19 November 2017


$1500 Sandwich/Futurism/Webkay

Recomendo: issue no. 69

$1500 Sandwich
A reminder of the progress we all enjoy. A curious fellow decides to spend six months growing his own wheat and vegetables, making his own cheese and meat, evaporating his own salt in order to make his own sandwich from scratch. He spent $1500 on this lunch, and in this short How to make a $1500 sandwich he gives the particulars of what is really involved in our everyday consumption. Like the Toaster Project, which was an earlier attempt by an artist who spent a year to make a $30 electric toaster from scratch (iron ore, petroleum plastic), it conveys in concrete terms the huge subsidy we get from modern civilization. I repeatedly return to these brilliant examples. — KK

I follow a lot of blogs on Feedly, the RSS reader. A favorite blog that reads well in RSS is Futurism — it’s a steady stream of new ideas, inventions, and experiments from a wide range of sciences and technology. Their headlines are long and descriptive (often sufficient) rather than click-baity.— KK

See what other websites know about you
Visit Webkay to see what any website you visit knows about you, including your location, the device you are using, your IP address, social media accounts you are logged in to, and more. It also tells you how to plug these information leaks by using various services. — MF

Pocketable watercolor kit
This small, watercolor kit by Sakura is perfect for the occasional wannabe artist like me. It comes with a brush that stores water, so you can always be ready to paint. It was so easy to incorporate this into my journaling/sketching routine. — CD

Control your iPhone cursor
My recent discovery is that I can use my iPhone keyboard as a mouse to scroll through text and place my cursor exactly where I want it. All you have to do is hard press the keyboard. This makes editing text on iPhone a million times less frustrating. Here’s how.  — CD

New favorite pen
I met one of my favorite cartoonists this week, Tom Gauld (his new book: Baking With Kafka ). He draws all of his cartoons with a Pilot Precise V5 Roller Ball Stick Pen. He gave me one of his and I love it. They are $13 for a pack of 12. Tom said the ink does not fade, even after many years. — MF

Get the Recomendo weekly newsletter a week early by email.

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder and Claudia Dawson 11/19/17

18 November 2017


Rust Buster

Superior loosener

As a DIY’er, Rust Buster one of my favorite products because it REALLY works. I came across it by accident at a small tractor supply store in southern Missouri. The product typically works instantly, but on heavy duty applications, I like to apply a little (or a lot) on a rusted or frozen bolt or car part, tap the part lightly to aid penetration, and wait. After a few minutes, rusted bolts, screws, shafts, piping, any types of “frozen” connections and assemblies will now break lose. I have tried a variety of other loosening products, but they tend to use heavier oils that don’t penetrate as well. Smaller hardware stores, and farm supply stores will probably stock it.

-- Mike Farley 11/18/17

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2004 — editors)

18 November 2017


Magnetic wristband

Keeps nails and screws handy

Have you ever held screws or nails in your mouth as a way to keep them nearby while working on a project? This week for my tool review I’m going to show you a better solution. This is the MagnoGrip, it’s a $14 magnetic wristband available on Amazon. I found it on the Cool Tools blog. And if you pick one up using the link in the description you help to support my videos and the Cool Tools Blog.

This is a low-tech but useful tool. It just velcros around your wrist and includes embedded magnets to hold whatever odds and ends you need to have handy. The magnets aren’t super strong, but just strong enough to hold a handful of nails or screws. I imagine if the were much stronger it might actually be a liability.

It’s a durable design, made from thick 1680 ballistic polyester. So having screws and nails rub against it over and over shouldn’t be a problem. The inside that touches your wrist has this nice, breathable padding.

The original Cool Tools review of this comes from Sue Bettenhausen, who recommended it for nails and pins, putting together her son’s bike, hanging pictures, or shortening pants. I also see several Amazon reviews from people using these while doing car repairs to prevent bolts from falling into the engine.

The wristband comes in a few colors, but red seems like it provides the best contrast so screws and nails don’t just blend in.

-- Donald Bell 11/18/17

17 November 2017


Twin Line Flossers

Two parallel lines of floss

I hate flossing. Or at least I used to. The options out there were all mediocre at best:

–floss, both standard and dental tape, hurts my fingers

–the wand that you add floss to doesn’t keep the floss tight (Reach Access Flosser)

–the pre-flossed plastic handles have the same issue: floss gets loose after a while.

–I tried Brush Picks as someone else on Cool Tools has suggested. They were better, but didn’t actually work as well as floss.

Then my brother in law introduced me to Plackers. They took the same idea of the pre-flossed plastic handles, and just ran the floss twice. With this arrangement, the floss doesn’t droop, get loose, or anything — and I can easily floss. My dentist is shocked at how good my teeth look when I come in. These things rock.

-- David Gold 11/17/17

16 November 2017


Matt Velderman, Black & Decker Tool Designer

Cool Tools Show 098: Matt Velderman

We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. It costs us $1,0000 a month. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $320 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! – MF

Our guest this week is Matt Velderman. He’s a DYIer, an engineer, inventor, and he leads Stanley Black & Decker’s Breakthrough Innovation Group.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

FlexVolt Miter Saw ($699)
“This is one of the ones I’m most excited to tell you about. This is a new product for Dewalt as of June of last year, I think. In Dewalt we have a platform called 20 volt max, and it’s a very large platform. There’s 130 tools or something like that that run off a 20 volt, but we wanted to make more powerful tools and ones that were more efficient. One of the ways to do that is to make a higher voltage …. so we made a battery that actually converts between 20 and 60 volt mode. That’s a world’s first. What’s really cool about it is you could take two 60 volt batteries and put them in series and get 120 volts. If you know anything about the power grid here, it’s 120 volts AC coming out of your wall. We made a miter saw that runs both off two 60 volt batteries, 120 volts DC, and it will also run off of 120 volts AC coming out of your wall with safe performance, whether it’s corded or cordless.”

Rockwell JawStand ($45)
“A clamp / stand combination that allows me to do a variety of work solo that would otherwise require another set of hands. I use it for holding doors, outfeed for a table saw or surface planer, as a support for long boards in the bench vise, to hold a deadman for installing hanging cabinets, etc.”

Honda Electronics Ultrasonic Cutter ($305)
“This is probably one of my favorite tools in the lab at work. We do a lot of modification of plastic. We have to make very quick prototypes and usually hacking up something that already exists. This gives me super precision to make precise clean cuts off existing prototypes or production parts. What it is is it’s like a penknife that has a small ultrasonic motor, for lack of a better word, inside of it, and it oscillates at a very high frequency with very minute movements and more or less melts the plastic as it cuts through the prototype or whatever you’re trying to hack up. I just have not found a better way to modify things. Tools like a Dremel or any of the kind of power tool that rotates just doesn’t have the precision to mate stuff together and make these clean cuts.”


Stanley Removable Compartment Professional Organizer
“A great way to store random small parts. The real value of this system is when you commit to the system, get a bunch of them, and create a DIY storage cabinet. This an alternative to Adam Savage’s sortimo recommendation. It’s basically the same thing, but at a lower cost and more available. I recommend both Stanley and Harbor Freight varieties.”


16 November 2017


Pocket Bellow Collapsible Fire Tool

20-inch lung-powered telescoping bellows

Anyone will tell you that a roaring fire is an essential element of camping. Starting a fire is often another story, especially if your wood is wet. I don’t recall how I discovered these Pocket Bellows but they have been a game-changer for me. Instead of blowing into the fire directly to stoke it, this telescoping tube allows you to maintain a safe distance from the fire while directing oxygen exactly where it’s needed. No more dizziness from hyperventilating, no more coughing from inhaling smoke, and best of all no more singed eyebrows. After seeing mine in action, several of my friends who use wood stoves have bought their own, claiming the bellows drastically reduce the time needed to kindle embers and the amount of soot on their pots. If you’re not convinced there are countless 5-star reviews on Amazon and Youtube; most negative reviews seem to focus on the semantic use of the word “bellows” or feel that the product is essentially an overpriced car antenna. As the manufacturer points out (and I will attest), the edges are chamfered so they don’t cut your lips, the blend and thickness of the steel will not rust or kink, etc, so a lot of thought went into the design. For about $13 and 21g of weight, this should be a no-brainer addition to your backcountry arsenal.

-- Nabhan Islam 11/16/17


img 11/16/17

Cool Tools 2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Kevin’s Picks

Favorite gift ideas from the founder of Cool Tools

img 11/15/17

Car Lock Pinball [Maker Update #60]

The best maker tools and projects of the week

img 11/15/17

Mont-Bell Compact Camera Case

Protective case for compact cameras

img 11/14/17


Colorful alternative to sudoku

img 11/14/17

EK Tools Bone Folder

Cheap plastic bone folder that lasts forever

See all the reviews


Recent Questions Answers Given Answers Favorited

Where are September and early October reviews?

There seems to be a gap between August 31st and October 23rd.  Wondering if you were aware of it and …

0 0

Flexible gutter that only bends laterally?

There’s a leak in the ceiling of a parking garage in one of the buildings I work in. It’s right …

0 0

Is there an Audible corporate library option?

I would like to curate a library of “best business books on Audible” and make it available to my employees …

0 0
See all the questions


img 12/31/04


Hole expander

img 12/13/05


Pattern recognition competition

img 08/27/12

Knipex High Leverage Cutters

Clippers that cut anything

img 08/28/17

Pumps-A-Lot Water Pump

Simple emergency sump pump

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 098: Matt Velderman

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 097: Jim Beloff

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 096: David Lang

Picks and shownotes

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.