20 May 2018


Chrome tips/Favorite coffee maker/Repair holes in shirts

Recomendo: issue no. 95

Chrome tips
Title of this article says it all: 27 useful things you didn’t know the Chrome browser could do. Pretty neat. — KK

My favorite coffee maker
I drink coffee every day, and I use the Bialetti 6-Cup Espresso Coffee Maker($40) more often than any of my other coffee making machines (I have a few). I fill the lower chamber with water, add ground coffee in the funnel, screw on the top, and put it on the stovetop. In about three minutes I pour a cup of strong, delicious coffee. — MF

Fix holes in shirts
This hack for repairing holes in shirts worked! I have a few shirts that fit really well on me, but the cotton is so thin that it easily gets holes. I followed the video using this fusible interface and now the hole is gone. It looks a tiny bit bunched up, but I don’t mind. — CD

Metal prints from Costco
Everyone is now a photographer and our audience is on the small screen. But there’s a real joy in seeing a large image on a wall. The best way to do that is via the Metal Print from Costco Photo. You send a digital file to the online Costco and then you pick up the piece at your local store. Your image is printed in gorgeous quality on a thick piece of aluminum sheet so that it is perfectly 100% flat and glossy – much flatter than can be done by framing. No glass or plastic cover required, which makes this style very light weight even for big pieces. And since it is frameless, hung with an internal French cleat, it is cheap. A huge 24 x 36 inch picture, printed and ready to hang in your room, or gallery, is $120. A large 11 x 14 is only $34. These show pieces really wow; even a decent shot from a new phone will work. — KK

Send yourself a future email
FutureMe is a tried and true free service for sending yourself letters in the future. I use it to remind myself of goals I have or enlightening quotes I want to be reminded of. — CD

Netflix viewing activity
Netflix bases its recommendations on what you watch. If you want to change what its algorithm sees, or if you are just curious to see everything you’ve watched on Netflix, go here. You can delete a show from the list by clicking the X next to it. I was surprised to see that the oldest item on my list was Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, which someone in my family watched on 12/12/11. — MF

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 05/20/18

20 May 2018


Paint Roller Cleaner

Paint Roller Cleaner

This is the best way I have found to clean paint rollers.

After squeezing and/or scraping as much paint out of the fur of the roller as possible, it only takes the Roller Washer about a minute or two to blast water deep into the roller and rinse away the remaining

I usually then give my rollers a “shampoo” with some liquid soap, and moving the roller up and down inside the Roller Washer until the soap bubbles disappear. This is followed by spinning the roller on the frame with an air compressor blow gun to remove the water and fluff the fibers.

-- Andy McConnell 05/20/18

19 May 2018


Lodge Pan Scraper

Food and stickers scraper

I’m Donald Bell for Cool Tools and in this video I’ve got a tool that in a perfect world would come with every cast iron skillet. This is a pan scraper from Lodge. A 2-pack cost me around $4 on Amazon.

A lot of people will debate the best way to care for and season a cast iron, but everyone agrees they should never touch soapy water. This makes cleaning them a challenge, though, especially if you have some burnt, baked on crud.

This pan scraper from Lodge is a simple but effective tool for degunking cast iron, or really any cookware. It’s made from a polycarbonate plastic that holds up to scraping, through it can melt — so don’t use this on a hot pan.

A big advantage to using this instead of a spatula or your fingernail, is the shape. You have a flat side and a curved side, and the edges are rounded in just the right way to clear out the curves in you pan.

I’ve also found them handy for scraping food from Pyrex cookware and from cookie sheets or muffin tins.

Outside of cooking, I see a lot of reviews from people who use these for removing stickers from cars without damaging the paint or glass.

So that’s the Lodge pan scraper. It’s one of those cheap but immediately useful tools you’ll wish you’d gotten years ago.

Previous Cool Tool Review

-- Donald Bell 05/19/18

(Cool Tools has a YouTube channel with many more tool reviews — editors)

19 May 2018


Solid Ribbon Epoxy

Epoxy putty in solid strip cures when kneaded together

I just had occasion to fix my daughter’s eyeglasses. They had snapped at the hinge, in a place where neither glue nor tape would find any purchase, and we needed a way to repair them until we could replace the frames. For about $5 at Home Depot I got a tube holding enough epoxy putty to last for years of small repairs.

Epoxy putty is your standard two-component epoxy in concept, but like plasticene in initial consistency. You mix two strips by cutting an equal length of each and kneading them together with your fingers until it’s even in color. Once it’s kneaded, you mold it into shape with your fingers or the same kind of craft tools you would use on clay or plasticene. When it hardens, after about a half hour, it’s like rock–you can pound it with a hammer with no apparent effect. I’ve used it to make handles for broken pocketknife blades, for fixing glasses (like this time), for temporary patches on water pipes, and for a variety of other repairs and odd tasks.

-- Clifton Royston 05/19/18

(Magic-Sculp epoxy clay was featured in Cool Tools on March 3, 2005 but is packaged in a much larger quantity, at a much higher price, for larger repairs and sculpting. -- KK — editors)

18 May 2018


Logitech Create iPad Pro 9.7 Backlit Keyboard Case

Essential keyboard for iPad

The Logitech Create iPad Pro keyboard has changed the way I use my iPad. Mainly, I’m using my iPad much more often, now that I can enter text with a keyboard. If I’m on a short trip, I’ll often take it with me instead of my bulkier MacBook Pro. It works well with Google Docs, which is how I do most of my work.

It has a backlit keyboard, which is essential. The keyboard is smaller than a standard keyboard, but it’s not so cramped that I resent it when I have to do a lot of writing. I appreciate that it is powered directly from the iPad Pro via the Apple smart connector, because I don’t need to remember to charge it. It also doesn’t need Bluetooth pairing — just insert the iPad into the case and start using it.

The top row of keys have controls for common things like one-tap to home, screen brightness adjustment, search, language switch, keyboard backlighting adjustment, media controls, volume controls, iPad on/off sleep/wake.

The case itself is textured so it won’t slip easily when I carry it, and when closed the entire iPad is protected.

It’s surprisingly thin and light, too. I wish I’d started using it sooner!

-- Mark Frauenfelder 05/18/18

17 May 2018


Finger Pro Self-Adhering Safety Tape

finger protection from cuts, burns and abrasions

I’ve used Finger Pro self-adhering finger tape for several years, but not for its intended purpose. I suffer from dermatillomania which, in layman’s terms, means that I’m a nervous picker. When undergoing stress, I find that I pick at the skin around my fingernails, often to the point of making it bleed. And once it’s picked, it’s harder to stop picking at the skin.

I can’t remember how I discovered Finger Pro, but it’s mainly marketed as a finger protection tape for jewelers who work with files or abrasive wheels. It’s self-adhering, so doesn’t stick to your skin but can be securely wrapped around your digits. It molds to the shape of your fingers and, as long as you don’t wrap it too tight, is comfortable to wear. The tape is woven fabric with a “sticky” element that helps it to adhere to itself, but not other stuff that you touch. Even so, it can also aid with gripping things — tightly-sealed jam jars quiver at the sight of it!

The only downsides I’ve discovered are that Finger Pro is (as far as I can see) only available in green, which makes it a bit obvious when half my fingers are strapped up. A more neutral shade would be preferable. Also, after a few hours of use with my Logitech MX Master 2S mouse (another cool tool!), there can sometimes be a slight sticky residue where the tape has been resting against the rubber of the mouse. But it’s no real bother, you can gently rub it off.

-- Andrew Biddle 05/17/18


img 05/17/18

Beyond Bullet Points

How to give good slides

img 05/16/18

Natural Sea Wool Sponge

Better than a washcloth

img 05/15/18

Luna Cycle E-Bike Kit

Convert a regular bike into an awesome electric bike

img 05/15/18

IoT Relay

High-power relay for Arduino, Raspberry Pi, PIC, or Wifi

img 05/14/18

Brightech Battery Jumper

Portable car battery jump starter

See all the reviews


img 03/7/08

Tech Web Belt

Last Chance Heavy Duty Belt * Tech Web Belt

img 09/12/12

EBike Shipper

Cheapest bike shipping

img 06/2/11

Rescue Tape

Silicone tape

img 10/23/06

Animated Knots

Best knot teacher

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 122: Kari Byron

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 121: Talin

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 120: Grant Thompson

Picks and shownotes

23 February 2017


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 Dawson 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.