22 March 2018


Celestron Mini 8×21 Binoculars

$12 mini-binocs

I just bought four pair of some nifty Celestron 8x21s for an incredible $12 each! They are compact and very light weight. The eye relief is great, and while they ain’t Swarovskis, they do the job just fine. And best of all, I don’t worry about losing them or getting them scratched. My advice is to buy a bunch and keep them in every car, backpack, etc.

–Paul Saffo

I did just what Paul Saffo suggested. I got me a couple of these. They are small mini-binocs about 6 inches square — the size of your palm. They are as sharp as my other mid-price pairs, but much handier. I really like them. And for $12 (the current price is $18), they are unbeatable.




This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003

Earlier comments from original review:

Submitted on 2008/12/29 at 9:02 pm
A couple of observations. First, the links above both lead to the same model but they both look much different from the picture above. Second, the price is now $17.90 (You Save $-2.95) at the links given. Love that negative savings. ;-) Try getting them directly from Celestron for $12.95:


Submitted on 2009/04/13 at 11:33 am
These are some of the nicest mini-binoculars I’ve used. The price is right – currently $16.99 from Celestron. They are very light weight, extremely compact, with decent optics. I recommend them for the trail since they are so light.

Submitted on 2008/11/22 at 7:13 am
KK: the link isn’t working. I went to the site and could only find the Celestron “Up Close” 8×21 for a similar price……. http://www.sh0rten.com/1wg0puaopft/

Registered User
Submitted on 2008/11/22 at 10:32 am

I’ve updated the link. Thanks for letting us know!

Steven Leckart
Editor, Cool Tools

Submitted on 2010/03/22 at 5:56 pm
I bought three pair of these based on these reviews. The binoculars are fine, but I wouldn’t recommend getting them from Celestron. They use Shopatron for fulfillment; my binoculars took nearly three weeks to reach me. Celestron isn’t at all helpful; once the order is placed you see a notice saying that the order cannot be changed or canceled. Two weeks later I was unable to find anyone who was willing to take responsibility for finding out what was going on with my order (“we don’t have anything to do with fulfillment”), and it was nearly another week before it finally showed up. — editors)

22 March 2018


Garage Door Keyless Entry

Open or close garage door without a key or remote

If you have a motorized garage door opener, you may know the frustration of not being able to get in because you don’t have the remote handy. The keyless entry solves this problem by permanently mounting a remote with PIN pad near the entry. There are a wide range of models to match different systems but they all do basically the same thing. After you screw it to the door frame, you sync to the opener and program in a code. We find this incredibly convenient and it also makes it easy for the kids to take their bikes in and out to school.

-- Jon Margolis 03/22/18

21 March 2018


Gerber Curve Multi-Tool

Low-cost, keychain-friendly multitool

I’m a scientist, I don’t need to carry an EDC knife with a tactical blade and one handed spring assist opening. But a handy little (closed length: 2.25″) keychain knife with screwdrivers on it is a great tool to have. I have had my Gerber Curve multitool ($10) on my keychain for years. It has everything you need, a small blade, phillips and straight screwdrivers and a file. I have actually added one to my bike bag and my photo bag as it is just that handy.

-- Joe M 03/21/18

21 March 2018


Maker Update: Automatic Dice Spinner, Desktop CT Scanner, and Powering a Raspberry Pi From Lithium Iron Phosphate

The best maker projects and tools of the week

This week on Maker Update, an automatic dice spinner, a desktop CT scanner, and powering your Raspberry Pi from lithium iron phosphate. This week’s Cool Tool is the Krink K-70 Permanent Ink Marker.

Shownotes here.

-- Donald Bell 03/21/18

20 March 2018


Stretch Wrap With Handle

$11 for 1000 feet of non-adhesive plastic film

Let’s talk about stretch wrap. $11 on Amazon got me 1,000 feet of this stuff — but what’s it good for? I’ll tell you what I use it for, and if you want to pick some up for yourself, using the link in the description helps support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

Stretch wrap is a non-adhesive plastic film that under tension will stick to itself. It comes in all different sizes. This roll is 5-inches wide and clear and comes with this built in cardboard handle.

What’s great about it in general is that it’s non-destructive — you can use it like tape to wrap things up, but it won’t leave behind any residue or pull anything up when you take it off.

You’ll often see moving companies use this to bundle up loose things that won’t fit in boxes, or secure furniture or drawers so things stay together.

I stole this tip from Jimmy Diresta’s video on tape tips, he uses stretch wrap for securing ratchet straps in his truck into a nice bundle. He also recommends it as a way to secure things in bubble wrap without resorting to packing tape. This way, if you mark where to pull to unwrap it, people can undo the packaging without having to slice into it and possibly damage the contents.

I picked this up specifically to organize the t-shirts my band sells at shows. I’ll fold big stacks of shirts grouped by size and wrap them with this so I can still see the size on the tag. I used to use rubber bands but they would leave marks or wrinkle the fabric — but this doesn’t.

On that same note, I have things in my workshop like grillecloth or corkboard, that tape or rubber bands tend to damage. Stretch wrap is a great way to safely bundle it up.

-- Donald Bell 03/20/18

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

20 March 2018


Rechargeable Portable Battery Operated Fan

Fan recharges with USB cable

If you’ve ever battled over the thermostat setting, this fan will settle a lot of arguments. I have been using one of these small battery-operated fans for over a year, now, and it’s still going strong.
I experience hot spells several times a day, and this fan provides instant relief. It can be operated on batteries or with the included mini-USB cable, but it lasts long enough on one charge that I’ve rarely used it with the USB cable. Initially, the fan would last for over two weeks of daily use (several times a day, for five or more minutes at a time) on one charge. Even after over a year of daily use the 2000 mAh battery is still going strong, but now lasts for about a week of regular use on one charge.

The fan has three speed settings, but I generally use it on the middle setting. It’s reasonably quiet, for how much air it pushes. It folds up for storage, and it even has little hooks that can be used to attach it to the underside of an umbrella, though I’ve never used it that way. There are models available that come with rounded handles, but I find the flat-sided handle useful for propping the partly folded fan on a table so I can direct the cool breeze in my direction.

Amazon no longer lists the exact brand of fan that I initially purchased (iEGrow), but there are a number different models available, all in the $12 to $15 price range. I expect that they all perform about the same, and I recently purchased another model that came with an extra battery (for a few dollars more) so I can store enough juice to run the fan for several weeks of daily use without needing to recharge batteries.

One thing that is a bit odd, but not a problem for me, is that when the battery is very low, the fan does not turn off, but instead cycles between low and high setting when you press the switch. Charging probably takes several hours, I usually just charge it up overnight, and I’m good to go for another week or two. It is a bit difficult to see the indicator light to know when it’s fully charged, as the light is recessed inside the handle. I have been waiting for my first fan to die before I switch batteries, but although the battery has flagged a bit, it shows no sign of quitting, after being recharged dozens of times over the past fifteen months.

This fan gets so much use that I really don’t know how I got along without it.

-- Runciblefish 03/20/18


img 03/19/18

Lacrosse Felt Insoles

Provides comfort, additional warmth, or a more snug fit

img 03/18/18

Retractable Sharpie

Marker pen with no cap

img 03/17/18

Wiss 8″ Kitchen Shears

Old-fashioned multi-purpose kitchen shears

img 03/17/18

Ridgid Pro Pack

Rectangular Vacuum Cleaner

See all the reviews


img 09/12/12

EBike Shipper

Cheapest bike shipping

img 07/24/17

Stretch Wrap

Quick self-binding wrap

img 12/13/10

Fantastic Ice Scraper

Cheap brass ice scraper

img 10/27/10

Knipex Pliers Wrenches

Rapid, safe, strong pliers wrench

img 10/8/10


Burly folding backwoods saw

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 115: Zach Supalla

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 114: Scott Smith

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 113: Madeline Ashby

Picks and shownotes

23 February 2017


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