Drain Weasel: a solution for hair-clogged sinks

I live in a house with three other people, who have long hair. A lot of it ends up going down the bathroom sink and clogging the drain.

I used to use Zip-It drain cleaners, but I recently tried a Drain Weasel and found it to be much better at getting all the gunky hair out of the pipe.

The business end of the Drain Weasel has a tip of velcro-like fabric. You stick it down the drain and then turn the crank. It will grab all the hair.

The drain cleaning wands are meant to be replaced after each use but the Drain Weasel people said you can clean off the tip, if you dare, and re-use it. As a cheapskate, I cleaned off the tip and it looks good as new, ready for the next clogged sink. Read the rest

Image Scrubber is a website that removes EXIF data and blurs faces in photos

Image Scrubber is a useful website that removes all the identifying metadata from any photograph and gives you the option to blur out certain parts of the photo.

This is a tool for anonymizing photographs taken at protests.

It will remove identifying metadata (Exif data) from photographs, and also allow you to selectively blur parts of the image to cover faces and other identifiable information.

Hit the open button to open a photograph. The program will display the data it is removing.

Click okay, and you can then save the scrubbed image by hitting save or right clicking on it and saving it. Maximum size is 2500x2500 pixels - larger images will be scaled down.

You can select between painting over the image or blurring it out. Dragging on the image will paint on or blur it. You can change your brush size via the slider. The blur function has built-in pixel shuffling/noise and is fairly secure but sensitive information should be covered with the paint tool.

This tool works offline: on a phone you can load the page then turn on airplane mode (or turn off wifi/data) before opening any pictures. On a computer, download the zipped code, open the folder, and open index.html in a browser with the internet turned off.

All processing happens directly in the browser- no information is stored or sent anywhere.

Image: Jumpstory / CC0 Read the rest

The wonderful Flair felt tip pen

Paper Mate introduced the Flair felt tip pen in the 1960s. I liked them when I was a kid because the lines were so clean and you could vary the line width. I kind of forgot about them until I was at Maker Faire and my toy inventor friend, Bob Knetzger, said he uses them to produce his wonderful sketches. They are also cheap! You can buy a dozen black Flair pens or a set of 12 colored ones. Read the rest

Useful wall-mount thread checker

In this Cool Tools video, Sean Michael Ragan reviews a wall-mounted thread-checker - a handy thread verifier for nuts and bolts.

It measures 3" wide by 39" tall, and, like the original version, features both male and female reference threads in a range of standard SAE and metric sizes. It's mounted on a half-inch thick plastic composite board, and the printing is both grease- and waterproof. It has three 5/16” diameter mounting holes for attaching it to the wall, and it is made in the USA, by the same folks who make the original thread checker: S&W Manufacturing of Chicago.

Unlike the original, the wall-mounted version can be used one-handed, which lets you quickly find a particular size in a bin of unsorted fasteners, or identify an unknown thread with one hand while you hold an assembly in the other.

Read the rest

Gigantic tub of 22,000 Perler beads

What are Perler beads and why might you want to buy a big tub of 22,000 thousand? They are tiny colorful plastic cylinders. Each bead is a pixel that you place on a Perler pegboard to make a piece of art. Once you've placed all the beads down, you use a clothes iron to fuse the beads together, so your artwork doesn't fall apart.

The above video shows you a smart way to stack beads on a toothpick for faster beading.

Here are some great Perler bead drawings from around the world:

Perler Bead Majora's Mask by EP-380

Floppy disks by larrieking

Mario Perler beads by TheBeadLord

Mobile phone case by Lovely CraftsDIY

Perler beads Stormtrooper Star Wars by L000lz

Perler bead camera coasters by Maker Crate

Perler beads tree and mobile by Idee Creative

8-Bit Pixel Art Christmas Baubles by adamcrockett

Plus, imagine the fun of sorting 22,000 Perler beats by color! Read the rest

Useful foldable step stool

This foldable step stool is 11 inches high, and is only 1.5 inches thick when folded up. It has replaced a non-folding plastic step stool that we'd kept in on the floor in the closet. It feels very sturdy when I stand on it. Read the rest

Gel super glue is the best kind of super glue

Gel-based super glue is much easier to use than regular super glue because it's thick and easier to control. You can apply a dab to a vertical surface without having it drip. It's also slightly tacky to begin with, which helps to keep parts sticking together without holding them. And because it's thicker, it works well on porous surfaces, like the ones on this elephant coffee creamer that one of our cats broke. The kind I use is Gorilla Super Glue Gel. Read the rest

This is the Cadillac of cat litter scoops

I bought a Durascoop cat litter scoop about five years ago because the little plastic scoop I’d been using for a couple of years had gotten flimsy from use and would often buckle at the handle.

The Durascoop is made from cast aluminum and will never bend. It easily shaves off hardened clumps of litter from that litter box that would cause a plastic scoop to fold in half. It’s actually a beautiful looking tool, too. If Raymond Loewy designed a scoop, it would look like this (except maybe the handle wouldn’t be covered with textured plastic). Read the rest

I've had this inexpensive chef's knife for 4 years and it's my favorite

Four years ago I bought this inexpensive 8-inch Winco chef's knife. I'm still using it today, and it's my favorite kitchen knife. I like the heaviness of it, and it sharpens quickly and holds an edge for a long time. Read the rest

Easy-to-clean minimalist kitchen scale, weighs up to 13 pounds

I like cooking and have always made most of the family's meals from scratch. Now I'm making even more meals from scratch and recipes sometimes call for ingredients by weight. The absence of protruding buttons on the surface of this digital kitchen scale makes it easy to wipe down. The graduation is 0.1oz/1g, and can weigh things up to 13 lbs. Read the rest

World's best jar lid opener

The reason it's hard to open jar lids is that the vacuum seal is pulling the lid tightly against the jar. Once in a while, the vacuum seal is so strong that I can't open it. That's when I grab my Jarkey, a plastic lever that effortlessly breaks the seal, making it easy to open. Read the rest

Tiny kitchen-knife sharpener does the trick

I keep the Kitchen IQ Edge Grip 2-Stage Knife Sharpener next to my knife block and run a knife through the "Fine" slot almost every time I cut something. The ceramic rods are arranged at a pre-set angle, which makes it easy to get a serviceably sharp knife. The bottom of the sharpener has a V-channel so you can set it against the edge of a counter. That way you won't smack your knife against the countertop when it slides out of the sharpening slot.

The "Coarse" sharpening slot has carbide blades that will sharpen dull knives in just a few strokes. Just don't use it every time because it eats up your knife blades quickly. Read the rest

Rob Beschizza on the Cool Tools podcast

It was an unparalled thrill to have Boing Boing's own Rob Beschizza on the Cool Tools podcast! Read the show notes at the Cool Tools website. Read the rest

The time I risked my life borrowing a Draft-Matic Mechanical Pencil

I worked as an engineering intern for a couple of summers when I was in college. I shared a cubicle with a draftsperson named Laura. She was obsessed with two things -- being a member in good standing of an outlaw motorcycle gang, and her drafting materials, especially her mechanical pencil. I liked her very much, but one time I made the mistake of borrowing her pencil while she was on a cigarette break. When she came back and discovered me using it she was so mad I thought she was going to stab me with it. I remember her describing the pencil as her "bread and butter." I promised I wouldn't use it again and we got along wonderfully for the rest of the summer.

I'm 99% percent sure the pencil she owned was an Alvin Draft-Matic 5mm. They are available on Amazon, and reviewers love them. I bought one a few years ago and is a pleasure to use and not get hollered at.

If you want to be truly-bad ass, you can get a set of 3 in various lead thicknesses, stored in a "leather-look" pocket pouch. Read the rest

A very useful illuminated hand held magnifier for $3

This $3 handheld magnifying glass has two bright LEDs and is powered by 3 AAA cells (not included). The manufacturer says the magnification is 40X. I think it is less than that, but it is still plenty powerful for my needs - mainly, reading the markings on tiny electrical components and checking the layer fusion on 3D printed parts. I have a few different magnifiers, and this one has quickly become my favorite.

It's not like a regular magnifying glass. It's more like a jeweler's loupe. To use it, you hold it up to your eye and move close to the thing you want to look at.

It even comes with a fake leather pouch.

Read the rest

Silicone mini-pinch bowls have 101 uses

These little silicone rubber bowls come in handy in so many ways.

I use them with my digital scale to measure the bulk powder supplements I take. We use them at the dinner table to hold condiments. We use them while preparing meals to hold spices and minced herbs. I keep finding new ways to use them. For instance, when I fry or scramble eggs, I now crack the eggs over one of these bowls so I can pull out shell pieces and woogers (I wish I had a wooger snatcher but the bowl will have to do). Read the rest

How to get rid of hideous pantry moths

We've been battling pesky pantry moths in our kitchen cupboards. They get into any open container of rice, flour, cereal, chips, nuts, etc. Then they breed in the boxes and bags.

I hate it when I open a cabinet and a couple of moths fly out. It's even worse when I look at a bag of rice, and it is alive with motion.

Lately we've been putting our food into wide-mouth mason jars with these convenient one-piece plastic lids. That has reduced the problem but there are still a few stragglers. So I bought a pack of pantry moth traps. These traps fold into little A-frame houses. The interior is coated with a sticky material that traps the flies. The traps also come with a postage stamp size pheromone lure to fool the pests into thinking a sexy moth is inside waiting for them. These things work well. After using them for a few weeks the only moths I see now are the dead ones stuck to the inside of the traps. Read the rest

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