REVIEWED ON: 11 February 2016
Artist's pochade box with a two-panel lid and two clip-on work trays
I have had this pochade box for over 5 years and still have not seen a similar product so well designed. Ben Haggett has made clever use of rare earth magnets in the design, as well as other features, that keep the box small and light but capable. Unlike other pochade boxes, it is almost elegant in design but serves its purpose very well. There are no extraneous hardware items on the outside of the box so it slips into and out of a small backpack easily. This makes it easy to “grab and go” painting and it is quick to set up. He has several other designs, as well as accessories such as the “sun clips” that help to shade your painting. All are handmade by Ben in Montana.
REVIEWED ON: 10 February 2016
Tweezer snaps into a lightweight handle
Ever get a sliver away from home? Maybe getting lumber at your local hardware store.
Or, eww, need to remove a tick?*
I wanted to have a set of tweezers I could put on my keychain. It needed to be sharp enough that I could dig out a stubborn sliver broken off under the skin and go with me hiking and camping and through the TSA too.
I found it in the Pocketweez.
Like any tool once you use it you find others things to use it for. I dropped a tiny machine screw inside the electronics I was repairing that was non ferrous and not retrievable with a magnet.
(*The CDC says: Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.)02/10/16
REVIEWED ON: 09 February 2016
Single blade knife with rotating lock
I have been carrying an Opinel #10 for more than 20 years as my everyday carry pocket knife. I have a ranch with draft horses, permaculture orchards, and have a business making ukuleles, and my #10 is used all day long. From cutting twine on hay bales, tree grafting, removing splinters from my hand to fine detail work making musical instruments… it does it all. I prefer the carbon blade for the fine edge it takes.
It also has a unique blade lock integrated into the handle that rotates to lock the blade open or closed. They have been making these knives in France since 1890 and in 1985 the Victoria and Albert Museum consecrated the Opinel knife one of the 100 best designed objects in the world. I could not agree more!
When I purchased my first Opinel, I purchased a back up at the same time and to this day, the back up knife has remained in its packaging. I have never needed to replace my original. The beech wood handle has taken on a beautiful patina from the decades of use. I have never found an equal in function or beauty for an everyday carry pocket knife!02/9/16
REVIEWED ON: 08 February 2016
A submersible radio
NPR in the shower! That’s all I wanted.
Okay, I am not an impulse buyer, but it is difficult if not down right impossible to try something before you buy if the only place you can find it is online.
I have a pocket-sized Sangean all band radio I keep in my go bag. It is a great little radio and gets to go camping with us too.
I looked online and found it’s big waterproof brother, the Sangean H201.
I hung it on the shower head pipe right at face level.
It has 10 preset memories and a really cool feature: an adjustable countdown timer you can set to remind you not to waste water or take the souffle out of the oven.
Good clean fun!02/8/16
REVIEWED ON: 05 February 2016
Soothes fussy babies with rhythmic "shush" sound
My wife and I purchased our first house this past fall and had our first baby. Accordingly, there have been many small technology/tool purchases in recent months to address new concerns/problems/etc.
Here’s a recent purchase that meets my criteria for a great tool:
– Easy to use
– Looks cool
Allows me to outsource a shushing sound. It’s tough to shush for 30 minutes straight!
It works well and has a robust design.02/5/16
REVIEWED ON: 04 February 2016
Small rotary tool ideal for delicate tasks and finer work
When my battery-powered Dremel rotary tool gave up the ghost after 10 good years, I bought a new one. This time, I got the Dremel MiniMite. It’s smaller and lighter than the one I had, and instead of an analog speed control dial, it has a 2-speed switch (6,500 and 13,000 rpm). It’s not as heavy duty as my old one, but it works perfectly well for my purposes (mainly, accidentally gouging stuff, sanding the skin off my thumbtip, and burning my fingers when I remove an accessory before it cools down). All my old accessories work with it, except for the battery pack.02/4/16
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One of the most useful categories of Cool Tools is the tip. A tip is a handy method, or a useful technique for using tools, or a practical way to use things not ordinarily thought of as tools. We have not published as many tips per year as we once did, but we’d like to change that. There are a number of fully operational sites, such as Lifehacker, that publish tip-like information on a regular basis. Cool Tool Tips are different in several ways.
- They are always brief and succinct, no more than a paragraph. You should be able to transmit the tip to a friend during a conversation.
- They are generally about ways to improve creating rather than enhancing consuming.
- They often entail a tool.
- They are specific and can be illustrated with an image.
- Ideally they are ingenious, clever, non-obvious, or just cool.
To this end Cool Tools is seeking a part time editor/writer to help us develop a regular stream of cool toolish tips. It’s a freelance contracted position, and can be done remotely, but will entail a regular number of hours per week. Required skills are a good nose for what is useful, writing succinctly, soliciting tips from others, extracting tips from longer essays, and finding tips elsewhere on the web. A visual sensibility is also a must.
If you are a candidate for this role, use this form to submit a demonstration of your grasp of the task. Use it to send us links to 4 tips you found elsewhere, and 1 tip you wrote yourself. We’ll sort candidates by the degree of their clarity, usefulness, originality, and ease of working.
About Cool Tools
Cool Tools is a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available. Tools are defined broadly as anything that can be useful. This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.
One new tool is posted each weekday. Cool Tools does NOT sell anything. The site provides prices and convenient sources for readers to purchase items.
When Amazon.com is listed as a source (which it often is because of its prices and convenience) Cool Tools receives a fractional fee from Amazon if items are purchased at Amazon on that visit. Cool Tools also earns revenue from Google ads, although we have no foreknowledge nor much control of which ads will appear.
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.