8 oz. Stubby Claw Hammer

This stubby hammer doesn’t represent the peak of tool smithing. But, the darn thing is so useful in my workshop everyday. It’s a tiny hammer suitable for brads and ¼-inch or smaller diameter dowels. I had made my own previously, with a finely crafted White Ash handle. It is beautiful. Yet it remains unused and this little fellow gets the daily use. Its small size and balance suits the small dowel driving in my toy making.

8-oz. Stubby Claw Hammer
$10

Available from Amazon



Havalon Piranta Skinning Knife

The Havalon Piranta is my favorite skinning knife. It uses replaceable 60XT stainless steel blades, which cost less than a dollar apiece. I like it better than the “Wyoming Knife,” which I used for years. The Piranta is certainly good for field dressing animals and has worked well for me with roadkill foxes, squirrels, bobcats and skunks (once in a while a skunk will be hit in the head by a car and not have time to activate the scent gland, and the skin is beautiful).

There are a number of optional blades in this series. Taxidermists use these other blades because they can be more precise in getting the entire skin. If you are serious about skinning, you might want to check out the Taxidermy Blades and Tools on the Havalon website. You can call the people at Havalon; they are knowledgeable about the whole process of taxidermy and can guide you in choosing the proper knife and blades. 1-800-836-3204. They also have a very good guide to field dressing a deer, which I’ve printed out and plan to use for my next deer.

-- Lloyd Kahn  

Piranta Pro Trophy Skinning Knife
$33

Available from Amazon



Anti Icky Poo odor remover

We have kids and pets in our house, and everything from chocolate milk to vomit has seeped its way into our upholstery and carpet. The best way we’ve found to get rid of odors and stains is an enzymatic and bacterial cleaner called Anti Icky Poo.

Designed to get rid of pet urine odors, it seems to work on just about any organic odor or stain. We dry and clean the affected area as well as we can with paper or cloth towels, then thoroughly saturate it with the cleaner. The general strategy is to get it to the depth of the offending material so that it can break it all down – too much is better than too little – then keep the area from drying out while it does its work.

It works best on fresh stains, but by systematically injecting the liquid deep into foam fusions with a syringe and needle, we rescued a love seat that had been banished to an unused bedroom – both odor and stain gone. We’ve even had success removing dog urine stains from untreated hardwood floors.

It has a not unpleasant cover scent, which doesn’t seem to be related to its breakdown power.

-- Kerry Payne  

Anti Icky Poo
$16

Available from Amazon



Unfavinator

I’ve been favoriting tweets ever since I got on Twitter, often tweets with links in them where the aim is to get back to them when I have more time in order to read the links.

The result is that I ended up with hundreds of favorite tweets, to the extent that it became a mess and whenever I wanted to go back to a specific ‘favorited’ tweet invariably I wouldn’t be able to find it.

To solve this, I wanted to erase these tweets in bulk but Twitter itself doesn’t let you: you have to do it one by one. Having researched if there were any apps out there that could do this, I found none until I came across Unfavinator that solves the problem easily and effectively.

All you do, after you log in, is that you see the list of your favorite tweets which you can delete easily. I had some 800 favorites which I deleted in the space of a few minutes when it would have taken me hours to do so otherwise.

Now my favorite tab is clean and filled only with those tweets that really mean something.

-- Paul Grech  



Recipe Rock

I’ve had this recipe holder almost 1 year now and I use it almost every day! Sure, it works great when creating culinary perfection, but I am also a quilter and I use it for following quilt pattern instructions. I actually purchased 2 of them so I don’t have to keep moving one from the kitchen to the sewing studio.

-- RM Breuer  

Architec Recipe Rock
$10

Available from Amazon



Fineprint

I’ve used the Fineprint application almost since it first came out. I was always frustrated at printing “that” page from the Web. You know, the page that has 3 lines and is almost always worthless. Fineprint allows me to delete “that” page. Fineprint also lets me print several web pages on one sheet up paper. I can delete sensitive text. I can type on pages before I print. I can save as PDFs. I can….

I’ve saved, literally, tens of thousands of sheets of paper with this tool. It is essential.

-- David A. Bressman  

Fineprint
For Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP sp2 or higher
$50



Gum Eez-Thru Floss Threaders

These inexpensive nylon loops are the only effective way to floss under dental bridges. Just put a piece of floss through the loop and insert the end without the loop under the bridge. Move the floss back and forth under the bridge and then pull it through.

-- Walter Noiseux  

G-U-M Eez-Thru Floss Threaders
$4 / 25

Available from Amazon



Pentax K-50 Digital SLR Camera

I recently procured for myself a Pentax K-50 DSLR camera and have enjoyed it immensely. Being a new parent and also developing a keen interested in photography I knew I needed an upgrade from my usual point-and-shoot digital camera. I upgrade technology and equipment at a slower rate than many of my counterparts, partially because I operate on a modest teacher’s salary and income from odd contract work… also because I tend to get the most out of my equipment for as long as I can. I tend to purchase computers every 6 to 8 years instead of the usual 2-3. I enjoy point-and-shoot digital cameras simply because they have improved over each previous generation in quality and features greatly and usually only replace them when they break or become severely obsolete. This time around I decided to splurge and research DSLR brands and came to favor the Pentax K-50.

Canon and Nikon are the most favored brands, the Pentax seems to be the oddball in the bunch, but I can’t seem to fathom why. The Pentax K-50 is regarded as the most overlooked model of the mid-to-entry level DSLR group of products. I teach a digital photography class that is blessed with a set of Canon Rebel T3i’s and an older Nikon D70. While these are fine cameras I hesitated to go down the same route when it came to my choice for a personal camera. I choose the Pentax K-50 for two main reasons, firstly it is water-resistant and dust proof, a feature that is rare-to-nonexistent in the K-50’s price range. On YouYube you can find a video of a US soldier burying his Pentax DSL’s in dirt and dust and then washing them off under a shower, a solid testament if I ever saw one. The second reason is that the Pentax K-50 can use almost any Pentax lens and Pentax has used the same K-mount since the 1970’s. As most photographers know, taking great photos is more about the lens than the camera. I was able to find a great set of older prime lenses such as my favorite 50mm 1:2 for very little money. The Pentax K-50 DSLR came with a resistant AF lens. Many people sell their old Pentax film cameras with lenses and great bargains are everywhere. This is an awesome feature for anyone that wants to build a collection of lenses for different shooting conditions on a modest budget.

The Pentax K-50 is packed with great features that are rare on other entry level cameras such as focus peaking, which highlights areas of focus with white highlights so you can really have tight control over your depth of field. It has some really nice preset artistic image filters that allow you to shoot in B&W, add vignettes, shoot in HDR, etc. My favorite feature is the ability to shoot double exposures right in the camera, no Photoshop needed. The K-50 isn’t the best choice for shooting video, as it suffers from some rolling shutter issues, as many DSLR’s do… for video the camera needs to be held steady or used with a tripod for best results. The video samples I have shot do look good… crisp HD and looks great through my lenses and audio is good despite the lack of an external mic jack. If I was shooting a real video project I would use my trusty Zoom H2 audio recorder anyway. The K-50 sports a 16 Megapixel resolution which is more than enough for my purposes. It may have less resolution than some of its counterparts, but unless you are printing billboards it is more than sufficient.

Overall this is a very well featured camera with enough resolution to get the job done, it has backwards compatibility and comes in at a great price. It is compatible with Eyefi memory cards. The battery bay can take either rechargeable battery packs or with an adapter run on AA batteries, a great option when away from power sources. The K-50 is rugged, easy to use and fun. I couldn’t ask for more for the price. Did I mention it comes in a variety of colors, I choose the white on black model, who doesn’t want a camera that looks like a stormtrooper? No one, that’s who.

-- Seth Wilson  

Pentax K-50 16MP Digital SLR Camera Kit with DA L 18-55mm WR f3.5-5.6 Lens
$413

Available from Amazon



Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Hand Crank Coffee Grinder

I like the idea of grinding coffee by hand, but most of the hand crank grinders that I have tried have been hard to turn, hard to hold, inefficient in moving beans through (too wide and shallow for the unground bean bin), or otherwise awkward.

About a year ago I found this Japanese model that meets my concerns. It is a light, 11.2 oz., easy to turn conical burr coffee grinder. At about $45 it is not the cheapest but it is the easiest for me to use two or three times a day. It works so well for me that I bought a second one for grinding seeds (mostly fennel and flax, which I mix in with my morning oatmeal). This model is particularly useful for those with smaller hands (like me).

-- Lon Levy  

Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
$45

Available from Amazon



Stem Gem Strawberry Huller

It didn’t take me long to get the hang of the Stem Gem Strawberry Huller, and once I did, I was able remove the stem and core of strawberries much faster than I could with a knife.

To use it, you push the button on the back to extend the retractable Alien-esque jaws. The deeper you push the button, the more the jaws open. Then, plunge the jaws into the strawberry, twist, then pull. There you go, a cleanly cored berry. My kids fight over who gets to use it.

stem-gem

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Chef’n Stem Gem Strawberry Huller
$8

Available from Amazon