. I saw something very like them in a painting by van Gogh.
There are no bads as such. They might only be the second toughest glasses there are (the first might be the Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar line, which resembles the Picardie line, but doesn't have exactly the same familiar design. Especially, the lip is thicker, which makes them subtly less comfortable to drink from.) Read the rest
After 5 years of pretty much exclusively using my Bodum teapot I have gotten so used to it I only notice the process when I’m not at home and have to use a different teapot.
I like having a big pot of tea sitting on my desk while I work on the computer but with most teapots the tea continues to gain in strength the longer it stays in the pot; unless you want to outright remove the tea which is nothing but a hot mess. This is the best teapot in my experience for being able to brew tea that can stay in the pot but not continue steeping and increasing in strength.
The system is very simple, the strainer inside the teapot has no holes in its bottom section so when the plunger is fully depressed the tea cannot continue to soak in the water as it has been cut off and sealed in the bottom of the strainer.
I use it whenever I’m at home and can have 1 liter of tea that is of a consistent strength sitting on my desk, making the only other issue I have to deal with the fact that eventually it will go cold which is an issue I have not found a solution to other than drinking the tea.
I was not able to find the exact porcelain model I have online anymore, it seems like Bodum may have discontinued it but they make the same size and shape pot out of borosilicate glass (the stuff pyrex is made from) so if anything its now stronger and more shatter resistant if dropped plus since its now clear you can see exactly how much tea is left in the pot. Read the rest
I have always hated Teflon pans even before hearing how bad it was for you. They just don’t hold up well and the alternative has always been keeping a very well seasoned cast iron pan. I have done this for years, but it takes a fair amount of attention, and is still not a perfect non stick solution. I started trying some of the ceramic coated pans a few years back and have found one to be the best, the Scanpan ($98, Amazon). They are not cheap but I have used their classic fry pan to make eggs every morning for a couple years and the coating looks as good as new and as I have added others to my collection I find that they are the ones I reach for every time. They clean as easy as brand new Teflon pans, come in a variety of handle and lid styles, and hold up better and have none of the toxicity. -- Alexander Rose Read the rest
Millions suffer in silence as the freakin’ MagSafe magnet in Mac notebooks turns out not to be strong enough, so every time you shift on the couch it falls out. I don’t know if you have this problem, but many of us are very frustrated that the magnet is not as strong enough as it was in the old days.
There was a successful Kickstarter thing called a Snuglet. It’s a shim, it looks like a staple. This tiny liner for the MagSafe jack, through some miracle of physics, amplifies the magnetic grip of the power plug so that it does not fall out unless you really kick the power cord or trip on it or something, which was the original idea. -- David Pogue
This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast with David Pogue. See all of David's picks here. Read the rest
The Gerber E-Z Out Jr Knife ($22) has been my daily carry knife for 16 years. It is a small light weight belt clip knife with a serrated blade that lets me cut anything from paper to rope and straps. The thumb slot in the blade allows you to open the knife one handed. The lock release makes it easy to fold the blade back in one handed. The belt clip is handy but secure. - Peter Lucas
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Looney Pyramids (formerly known as “Icehouse Pyramids”) are a system of plastic board game playing pieces. They come in a variety of colors (10 are commonly available) and 3 sizes and are sold in sets. The pieces can be used like a deck of cards for boardgames with the rules for over 300 games utilizing them already published online.
The publishers, Looney Labs, also greatly encourage their fans and customers to create their own games using the pieces. I have created a few myself and entered design contests that are fan run and intended to expand the Pyramid game world. As a means for creating your own boardgame or just a versatile system to playing hundreds of games, they are a fantastic investment of your entertainment dollar. -- Sam Zitin Read the rest
First off, this leash is incredibly comfortable to hold. You wouldn’t think so by looking at it but I have walked, run, skied and bushwhacked with it in every season and you hardly know it’s there. Part of it is the soft rubber coating on the handle but it’s mostly the moulded shape that snugs right into your palm.
Next, it is very strong. When my 65 lb male Samoyed goes after a squirrel, the half inch wide, spring loaded belt pays out until it reaches the end and whammo: full stop, no problem. I haven’t cracked the case to see how the end of the belt attaches to the reel but it has stood up to this punishment nearly every day for several years now. Of course, this also speaks to how the spring-loaded, stainless steel D clip is fastened to the dog end of the belt: it’s looped through, folded back and crimped with a plastic clamshell.
The leash has an elegant locking-mechanism that works reliably and intuitively by pushing a button with your thumb and then engaging a switch. This locks the belt at whatever length you want, and yep, it holds firm when charging dog meets end of leash. The belt is released just by pushing the switch again. Both setting and releasing the length are easy to do with one gloved hand.
When you run, walk or ski with your dog, the reel constantly pays out and retrieves slack (unless you’ve set the lock) so the belt rarely gets tangled the way other leashes can. Read the rest
You don’t want to mess with your phone much while driving, period. Read the rest
For years, I was frustrated by stripped screw holes, particularly with wooden doors. To get a screw to stay in the stripped hole, I stuffed wood pieces, plastic anchors, basically anything I could find that would fit in the hole. Usually the fix failed, and I was again searching for a MacGyver fix. Read the rest
I camp a lot and picked up six Power Pull bungee cords last year.
I thought the pull ring was a good idea after having more than a few regular bungees slip from my hands while stretching. The ring makes these easy to secure. Even better, the ring provides an additional tie down location. This works out great when latching locations are limited. My wife really loves them, a huge plus. A simple, very useful, innovation. -- Patrick Leary Read the rest
There’s no end to the amount you can spend on gadgetry for child-rearing, and yet I’ve been amazed at the poor design and shoddy construction that seems to dominate even the high-end of the parental gear spectrum. Read the rest
It’s a bit weighty but has stood true through every scenario I have been able to expose it to.
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
I bought my first Zojirushi stainless steel mug as a Christmas gift for my wife. She likes to take a lot of coffee with her to work for the day, typically filling both a travel mug and a thermos. I was looking for something that would keep a couple of servings of coffee hot for a long time, but would be easier to drink from than a traditional thermos. I came across this product, with extremely good reviews, and decided to get one for her to try. Read the rest
It doesn’t have stereo reception or digital tuning or even a darn clock, but my little Sony Pocket Radio has been going strong for a decade. A pair of AA batteries supplies me with months of music, news, and sports broadcasts. Its reception is strong and steady, the volume is more than adequate, I’ve dropped it a few times without harming it, and it’s about the price of a sandwich. Sure, I wish it came it cute colors. Yes, it tends to tip over on occasion. And it’s so easy to carry from place to place that my biggest complaint is that I sometimes don’t know where I left it. But in the age of HD and wireless and internet media, this pocket radio proves that stuff doesn’t have to fancy in order to be great. -- Jeremy Jackson Read the rest