REVIEWED ON: 26 November 2015



Crowdsourced design

99Designs is a clever design service for small jobs like a book cover, or company logo, biz cards, or website. You give them a design brief and announce how much you are willing to pay. Typical jobs offer $200 to $500. Then the design brief is broadcast to a crowd of designers. Those designers who want to try for the job will submit preliminary designs. If you are bidding $500 you’ll get more submissions than if you bid $200. Some jobs will receive only a dozen entries, some will garner hundreds. You then choose the winning design and pay your bid. All along you can be directing and working with the designers. The more you are willing to pay, the more, and better, designers will submit. Besides 99Designs there is DesignCrowd, Crowdspring, and 48Hours, with no clear dominant company.

I used 99Designs to run a contest for the cover of Cool Tools. I wrote up a design brief — what I was looking for, style-wise, etc. — and offered $499 for the winner, if I found one I really liked. (If I did not, I would get a refund.) In just 4 days I received over 150 different designs! The quality and directions were all over the map — in a mostly good way. You can see 12 of the better, thrilling entries here. You have to admit the variety is awesome.

In the end, I used a cover that I designed myself, but for most projects the quality of the designs generated by 99Designs would have worked well.

And according to the experience of others, a chief advantage of this method is that you can identify a designer you like and begin to work with them on a steady more conventional relationship.

11/26/15 -- KK

REVIEWED ON: 25 November 2015


Breaker Bar

Gives you the extra leverage you need to unscrew lug nuts

I have kept a 25-inch Pittsburgh Professional breaker bar in all three of our vehicles for years. At $13 each, you can’t really go wrong. Just attach a 19mm or 3/4″ socket (check your owner’s manual for the lug nut size on your car’s wheels).

It is superior to the standard tire tools included with your car, which are often too small to generate enough leverage. You lean on it a tad, and it will easily loosen the tightest of lug nuts on your wheels. You can also use it on tough fasteners in other applications as well.

11/25/15 -- Justin La Mar

REVIEWED ON: 24 November 2015


Grabit Damaged Screw Remover

Easily extract stubborn, hard-to-remove screws

This nifty tool has saved my bacon numerous times over the years. We’ve all stripped a screw head before. This simple and elegant gadget fits into your drill just like any other screw bit. One end has a burring tool that burnishes the screw head recess in a few seconds. You then flip it over to the threaded end and engage the damaged screw. Because the drill is running in reverse, it will quickly extract it. The simplicity, low cost and utility of this tool makes it a must-have in my tool chest.


11/24/15 -- John Bulger

(NOTE: This screw extractor kit has a higher rating on Amazon. — editors)

REVIEWED ON: 23 November 2015


Kreitler Bike Rollers

Ride your bike indoors

Riding a bike on rollers rather than a stationary trainer (on which balancing is not required) is more fun and engaging. It’s much more challenging than riding on a stationary trainer because on rollers you need to keep your balance or else fall, much like riding a bike on the road, albeit a very narrow piece of road.

I’ve used Kreitler rollers for about 6 years. They enable me to ride my bike indoors when it’s raining, or get an intense 20-minute cycling workout when I don’t have time to go for a full ride. They also dramatically improve my balance and control of my bike.
Kreitler rollers are made in the USA and come with a lifetime warranty. They’re the industry standard.


11/23/15 -- Elon Schoenholz

REVIEWED ON: 20 November 2015


Garageio Garage Door Controller

Control your garage door with your smartphone

I found Garageio on Even though it was something I never knew I needed, I realized that using the old fashioned garage clicker that came with our Genie Model 1024 Pro could be better. Mainly, the biggest drawback of the traditional remote control is that it only works within sight of the garage door. Secondly, keeping the clicker either on the sun visor or in the glove box of the car is a security risk as any thief in the neighborhood could break into the car in our community parking lot (we live in a townhouse in a crowded Northern Virginia suburb) and use it to gain access to our garage and potentially even farther into our home. After using the Garageio for about six months, I thought it was ready for review.

First, a bit about installation: The Garageio allows you to connect up to three separate garage doors. We have a single garage door, so I can only comment on installing it for one door. The Garageio website claims that you can install it in 15 minutes. I’d say that as long as you spend 10 or 15 minutes before you start the installation process and plan where you are going to mount the wires, get familiar with your particular model of garage door opener, and watch the online install video, then that is an accurate claim. Everything we needed to successfully install the Garageio was in the box except the step ladder, the screwdrivers (a Philips and a flathead), and our iPhones. If you are well-organized and are handy, you could probably install this on your own, but my wife and I tackled this together and we had everything installed within 20 minutes. This included having it connected to our wireless network via Wi-Fi and paired with our iPhones. I won’t go into detail on all the steps other than to say that their installation videos are comprehensive, nicely produced, and easy to understand and to follow. Connecting the Garageio unit to your network and pairing your phone is also breeze. We have iPhones, but the Garageio is advertised as working with Androids, too.

Next, a bit about operation: The Garageio does what it is designed to do — it allows you to open and close your garage door via your cell phone app or your web account. The app is simple. It shows a garage door. You swipe your finger up, the garage door opens. You swipe your finger down, the garage door closes. We find it to work pretty reliably, although sometimes it has a synching issue in that sometimes the app might show the door being closed when the door is actually open. This is easily corrected by either swiping the garage door up until it is synched with the actual door or by closing the app and restarting it. If the door is left open, the app will notify you that the garage door is still open. However, it does not allow you to adjust the length of time before it notifies you. This is great for those rare times when you drive away and forget to close the door. Also, their website advertises that you can see who accessed your door and when, but you can only see this through the web portal, not the phone app. I’d like to be able to see these activity reports on my phone, but this is far from being a deal breaker. Finally, you can grant up to ten users access. I’ve never tried to add more people than my wife and myself, but that was easy enough so I assume that adding more would also be easy.

The Garageio has been most useful to us for allowing folks like repairmen and cleaning people to access our home during the day while we are working. We simply have them call us when they arrive and we open the garage door for them allowing them access to the house. When they leave, we ask that they call us again and we close the door.

A new feature of Garageio as of October 2014 is their If This Then That (IFTT) channel. They have some sample recipes you can use such as “If I arrive at my house then open my garage door” and “If my door is opened or closed then send me a text message.” I have yet to try these, but I appreciate that they are developing new ways to extend the usefulness.

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 5.52.20 PM

11/20/15 -- Scott Buel

REVIEWED ON: 19 November 2015


Diamond Laser 3000 Xl Bandsaw

Wet saw makes precise cuts

I’ve been making stained glass art for 30+ years, mostly as a hobby, mostly cutting it with the standard manual cutter and grinding it to finish the shape. About five years ago I decided to spring the $450 on this wet band saw and I can’t say enough about how fantastic it is. The blade is so thin that if you are cutting multiple pieces of the same glass, say a sea turtle shell, the pieces come off the saw already fitting perfectly.

It saves me 3/4 of the time it used to take to make a particular suncatcher.

It cuts glass and stone tiles precisely for backsplashes and insets in granite countertops. The blade can raise high enough to cut 1″ thick dalle de verre glass or curved china bowls. You can get wood blades for it too, and my musician husband was able to use it (dry) to make the precise cuts he needed to finish a new bridge for his double bass. It’s a workhorse, and Diamond Tech offers replacement parts if you need them. Five years later my original saw is humming away happily and so is my business.

11/19/15 -- Robin Sterns


img 11/18/15

Oneida Dust Deputy

Vacuums sawdust without clogging the filter

img 11/17/15

Edge Pro Apex knife sharpener

Makes a mirror finish razor sharp edge

img 11/16/15

The Bamboo Spade

Easy way to dig up bamboo roots

img 11/13/15

Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother

Hot and cold milk froth for cappuccinos and lattes

img 11/12/15


Multi-purpose portable work bench

img 11/11/15

MXZ Pocket Saw

Pocket saw accepts standard reciprocating saw blades

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What’s In My Bag? – Andrew Maxwell-Parish

These are the items I deem necessary to have with me at all times

Announcements: 11/12/15


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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 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 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}


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} (or use the Submit a Tool form).


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}