25 July 2017


Hercules Stands Wallmount Guitar Hanger

Auto grip yoke securely holds guitar

I used to have all my guitars and basses on stands — it only takes two or three and suddenly a whole side of your room is taken up by them. Then I remembered these hangers that guitar stores use. They take guitars down and put them back up over and over again, and the hangers they use have mechanism inside.

The way they work is they have a saddle, a U-shaped design, and when you put the guitar in the saddle and then lower it, the weight of the guitar causes a mechanism to grab onto the guitar and swing its arms around it and hug it and then now it’s securely in place in the wall. Then when you want to take it back off again you simply lift it up and then that mechanism releases it. It’s a really neat simple machine that grabs and releases your guitar. It uses three screws and it drills right into the wall.

-- David McRaney 07/25/17

(This review was excerpted from our podcast with David McRaney. — editors)

24 July 2017


Stretch Wrap

Quick self-binding wrap

[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 – MF]

The genius of this product is that it sticks to itself. You just roll it around the boxes or posters or lumber that you want to wrap and it sticks tight. I use it for a bunch of things, as in the garden to stake trees to stakes or to tie say tomato plants to a frame, or as shown in the photo, to keep some nuts together with ball bearings (and have them be visible). It’s the same material they use to wrap boxes of books on pallets so that they’re one tight bundle for shipping. Also cool is that it is such a strong yet ultra-thin plastic membrane, not using a ton of resources to produce. They sell them at U-Haul stations. They’re cheap!

Above is a pic of stretch wrap I bought at a U-Haul location. At left is a tube of skateboard ball bearings, with some loose nuts wrapped to the tube. Not only attaches them, but keeps them visible.

-- Lloyd Kahn 07/24/17

24 July 2017



Gigantic twist ties

[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 – MF]

I picked up four of these at my local container Store, not knowing exactly how I’d use them, but guessing they’d come in handy. Within 48 hours I’d already used them twice-once to secure the barrel of my telescope to its collapsed tripod for easy transport to a remote location, and then to stabilize a table and chairs in the back of my car for a trip across town-both times with great success. These giant, rubberized “twist-ties” were much more efficient and easier to use than a bungee cord in both cases.

Griptwists offer several advantages over bungees in particular. First, they provide “point-to-point” stability, rather than “tie-down” or “net-like” attachment. For example, when moving dining room furniture in the back of my car, I was able to use four Griptwists to connect the legs of chairs to each other, etc., at critical points, so that the entire mass (i.e., of one table and four chairs) was stabilized from within, rather than essentially trying to “net” or “wrap” the mass together from the outside, with bungee cords. Second, with bungee cords, there’s always a certain amount of “give,” unless you stretch them to their maximum, which isn’t always practical; bungeed objects will often move a bit more than you want them to. Third, if you do stretch bungee cords to their maximum, they exert great pressure on the object being contained. I wouldn’t have wanted to use bungees around the barrel of my telescope, for example. The Griptwists remain as tight (but only as tight) as you tie them, with no inherent potential energy to give or take along their own length like elastic bands. Which brings to mind a fourth benefit: no danger of “snapback” when it’s time to unload or unpack.

Some things will always have to be netted down, and sometimes the stretchiness of bungees provides a benefit in and of itself (like the ability to squeeze one more last-minute object under the cords, without having to repack). Moreover, from the outside, to the extent they lack handy points where a Griptwist could be employed (e.g., a couch, a canoe, a stack of luggage or boxes). But for temporarily affixing one object to another in point-to-point fashion, with stability, I see more everyday utility in the Griptwist.

-- Adam Zaner 07/24/17

(Although the Griptwist product is no longer available, one commenter has referred us to a comparable, well-reviewed product by Nite Ize. — editors)

24 July 2017


Easy Fermenter Wide Mouth Mason Jar Lid Kit

Simplified fermenting in jars

Since April 2016 Amazon has been selling this lid-kit for $35. I’ve used it to make hassle-free (no-“burping”) kimchi. Once fermenting is complete, these lids can be reused to make new batches and replaced by standard lids. (The latter can be air-sealed with the Food-Saver Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer reviewed on Cool Tools)

The kit contains:

  • Three lids utilizing a “waterless airlock valve technology [that] lets carbon escape. But also makes sure zero oxygen can enter.” Low-profile lids that “are a fraction of the size [i.e., height] of those clunky three piece airlocks. This means we can store our jars almost anywhere a mason jar can fit.” This is a strong selling point to me. I put them in a kitchen cabinet, not on a countertop.
  • A “date setter [built into the rim] keeps track [of] when your ferment started so you always know when it’s almost complete.”
  • “An “integrated easy release tab” that allows a thumb-assist when unscrewing the lid.
  • An air extractor pump “to suck out the oxygen during the later stages of your ferments.” (E.G., after opening the lid for taste testing or eating partial contents.)
  • “A 30 page getting started guide, Fermenting recipe e-cookbook and access to our ask the experts forum”

It’s rated 4.8 stars on 657 Amazon reviews. I suggest not pumping out too much air after partially consuming the contents, lest it become a struggle to unscrew the lid after it’s been in the fridge. I suggest leaving a full inch of head space and employing a weight to keep the contents from rising too much during fermentation, to keep brine from escaping through the valve. (But it only forms a little pool that can be rinsed away if it does.)

A few Amazon reviewers complained that the pump pooped out on them and that there was no plain and convenient way to get a new one. However, as of April 19, 2017, the Pump for fermenter jar alone can be bought on Amazon for $5.99 (and free shipping).


-- Roger Knights 07/24/17

23 July 2017


History of Japan/Skillshare/Hand protection

Recomendo: issue no. 52

Happy hangers:
Following the advice of Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo, I’ve gone through my closet and kept only those clothes that “bring me joy.” Second step was to extend the joy by arranging the dress clothes on uniform decent wooden hangers, recycling the mess of wire misfits I had accumulated. I got 30 wooden hangers cheaply from Amazon Basics for $18. Happy clothes!. — KK

Organize reddit posts:
Savvit.io is great for the occasional redditor, like me, because I save a lot of posts and then I forget about them. A basic, free account let’s me sync up once a month, organizes all my saves by subreddits, and then I sort through them to revisit, delete or bookmark permanently. A pro account is only $9 per year and lets you link multiple accounts and gives you unlimited saves and monthly synchronizations. — CD

Digest lactose:
My wife is lactose intolerant and gets a stomach ache when she eats dairy, unless she chews a Lactaid tablet beforehand. It contains lactase enzyme, which breaks down lactose. It really works. She keeps them in her purse. — MF

Learn a new skill:
I signed up for a free 30-day trial of Skillshare because I wanted to improve my drawing skills, and I did. There’s more than 16,000 video classes to choose from. A monthly subscription is $15 per month, but I opted to cancel before the trial ended — they make it really easy and in fact, when I went to cancel they extended my trial another month! They also offer classes in photography, film, cooking and writing. — CD

Hand protection:
I have a supply of nitrile gloves on hand. I wear them to prevent my hands from getting dirty, like when handling rat traps or greasing the wheels on my garage door. I also use them to keep my hands from smearing nice things, like high quality art paper for my wide-format printer. Two hundred ambidextrous gloves cost $13.50 on Amazon. (Tip: some tasks require just one glove.) — MF

Painless history:
My favorite example of how video is displacing much of what books used to do is this short YouTube video on the History of Japan. In only 9 minutes it covers the complex, twisted, obscure history of Japan but with insight and clarity. (One of its subtle tricks is to use nick names instead of proper names for people.) The clip has racked up 30 million views because it teaches so well. — KK

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 07/23/17

21 July 2017


StylusReach Flexible Flashlight

For light in tight places

[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 – MF]

My brother-in-law, who’s a tool salesman, gave me one of these lights for Christmas. It’s a natural white super bright LED light on a flexible, shielded cable. The LED has a rated life of 100,000 hours. The light is extremely tough. My bro-in-law likes to whack the crap out of ‘em to demonstrate how durable they are. Waterproof too. Two settings on the light: blinking and steady. There’s also a blue LED version, which is easier on the eyes. The StylusReach is pen-sized (when the shaft is folded over and clipped to the battery tube) and 14 inches long when extended. It has a pocket clip (and you thought that Fisher Space Pen made you look like a geek!). I use mine for all sorts of hardware hacking and around the house stuff (like looking under the burner on our stove to try and find out why the stovetop heated up to the point where it shattered the tempered glass stovetop inset!) Inside computers, you can actually clip it to the side of the case to direct the light where you want it. It’s also really useful for seeing behind furniture, etc. The light lets me clearly see what I’m going for before I reach and grab.

-- Gareth Branwyn 07/21/17


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Kwik-kut Food Chopper

Chops almost any food item

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Maker Update: Kreg Rip-Cut

Speeds and simplifies ripping down large plywood and MDF panels

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Compact emergency tape

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Elastic no-tie shoelaces

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23 February 2017



We Refreshed Our Website

If you read Cool Tools via RSS (which is the way Kevin and I read blogs) then you probably don’t realize we updated our website design today. We took your feedback seriously and tried our best to simplify the design and make it more legible.

I’m sure we got some things wrong. If you find a mistake or have suggestions about our current iteration, please let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Cool Tools and being part of the community.

If I’ve still got your attention, I’d like to remind you that Cool Tools runs reviews written by our readers. Please recommend a tool you love.


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.