24 June 2016

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Adam Savage, co-host of Mythbusters

Cool Tools Show 057: Adam Savage

Our guest this week is Adam Savage. Adam was the co-host of Mythbusters and editor-in-chief of Tested.

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Show notes:

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19″ Forged Alloy Nail Puller($42)
The first tool I wanted to talk about is a really ancient tool and it’s a cast iron nail puller. It’s got a little beak at the end like a octopus’ beak or a squid beak and that’s the part you put around the nail. … You use the handle to hammer the beak and the beak clamps in and grabs both sides of the nail. Then you pull back on the handle using the lever to the side of the beak and it yanks a nail right out of the wood. I use this tool maybe once every couple of years, but every time I do there’s no other tool that would have done what this does. … You could have a nail that’s missing it’s head and this thing could still pull it out. Try and find me another tool that could apply that much physics to the problem of pulling a nail. … It feels right out of a Sears catalog or a Montgomery catalog from the turn of the last century.

Kunz 151
Kunz 151 Flat Spokeshave ($29)
I was shocked at how easy it was to use a spoke shaver, at how well it took a square piece of wood and made it round in literally about 15 minutes. … Like the rule of knives. You cut on the pole. You place it on the corner and you adjust the angle of the wood with how you’re holding it and you pull back towards yourself and you can, with really impressive precision, peel off a lot of or little of the wood as you’re puling the spoke shaver towards you. … I was really surprised at how ergonomic it was, at how much fine motor control even a beginner like me had in making this two by four, or this one by one, a nice round dowel.

844k_in_stand
Marameter 844K Intramess Mahr Federal Self Centering Bore Gages
If you’re doing high level machining work. This is what’s called a check gage or a comparato. This allows you to make sure that the parts that you are making are absolutely scalable to each other, or you’ll have a set of gage blocks. Gage blocks are, let’s say you want to make something that is exactly 1.3759 inches tall. It’s got to be that tall because you’re working with incredibly high tolerances for a piece of NASA hardware. You’d set that height up using gauge blocks, which are a set of blocks that allow you to put them together in multiple combinations that give you every gradation and then you’d place them underneath this check gauge and you’d center it so that it would be set, so that zero on the check gauge was at 1.3795 inches tall and then you’d machine your part and you’d put it into double check that it was exactly the correct height. This is when your working with tolerances, obviously, much finer than the thousandth of an inch, which many high level machines are built to. It’s not actually that I have a regular need for this much accuracy, but I love knowing that it’s possible.

sewing
Janome HD3000 Heavy Duty Sewing Machine w/ Hard Case ($400)
I have been sewing my whole life, since home economics in the 70’s. I had this [old] sewing machine I bought for a job about 20 years ago. It’s been in recent times coughing up a little blood. It’s 25 years old and I decided to upgrade. I did a little research and I found that the Janome HD3000 was, for me, the best mix of a prosumer heavy duty machine that wouldn’t break the bank. … There’s a specific foot for doing a surger stitch and I’m sewing with fur lately as part of a costuming thing and the fur requires a surger stitch for the maximum straight and it’s really cool. It’s opened my eyes to using custom feet for different types of executions like button holes and things like that.

06/24/16 --

24 June 2016

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Smittybilt Beaver Step

Simplest way to add a stepping point to get into your pickup truck's cargo area

This is a combination truck hitch step/recovery point/bumper protector. This step has an interesting shape, more like a broad arrow head than the beaver tail it is named after. The unique shape makes it very easy to thread a recovery strap through and/or around it for secure use.

As for its construction, it is SOLID piece of steel which is then powder coated. As it is a solid piece of steel, it is quite heavy for its size. This construction means that it is extremely heavy duty. I am a bigger guy and I can jump on this step and it does not budge.

My only complaint is that it is a little loose in the 2″ hitch, so it will rattle around a little if you do not do something to tighten it up. I decided to wrap the hitch portion with a few layers of electrical tape. It is nice and tight with the tape and it should also help prevent it from rusting in the hitch. I would also recommend a good locking hitch pin so it does not walk away.

06/24/16 -- Matt Schirmacher

23 June 2016

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Roper Whitney Jr. No. 5 Punch Kit

Hand punch will make holes in sheet steel, aluminum, and brass.

The Roper Whitney hand punch is one of the most-used tools in my shop for sheet metal projects. For holes up to 9/32″ in thin metals it is often easier to use than a hand drill or press and leaves a clean hole with minimal burr and no shavings created. It’s also ideal for awkward objects that you don’t want to disassemble, such as punching holes in a bicycle fender while it’s still on the bike.

Changing the punch and dies takes me about 30 seconds. Not as fast as changing a drill bit but once you’re ready to go, each hole just takes a squeeze of the handles. The compound leverage mechanism requires minimal effort. It also makes centering holes easy. Set a dimple with a center punch then slide the Whitney punch around on the metal until its center point finds the dimple and you’re lined up perfectly.

The basic model comes with seven punch and dies sized from 3/32″ to 9/32″. It maxes out at about a quarter inch hole in 16 ga. mild steel, but that still covers most of my needs. Plus, it can punch in thicker material if the holes are smaller and if punching aluminum. It also works good for plastic and leather. Mine is over 30 years old and still going strong.

06/23/16 -- Kent Strumpell

22 June 2016

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Electrician’s Knife

Edges designed for stripping cables, also good for cleaning 3D printed parts

I have used this electrician’s knife at work to clean up FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D-printed parts for the last year. It has a short blade with a straight edge, which makes it possible to be exact while applying enough force to cut through thick plastic. The blunt tip makes it feel safe and more appropriate in an office setting than a bigger knife. The ergonomics and quality makes this product stand out. I guess it’s a great tool for an electrician as well.

06/22/16 -- Arild Sakshaug

21 June 2016

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Bodum Shin Cha Tea Press

34-ounce glass tea press for loose teas and tea bags

After 5 years of pretty much exclusively using my Bodum teapot I have gotten so used to it I only notice the process when I’m not at home and have to use a different teapot.

I like having a big pot of tea sitting on my desk while I work on the computer but with most teapots the tea continues to gain in strength the longer it stays in the pot; unless you want to outright remove the tea which is nothing but a hot mess. This is the best teapot in my experience for being able to brew tea that can stay in the pot but not continue steeping and increasing in strength.

The system is very simple, the strainer inside the teapot has no holes in its bottom section so when the plunger is fully depressed the tea cannot continue to soak in the water as it has been cut off and sealed in the bottom of the strainer.

I use it whenever I’m at home and can have 1 liter of tea that is of a consistent strength sitting on my desk, making the only other issue I have to deal with the fact that eventually it will go cold which is an issue I have not found a solution to other than drinking the tea.

I was not able to find the exact porcelain model I have online anymore, it seems like Bodum may have discontinued it but they make the same size and shape pot out of borosilicate glass (the stuff pyrex is made from) so if anything its now stronger and more shatter resistant if dropped plus since its now clear you can see exactly how much tea is left in the pot.

06/21/16 -- Thomas Webster

20 June 2016

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Scanpan Professional 9.5-Inch Fry Pan

Ceramic-titanium nonstick finish is safe for metal utensils

I have always hated Teflon pans even before hearing how bad it was for you. They just don’t hold up well and the alternative has always been keeping a very well seasoned cast iron pan. I have done this for years, but it takes a fair amount of attention, and is still not a perfect non stick solution. I started trying some of the ceramic coated pans a few years back and have found one to be the best, the Scanpan. They are not cheap but I have used their classic fry pan to make eggs every morning for a couple years and the coating looks as good as new and as I have added others to my collection I find that they are the ones I reach for every time. They clean as easy as brand new Teflon pans, come in a variety of handle and lid styles, and hold up better and have none of the toxicity.

06/20/16 -- Alexander Rose

TOOL REVIEWS

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What’s in My Bag — Daniel Webb

A software developer by day, musician by night shares his bag full of album-making tools

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Ask Cool Tools Featured Questions

Share your knowledge with your fellow Cool Tools readers

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Picardie 12 oz Clear Tumbler

The original French tumbler, made by the company that invented tempered glass

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Long Nose Marker Pen

Long thin tip on one side reaches tight spots

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3M Sanding Sponge

Great for cleaning tree sap from tools

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Brightline B2 Compute Pilot Bag

Modular luggage with multiple configurations

See all the reviews

ASK COOL TOOLS

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glue

best glue for pvc  

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Personal bookprinting

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Constant automatic accuracy

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COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST

06/24/16

Cool Tools Show 057: Adam Savage

Picks and shownotes
06/8/16

Cool Tools Show 056: Brian Brushwood

Picks and shownotes
05/24/16

Cool Tools Show 055: Dan Benjamin

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What's in My Bag? 20 June 2016

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06/20/16

What’s in My Bag — Daniel Webb

A software developer by day, musician by night shares his bag full of album-making tools

Announcements: 05/15/16

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Feedly is a great way to read Cool Tools

A couple of years ago, hundreds of thousands of our readers read Cool Tools using Google Reader, an RSS aggregator. But when Google pulled the plug on Reader, tens of thousands of our readers didn’t bother to resubscribe by using a different RSS reader.

Kevin and I are both RSS junkies. It’s the way we read all our blogs. And the reader we use is Feedly. It’s evolved over the years and now it is better than Google Reader ever was. The free version is excellent (I have no reason to pay $5 a month for the premium version).

I recommend reading Cool Tools via Feedly. We offer the full text of every post, not just an excerpt. Give it a try and I think you’ll understand why 61 thousand people read Cool Tools readers through Feedly.

About Cool Tools

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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

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} kk.org.

mark

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} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

claudia

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} kk.org.