28 July 2016

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Electralube Light Bulb Lubricant

Lubricates light bulb screws to protect against corrosion, moisture and broken light bulbs

Nowhere on Earth is the concept of entropy more apparent than aboard an oceangoing ship, which is where I first discovered Electralube. As a Third Assistant Engineer, one of my unglamorous regular (and never-ending) duties was “re-lamping” – replacing burned out light bulbs in all the ship’s machinery spaces. The combination of 24/7 use, moist salt air and vibration caused the flimsy metal threads of the bulb bases (don’t even get me started on the idiotic design that is the Edison screw!) to rust or arc weld themselves into their sockets, which meant a broken bulb and additional sweaty minutes atop a ladder on a pitching ship with a pair of needle-nose pliers and a headlamp, trying to pry the stuck metal bits out.

Electralube put an end to all that. It’s a light, conductive grease that comes in a little jar with a sponge in it. The sponge holds the lube. You just dip the bulb base in the sponge, give it a spin to coat the threads and then screw the bulb into the socket. I use it for every bulb change, and it’s essential for fixtures in damp locations, and for that corroded, janky old socket you’ve been meaning to replace in that beloved antique lamp. The next person to change that bulb will thank you.

07/28/16 -- Eric Schmid

27 July 2016

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Velcro Brand One-Wrap Thin Ties

Adjustable, reusable hook & loop ties

I have been using Velcro One-Wrap Thin Ties for about a year now and I can tell you, there is not a better product for wrapping up your headphone cords, computer cables, and anything else you can think of. I have tried several different products similar to this and these are by far the best.

I bought 100 of them for $5 on Amazon, and at first I thought 100 was a little excessive, but I am so glad I can use these anywhere I can think. The ties are so thin yet strong and the velcro holds very well. I have had other non-velcro brand ties and the velcro holds, but the “fuzzy” part is way too fuzzy. These are so thin and not fuzzy. The velcro holds strong. I also like that they have round edges. If you want to use these for small wires, just cut the tie since you won’t need the full 8 inches. 4 inches is more than enough to tie up a pair of standard headphones.

07/27/16 -- Stuart Peterson

26 July 2016

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Vegetable Keep Sack

Double draw-string designed hanging sack protects vegetables from light and delays the sprouting process

Being an avid home cook in New York City, having space to work is more important than any tool (except maybe a good chef’s knife). Finding these hanging vegetable keep sacks from design-savvy cookware company Mastrad was a revelation and meant I had at least one drawer freed up.

I’ve had mine hanging under the cabinet for two years, and they keep potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables dry, dark, and out of the way. The design is simple: a canvas tube, lined with cotton, with a filling drawstring at the top and a dispensing drawstring at the bottom, slightly angled to keep the tubers from dumping all over the floor.

I belong to a CSA, so for a few weeks in the fall, I am absolutely swimming in potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots. If I had the space I’d create a root cellar, but one (or a few) of these sacks keeps my roots from sprouting or getting moldy for weeks. The internet is swarming with cutesy containers to keep potatoes, but loose baskets, modular plastic, and bulky burlap don’t keep potatoes in the darkness they need. There are bins you can build into the sides of cabinets, but as a renter, it’s key that I can screw in an anchor, hang the colorful bag for all to see, then easily take it down to refill it or when I move.

They’re cheap, washable, and come in three sizes (with illustrations of potatoes, onions, and garlic, respectively, but free to be you and me) As a cook in a small kitchen, I lust after big mixers and expensive gadgets, but I am grateful for my potato sacks.

07/26/16 -- Sam Roth

25 July 2016

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Sproutamo Easy Sprout Sprouter

Seed germinator provides continuous ventilation, humidification and warmth

Bought one Eazy-Sprout a year or more ago to sprout organic seed for the “children” (our little parrots). Started with wheat. Soak 8-12 hours, drain and rinse, drain again. Let sprout for 12-36 hours, and then place in a container in the fridge. Every time I made some for the birds I eat some to make sure it is okay. Now I am hooked! So I bought another one for us. Great addition to salads and soups and great in waffles! I buy organic Alfalfa, Broccoli, Mung Beans, Quinoa, Millet Sunflower, Oat, and many more. We store in the fridge inside snap topped containers with a paper towel at the bottom to keep from being too damp. Very easy to use and keep clean. And you can store the dry seeds indefinitely.

07/25/16 -- Kent Barnes

22 July 2016

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Fagor Rapida 5-piece Pressure Cooker Set

Makes soybeans soft enough

Do pressure cookers scare you? I know they scare a lot of people, and that keeps them from even considering using one. But pressure cookers have evolved and the best ones work well with pretty much no danger. (I’m assuming a certain level of intelligence here, like don’t run it out of water or fail to turn it down from high when it comes up to pressure.)

Believe me, I know what pressure cookers used to be like. I lived at The Farm in TN throughout the 70s with our “yay soybeans” ethos and our relentless vegan diet. I saw a Presto pressure cooker blow its safety valve more than once, throwing a geyser of water and beans onto the ceiling. And I wouldn’t buy an old one from a Goodwill. But today’s stainless steel pressure cookers with their superior steam-handling technology such as Rapida’s Splendid Pressure Cooker line are nothing like the old days.

Get one of these cookers and a fabulous bean dinner of your choice means soaking overnight and then a mere 18 minutes in the pressure cooker, yielding beans soft enough to easily mash on the roof of your mouth.

And if you really want to get your protein by eating soybeans it’s the only way to go. I don’t care how many hours you boil soybeans – do it overnight if you want – you won’t get them soft enough. And then there’s kale. I love that this hardy green that I once saw withstand a -20f freeze, is now the darling of everyone. It should be because it is so great. With a Rapida pressure cooker you can cook that kale under pressure in 3 minutes flat instead of, what, 20 minutes in a regular boil?

So lower carbon footprint, softer beans, the best greens in minutes, and little risk. If you want to eat less animal and more vegetable and prefer to cook your own food – get a pressure cooker. There’s nothing like it.

07/22/16 -- John Coate

21 July 2016

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Lithium Grease in a Spray Can

Convenient lubrication

Grease is a superior lubricant for many applications. It remains in the place where it is needed, unlike oil, which can run away from its intended placement. Grease also tends to last longer and requires fewer applications, especially when exposed to the elements. However, grease is messy. Traditionally it comes in tubs and tubes and must be applied using your hands or specialty grease guns. I have avoided using it the past because of the mess involved.

A few years ago I found lithium grease in a spray can. It has all of the benefits of grease and none of the mess. I use it on everything from bicycle chains to door hinges. You can use the regular spray tip for wide coverage or attach the straw for precision application.

07/21/16 -- Greg Henigan

TOOL REVIEWS

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Fat Separator and Strainer

Low spout prevents floating fat from pouring

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Clear Padlock for Lock Pick Practice

Clear plastic padlock allows you to see moving parts

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Recomendo

Welcome to a new newsletter from the editors of Cool Tools.

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Puralytics Solar Water Purifier

Reusable portable water purifier

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Ask Cool Tools Featured Questions

Share your knowledge with your fellow Cool Tools readers

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Aluminized Steel Meat Loaf Pan

Corrugated surface design facilitates air circulation for evenly baked goods and quick release

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What's in My Bag? 08 July 2016

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07/8/16

What’s in My Bag? — Elon Schoenholz

Former Cool Tools editor and photographer shares what’s in his bag

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Feedly is a great way to read Cool Tools

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 61 thousand people read Cool Tools readers through Feedly.

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.

kevin

Kevin 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.

mark

Mark 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).

claudia

Claudia 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.