19 January 2018

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Fiskars X7 14″ Hatchet

For chopping kindling and small- to medium-sized logs

During the winter months we use a wood burning stove for most of our heat. Propane is very expensive for home heating so it’s worth the hassle of using our stove. After many years I have streamlined my methods for fire starting and the process was improved significantly when I picked up Fiskars baby axe, their 14″ hatchet. My old camp axe had gotten a wobbly head and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t get that great of an edge on it. I picked up the smallest Fiskars at my local hardware shop. I use this small axe to chop kindling down into batons for easy lighting. I also use it to create wood shavings for starting my fires. I try to avoid using paper as much as possible, preferring to break wood down so it lights quickly with just a match or two. The Fiskars 14″ hatchet has a great angle for splitting small wood pieces, and is super sharp for making kindling of any size. It holds its edge very well and sharpens right up with a few angled strokes of a file or stone. These hatches come with a lifetime warranty and it’s clear they are made to last. I have the larger splitting maul they make and they are both quality products.

-- Seth Wilson 01/19/18

19 January 2018

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Fiskars X7 14″ Hatchet

For chopping kindling and small- to medium-sized logs

During the winter months we use a wood burning stove for most of our heat. Propane is very expensive for home heating so it’s worth the hassle of using our stove. After many years I have streamlined my methods for fire starting and the process was improved significantly when I picked up Fiskars baby axe, their 14″ hatchet. My old camp axe had gotten a wobbly head and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t get that great of an edge on it. I picked up the smallest Fiskars at my local hardware shop. I use this small axe to chop kindling down into batons for easy lighting. I also use it to create wood shavings for starting my fires. I try to avoid using paper as much as possible, preferring to break wood down so it lights quickly with just a match or two. The Fiskars 14″ hatchet has a great angle for splitting small wood pieces, and is super sharp for making kindling of any size. It holds its edge very well and sharpens right up with a few angled strokes of a file or stone. These hatches come with a lifetime warranty and it’s clear they are made to last. I have the larger splitting maul they make and they are both quality products.

-- Seth Wilson 01/19/18

18 January 2018

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Sensor Swabs

Cleans delicate optical and hard to reach imaging surfaces

I shoot a lot of photos with my DSLR camera. I also teach a photography course and am responsible for maintaining over 20 cameras. I travel with my DSLR and am always swapping lenses… dirt and dust just naturally floats in there and can cause spots on longer exposures or shots using a smaller aperture. When the sensor is dirty you don’t want to scratch it by cleaning it incorrectly.

I used to have cameras serviced individually when the need arose, but I got tired of sending them out and all the time (too much paperwork, etc). I ordered a Sensor Swab kit from Photographic Solutions and was really pleased. It just takes a few minutes to clean a camera sensor with this swab kit, the included directions were quite clear and the swab sticks can be re-used with a refill kit. I have resurrected cameras that students have brought in from the depths of their parents closet with this simple cleaning kit.

Cleaning a camera sensor isn’t something that needs to be done often, but when the need arises you don’t want to go sticking your finger in there (cloth can leave more dust in its wake and scratch the sensor) and blowing air just moves or embeds particles deeper in the camera. This swab and solution cleans in 2 swipes, super easy and effective.

-- Seth Wilson 01/18/18

18 January 2018

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PowerSquid

Better than a power strip

Lets you connect multiple devices, even with big power converters, to a single outlet.

-- Zimran Ahmed 01/18/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2006 — editors)

17 January 2018

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Microspatula

Multipurpose craft tool

My microspatula is one of the tools I reach for most often in my house. As an archivist, microspatulas are standard issue tools in my profession. They are useful for a variety of careful, fine-motor tasks that come up when handling manuscripts, photographs, or rare books. At this point in my career I rarely have an opportunity to do to the detailed, careful work that requires a microspatula, but at home I’ve used one several times a week for over a decade. It’s a perfect tool for situations that require something strong enough to apply a little force but gentle enough not to break stuff. A microspatula has two blades, one more tapered, the other snub-nosed. Both are useful for scraping, prying, turning, and adjusting things that require delicate persuasion. Whichever blade you use, the other becomes a convenient handle. The more tapered blade is perfect for loosening small, Phillips head screws, and the narrow shaft makes it easy to turn the microspatula quickly in one hand. I use mine frequently to open battery compartments on toys and electronics.

It’s also an ideal letter opener and crease maker. These days my favorite use for my microspatula is prying apart small Lego pieces — a not infrequent task in my house with three young boys. The narrow blades can get between two pieces without either marking the plastic or slipping and jamming into my palm.

The combination of strength, delicacy, and versatility provided by a microspatula has made me reach for screwdrivers, scrapers, and knives less often, knowing they are often too large for a particular task. It took me by surprise when I looked for microspatulas online and saw that their advertised use is for measuring and transferring powders in a laboratory context. I’m certain they can do that ably, but that’s not something I’ve ever used one for. I can’t say exactly which model microspatula I have – mine was a required purchase back in a grad school book repair class. But an apparently identical version on Amazon looks the same and has the same measurements. For just a few dollars I’d replace mine without hesitation were I to lose it.

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-- Mike Rush 01/17/18

17 January 2018

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LED Pixel Physics [Maker Update #67]

The latest maker tools and projects

This week on Maker Update, simulated gravity pixels, the HowToons Kalimba kit, an automata art bike mashup, and building your own B-MO from Adventure Time. This week’s Cool Tool is the DeWalt Right Angle Attachment. Show notes.

-- Donald Bell 01/17/18

ALL REVIEWS

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Beaded Cable Tie

Easier than a twist tie

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Protect your skin from sun damage while driving

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LED Light Weight Magnifier with 5 Lenses

Wearable LED lit magnifying glasses

img 01/13/18

The Thumb Thing

Book Manipulation Device

img 01/11/18

Jane Frauenfelder, techie teenager

Cool Tools Show 104: Jane Frauenfelder

See all the reviews

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WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
23 February 2017

ANNOUNCEMENTS
05/23/17

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We Refreshed Our Website

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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.

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