I've tried a few times to make useful yet portable things out of wood and never really succeeded. To cut a long story short, what I never realized was that handsaws sold in home improvement stores are worse than useless, and all I needed to do was get something else.
The Gyokucho Ryoba Saw — itself $20 or so at Amazon — changed everything for me. Instead of crude, difficult, frustratingly slow cuts irrespective of grain, it glided through so easily that woodworking became instantly fun and creative instead of a grueling waste of effort.
To woodworking naifs like myself, the Japanese design might be alarming at first: you cut on the pull instead of the push, and (at least on this type of saw) there's a second set of teeth instead of a reinforced back. One set's filed to rip with the grain, the other to make crosscuts. I got used to it in moments, and so will you.
I'd almost forked out $100 on a fancy backsaw, but I doubt I'll ever need something like that now even if I spend the rest of life sawing random lengths of wood in my garage.
The first things I've made: a workbench, two radiator covers and a new desk.
Woohoo! I know these are beginners' work, but these items are solid, stable, and exactly what I wanted. Dirt cheap too: perhaps $30 of wood each. (The $200+ cost of custom-fitting covers for big old radiators is what motivated me here).
Honestly this thing makes sawing wood so easy it's like playing fucking Minecraft. Read the rest
I can't wait to make something out of wood using Matthias Wandel's ingenious solution to the greatest division in human society: the Metric and Imperial Unified Ruler.
Metric people like nice convenient units, decimal, and being able to make easy calculations. Inches people like complicated fractional units. So I have come up with a new ruler to unite the two. It has nice millimeter and centimeter sized increments, but uses inches as the scale. I present to you, my new universal fractional ruler! The centimeter and millimeter sized divisions are labeled with fractional inch units.
Not to be confused with fractional rulers [Amazon]; this is much more useish! Read the rest
I want to go there.
My favorite pan is a Wagner I got at Goodwill in San Francisco.
I especially like to refinish cast iron waffle irons.
(Thanks, David Wolfberg!) Read the rest
This enameled cast iron dutch oven should last longer than we do.
I use a dutch oven for baking sourdough bread and cooking with my sous vide circulator. It is also wonderful for cassoulet, which I have been challenged to prepare by a young lady this week...
Second or third in-line behind my cast iron skillet, the enameled Dutch oven is one of my most-used kitchen tools.
The lid is only rated to 450F because of the button-style handle on top. Replace it with a stainless one and the whole deal is good to go at 500F.
Vremi Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Pot with Lid - 6 Quart Capacity Deep Large Ovenproof - Red via Amazon Read the rest
x6udpngx's x6ud is a single-purpose search engine that offers high-quality animal photographs for use by artists seeking reference material. It also has a 3D head that you can rotate Read the rest
Everyday carry? From Atlas Obscura:
This CIA-issued tool kit was issued to CIA officers during the height of the Cold War. It was a way for spies to get themselves out of sticky situations: to pick a lock, carve a tunnel, etc. Watch the video above to learn more about the tool kit from historian and curator of the International Spy Museum, Dr. Vince Houghton.
(Thanks for the laff, tuhu!)
Read the rest
A couple of years ago, I was asked if I'd like to review the reMarkable tablet. If you're unfamiliar with it, the reMarkable is an E Ink slate and pen solution that provides a digital note taking and sketching solution that feels eerily close to writing on paper. I was excited to take it for a spin: despite the fact that I type for a living, my note taking and a good chunk of my writing is decidedly old school.
So far, I've had no luck in finding any hardware solution that serves me better than a piece of paper and a fountain pen can. Unfortunately, at its release, the reMarkable wasn't all that remarkable. While the latency of the tablet's E Ink display and pen were close to non-existent, the rest of its software felt under baked. The UI was far from intuitive. It functioned as an e-reader, but only barely. While you could export what you'd written to a smartphone or computer, there was no way to edit the text once it was there. It felt like a slog to use. I asked a colleague in Canada if he'd like to give it a try. I mailed it out to him and, a few weeks later, it came back to me, marked not "deliverable." I didn't have time to ship it out again as I was preparing to spend several months on the road. I threw it into the back of my workspace's storage cupboard. It lurked there until today. Read the rest
Steve of Miller Knives found an extremely rusty old Estwing hammer at a flea market and restored it beautifully. The process is the product.
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The LockPickingLaweyer modified a cheap battery-powered pumpkin-carving saw into a rather effective electric lock pick!
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I've been using these silicone dish scrubbers for about a year. They are far less gross than sponges.
All the tales of sponge-nastiness got to me last year. I decided that some silicone scrubbers were worth trying out, and a small expense if they did not work out.
These silicone scrubbers work fantastically!
Pictured are the two that currently live in my sink. The blue one gets more use, but both have been aggressively used for scrubbing over the last 12 months. They have not worn out, they have not become so fouled or toxic that I've had to toss one. There are still 3 others in my kitchen drawer waiting to be employed.
The only trick I find to cleaning with these, is that silicone scrubbers don't hold soap like a sponge does, so I'm either applying soap several times during a big wash-up, or I capture a bowl of soapy water at the beginning of cleaning.
You can just rise these off in the sink with water, but every few dishwasher loads I throw one or the other of the scrubbers into the machine. They come out almost as-new. I have heard tales of folks boiling these, but the dishwasher seems to handle it.
I still use a sponge sometimes, but these are where the cleaning starts.
INNERNEED Food-Grade Silicone Non Stick Dishwashing Brush Kitchen Dish Cleaning (5 mix color) via Amazon Read the rest
If you bake, or diet, this $10 food scale is super helpful to have around.
There was a crepe recipe I really wanted to try, but everything was all in measured grams. I am far too lazy to bother converting the 3 or 4 ingredients from grams to ounces, even with the help of Alexa in my kitchen. Luckily, I had this cheap food scale sitting around.
The included batteries were dead by the time I got around to trying this out, but everything else about the scale is exactly as ordered. You can turn this scale on. You may also zero this scale out. If desired you may easily swap from metric to imperial measurements. The scale turns off automatically, if you forget to do so yourself.
I have been told that baking-by-weight is far superior to baking-by-feel.
Etekcity Digital Kitchen Scale Multifunction Food Scale, 11lb 5kg, Silver, Stainless Steel (Batteries Included) via Amazon Read the rest
I keep this Zippo Axe/Saw/Mallet in my camper van. It comes in really handy. Read the rest
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 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
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
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