NuGuard GripStand 3

[UPDATE – ITEM IS CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK ON AMAZON.] I have tried many cases for my iPad but the NuGuard GripStand 3 is by far my favorite. It is composed of a protective case and a handle that acts as the base. The outside shell consists of a hard plastic with several parts sculpted out to permit access to all the ports and buttons on your iPad as well as a spot to connect your Apple Smart Cover, if you have one. I appreciate the large slots and spaces on the sides of the case to insert any plugs. (Some cases have too tight a fit and plugs like the Apple iPad Camera Connection kit can’t attach properly. This results in the iPad having to be removed from the case before the plug can be used.)

The inside of the shell is a rubberized material that creates a good suction fit to hold the iPad in place. Don’t attach the stand until you have the iPad secured in the case. I found that the insertion process worked better when the large space at the back was open. It probably helped to create the proper suction, allowing the air to be squeezed out from behind the iPad. This also explains the purpose of all those holes on the rubberized interior of the case.

It is advisable to check that the iPad is securely attached. This is my only concern with this case. Most cases wrap around not only the back and sides but also a bit on the front so that the iPad can’t slip out of the case. There is no overlapping front face grip. I can understand why it was built this way. This construction allows the Smart Cover to lie flat over the face. To remove any doubts I had about the suction hold of the case, I have held the iPad upside down over a couch and tried to shake it free. The suction has held every time I tried to get it to fall free. I guess if you are worried about how secure it is, you can periodically test the grip.

The GripStand’s handle can be swiveled 360° and positioned at virtually any angle for viewing and typing needs. It kind of locks in the four main positions (landscape or portrait), which is convenient when using it as a stand. The GripStand is quite stiff when you attempt to change the viewing angle. This means that whatever angle you decide on, the iPad stays right there. So many other cases I have tried were either limited in the angles or tended to slip and change their angle as you touched and tapped away at them. This is why the GripStand is a great aid for using and typing on the iPad.

It is also a highly effective one hand grip so you can use your iPad 2 while standing or walking. I was surprised at how handy this was. It was a lot easier carrying the iPad while holding on to the base and it kept my oily hands away from the screen. The handle can be rotated to use as a hook to hang your iPad 2 on a wall. The handle allows you to carry the iPad 2 like a briefcase.

-- Marcel Dufresne  

NuGuard GripStand 3 & GripBase Bundle

Available from Amazon

Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) Screwdrivers

I read the recent post on Wiha drivers (they are excellent) and noticed readers are using them for laptop maintenance, but this is what you really want. Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) drivers which have a sharper cross on them than normal Phillips. Most electronics and lenses will use this head and the correct drivers make a huge difference.

-- Sean Charlesworth  

JIS Type S Driver Set, Pollicis 4Pc

Available from Amazon

Skrapr Surface Scraper

I found this tool at the register of a local hardware store a few years ago. I clean the kitchen after my wife cooks and had never found a good tool to scrape food from the bottom of the pan without causing damage.

The Skrapr is made of a hard plastic resin with a sharp, durable edge. It is also great for removing debris from glass cooktops. Some of the Amazon reviews complain that it does not work well on cast iron. I can’t comment on that, but for aluminum and steel pots that do not have a non-stick coating, it works great.

-- Tom Karches  

Skrapr 2-piece surface scraper

Available from Amazon


VIDEO: Milwaukee Inkzall and Sharpie Pro Markers Review and Comparison

What’s the best permanent marker to use on wet, oily, rough, or dusty surfaces? This Tool Craze video tests a regular Sharpie, a Sharpie Pro, and a Milwaukee Inkzall pen on different kinds of surfaces. No single pen is a clear winner (though when it comes to price the Sharpies are about 1/3 the cost of the Inkzall). You should choose a pen based on where you’ll be using it.

Results summary:


1st place: Regular Sharpie (darkest, most solid ink)

2nd place: Milwaukee Inkzall (ink is a little purplish, but adequately dark)

3rd place: Sharpie Pro (a little faded, compared to the Inkzall, but still ok)


1st place: Milwaukee Inkzall

2nd place: Sharpie Pro

3rd place: Regular Sharpie (a close 3rd)


3-way tie (all three smeared)


1st place: Sharpie Pro (did not smear, the other two pens smeared)


3-way tie (all 3 smeared when first applied)


3-way tie (ink dried on contact)


3-way tie (all three aced the test)


1st place: Milwaukee Inkzall

2nd place: Sharpie Pro

3rd place: Regular Sharpie (easily wiped off)


1st place: Regular Sharpie

2nd place: Milwaukee Inkzall

3rd place: Sharpie Pro (easy to wipe off completely)


1st place: Sharpie Pro

2nd place: Milwaukee Inkzall (left a faint mark)

3rd place: Regular Sharpie (left no mark)


1st place: Sharpie Pro (tip very durable)

2nd place tie: Milwaukee Inkzall and Regular Sharpie (worn down to nub)

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers
$6 / Dozen

Sharpie Pro Fine Point Permanent Markers
$8 / Dozen

Milwaukee Inkzall Jobsite Fine Point Black Permanent Marker
$28 / Dozen

Spyderco Bug Knife

I have carried this tiny knife for a few years, connected to a Photon Freedom micro light (another cool tool I heartily recommend over the oft recommended Microlight II) for the world’s smallest EDC (Every Day Carry) set. A knife and light combo will cover 95% of any odd daily task I encounter while working in an office and lab environment. This knife is the perfect size for professional office dress. It disappears in my pocket until I need it.

It is the smallest knife I have ever found and is just big enough for general scraping, tiny hole poking, and little thing slicing you need to do on a daily basis. It does not have a lock mechanism, but as long as you know that, you can use it in a way that will not cause it to close. It is stainless steel, so it is tough and corrosion resistant.

I recently lost my Bug knife and confirmed what I already knew: that I could not do without it for even a week. It costs only $6 (plus $4 shipping) at ($12 on Amazon) so it is a bargain.


-- Mark Nordhaus  

Spyderco Bug knife

Available from Amazon

Johnson & Johnson First Aid To Go

I’ve used these mini first aid kits for almost a decade now, and keep coming back to them because of their availability and practicality. They’re small (the plastic case is about 4″ square by 1″ thick) and contain a starter amount of bandages, gauze pads, and alcohol wipes. I add a 0.5 oz tube of antiseptic ointment and a few more bandages as needed. They stay in my toiletry kit, in my day pack, and in both vehicles, and I’m always glad to have them at hand.

They’re easy to find at most grocery, discount retail, and pharmacy chains in the U.S. for a buck or two.

-- Patrick Leffas  

Johnson & Johnson First Aid To Go!

Available from Amazon

Tabletote Plus

I’m an independent musician who does a lot of touring, and in order to turn a profit I have to travel light. I use a small table on stage for my equipment, but I often travel by plane so every pound and inch counts. Many times I’ve been foraging through a club before the show trying to find some kind of table because it’s often not feasible for me to bring my own.

For this purpose I recently purchased the Tabletote Plus, a table I can travel with that’s extremely light and entirely collapsible.

– The telescoping legs and attachments store underneath the table surface and can easily be stored in my backpack with plenty of space left over. I’ve never seen a table this tall fit into such a tight package. (Sharpie for size reference)


– The maximum height is 30″ which almost reaches my waist. They also have a taller version but this works for what I need it for.

– It even comes with little attachments for my beer and smartphone, as well as clips for holding up notes if I wanted.

– The cost won’t break the bank.

– The table is made entirely from plastic, the website says it can hold up to 18lbs, but I’d stay under 15lbs to be safe. On the plus side it makes it extremely light for traveling.

Tabletote Plus

Available from Amazon

Housepaint Touch-Up Bottle

We’ve been painting all the rooms in our house and when we finish I save a small container of it, like a cup’s worth, in this little bottle and then just stash it in a drawer of whatever room we painted in. If you drill a hole or remove a painting and pull a nail out, you can spackle it and paint it over with the paint in this bottle rather than leaving big jar somewhere rusting away.

-- Gareth Branwyn  

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

2 Ounce Touch-Up Bottle

Available from Amazon

Kamik Men’s Dawson Waterproof Winter Boot

I moved to Washington state last summer from California. I knew the winter would be quite wet living in the Pacific Northwest. And my wife and I decided to have a “shoeless” house as many folks up here do to keep things cleaner. So I wanted boots that were warm, comfortable, and easy to get on and off. These fit the bill in all areas. I happen to think “duck boots” look pretty cool, so I liked the look myself. And they are incredibly comfortable and really easy to kick off when you get home. Driving in them is great. On long road-trips my feet stay feeling very relaxed.

I have fallen arches and wear orthotics, and I was able to replace the insole with those. I wore these nearly every day throughout the winter. And when we went sledding with the kids at the cabin the kept my feet toasty warm. The only thing about them is that they run 1 size too small. I wear an 11, and ordered a 12 and it was perfect.

I wouldn’t take them on any serious hikes with lots of grade, as they aren’t as supportive as hiking boots (I go back to my Vasque for that). But I’ve worn them on multi-mile walks with the family and felt totally comfortable the entire time.

Now that spring has sprung, some days are just too warm to wear them. But I find myself wearing them whenever I can tolerate it because they’re so comfortable.

-- Cameron Dawson  

Kamik Men’s Dawson Waterproof Winter Boot

Available from Amazon

Leatherman Charge Multitool

I’ve carried a Leatherman multitool, in one form or another, for the last 20 years or so. It’s the one thing I use every single day. There are plenty of multitools on the market and each person will appreciate different aspects of each. There are a number of features I like about the Leatherman Charge:

  1. Externally-accessible blades. The 154CM clip-point straight knife, 420HC serrated knife, wood saw, and file are all accessible without opening the multitool at all. Considering how often I use the blades (usually several times a day) this is a winning feature for me.
  2. Interchangeable screwdriver bits. The Charge comes with a basic flat/Philips reversible bit but there is an additional kit with another 20 bits of various sizes. The bits are unique in that they are flat so they fit into a holder that slots into its own pocket in the belt holster. This allows me to carry a variety of bits right along with my Charge.
  3. A bit-extender option available which fits into the holster as well, that serves 2 purposes: a) it gives about a 3″ extension to fit these bits into tight quarters and B) it has a standard hex socket for standard screwdriver bits. So if you need a bit not available from Leatherman or a specialty bit such as a “security Torx” the extender will accept those and many more. This makes the Charge extremely flexible for many different tasks.
  4. There is a second bit holder for miniature screwdriver bits, including is a reversible flat/Philips bit, which is great for tiny screws such as for eyeglasses, portable electronics and such. The fact that these bits are replaceable is fantastic because I don’t have to worry about damaging a bit that can only be replaced at the factory.
  5. Ccissors. The Charge’s fold-out scissors are sharp and precise, capable of cutting many soft materials. The scissor blades are about 1″ long — not suitable for extended cutting sessions, but great for small jobs.

The rest of the tools included in the Charge are typical across the Leatherman line: a bottle/can opener; two types of wire cutters; pliers that taper from a standard size suitable for bolt heads etc. to a needle-nose size; an 8″ ruler stamped into the handles; a file with an aggressive side suitable for wood or metals and a diamond-coated side for fine surfaces or even sharpening a blade. The saw has very sharp teeth in an aggressive pattern which make short work of even sizable branches.

The Charge is a mid-size multitool approximately 4″ long; it fits comfortably in the hand with rounded edges to keep from digging into your palm and fingers. There are 3 different versions of the Charge available, labelled the AL, the ALX and the TTi. The AL and ALX are almost identical, the difference being a ripping hook on the tip of the rope knife for cutting seat belts, linoleum and leather. The TTi has titanium handle scales instead of the black plastic of the AL and ALX. Also, both the TTi and ALX models add a crimper section in the pliers. In addition there are options for stainless steel or black anodized components to suit your tastes.

Overall I find the Charge to be a great mix of durable, useful tools; it’s comfortable in the hand and sized appropriately for many tasks without being too large or heavy to carry easily. The adaptability of the interchangeable bits and convenience of carrying a selection of bits in the holster make it a winner in my book.

-- Victor Reiner  

Leatherman Charge TTi Multi-Tool with Leather Sheath and Bit Kit

Available from Amazon