28 April 2017

img

The Man in Seat 61

Best source for train travel

Train travel is often the best way to get from A to B. It’s civilized, often as fast as flying or faster, and comfortable. But navigating the train schedules and idiosyncracies of train systems around the world is often beyond possible. The Man in Seat 61 is your answer to train travel. A energetic British train enthusiast, Mark Smith, has created a vast website which has become the clearinghouse for train travel world wide. I have used The Man in Seat 61 to figure out and book intercity trains in Vietnam, China, Japan, and Europe. Just about every schedule train in the world is recorded here. For many third world countries, like Burma or Sudan, his website is the *only* place these train fares and schedules exist. For all the countries of the world he does not just list timetables but provides extensive counsel on what each train is like, even recommendations of particular cars or seats to take. The amount of information and guidance is bottomless and priceless, yet the site is free. (You still book directly with the train companies,) If you are contemplating an epic train journey anywhere, or even a short train trip in a country new to you, The Man in Seat 61 will be your best friend.

04/28/17 -- KK

27 April 2017

img

Victorinox Paring Knife with Serrated Edge

Multipurpose serrated paring knife with thin sharp blade

There have been lots of reviews of knives here and elsewhere. This is one of my favorites: the Victorinox serrated paring knife! These are used by commercial fishermen as deck knives. They are affordable enough that we buy them by the box. Sheaths made of popped bouy material are taped at strategic locations around the boat so there is always a knife at hand. It is also common for sheathes be attached to rain gear bib straps or belts. The blade is thin and incredibly sharp. It will cut a 3/4″ hard laid poly line under tension in one pass. They are also great paring and steak knives, incidentally.

04/27/17 -- Bert Stammerjohan

26 April 2017

img

Olight i3E flashlight

Best AAA keychain light

The Olight i3E is a tiny flashlight, meant for a keychain. It is similar to the Streamlight Nano (which I have also owned), so I will compare it to that.

Advantages:

– It takes a single AAA battery, which you are likely to have in your closet already. It can also take AAA size rechargeable NiMH batteries, like the storied Panasonic Eneloops. (It will not take lithium batteries.) The Nano takes weird LR-41 button batteries, which you likely have to order.

– Nonetheless, it is tiny, at about 2.3 inches long. (The Nano is about 1.5 inches long. – It produces far more light than the Nano. The regular versions produce 90 lumens, and the Silver and Copper versions produce 120 lumens. The Streamlight Nano produces 10 lumens.

– (Like the Nano,) it has only two settings: On and Off.

– (Like the Nano,) the switch is just a head that you rotate. But unlike the Nano, the i3E shows no tendency to unscrew itself and thereby disassemble itself in your pocket. The Nano is notorious for dropping the head and batteries somewhere without your noticing, leaving only the rear case attached to your keychain. The usual remedy was a few turns of Teflon plumber’s tape.

– It has an actual TIR (Total Internal Reflection) lens, a combination reflector and lens which together provides a nice, narrow beam pattern, with a very bright hot spot and usable light in a cone around it. The lens also protects the LED from dust and wear. The Nano looks like it could have a reflector, but it really has a bare LED with its molded on lens. Accordingly, its throw pattern is less focused, and can throw glare in your eyes.

– It is relatively cheap, at only $13 or so, although the Nano is about $9.

Disadvantages: – It only has one setting, on or off. It doesn’t have a low or high setting. Olight has similar lights with hi/lo/medium settings, but they are bigger and more expensive.

– The twist switch (as such) is a little awkward for signaling SOS or other Morse code messages.

– It is more expensive than the Nano, though it is cheaper than most other LED flashlights.

Purchasing notes: I got the silver version for the slight bump in output (from 90 to 120 lumens.) The finish is silvery PVD, and after a few weeks, it has some scratches, but otherwise seems to be holding up. I expect the functional parts of it, like the LED, the case, etc. to last forever.

So. Not the absolute smallest or cheapest, but surprisingly bright, relatively cheap, with well-designed optics (and it actually has optics.)

04/26/17 -- Karl Chwe

26 April 2017

img

Maker Update #31

The best maker projects of the week

This week on Maker Update: an autonomous beach-roving art bot, Kickstarter wants your ideas, a project that makes kits for other projects, GUIs for Raspberry Pi, stipple ceramics, and I’ll show you why digital calipers are cool. Show notes here.

51qgVS-Rk0L

04/26/17 -- Donald Bell

25 April 2017

img

Superglue for cracked skin

Helps cracked skin heal quickly

Everyone knows about super glue and has probably used it to glue things together. Here’s another use that is less well known, but very popular among makers and anyone who works with their hands. Our winters out here (Kansas) are cold and somewhat unforgiving and often result in tiny and painful cracked ends of finger and heels. Super glue is terrific when applied. It dries very fast, creates a shield that helps prevent pain, protects, and best of all, allows time to heal because it is protected. Just a bit on the cracked finger or heel provides a good deal of pain relief. Almost any type of super glue will work just fine. Just remember that a very small amount is needed and that amount needs to be targeted right in the cracked finger tip or heel.

04/25/17 -- Neil J. Salkind

(According to this video, super glue works best when skin cracking is in the very early stages. After that use ointment and bandaids. — editors)

24 April 2017

img

Rothco Undercover Travel Vest

Includes a a tablet sized pocket and a hidden passport pocket

I bought this Rothco Undercover Travel Vest several months ago, after becoming dissatisfied with the photographer-style vests. They tend to look sloppy, with baggy pockets hanging off all over them. I found most of those pockets were too small to accommodate my stuff in the places I wanted it.

The Rothco vest presents a smooth surface, but has a lot of pockets, all closed by zippers. One breast pocket and two hand pockets are unobtrusive. The rest of the pockets are inside. The vest is very well made, and sized honestly.

I carry my phone, a pen, penlight, comb, small notebook, keys, a Leatherman, and various other small items. I recommend getting the khaki color, because the material is kind of a lint magnet, and the black vest needs frequent brushing if you don’t want to look dusty.

Only the outside zippers have pull extensions, I suppose to avoid lumpiness, but unless all the stuff you carry is flat, it may cause bigger lumps anyway. The lack of extensions makes it a little fiddly to unzip the inner pockets, so I made some string loops and put them on those zippers.

04/24/17 -- Dan Hoyt

TOOL REVIEWS

img 04/22/17

Ask Cool Tools Featured Question

Share your knowledge with your fellow Cool Tools readers

img 04/21/17

Tangle Tamer

Makes hair detangling fast and painless

img 04/20/17

Fiskars Rotary Cutter

Ideal for cutting multiple layers of fabric, paper, felt and vinyl

img 04/20/17

Wealthfront

Lowest cost robot investing

img 04/19/17

Aluminum Flashing Tape

Tape for permanent roof repair

See all the reviews

ASK COOL TOOLS

Recent Questions Answers Given Answers Favorited
04/24/17

Best dishwasher safe insulated water bottle?

I am looking for an insulated dishwasher safe water bottle. Anything good I find either needs to be hand washed …

0 0
04/14/17

Lightning Rods?

By the way I love your cool tools site. I also gave away several copies of your tool bible. I …

1 0
03/23/17

best way to carry 2 cell phones?

I recently started a new job (yay!) and one of the requirements is that I carry a corporate iPhone with me. …

6 0
See all the questions

Editor's Favorites

img 12/30/08

Nikon Monarch Binoculars

Bargain superior binoculars

img 09/1/05

Wedgits

3D Tangrams

img 03/7/08

Tech Web Belt

Last Chance Heavy Duty Belt * Tech Web Belt

img 09/9/08

Raven Maps

Best US state wall maps

img 11/20/12

Stanley Compartment Organizer

Affordable parts organizer

img 09/13/11

Last Pass

All-in-one password management

See all the favorites

COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST

04/17/17

Cool Tools Show 074: Simone Giertz

Picks and shownotes
03/20/17

Cool Tools Show 073: Danielle Applestone

Picks and shownotes
03/2/17

Cool Tools Show 072: Dale Dougherty

Picks and shownotes

What's in My Bag? 23 February 2017

Announcements: 09/6/16

img

CargoRAXX – unrecommended

This appears to be a shill review. Many thanks to Cool Tools reader Matthew Connor for looking into this. He wrote:

Meaghan Hollywood works for CargoRAXX. Meaghan Hollywood put a review up quasi-anonymously on Amazon. A similarly worded review is now anonymously on KK.org.

On Amazon there are two reviews for the product (https://www.amazon.com/CargoRAXX-S1A-Interior-Management-System/dp/B01A6X4MBS). Neither is attributed by name but the one from January 18th, 2016 refers to “my Tahoe” and read similar to the KK.org review. Let us suppose the author is, in fact, the same person.

Clicking on the name for the review – merely “Amazon Customer” brings up their profile (https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1CF94IIWSAE00/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp). This profile contains one Wish List on the left side. Clicking on it revels – the name of “Amazon Customer” – it is Meaghan Hollywood.

Ok. I believe at this point the author of the KK review and the author of at least one of the two reviews on Amazon are in fact the same person and that person’s name is Meaghan Hollywood.

Here’s the kicker, CargoRAXX has a website with a blog feature – their blogger’s name is Meaghan Hollywood. (http://cargoraxx.com/5-reasons-re-organize-suv/)

About Cool Tools

Cool Tools is a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available. Tools are defined broadly as anything that can be useful. This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.

One new tool is posted each weekday. Cool Tools does NOT sell anything. The site provides prices and convenient sources for readers to purchase items.

When Amazon.com is listed as a source (which it often is because of its prices and convenience) Cool Tools receives a fractional fee from Amazon if items are purchased at Amazon on that visit. Cool Tools also earns revenue from Google ads, although we have no foreknowledge nor much control of which ads will appear.

We recently posted a short history of Cool Tools which included current stats as of April 2008. This explains both the genesis of this site, and the tools we use to operate it.

13632766_602152159944472_101382480_oKevin Kelly started Cool Tools in 2000 as an email list, then as a blog since 2003. He edited all reviews through 2006. He writes the occasional review, oversees the design and editorial direction of this site, and made a book version of Cool Tools. If you have a question about the website in general his email is kk {at} kk.org.

13918651_603790483113973_1799207977_oMark Frauenfelder edits Cool Tools and develops editorial projects for Cool Tools Lab, LLC. If you’d like to submit a review, email him at editor {at} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

13898183_602421513250870_1391167760_oClaudia Dawson runs the Cool Tool website, posting items daily, maintaining software, measuring analytics, managing ads, and in general keeping the site alive. If you have a concern about the operation or status of this site contact her email is cl {at} kk.org.