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

A brief history of hand drills

Hand powered drilling tools and machines is a fascinating jaunt through the history of drills, from the dawn of man until the age of electricity. Oddly, it omits Push Drills, which are by far the best type of hand drill for small (less than 1/4") projects in wood and other soft material. Check it out:

If you're just here looking to build houses off the grid or in the zombie apocalypse or after a Trump tweet triggers global nuclear catastrophe, get a decent metal geared drill; the cheap ones are glorified egg whisks. Read the rest

Maker Update #46: Make an Rapa Nui 3D printed bobblehead

Paige Russell used the free, easy-to-use 3D modeling program Tinkercad to make a 3D printed bobblehead based on a Rapa Nui moai. That's just one of the tools and projects that Donald Bell presented this week in Maker Update. Show notes here.

Read the rest

Bic Cristal Xtra Bold is the best cheap pen

I've always hated Bic's cheap Cristal ballpoint pens as much as I've wanted to love them. An iconic example of 20th-century design genius, they are unreliable, ubiquitous, and produce a nasty debossed line even when they work. But look, everyone: they fixed it. Read the rest

Lockdown tool prevents ladders from kicking out

Ladder lockdown is a metal tray with super-grippy patches on its underside; set it down on any surface (including ice!) and then set your ladder's feet in the tray and cinch it in place and the ladder won't "kick out" and injure you and your loved ones. Read the rest

Review: Quickie Jobsite Broom

As a man, the idea of buying a decent broom filled me with a billowing resentment, a lockjawed defiance at the very notion of replacing pointless labor with quality tools. I liked forcing results from a feeble polyester-fringed stick that would fold like a garden hose if pushed too hard.

When the last one broke, though, I was in a dreadful hurry and ended up grabbing the first one I saw under the false impression it was like $5.97. But it wasn't! It was $19.99. Twenty fucking dollars!

Even as I stormed from the checkout to the car, though, the weight of it in my hands began whispering to me. Seducing me. Talking to me about the dust it would move, the way it might put even the heaviest clods of muck in their place.

Within minutes of deployment on its first job (lawnmower clipping overflow) I was smitten. Something that once took minutes (shoveling my grass dust onto someone else's property) now took a fraction of the time. I immediately rushed to the back of the house to see if it could move the soggy little dunes of mud accreting on the edges of my crappy brick pathway. It did.

Lifting it to glint in the sunlight, I envisaged a science-fictional future wherein, firearms prohibited by the vast and sprawling mechanisms of a progressive world government, the last real men develop elaborate martial arts that turn everyday brooms, like this one, into brutally subversive instruments of self-defense and political self-determination. Read the rest

Use these handy bits to drill out stripped screws and bolts

When a bolt or screw is stripped, I drill it out with this extractor set.

When working on old motorcycles, or just my old VW bus, I encounter a lot of stuck screws and bolts. Frequently prior mechanics have left fastners completely rounded off. When these things happen, I grab my drill.

These extractor bits both burnish the stripped head, and then screw into it and extract it. They are not simple to use, and it takes a very steady hand -- something I don't always have -- but slow and patient work generally produces good results.

Speed Out Extractor HSS Broken Bolt and Damaged Screw Extractor via Amazon Read the rest

This 10mm battery terminal ratchet makes my eternal screwing up less painful

My cars and bikes have the batteries in hard to reach places. This 10mm battery terminal rachet helps out!

In prepping the Vanagon Westy for a long roadtrip, I found I've killed my house battery. I ordered up a replacement but dreaded getting into the battery box. In a Vanagon, Volkswagen hides the batteries underneath the passenger and drivers seats. Getting at these battery terminals is a comedy of errors and blood. I'd go so far as to say the blood was compulsatory until I got this handy rachet at Harbor Freight.

It is small. It fits where I need it to. It is a rachet, and as such I am not constantly trying to re-seat the fucker while zapping myself against a grounded battery box in a thoughtlessly engineered tight space. At least VW put a cover on the battery box, albiet a conductive metal one. My '78 Audi 5000, the model with occasional self-determination, had a passenger bench burnt with splashed battery acid from another VW/Audi underseat battery adventure.

10mm Side-Terminal Battery Reversible Ratchet Wrench Chrome-Plated via Amazon Read the rest

Man takes the "cheapest" survival tool kit into the woods

Wranglerstar found the cheapest survival toolkit on Amazon, then took it into the wilds of the Pacific Northwest. There's a shovel, a saw, a magnetic LED flashlight with a tactical hitty thing and a USB outlet for charging gadgets, a pocket chainsaw, and a bag— all for $30. It's not awful, but the price didn't last.

Reviewing "cheapest" gear, I've noticed that the sellers are watching and sometimes jack the prices when a site or YouTuber with any audience posts something, as appears to be the case with this particular viral video. This will probably force reviewers to post roundups of cheap gear, so readers can easily figure out the "cheapest decent thing" from a fair selection.

Previously: The $7 Verical Ergonomic mouse is not awful. Read the rest

Sometimes a cheap plastic drain snake will save the day

My daughter has long hair. This cheap drain snake has cleared a number of plugged bathroom sinks, and our tub. The snake drags out a lot of hair. Perhaps because it is so "supple."

When it is the kitchen sink, and dishwasher, that aren't clearing however, you may need to call a plumber. :(

Vastar 3 Pack 19.6 Inch Drain Snake Hair Drain Clog Remover Cleaning Tool via Amazon Read the rest

Easy to use bicycle chain tool

Guess how I'm spending Saturday morning? This bicycle chain tool works for both my road bike and my mountain bike that loves to break its chain.

Oumers Universal Bike Chain Tool With Chain Hook via Amazon Read the rest

A multitool that's also a belt-buckle

SOG's $60 Sync II "wearable belt buckle" multitool isn't the only multitool/buckle on the market, but it does add a couple very sensible innovations, like a clip-on/clip-off base that lets you use your tool without taking off your belt, and a squared-off form factor (like a pair of folding travel sewing scissors) that adapts the folded tool for the buckle form-factor. Read the rest

More posts