25 July 2016

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Sproutamo Easy Sprout Sprouter

Seed germinator provides continuous ventilation, humidification and warmth

Bought one Eazy-Sprout a year or more ago to sprout organic seed for the “children” (our little parrots). Started with wheat. Soak 8-12 hours, drain and rinse, drain again. Let sprout for 12-36 hours, and then place in a container in the fridge. Every time I made some for the birds I eat some to make sure it is okay. Now I am hooked! So I bought another one for us. Great addition to salads and soups and great in waffles! I buy organic Alfalfa, Broccoli, Mung Beans, Quinoa, Millet Sunflower, Oat, and many more. We store in the fridge inside snap topped containers with a paper towel at the bottom to keep from being too damp. Very easy to use and keep clean. And you can store the dry seeds indefinitely.

07/25/16 -- Kent Barnes

22 July 2016

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Fagor Rapida 5-piece Pressure Cooker Set

Makes soybeans soft enough

Do pressure cookers scare you? I know they scare a lot of people, and that keeps them from even considering using one. But pressure cookers have evolved and the best ones work well with pretty much no danger. (I’m assuming a certain level of intelligence here, like don’t run it out of water or fail to turn it down from high when it comes up to pressure.)

Believe me, I know what pressure cookers used to be like. I lived at The Farm in TN throughout the 70s with our “yay soybeans” ethos and our relentless vegan diet. I saw a Presto pressure cooker blow its safety valve more than once, throwing a geyser of water and beans onto the ceiling. And I wouldn’t buy an old one from a Goodwill. But today’s stainless steel pressure cookers with their superior steam-handling technology such as Rapida’s Splendid Pressure Cooker line are nothing like the old days.

Get one of these cookers and a fabulous bean dinner of your choice means soaking overnight and then a mere 18 minutes in the pressure cooker, yielding beans soft enough to easily mash on the roof of your mouth.

And if you really want to get your protein by eating soybeans it’s the only way to go. I don’t care how many hours you boil soybeans – do it overnight if you want – you won’t get them soft enough. And then there’s kale. I love that this hardy green that I once saw withstand a -20f freeze, is now the darling of everyone. It should be because it is so great. With a Rapida pressure cooker you can cook that kale under pressure in 3 minutes flat instead of, what, 20 minutes in a regular boil?

So lower carbon footprint, softer beans, the best greens in minutes, and little risk. If you want to eat less animal and more vegetable and prefer to cook your own food – get a pressure cooker. There’s nothing like it.

07/22/16 -- John Coate

21 July 2016

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Lithium Grease in a Spray Can

Convenient lubrication

Grease is a superior lubricant for many applications. It remains in the place where it is needed, unlike oil, which can run away from its intended placement. Grease also tends to last longer and requires fewer applications, especially when exposed to the elements. However, grease is messy. Traditionally it comes in tubs and tubes and must be applied using your hands or specialty grease guns. I have avoided using it the past because of the mess involved.

A few years ago I found lithium grease in a spray can. It has all of the benefits of grease and none of the mess. I use it on everything from bicycle chains to door hinges. You can use the regular spray tip for wide coverage or attach the straw for precision application.

07/21/16 -- Greg Henigan

20 July 2016

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Fat Separator and Strainer

Low spout prevents floating fat from pouring

I love to cook. A few years ago we bought this fat separator. This Catamount brand fat separator has a strainer that fits on top to keep those burned bits and pieces out of the mix. As the drippings cool the fat moves to the top and the flavor containing part stays at the bottom. The spout will pour out the separated juices and leave the grease and oils in the heatproof glass. I also use it to measure hot liquids.

07/20/16 -- Kent K. Barnes

19 July 2016

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Clear Padlock for Lock Pick Practice

Clear plastic padlock allows you to see moving parts

I have be trying to pick locks since I was a child. I have many lock picks I have bought or made myself over the years, but never saw what I was doing until I was given a clear plastic padlock a few months ago. Now I can plainly see the pins, driver pins, sheer line and springs etc. (By the way hairpins and paper clips will open padlocks.) This lock comes with a pair of keys to open the lock, so you could actually use it as a padlock. But if you do, beware of everyone wanting to pick it open!

07/19/16 -- Kent Barnes

18 July 2016

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Recomendo

Welcome to a new newsletter from the editors of Cool Tools.

Even though our definition of “tool” is quite broad, there are still many things we love to recommend to friends that are in no way tools, or not important enough to review formally. Such as recommendations of places to go, things to listen to, stuff to consume, and tricks and tips. When Mark joined me in editing this site he felt the same way. We wanted to broaden our recommendations without diluting the quality and density of Cool Tools. Our solution is to return to our newsletter roots. Cool Tools began as a email newsletter I sent to my close friends. In it, I recommended tools that were handy, cheap or the best. My friends asked if I could send it to their friends, and the list grew. At some point in 2003, I cross-posted the tool reviews onto a blog (a novel thing at the time), and this site was born.

Now, beginning next Sunday, we’ll be recommending 6 items in an extremely short email every week. Mark, myself, and Claudia — the entire staff of Cool Tools — will suggest good stuff we have personally used, consumed, or experienced. We’ll try to keep each recommendations light and fast, to no more than a sentence or two. They won’t be definitive reviews; rather they’ll be quick recommendations. Going back again to our roots, we’ve named it Recomendo — which, believe it or not, was the name of this site before I renamed it Cool Tools.

If you want great tools, stay on (or sign onto) the Cool Tools newsletter. To get all the other kinds of things we encounter and enjoy sharing, sign up for Recomendo here. As usual, we don’t do anything with your info except send you short and sweet one-screen news once a week.

— KK

07/18/16 --

TOOL REVIEWS

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Puralytics Solar Water Purifier

Reusable portable water purifier

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Ask Cool Tools Featured Questions

Share your knowledge with your fellow Cool Tools readers

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Aluminized Steel Meat Loaf Pan

Corrugated surface design facilitates air circulation for evenly baked goods and quick release

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Homeplus+ 3 Arm Revolving Sprinkler

Cheap sprinkler resists mineral build up

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Bumpons

Self-adhesive rubber bumpers to use as feet, stops, and spacers

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Low Profile Washer Head Cabinet Screw

No pre-drilling is necessary with these cabinet screws

See all the reviews

ASK COOL TOOLS

Recent Questions Answers Given Answers Favorited
07/18/16

Problems with editor

Problems with the editor for this section: • Single quotes are displaying as backslash-single quotes: \’ (this was typed as …

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open/close tabs for cardboard boxes?

We use small cardboard boxes to store stuff in our closets and the system is working well for us. I’m …

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07/15/16

HEPA filter for HVAC sytem

I am about to install a new air conditioning system in my home, and in the process, I am going …

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Editor's Favorites

COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST

07/6/16

Cool Tools Show 058: Tim Ferriss

Picks and shownotes
06/24/16

Cool Tools Show 057: Adam Savage

Picks and shownotes
06/8/16

Cool Tools Show 056: Brian Brushwood

Picks and shownotes

What's in My Bag? 08 July 2016

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07/8/16

What’s in My Bag? — Elon Schoenholz

Former Cool Tools editor and photographer shares what’s in his bag

Announcements: 05/15/16

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Feedly is a great way to read Cool Tools

A couple of years ago, hundreds of thousands of our readers read Cool Tools using Google Reader, an RSS aggregator. But when Google pulled the plug on Reader, tens of thousands of our readers didn’t bother to resubscribe by using a different RSS reader.

Kevin and I are both RSS junkies. It’s the way we read all our blogs. And the reader we use is Feedly. It’s evolved over the years and now it is better than Google Reader ever was. The free version is excellent (I have no reason to pay $5 a month for the premium version).

I recommend reading Cool Tools via Feedly. We offer the full text of every post, not just an excerpt. Give it a try and I think you’ll understand why 61 thousand people read Cool Tools readers through Feedly.

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.

kevin

Kevin 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.

mark

Mark 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).

claudia

Claudia Lamar 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.