For years, I was frustrated by stripped screw holes, particularly with wooden doors. To get a screw to stay in the stripped hole, I stuffed wood pieces, plastic anchors, basically anything I could find that would fit in the hole. Usually the fix failed, and I was again searching for a MacGyver fix.
A friend suggested plastic wood, which can easily be found at your local hardware store. Simply squeeze a thin layer into the into the stripped hole, let it dry, then repeat until the area is sufficiently closed up. It’s easy to use and quick drying, and is sandable and paintable. Usage isn’t limited to screw holes, it can be used on any finished or unfinished wood. Highly recommended.
I camp a lot and picked up six of these last year. I thought the pull ring was a good idea after having more than a few regular bungees slip from my hands while stretching. The ring makes these easy to secure. Even better, the ring provides an additional tie down location. This works out great when latching locations are limited. My wife really loves them, a huge plus. A simple, very useful, innovation.
Google has a convenient URL-shortener service. Here’s how it works:
1. Select and copy your long URL into your clipboard.
2. Go to goo.gl
3. Paste your URL into the box where the cursor is positioned.
4. Click the Shorten URL button.
5. Copy (Ctrl + C) the already “selected” short URL to your clipboard. (It looks like this: http://goo.gl/tjzuZw)
Google keeps all your long/short URL pairs on display on that page for you to re-use in the future. (It’s public, but you can hide any pair you want.)
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 46 thousand people read Cool Tools readers through Feedly.
This fruit picker blows away any other one we’ve had.
Most fruit pickers use a “hook and basket” which requires you to pull the fruit to remove it from the tree. The problem with this system is fruit that is notoriously difficult to pull. On more than one occasion, the basket detached from the pole and was then stuck in the tree. As a rule, the basket designs are not very good and there’s really no way to definitively attach the basket to the end of the pole so that it WON’T come off.
This one works very differently. It’s like actually having a hand with two 4-inch looped fingers at the end of the pole that grips the fruit (there’s a very ingenious cord system that controls the opening and closing of the jaws of the picker) tightly, but not so tightly that it injures the fruit. This then allows you to twist the fruit until the stem snaps and frees the fruit.
We have avocado and pomegranate trees. These are NOTORIOUSLY difficult to pull using a conventional “hook and pull” basket picker. This picker made short work of picking both of these types of fruits/veggies.
The design is ingenious and works REALLY well.
I have it attached to a 12-foot telescoping pole that I use to change light bulbs. The great thing is that if you already have a pole with a standard threaded end (the same end you might have on a push broom or mop), you can attach this picker easily.
My feeling is that if you wanted to use a longer pole (say 20 feet) the picking might be a 2 person job which has nothing to do with the picker and everything to do with “targeting” a piece of fruit with a 20 foot pole.
Compared to the other fruit pickers I’ve tried, the design, durability, and ease of use can’t be matched.
- Picks even difficult to remove fruit/vegetable varieties.
- Ease of use
- Ingenious Design
- You have to bring your own pole
- Set up is a little tricky but well documented
I got this as a birthday gift and it’s been on my keychain since. It’s about 3.25 inches long and about an inch at its widest. It has several tools including: pry tool, bottle opener, seat belt cutter, screw-driver, and a wrench driver that accommodates a variety of bolt/nut diameters.
It has a hole for attaching to your keychain, but also comes with a lanyard if you don’t want to attach directly to your keyring.
The seat belt/cord cutter is recessed so you shouldn’t cut yourself unless you really try, but it sometimes can get caught on your pocket on the way in. Also, if you have young kids, be careful if they play with this as their fingers may be small enough to fit in the blade area.
The thing I like most about it is its weight. It is made of titanium and weighs 0.5 oz., about the weight of 3 quarters! I have had several other keychain tools, but they were all either too heavy or too bulky. With the pry tool on my keychain, I hardly notice the difference in my pocket.
A box of copies of Kevin’s book, Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities, has been sitting across the street from Amazon’s processing center for the past couple of weeks. The Amazon listing for the book showed it as being unavailable, and we were getting email from Cool Tools readers wondering if copies would become available in time for Christmas.
The good news is that Amazon now has the copies and they are ready to ship! However, today is the last day you can order it and have it arrive in the US by December 24. If you want a copy, you need it order it now. The deadline expires in a matter of hours.
Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes |RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page
Brett Doar, an artist/maker renowned for his Rube Goldberg machines, shows us some little tools that can make a big impact. He cites both a penny and the humble paperclip as his two most valuable tools. He also recommends an inexpensive 3D printer for making custom components.
Links to Brett’s work:
Baby Mobile of Death
Mobile de Piccinati
rotating thing toy
Survey of Work up to 2006
DaVinci 3D printer $500
“…that the filament comes in cartridges instead of just a spool…the cartridges are 28$ for a 600 grams of filament where if you’re doing something like Makerbot or something it’s 50$ for a pound…It’s got a heated bed. It’s all enclosed. It’s a crazy value.”
Clamp-tite clamp maker
“It’s a wonderful thing to use… Anything that you need to stick together, you can make a little clamp for this. All you need is some semi-flexible wire.”
Penny on a String ~$.01
“…because I was making this stuff out of wire…I would mangle my fingers…but if you’re using a penny or something you can use it almost like a thimble. A penny is just about the right size for my finger. It basically fits right at the end of my finger and you just put the string around your neck and you’ve got this tool around your neck.”
Paper Clips $7.50
“One of the reasons that paperclips appealed to me at first was because they were all a set length and so you can use them as a form of measurement. You can unfold it and you basically know that you can connect them end to end and make a wheel and then everything is based on the same sort of unit of measurement…I’ve built things that are three feet wide and a couple of feet tall that are made almost entirely out of paperclips.”
In the weeks leading up to the holidays, we’ll be presenting a series of gift suggestions selected from the pages of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities (which itself makes a great gift). This week: great gifts for under $10.
Giottos Rocket Blaster ($10) “This rubber rocket doesn’t provide as much pressure as Dust-Off, but it exhales a forceful-enough blast for dusting photo/electronic gear, and standing upright on its base sidelines as playful desk dressing/stress-relief toy.”
Coghlan’s 12-in-1 Scissors ($8) “A silly looking and cheap tool that is surprisingly useful. It will cut fairly heavy material, has a bottle opener, screwdriver, and will come apart so you can use it as an awl or hole punch in an emergency.
Photon Microlight II ($9) ”This is a very handy little light that is small enough to carry around in your pocket on a keychain. It weighs only 4.8-grams and the LED “bulb” is very bright for its size, more than adequate for finding your way around in a dark spot, reading a map, finding key holes, etc, with a simple thumb press on the button”
Fantastic Ice Scraper ($4) ”It’s been my go-to ice removal device. I now keep one in the kitchen for cleaning counter tops, glass tables, stove tops and any other hard surface that needs an occasional scrape down. I also keep one in the garage for general scraping and cleaning.”
Rowan LT-36 Clip-On Tuner ($10) Update! in the comments, Slideguy says the Rowan is a better $10 tuner than the Snark: “There are lots of good headstock tuners on the market now, and the the Snark has a big drawback besides short battery life. The display is too dim to be used in daylight. Even Snark recognized the problem and came out with an improved display on their SN-8. But the Rowin LT-36 has a bright display that changes colors when you get your tuning just right. It’s smaller, lighter, and has longer battery life. I sell guitars for a living, and always have one of these in my pocket to tweak an instrument before I hand it to a customer.”
Want more $10 gift ideas? Take a look at our 2013 Low Cost Gift Guide
Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page
In this week’s episode of the Cool Tools Show, Gary Wolf, Co-founder of Quantified Self, shows us how his favorite Quantified Self inspired apps help him stay consistent, motivated and aware about his most important daily routines. If you’re struggling to keep your healthy habits in check, this week’s episode may help you diagnose where those dips in motivation are coming from.
Equanimity: Meditation Timer & Tracker by Robin Barooah $5
“It keeps a record of your meditation sessions, when you stop, when you start. It gives you a field to take notes and gives you the ability to reflect on the patterns in your practice, including CSV export of all your meditation data in a table. A few years into using it I ran a little analysis of what my practice really looked like and I learned so much from doing that. For instance, I learned that I had an average time without a break between days of about nine days.”
750 words by Buster Benson Free
“It’s premised on the theory that doing some free writing in the morning is very good for you, for your creativity. It can reduce stress by keeping you in touch with the random thoughts and random voices that are in your head and discharging some of the internal narrative and it’s also really relaxing. In a sense it resembles a meditation practice — it releases creativity and reduces stress.”
Mushrooms Demystified by David Arora $30
“It’s unlike any other guide I’ve ever encountered. On almost on every page it contains a story of a personal encounter with the mushroom in question, so it’s as close as you can get to walking through the woods with your own great expert.”
Ball Jars with Wide Funnel ~$20 (For 1 funnel & 1 case Ball Jars.)
“We went to the hardware store and got three cases of Ball jars and a nice big aluminum funnel and took every single item that was in a bag or an open box (including everything from tiny little pieces of pasta to crackers) and we put it in the appropriate size jar and my daughter made sticky labels and drawings for it and we filled up the pantry with this collection. It wasn’t very expensive. It didn’t take all that long. Now everything looks great and every time we open the closet we have a laugh.”