iFixit 26-Bit Driver Kit

I often find I want to open electronic things because there’s something broken that’s really easy to fix. I was stumbling around for a long time. I had a collection of weird tiny screwdrivers that were easy to lose and the bits were low quality. Something would go wrong — either they wouldn’t fit or they would strip. This iFixit driver kit is just fantastic. It comes with a magnetized screw driver handle. The bits are very specific to opening up modern electronics: laptops, cellphones, and cameras routers. The bits are incredibly well tempered and they have all the weird star shapes that you need to get basically anything open.

Once, my son was out in the back yard. He had been doing some gardening. He had his cheap RadioShack camera and he was taking some pictures of the plants as they were growing, trying to do stop motion video. He tripped over something and went sprawling and the camera crashed to the ground and cracked open about a half centimeter. And I thought to myself “that will actually pop back together.”

One component was sticking out so I had to get it open but it turned out the camera had some sort of weird proprietary screw. The iFixit kit had the right bit for it. Open up the camera, shove the component back in. Snapped it shut, done! I only use it once a month but whenever I use it it’s the only thing that will fix whatever stupid little electronic thing has fallen apart.

-- Clive Thompson  

[This is from the Cool Tools Show podcast. See all of Clive's picks here. – Mark Frauenfelder]

Available from Amazon

iFixit 26 Bit Driver Kit $20



Milwaukee Fastback Flip Open Utility Knife

I have carried and use this tool everyday for over three years. I work in Solid Waste and facilities maintenance. Lots of hard use.

It is a knife that I can replace the blades on (therefore always super sharp), it can be flipped open with one hand (required), it has heft and that solid feel that makes an impression, I reach for it often because I count on it.

It has a bag/belt cutter built in to the CLOSED knife handle (very handy for cutting shrink wrapped palletized shipments and a large wire bale pocket clip.

I like the cost, and the feel (compared to flimsy plastic cased knives or knives that require a screw driver to change the blade on).

A good value that would not break the bank if I lost it or damaged it.

knife-2

-- Patrick Ward  

Milwaukee Fastback Flip Open Utility Knife
$17

Available from Amazon



SealLine EcoSee Clear Dry Bag

I have never found a fully waterproof backpack that had the fit and features of more general purpose non-waterproof backpacks. So I ended up getting this clear SeaLine dry bag to slip inside my backpack. I got the clear one because I thought I would pull it out of my pack but I find I rarely do that. I use it more like an internal liner or sleeve inside my backpack. Another benefit of this is I also use it inside my commuter bike bag when pedaling to work in the rain.

-- Rob Ray  

SealLine EcoSee Clear Dry Bag
$20 – $100, depending on size

Available from Amazon



 

Combination Knife/Rule

Great little pocket knife with two blades. The handle is a ruler that extends to 6 inches. I can’t count the times that I’ve used it to measure something. I’m a realtor and I use the ruler as a scale for taking photos during inspections.

-- Sean McGarry  

Combination Knife/Rule
$30

Available from Amazon



Leatherman Bit Kit

Every Cool Tools reader likely has his/her own favorite multitool. I happen to carry a Leatherman Charge TTI, and I have noticed that I tend to use the accessory bits by themselves almost as much as my Leatherman itself. Even if you rock another brand of tool or knife daily, you might want to think about grabbing this set of bits.

Though they have been ground flat to fit the Leatherman, these bits work in any standard 1/4″ hex driver. I carry this set in the business card pouch of my work bag and typically use them with a pen-sized screwdriver I got at a trade show. This allows me to use my multitool pliers on a nut while tightening down the screw. In tight spaces, it is actually possible to use these bits without a handle – the flat grind allows you to grip them firmly.

The set packs into much less space than 40 standard hex bits, and it includes enough to tackle most common repairs. The usual sizes of screwdrivers, Torx, square, and hex bits are all there. It even includes a double sided jewelers driver. The two cases store everything firmly, and they slip easily into a pocket. I’m on my original set after 3+ years of use, and besides some shiny wear spots they’re all as good as new. For $15 the bits themselves are a cool tool with or without the Leatherman.

-- Dan Bersak  

Leatherman Bit Kit
$20

Available from Amazon



Olfa Rotary Cutter

I purchased my first rotary cutter (a 28mm) in the fall of 1979. These are basically round razors on handles; they allow for precise cutting of fabric, paper, cardboard, etc.

In the years since then I have purchased larger and smaller diameter cutters (they come in four sizes; which one you choose depends on how many layers you want to cut), ergonomic cutters and brands other than Olfa.

I keep coming back to the Olfa cutters because of the high quality and user-friendliness. I am especially happy with the ergonomic design – for its lock open/lock closed feature for the blade and for the fact that I can cut accurately while seated (my spinal stenosis makes standing to cut painful).

These are quality tools and well worth the expense. Be sure to purchase a self-healing cutting mat (there are many brands and sizes on the market) — this will protect and prolong the blade sharpness on your cutter as well as protect the surface on which you are cutting.

-- Linda Schiffer  

OLFA 9654 RTY-2/DX 45mm Ergonomic Rotary Cutter
$15

Available from Amazon



Kyocera ceramic knife

kyoceraA must have in the kitchen. Stays sharp, really, really sharp. Will not react to or stain what you are cutting. I even have a serrated bread knife that can cut old stale baguettes paper thin. The very best for fruits and veggies.

Not for prying or cutting meat with a bone. So hard they are fragile and will not survive a drop on a tile floor. Use them with a wood or plastic cutting board only.

-- Kent Barnes  

Kyocera Revolution 3-Piece Ceramic Knife Set
$79

Available from Amazon



John Edgar Park – Producer at Disney Research

This week we invited our friend John Edgar Park to discuss the tools and apps that simplify and enhance his daily life. John is a Producer at Disney Research and a writer for such outlets as Make, Boing Boing, and Adafruit Learning. John also has a knack for building, making and tinkering and uses his perspective as a creator to apply these tools to life’s everyday challenges. We hope you enjoy this latest episode of the Cool Tools Show.

Show Notes:

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

behmor
Behmor 1600 Coffee Roaster $370

“What this thing offers is fairly brainless operation. It looks like a toaster oven and has a rotisserie drum inside. There’s a motor turning the drum slowly to keep the beans agitated. It has little paddles inside the cage to keep the beans from falling in a pattern. It has two big halogen heating lamps in the back of the unit.  ”

QuickRes $5

“This is a little dock icon that lets you pick the resolution on the Macbook screen. You can pick any of a dozen resolutions that are good for the retina display, or you can set it up so that at  the press of a button it will flip between two or three different presets that you’ve chosen.”

Wooden Gymnastics Rings $33

“I’ve started using gym rings instead of a pull up bar or almost any other equipment to do things like dips. I also drop them way down to the ground and do push-ups on them. You’ll wobble like crazy, and that forces you to engage all types of stabilizing muscles.”

6” Digital Calipers $13

“I don’t know why I went so long without having these, but I got a few years ago. It’s a really cheap set of digital calipers that can measure up to 6 inches of inside diameter, or outside diameter, or the depth of something. It has a depth gage tail that swings out as you roll the head of the thing along the shaft. It has a digital read out. You can switch between inches and millimeters.”

 



5-Port USB Rapid Charger

On a recent vacation, my family brought along three mobile phones, an iPad, and two Kindles. Normally, we’d have plugged multiple chargers into all the available outlets in the hotel room. But this time I set up my Photive 25 Watt 5-Port USB Desktop Rapid Charger on the desk and it served as our central charging station. It’s convenient because the charging unit (attached to a 5 ft power cord) sits on a desk or table, so you can easily plug USB cables into it.

Each of the five ports is “intelligent,” which means it delivers the right amount of current to the device connected to it. All ports are rated at 2.1A.

It doesn’t have an LED to indicate that it is on, which I consider a feature, because I don’t like LEDs when I sleep.

When I’m not traveling, I use this as my desktop device charger.

The only reason I’d stop using it would be if I replaced it with the 50 Watt 6-Port USB Desktop Rapid Charger ($27).

photive-back

photive-ports

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Photive 25 Watt 5 Port USB Desktop Rapid Charger
$16

Available from Amazon



Clip N’ Drain Strainer

Frequently, when draining water from a pot to separate it from its contents, I would need a second person to hold the strainer over the sink while I poured the contents of the pot through the strainer.

If no one was there to help me, I would have to scoop the contents into the strainer by hand or attempt to empty as much water as possible from the pot, which usually resulted in whatever I was cooking ending up in the sink.

Two years ago, I discovered the Clip N’ Drain strainer by Chef’s Planet. This handy kitchen gadget clips to the side of the pot, which allows me to use both hands to tip over the pot and strain out the water – no second person required. The clip mechanism is very strong and it has never slipped off or moved while straining. Unlike my other strainers, it’s small and easy to clean and fits on all of the pots and even the pans in my kitchen, pretty much any round vessel. The holes are not too large and so far I have not made anything that has gotten through them.

My only advice would be to tip slowly for a larger heavier pot so that the contents don’t slip over the top of the strainer.

-- Alice Denenberg  

Chef’s Planet Clip N’ Drain Strainer
$13

Available from Amazon