29 April 2017


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silverhalide needs suggestions for the best dishwasher safe insulated water bottle?

04/29/17 --

28 April 2017


The Man in Seat 61

Best source for train travel

Train travel is often the best way to get from A to B. It’s civilized, often as fast as flying or faster, and comfortable. But navigating the train schedules and idiosyncracies of train systems around the world is often beyond possible. The Man in Seat 61 is your answer to train travel. A energetic British train enthusiast, Mark Smith, has created a vast website which has become the clearinghouse for train travel world wide. I have used The Man in Seat 61 to figure out and book intercity trains in Vietnam, China, Japan, and Europe. Just about every schedule train in the world is recorded here. For many third world countries, like Burma or Sudan, his website is the *only* place these train fares and schedules exist. For all the countries of the world he does not just list timetables but provides extensive counsel on what each train is like, even recommendations of particular cars or seats to take. The amount of information and guidance is bottomless and priceless, yet the site is free. (You still book directly with the train companies,) If you are contemplating an epic train journey anywhere, or even a short train trip in a country new to you, The Man in Seat 61 will be your best friend.

04/28/17 -- KK

27 April 2017


Victorinox Paring Knife with Serrated Edge

Multipurpose serrated paring knife with thin sharp blade

There have been lots of reviews of knives here and elsewhere. This is one of my favorites: the Victorinox serrated paring knife! These are used by commercial fishermen as deck knives. They are affordable enough that we buy them by the box. Sheaths made of popped bouy material are taped at strategic locations around the boat so there is always a knife at hand. It is also common for sheathes be attached to rain gear bib straps or belts. The blade is thin and incredibly sharp. It will cut a 3/4″ hard laid poly line under tension in one pass. They are also great paring and steak knives, incidentally.

04/27/17 -- Bert Stammerjohan

26 April 2017


Olight i3E flashlight

Best AAA keychain light

The Olight i3E is a tiny flashlight, meant for a keychain. It is similar to the Streamlight Nano (which I have also owned), so I will compare it to that.


– It takes a single AAA battery, which you are likely to have in your closet already. It can also take AAA size rechargeable NiMH batteries, like the storied Panasonic Eneloops. (It will not take lithium batteries.) The Nano takes weird LR-41 button batteries, which you likely have to order.

– Nonetheless, it is tiny, at about 2.3 inches long. (The Nano is about 1.5 inches long. – It produces far more light than the Nano. The regular versions produce 90 lumens, and the Silver and Copper versions produce 120 lumens. The Streamlight Nano produces 10 lumens.

– (Like the Nano,) it has only two settings: On and Off.

– (Like the Nano,) the switch is just a head that you rotate. But unlike the Nano, the i3E shows no tendency to unscrew itself and thereby disassemble itself in your pocket. The Nano is notorious for dropping the head and batteries somewhere without your noticing, leaving only the rear case attached to your keychain. The usual remedy was a few turns of Teflon plumber’s tape.

– It has an actual TIR (Total Internal Reflection) lens, a combination reflector and lens which together provides a nice, narrow beam pattern, with a very bright hot spot and usable light in a cone around it. The lens also protects the LED from dust and wear. The Nano looks like it could have a reflector, but it really has a bare LED with its molded on lens. Accordingly, its throw pattern is less focused, and can throw glare in your eyes.

– It is relatively cheap, at only $13 or so, although the Nano is about $9.

Disadvantages: – It only has one setting, on or off. It doesn’t have a low or high setting. Olight has similar lights with hi/lo/medium settings, but they are bigger and more expensive.

– The twist switch (as such) is a little awkward for signaling SOS or other Morse code messages.

– It is more expensive than the Nano, though it is cheaper than most other LED flashlights.

Purchasing notes: I got the silver version for the slight bump in output (from 90 to 120 lumens.) The finish is silvery PVD, and after a few weeks, it has some scratches, but otherwise seems to be holding up. I expect the functional parts of it, like the LED, the case, etc. to last forever.

So. Not the absolute smallest or cheapest, but surprisingly bright, relatively cheap, with well-designed optics (and it actually has optics.)

04/26/17 -- Karl Chwe

26 April 2017


Maker Update #31

The best maker projects of the week

This week on Maker Update: an autonomous beach-roving art bot, Kickstarter wants your ideas, a project that makes kits for other projects, GUIs for Raspberry Pi, stipple ceramics, and I’ll show you why digital calipers are cool. Show notes here.


04/26/17 -- Donald Bell

25 April 2017


Superglue for cracked skin

Helps cracked skin heal quickly

Everyone knows about super glue and has probably used it to glue things together. Here’s another use that is less well known, but very popular among makers and anyone who works with their hands. Our winters out here (Kansas) are cold and somewhat unforgiving and often result in tiny and painful cracked ends of finger and heels. Super glue is terrific when applied. It dries very fast, creates a shield that helps prevent pain, protects, and best of all, allows time to heal because it is protected. Just a bit on the cracked finger or heel provides a good deal of pain relief. Almost any type of super glue will work just fine. Just remember that a very small amount is needed and that amount needs to be targeted right in the cracked finger tip or heel.

04/25/17 -- Neil J. Salkind

(According to this video, super glue works best when skin cracking is in the very early stages. After that use ointment and bandaids. — editors)


img 04/24/17

Rothco Undercover Travel Vest

Includes a a tablet sized pocket and a hidden passport pocket

img 04/22/17

Ask Cool Tools Featured Question

Share your knowledge with your fellow Cool Tools readers

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Tangle Tamer

Makes hair detangling fast and painless

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Fiskars Rotary Cutter

Ideal for cutting multiple layers of fabric, paper, felt and vinyl

img 04/20/17


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What's in My Bag? 23 February 2017

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

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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).

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