28 October 2016


Trico Force Windshield Wipers

Treated rubber element for a smoother, quieter wipe

Recently my small nuclear family decided to embark upon a road trip to visit our family to the north. Fortune cursed us on our trip with a sudden tempest of rain and snow. Our long road trip got even longer and the miles became accursed, for my conventional wiper blades would not cease their incessant squeaking! A shrill “SCREEE-AAAAHH” repeating every second, drawing each painful and uncomfortable moment on the road into infinity!

Never was I able to adjust the fine-tune speed control on my wiper knob to match the level of rain fall on our windscreen. This road trip devolved into a nightmarish purgatory as the miles crept by, my nerves shattered… I was a hollow shell of a man upon our arrival. Never again, I declared, would I listen to one more screech of that amplified torture device known as my windshield wiper!

I curtly made my way to a local purveyor of auto parts and demanded their finest windshield wiper available. A kind hearted young woman made the highest recommendation of the Trico Force wipers. I quickly compensated said establishment for a pair of these quality blades and installed them on my vehicle.

With the first flick of my console switch the blades lept into action and made a noise as sweet as dewy turf to wayworn feet… the sound of silence. Upon our return trip the Trico force blades laughed in the face of morning dew, drizzle, rain, sleet, snow and even wet road grime.

A finer windshield wiper has not been made. I highly recommend them for everyone in every environment, for ease of mind, preservation of sanity and the utmost in visual safety.

10/28/16 -- Seth Wilson

27 October 2016


Paolo Salvagione, Visual Artist

Cool Tools Show 065: Paolo Salvagione

Our guest this week is Paolo Salvagione, an artist who works at the intersection of engineering, participation, and levity. He has sent his studio visitors out a one second-story window and back into another on a 900-pound steel wheel, and created scent-based sculptures that use smell as a touchstone for memory. He worked, for over a decade, as lead engineer on the 10,000 Year Clock of the Long Now Foundation.

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Show notes:

Greenlee 45000 Kwik Stripper Wire Stripping Tool ($71)
“I feel like anyone who’s worked on electronics projects have kind of run into this drawer full of things that looks like pliers that …. do a really horrible job. … About 2 years ago I was working with a collection of people on a project and I stumbled on the Greenlee 45000 and not only does this thing allow you to kind of quickly adjust what wire gauge, but it also allows you to quickly adjust what amount of stripping you want to do on that wire. It will even let you gang up four or five wires at a time. It’s unbelievably nice.”

FastCap Glu-Bot Glue Bottle ($8) (Titebond wood glue)
“[Glu-Bot] is designed by the wood industry to put down glue in a really nice way on things that you’re gluing up. One of the things that no one talks about when you’re doing adhesives is something called drool, which is when you’re trying to lay down an adhesive, depending on the viscosity you get to that moment where you want to stop but the glue bottle doesn’t and so you end up with little drips on the floor, on your hands, on the part of the wood that you didn’t want the glue … which can be a real bummer. What’s neat about this bottle is that they’ve designed it so that it takes the glue from the bottom instead of the top, which means that you don’t have to worry about the skin or the viscosity difference between the bottom and the top of the whole thing because oxygen slowly usually dries things out.”

De-Roller Paper Anti Curl Device ($240-$270) (video)
“This is one of those things where somebody should make the boy scout badge which is just somebody hitting their forehead with the palm of their hand kind of like Aw, I should have thought of that.” This is amazing. In the arts, I often transport things, works that I’ve purchased get rolled up and there’s always this challenge of like how do I de-roll it and this is a company that makes a device that someone introduced me to and I’m just smitten with it. It’s super simple. It’s a piece of plastic that’s got foam running on both sides and a metal tube and basically you roll it out, you set the object that needs to be de-rolled in it in the opposite direction of roll and then you roll it back and then maybe engage the velcro for a minute or so and then unroll it and the object is flat.”

Marson Ribbed Rivet-nut Kit ($117) (video)
“What it basically is, is it works very much, or it feels very much like you’re using a pop rivet but what you are actually doing is you’re installing threads, and I first ran into this in the bicycle industry where I wanted to add another water bottle cage to my bike and so what it does is it allows you to drill a hole in a tube, and with the thing that looks like a pop rivet gun, you basically insert a nut in a way that it won’t spin and then you can screw on your additional water bottle cage.”

10/27/16 --

27 October 2016


Thermos Stainless Steel Can Insulator

Keeps canned and bottled beverages cold for hours

[Here’s another take on a product that Wayne Ruffner previously reviewed – Mark]

season for warm-weather drinking is upon us [this was written in June — MF], so keeping a beverage cold becomes a priority. These are double-wall, stainless steel, vacuum-insulated coozies for 12-ounce beer or soda cans.

They work on the same principle as regular Thermos bottles. I have been using them for years.

The good:

– They work much, much better than foam or plastic coozies. They will keep a beverage cold for hours.

– There is a silicone ring around the opening that gently grips the can, holding it steady and sealing out air, while still allowing you to slide the can in or out easily. The ring also provides a handy grippy area.

– They prevent condensation from dripping onto your fine furniture, workbench, table saw, etc.

– They have a hard plastic base that will not mar a nice finish.

– They do not wear out. They are seamless and plugless. I suppose you could put them in the dishwasher, though I have never had reason to. A quick rinse is generally enough to keep them clean.

– They are designed to allow easy drinking from the can. They do not reach high enough to block the can opening.

– They are cheap: they go for $10 on Amazon. Yeti makes a similar one that is three times as much. Other brands go for perhaps $15 or $20. There are cheaper ones, like the $6 Coleman, but they are are simple plastic or rubber, and aren’t as effective.

The bad:

– Though you can fit bottles inside, and though these coozies will still help keep the bottles cold, the bottle will move around a little inside, and won’t stay as cold as a can would. Of course, that is true for most coozies.

– They are rigid, and slightly heavier than a foam coozie. So a soft foam coozie is probably better for backpacking.

– Though I have never done it, I suppose it is possible to crush one. Stepping on the side might not do it, but running over it with a car probably would.

So. Cheap, effective, well-designed, long-lasting. What more could you want?

10/27/16 -- Karl Chwe

26 October 2016


OXO Silicone Sink Strainer

Easy-to-clean silicone basket traps food debris to prevent clogs

I came across the OXO Silicone Sink Strainer about a year ago — when my regular strainer/stopper broke. I was amazed that a sink strainer had over 1100 reviews on Amazon with an average rating of 4.6. But the strainer is really amazing.

In the past, I’ve been frustrated by my standard sink strainer / stopper:

1. It would often slip into “stopper position” which filled by sink with water – often getting my other dishes dirtier

2. As it didn’t sit flat on the drain, and food would slip by

Note that I use my sink mainly to wash off particulate matter before washing my dishes in the dishwasher. What I learned is that it’s very hard to make a good strainer / stopper combination. I always thought that having the two things together would be better than buying two separate items. As it turns out I was wrong on and even the OXO Silicone Sink Strainer with Stopper gets MUCH lower reviews than the lone strainer. But I love this strainer because:

1. It catches all of the detritus matter in my sink

2. It sits cleanly on top of the drain

3. It’s easy to clean as it’s made of silicone and can be easily turned inside out to “pop” the food off it.

4. It never fills the sink with water because it’s not a stopper!

A couple of things to note after you first get the strainer:

• Make sure that the strainer is in upside down in the garbage can when it’s turned inside out. Otherwise the food will “pop” off everywhere

• I realized that the pull to invert the sink strainer looks a lot like the stopper portion of a standard strainer / stopper. This may be confusing for the uninitiated. I still have a separate stopper for those rare occasions I need to soak dishes. But 95% of the time, my OXO Silicone Sink Strainer is king.

10/26/16 -- Robert Schlaff

25 October 2016


Yo-Yo Fishing Reels

Like a mouse trap for fish

This is an amazing tool for any fisherman or survivalist. The Yo-Yo contains 20 feet of 60lb coiled line with a snap swivel on the end of the line. Attach a hook, a small piece of lead shot, tighten the line, engage the wire trigger and your ready for action. The Yo-Yo does the rest. As the fish takes the bait, it trips the trigger, and automatically sets the hook. The Yo-Yo can be attached to limbs, boat docks, the side of a boat, or any other means that will suspend the reel a couple of inches above the water. The YoYo also makes an excellent device for ice fishing.

10/25/16 -- John Mark

24 October 2016


Aluminet Shade Cloth

Reflects unwanted heat, radiation, and light

I bought a panel of 70% Aluminet shade cloth for my chicken run last spring, and I’ve found that it’s remarkable stuff. Shade cloth is designed for gardeners and greenhouses, and is a knitted or woven fabric that blocks a specific percentage of shade. Most shade cloth is black, but Aluminet is made from an aluminized thread. In addition to shading, it also reflects heat.

The temperature inside my chicken run is usually 5-10 degrees cooler than the temperature just outside. And cooling breezes pass right through this stuff like it’s not even there! I’m planning on buying another couple of panels of this stuff to hang on our upper deck where the temperature goes over 100 degrees (in Seattle!). It’s sturdy lightweight stuff. Mine went through a whole summer resting and rubbing against the cage wire of the run with no perceptible damage except a couple of pulled threads.

My only complaint is that it makes my chicken run look like a giant baked potato! Still, I can live with that. I understand that this stuff is popular at Burning Man, which makes a great deal of sense. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth the extra cost, because it does such a great job keeping things cool.

10/24/16 -- Amy Thomson


img 10/21/16

Elevator Bolts

These bolt heads need only a 1/8″ countersink

img 10/20/16

Plainsman Leather Gloves

Fit comfortably against the hand for maximum control and dexterity

img 10/19/16

USB TV Tuner

Watch TV on your computer

img 10/18/16

Klein Tools Katapult Wire Stripper

Cuts and strips 8-22 AWG wire with ease

img 10/17/16

SculpWood Moldable Epoxy Putty

Use to replace rotted, cracked, or chipped away wood

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What's in My Bag? 10 August 2016


What’s in My Bag — Wayne Ruffner

Outdoorsman shares his ultimate bug repellent kit

Announcements: 09/6/16


CargoRAXX – unrecommended

This appears to be a shill review. Many thanks to Cool Tools reader Matthew Connor for looking into this. He wrote:

Meaghan Hollywood works for CargoRAXX. Meaghan Hollywood put a review up quasi-anonymously on Amazon. A similarly worded review is now anonymously on KK.org.

On Amazon there are two reviews for the product (https://www.amazon.com/CargoRAXX-S1A-Interior-Management-System/dp/B01A6X4MBS). Neither is attributed by name but the one from January 18th, 2016 refers to “my Tahoe” and read similar to the KK.org review. Let us suppose the author is, in fact, the same person.

Clicking on the name for the review – merely “Amazon Customer” brings up their profile (https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A1CF94IIWSAE00/ref=cm_cr_dp_pdp). This profile contains one Wish List on the left side. Clicking on it revels – the name of “Amazon Customer” – it is Meaghan Hollywood.

Ok. I believe at this point the author of the KK review and the author of at least one of the two reviews on Amazon are in fact the same person and that person’s name is Meaghan Hollywood.

Here’s the kicker, CargoRAXX has a website with a blog feature – their blogger’s name is Meaghan Hollywood. (http://cargoraxx.com/5-reasons-re-organize-suv/)

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.

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.

13918651_603790483113973_1799207977_oMark Frauenfelder edits Cool Tools and develops editorial projects for Cool Tools Lab, LLC. If you’d like to submit a review, email him at editor {at} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

13898183_602421513250870_1391167760_oClaudia Lamar runs the Cool Tool website, posting items daily, maintaining software, measuring analytics, managing ads, and in general keeping the site alive. If you have a concern about the operation or status of this site contact her email is cl {at} kk.org.