Author Howard Rheingold [Cool Tools Show #003]

Howard Rheingold is a critic, writer, teacher, and artist; his specialties are on the cultural, social and political implications of modern communication media such as the Internet, mobile telephony, virtual communities, digital media and learning, and online co-learning. He joins the Cool Tools podcast this week to discuss how his budding interest in woodworking has enriched his creative projects and led him to amass a whole new arsenal of cool tools. In this episode, Howard shows us a thorough list of must-haves for any beginner in woodworking or circuit tinkering, as well as some quality-of-life items to cultivate a healthy working environment.

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Show notes:

Howard’s Etsy Page

Here are Howard’s tool picks, with quotes from the show:





6′ x 8′ Tuff Shed: ~$2,000.00 (See website for exact pricing.)
“I’ve got a six by eight foot shed installed. They broke it down into parts and moved it through my narrow garden gate and installed and painted it, all level and nice, for two thousand dollars for an eight by six foot shed. You’ll be amazed at the amount of stuff I’ve been able to cram in there.”


Makita Compound Miter Saw: $449.00-$796.00
“I’ve got a Makita compound miter saw, which is invaluable. Compound means you can move it in an angle in the horizontal plane, but you can also move it at angles in the vertical plane to make bevels. That’s very useful especially if you get a blade with more teeth on it so that you can make finer cuts.”


Survivair S-Series Half Mask respirator mask: $27

“The respirator I’m using is the Survivair, S. Series Half Mask Respirator. Cost me thirty bucks and I figure it’s worth it to not have to worry about my lungs.”


Jet 10-inch lathe: $419 – $521

“I have a Jet mini-lathe. Again, I took a wood turning class and the teacher recommended it. It’s a 10-inch, which enables me to work in a pretty small space.”


Rikon 8-inch grinder: $140


Wolverine Grinding Jig: $92

“By the way, if you get a lathe you have to get a grinder, I found out, because your tools get dull very quickly, so I’ve got a Rikon eight-inch grinder and at the recommendation of my wood turning teacher. I got the Wolverine grinding jig with it.”


Uvex Bionic Face Shield: $42 – $54


Roker Wireless portable bluetooth speaker: $23

“I just put on Spotify or my iTunes, click ‘Library,’ start playing it on my iPhone, and then just turn on my speaker and turn on Bluetooth and, bang! It’s pretty substantial.”


Spoonflower Fabrics: See website for pricing.

“If you go to Spoonflower.com you can upload any image and they’ll send you fabric.”


Copy Paste Pro: Free

“Copy Paste Pro will remember up to the last two hundred things that I either cut or copied to my clipboard. The clipboard, by the way, Ted Nelson calls “the abominable hidey hole.”


Radio Shack Wire Wrapping Tool: $3 – $13

“It wraps wire around a pin and makes just as good an electrical connection — and just as good a mechanical connection — as soldering does. You put a little shrink wrap on it and it can be quite robust if you’re not going to move it around too much.”


Adafruit Perma-Proto Breadboard: $7.00

Mark: “Adafruit makes these really great printed circuit boards that have the same letter and numbering system as a solderless breadboard”


Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencils: $23/doz.

“One thing that Boing Boing turned me onto are Blackwing pencils. I’ve got those out in the shed. I’ve got them in my sketchbook here in the office.”


Felco Pruners: $54 – $63

“I use them for cutting up anything that’s basically smaller than your thumb and there’s a lot of it in my garden. If you’ve got fruit trees or you’ve got bushes or blackberries or ivy, anything like that you’ll use it a lot.”



Paper Clay: $12/16 oz.

“It’s mostly paper but it’s also got a little bit of clay in it. You don’t need to bake it. It takes a couple of days to dry and after it dried you can sand it and paint it or put something more substantial over it and it’s very, very lightweight which is a good reason for using it.”