Look behind the scenes of how a Swiss Army Knife is made

Yes, a PR video and yes, the music is kind of terrible. But man, I learned so much watching this video churned out by the folks at Victorinox. Given the ubiquitous nature of the Swiss Army knife, I'm surprised by how much of the tool's production is still done with human intervention. Being as the video was only produced two years ago, I have to assume that they're still making their knives in the same manner. If anyone knows different, I'd love to hear about it.

If you've ever owned a Swiss Army Knife or want to understand more about how an iconic piece of hardware is created, taking in this 13-minute film is time well-spent. Read the rest

I love my Opinel No. 8 pocket knives

I keep an Opinel No. 8 pocket knife in most of my jackets. This one has been with me for years.

I buy Opinel No. 8 pocket knives for a lot of reasons. They are elegant in their simplicity. The carbon steel blade is excellent, stays sharp and develops a lovely patina. The handle is a simple piece of wood that fits well in your hand. The locking neck ring is pretty ingenious, and down right fool-proof if you use it.

Best of all, they are cheap and I don't mind losing them when I've forgotten to remove one on its way to the airport. The "No.8" 3.35in blade, perfect for most of my camping needs, is not allowed to board a plane on my person. Frequently, like last weekend, the heroic defenders of democracy that are the TSA just let me pass thru, but on occasion they will confiscate it.

I've had this blade since 2012. The patina started out by stabbing a lemon, but over the years has taken on a life of its own. While the ink on the side of the handle has slightly worn off, this knife just keeps getting better.

I hope I don't lose this one, it has ranged from Baja to Canada.

You can decorate, carve or otherwise modify the handle to your liking.

Opinel Carbon Steel Folding Everyday Carry Locking Pocket Knife via Amazon Read the rest

Watch how easy it is to break into this $100 "smart" lock

Tapplock sells a fingerprint-enabled padlock for $100. Zack was able to defeat it quickly and quietly by twisting off the back plate and removing a couple of screws. Ouch. Read the rest

This is the best NSFW explanation of the Florida bridge collapse

If you like sweary Canadians with lots of knowledge about building materials and construction, Arduino versus Evil has the most interesting armchair analysis of what caused the Florida International University bridge collapse. Read the rest

Watch this incredible restoration of an extremely rusty butcher's knife

YouTuber Andre Will Do It found a butcher's knife that was coated in rust, with pitting over 2 millimeters deep on both sides. He almost gave up before eventually restoring it to excellent working condition. Read the rest

This water filter is going in my bug out bag

You should have a Sawyer Mini water filter in your emergency supplies.

As a life-long camping gadget freak, the Sawyer Mini may be one of the best tools I've seen yet. Weighing in at only 2oz the Mini will filter 100,000 gallons of water with only minimal maintenance. No awful to use UV lights, no crazy big pump. Just squeeze a bag of water through the filter into your waterbottle.

The base kit comes with one 16oz reusable squeeze pouch. You'll likely want to get a few larger bags, I like the 64oz for fairly easy filling in a river or lake, and also being a decent size of water to process in one quick sitting. If you have running or gravity fed water that needs filtration, you can also splice the Mini in.

The Mini has a .1 micron filter, and Sawyer claims "this filter was tested to 10 million parts of bacteria and one million parts of protozoa without a single breakthrough — the highest testing level for filtration." The water doesn't taste like chemicals. I remember a boy scout Sierra backpacking trip and iodine purification tablets galore. Gah!

For under $20 no emergency survival kit should be without one of these filters.

Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

Cotton balls turned into a colorful garden tool handle

Peter Brown decided to dye some cotton balls, soak them in resin, then turn the resulting form on a lathe to make a delightful colored handle for a refurbished garden tool. Read the rest

QuillBot is "a smart thesaurus for sentences"

QuillBot rewrites phrases, making it easy to tweak results and understand what it's up to in each variation.

Four and seven years ago our fathers gave birth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and consecreated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Let's try that America. Read the rest

This $12 set of 45 screw-driving bits gets a lot of use

Whenever I have to turn a screw, I turn to this easy-to-find, yellow box of bits.

Flat? Phillips? Torx? Square? Any time I run into a standard-style screw head that needs turning I reach for my drill and add one of these bits. There is a pretty fair assortment, though some repetition, of sizes and shapes in this yellow box.

The metal the bits are made of? Good enough. What I really like? The "tough" plastic case! I dunno how tough canary yellow is, but it is easy to find in my tool bag, or left about the house.

I also have a black box of bits, I can never find them. Yellow it is!

DEWALT DW2166 45-Piece Screwdriving Set with Tough Case via Amazon

Image via Amazon Read the rest

Midori Traveler’s Notebook, an invaluable tool from Japan

I traveled to Japan to buy a notebook.

As a tech journalist and hardware reviewer, my primary function is to tell you whether or not the products you may be thinking of buying are, in a word, shit. It’s not typically a job that requires I leave my home. Hardware companies or my employers have products shipped out to me. I play with them for a few weeks, or less. Then, most of the time, I ship the stuff back to make room for more stuff. Occasionally, I’m offered the opportunity to travel for work: a cellphone company might be showing off a new version of something they released last year. Sometimes, a well known company wants to give me a peek behind the curtain to see how they build the things that I'll wind up calling shit somewhere down the road. Such an instance happened this past August. I was asked by a well-known peddler of audio equipment if I’d be willing to travel to Japan to take a look at something new they’d been cooking up. I agreed, but warned that if they didn’t show me anything compelling while I visited their manufacturing facility, I wouldn’t be writing a story. They agreed to the terms.

A few weeks and a long flight in coach later, I was in Japan. I’d been sent an itinerary a week before I was due to fly. It detailed a stacked week of factory tours, site seeing and cultural events. In the middle of all of the goings on, was a single day where I could do whatever I damn well pleased while I was in Tokyo. Read the rest

Slicing and dicing with an 8" santoku knife

I was told that chopping vegetables and fruits would be easier with a Santoku knife. For $25 I gave it a shot. Read the rest

Fantastic $7 Victorinox paring knife

This $7 paring knife feels good in my hand, and unlike my other paring knives it is not lost.

In my home, paring knives disappear almost as frequently as socks and Apple Lightning cables. I was buying really cheap replacements at the dollar store, but they'd pretty much come apart in my dishwasher after a few cycles. This Victorinox will be lost long before it breaks.

Victorinox 3.25 Inch Paring Knife with Straight Edge, Spear Point, Black via Amazon Read the rest

A $6 tool for easily hanging pictures

The Hang and Level is a pretty great tool for hanging pictures, mirrors and the like.

Every piece of art I hung in my near-an-active-fault-line home would go crooked in days, or hours. I got a Hang and Level, and now most of them stay in place. With built in levels, and easy press tabs to mark the wall, it is hard to go wrong -- but I still can.

Hang and Level picture hanging tool via Amazon Read the rest

Williams Sonoma Reversible Meat Tenderizer

Williams Sonoma's $30 "Reversible Meat Tenderizer" is described on its website as an "impressively weighty pounder" and "two tools in one." (It's also available on Amazon as the Leifheit Pro Meat Tenderizer Tool)

One side is smooth for flattening meats and poultry; the opposite side has “teeth” for tenderizing. Triple-plated-chrome construction over a zinc core adds heft.

Flattens and tenderizes meats and crushes other foods such as garlic and nuts. Ergonomic handle provides leverage and a comfortable grip. Crafted of dishwasher-safe chrome with a zinc core.

It's 6 and one quarter inches "high".

Read the rest

The best way to get rid of dog hair is this rubbery sponge

Though it looks like a normal sponge, the Gonzo Pet Hair Lifter – a brick of latex mattress material – has a peculiar tacky texture. It's easy to mistake for other "clever" sponge products, such as those covered in suede, cellulose or microfiber or whatever, but it's much better for dealing with fuzz. It's the most effective thing for dealing with dog hair I've ever tried, in fact, and I'll never go back to adhesive lint rollers or static brushes after risking $6 on it. Read the rest

Recommended: Ifixit's Pro Tech Toolkit

Ifixit's Pro Tech Toolkit comes with 64 specialized screw bits that help my wife and I get into many restricted areas of technology.

The carrying case rolls out like a sleeping bag, with the goodies neatly tucked into tiny canvas holders, and the clever container that holds the bits is held to the carrying case by a magnet – easily detached when needed.

The set is intelligently designed; one flexible extender allows you to unscrew at 90 degree angles, perfect for working in the tight confines of a PC case. Read the rest

I interviewed my sister for the Cool Tools podcast. Here are 4 of her favorite tools

On the Cool Tools Show podcast, Kevin Kelly and I interviewed my sister, Wendy, about some of her favorite tools.

Our guest this week is Wendy Frauenfelder. Wendy likes to cook, fix things, pretend to be a bartender, and do therapy dog work. She also is fascinated with wild yeast and slow food.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

Stanley 66-358 Stanley Stubby Ratcheting MultiBit Screwdriver ($10) "I always keep a screwdriver in the kitchen, just so that I don't have to go to the garage if I something inside the house that I need to work on. So this is my new screwdriver inside the house, and there's a couple things I like. First, it's small. It's like four-and-a-half inches long, and so it fits in a junk drawer really easily. The second thing I really like about it is it's a ratcheting screwdriver. So, if you're fixing a knob on a cabinet or something you don't have to spin it around in your hand, you can just kind of ratchet it in, which I love. But you can also make it just a steady, regular kind of screwdriver. Then the third thing that I love about it is you unscrew the cap on the top of the screwdriver and inside are five other tips. So you've got three Phillips head and three regular screwdriver tips, and they vary from pretty tiny to large and fat, and they're right there in the cap, so you can grab your screwdriver without knowing what kind of screw you've gotta work on, and you'll have the right tip."

24 oz Mason Drinking Jar & Stainless Steel Straw ($10.50) "It's actually a Ball jar, not a mason jar, and then it's got the regular kind of screw-on lid, but whoever made this took the little flat part of the lid on top and put a rivet in it and made a hole so you can stick a straw in there. Read the rest

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