Ryobi Cordless Finish Sander

This sander is in every Home Depot in the country and it is average for its primary intended job. But it is excellent as a super-scrubber for tough cleaning jobs: bathtub rings, crusted on pot and pans, outdoor grills, and camping gear.

Ryobi sells kitchen-type nylon scrubby pads in increasing levels of roughness from light duty to heavy duty, that just stick on. The sander is small enough to get into pot and pans but big enough for quick cleaning of very wide expanses. It is a go-to tool for tough cleaning. When used with a lithium battery it will last longer than I can and it shares batteries with the rest of the Ryobi tool line.

-- Steve Murray  

Ryobi One + 18 Volt Corner Cat P400
$35

Available from Amazon



Blo-Poke

This is an outstanding fireplace tool, which I have owned for about 8 years. We have a fire in our fireplace every night in the winter. This tool is long enough to rearrange the fire over the top of the firescreen, making it much more convenient to maintain the fire. By blowing through the tube, you can get coals going very quickly.

We also have a small bellows, but it does not generate nearly as much flow as I can with the Blo-Poke. This tool is beautiful to hold, to use, or to look at. It will last forever. At $154, the cost is high, but I think it is worth it to own a tool this beautiful. I have given several as gifts, and the people love them.

-- John J. Murphy  

Blo-Poke
$154



Vornado Room Air Circulator

I’m a big fan of this big fan.

I bought my first Vornado Air Circulator in 2007 and have had it running for THOUSANDS of hours. Not long after that I purchased a second one for another room — that too has run flawlessly for (what I estimate is) well over 7,000 hours.

At the low setting it emits a very quiet white noise that I find rather pleasant AND it works just as advertised: it keeps the air in the room moving/circulating.

The the big selling point (to me) is this: The Vornado, “Saves energy by maximizing the performance of heating and cooling systems. When you use a Vornado Air Circulator, you will not have to set your summertime thermostat as low or your wintertime thermostat as high.” (From the product guide.)

Yes. Affirmative. Ya. True.

-- Chuck Green  

Vornado 733 Full-Size Whole Room Air Circulator
$90

Available from Amazon



 

Mibro Door Lock Installation Kit

Installing a door knob is a tricky job, and having to install a new lockset on my daughter’s bedroom door was proving head-poundingly frustrating until the guy at the hardware store sold me this nifty template. Basically, this template idiot-proofs the installation of a door knob.

You screw it to the door where you want the knob, use the included hole saws to cut the holes for the knob and latch and it’s done! This kit costs only a little more than the hole saws you’d have to buy to do the job anyway, and it’s lots cheaper than buying a whole new door if you mess up the job. The two tricky bits are remembering to screw the template to the door, and making sure that the hole saws are tightly screwed to the arbor of the drill. There are more expensive kits with higher quality materials, if you’re planning to install a lot of doorknobs, but this one will probably last me a lifetime.

As your basic all-thumbs carpenter, I really need a device like this!

-- Amy Thomson  

Mibro Ultimate Door Lock and Hinge Installation Kit for Wood Doors
$18

Available from Amazon



Snirt Stopper

I installed this item on my sixteen foot garage door about a month ago. It’s snowing outside today here in Denver, but my overhead door is snugly sealed, despite a two inch gap on one side of my door. What is a Snirt Stopper? From the website:

We have designed a garage door bottom seal and threshold seal that mounts to the inside face of the door instead of the bottom, this gives you the ability to adjust the seal up or down allowing you to match any unevenness (up to 2 inches) of shifting floors and garage doors.

Snirt Stopper is the inventor’s euphemism for stopping “snow and dirt.” Actually, it also stops rain, leaves, grass and anything else that might otherwise blow inside your man cave.

There is nothing else like this “tool” on the market, and I found it buried fairly deep on the web by deep searching “garage door gap solutions.”

-- Eugene Pummill  

Snirt Stopper
$52 – $99



Sunbeam Trashrac

We had something similar to the Trashrac in my kitchen growing up, and I noticed its absence while living in rentals. Now that I’m in my own home, I installed one of these in my kitchen and my bathroom. It’s great to have a trash under the sink cabinet, because it’s often the location that I am wanting to discard something.

The downside to small free-standing trashcans is that they can get hard to reach under a cabinet. Also, you either have to buy small trashbags that get filled up quickly or use grocery bags that don’t fit well.

This product is great because the trash swings open with the door so that it is easy to reach. It is a perfect fit for the plastic grocery bags that I reuse for free. The handles of the bags loop down to hold it snugly, but the bag can be placed and removed with one hand if needed.

The model comes with a lid, which I took off in the kitchen for more efficient use, but I left it on in the bathroom for more discreet disposal.

It took me about 15 minutes to install both of mine, with a drill and screwdriver.

-- Amy  

Sunbean Trashrac
$16

Available from Amazon



 

Caframo MiniMax Deluxe Battery-Operated Fan

Bought our first MiniMax at a boating supply store a few years back. Runs forever on 4 “D” size batteries, but I found it had a 6vdc input and bought a wall-wart for $1 at the flea market to fit.

Portable and powerful, softish fan blades will not cut off your fingers. Folds flat and will adjust 45°+ tilt.

Nice to de-fog the bathroom mirror after a bath.

Variable speed control on high and Low settings.

Small enough to pack on a trip.

Pretty quiet.

Using one right now (really!) in the kitchen, to cool off some potatoes.

-- Kent K Barnes  

Caframo MiniMax Deluxe Portable 737 4.5″ Battery Operated Fan
$28

Available from Amazon



Kaboom Scrub Free Toilet Cleaning System

I have been using the Kaboom Scrub Free Toilet Cleaning System for over 6 years now, since first reading about its predecessor, the NeverScrub Self-Cleaning Toilet System here on Cool Tools. I originally ordered the previous version through a special offer from the manufacturer and, a few months later they sent me a free sample of the newer current version. This is an update of the original article.

Everything in the original article applies. The main difference is a complete redesign of the little plastic tank which allows easier replacement of the disinfectant tablets. With the original design, the screw-top stuck mercilessly, eventually resulting in breakage of the screw threads from repeated forcing of the screw-top to open it.

The unit consists of a little tank which is clipped to the top of the water closet, just inside the lip of the tank cover, with water lines going from the flush valve into the plastic reservoir holding the disinfectant tablets, and out to the overflow tube of the toilet. The plastic reservoir is filled with bleach-like tablets, which slowly dissolve, releasing disinfectant into the toilet bowl whenever the toilet is flushed. Simple and effective. Unlike some other products, which release rubber-corroding chemicals right into the tank itself, and destroy the rubber gaskets, this product only releases the chemical agent into the toilet bowl. I have never had to replace any gaskets due to corrosion as a result of using this product.

As long as you replenish the disinfectant tablets, the product “just works.” It releases a dilute bleach-like solution into the bowl every time you flush. It has a reassuring chlorine-like smell (actually it’s bromine) and it keeps the bowl sparkling clean. Though you still have to do the occasional bowl scrub, it reduces the frequency of this task significantly. Once every 4-6 weeks keeps things nice and clean.

The interval between tablet replenishments, of course, depends on the traffic the particular toilet experiences. I add tablets about once a month. You can tell they need replenishment when the intensity of the bromine smell diminishes noticeably.

A side note on the refill tablets is in order. I made mention of this in a comment in the original article. Though the price of the Kaboom unit itself is modest, a pack of just 2 refills costs as much as the product. So if you replaced the refills once a month, you would end up spending about 6 times the price of the product every year for refills. The old razor blade/camera film profit scheme.

A much cheaper solution is to use Spa Brominating Tablets. One bottle lasts me about 2 years. Interestingly enough, the Amazon listing for the Kaboom product also refers to a listing for Spa Brominating Tablets. Someone must have read my recommendation in my comment in the original article.

-- Larry Albertelli  

Kaboom with OxiClean Scrub Free! System
$11

Available from Amazon



Butterfly Spring Door Closer

This is a simple very powerful spring that closes the door perfectly every time. I have it installed on the door between my house and garage, which is difficult to close completely and easily blown open by wind.

It’s not too fast, nor too slow. If I push the door closed, it gives it enough extra oomph to make sure it closes completely. If I let it close the door, most of the time it closes and latches, worst case, it’s pushed against the door jamb and doesn’t move in the wind.

Most pleasant (and unexpected) of all is that the magnetic “hold-open” catch that I have on the door for those few occasions when I want it held open, still works fine with the spring. It seems to be the absolute perfect tension.

My only caveat would be around small children and a heavy door swinging shut.

Installation is a bit tricky. You need to pull up one of the hinge pins about 3″, then pry the spring open, which takes a bit of strength, then slip the spring over the extended hinge pin and rest the rubber covered arms over the door and the wall. This is tricky because your fingers are on the sides of the arm that go against the door and wall, so you need to open it even further than the 90 degree angle it sits at with the door closed. Once you have it over the hinge pin, you push the hinge pin back most of the way, but the pin will forever stick out about an inch – the length of the spring.

door-spring-installed

-- Chris Hartmann  

Butterfly Spring Door Closer
$6

Available from Amazon



Metal Radiator Humidifier

Those of you who heat your house via a steam or hot water radiator system know the advantages: no noise, even heat, lots of warmth even once the system turns off, and more. We’ve lived in a radiator boiler driven home for 30 years and radiators are a wonderful source of heat.

But one huge problem is how to add humidity to the air. One traditional way was to set pots on top of shelves that fit on the top of the radiator but many radiators did not have such fitted shelves. Another was just to have pots or containers of water (or lots of plants) around the house. All OK, but not ideal in terms of efficiency. And, there are all kinds of radiator humidifiers, most of which hang off the front of the radiator, just itching to be bumped into and have the water spill.

Killian Hardware sells what they call an “old fashioned” radiator humidifier that fits in the opening of the radiator formed by the various fins of the radiator. It is a 16” long and about 4” high galvanized sheet metal container that has an opening on the end that you just keep filled with water. During the cold winter months ours (and we have two per radiator throughout the house) need to be filled about once every two days. Since they are galvanized, they won’t rust, but don’t try and clean it with CRB or some other mineral dissolving liquid because once you do that, it will rust (I have the data for that one!). The edges of these can be sharp so should be taped if there are little kids around. And, you need to order them during the summer months when they are not in demand, because the hardware store is almost always out of stock during the winter months.

radiator2

-- Neil J. Salkind  

Stainless Steel Radiator Humidifier
$20

Manufactured by William A Kilian Hardware.