Amazon Prime Day: Find Out If Our Top Cool Tools Are On Sale

Wednesday, July 15 is Amazon Prime Day, which promises “more deals than Black Friday.” This is the first Prime Day, so I’m not sure how fabulous it’s going to be, but I’m going to be checking Amazon throughout the day to see what kinds of deals are being offered.

A Prime membership itself is a good deal if you order a lot of things through Amazon. The main benefit is free 2-day shipping with no minimum order size, and discounted 1-day shipping. For me, that benefit alone makes Prime worth getting. The other two benefits I use and like are Prime Instant Video (40,000 free TV shows and movies) and Prime Photos (unlimited photo storage).  Amazon Prime cost $99 a year, but you can try Prime free for 30 days and take advantage of the Prime Day sale.  (Alternatively, if you are in the market for a decent smart phone, consider the Amazon Fire Phone, which currently sells for $199 and includes a year of Prime, making the effective price of the phone $100.)

In anticipation of Prime Day, we’ve put together the top 25 best-selling Cool Tools in the last two years, starting with the most popular. They are all available on Amazon, and there’s a good chance that at least a few will be sold at a discount on Prime Day. Even if they’re not on sale, check them out, because they are tools your fellow readers have bought in large numbers.

  1. Fantastic Ice Scraper with Brass Blade — Scrapes away crusty stuff in the kitchen and garage
  2. Love Glove Grooming Mitt for Cats — Cats love this fur brush
  3. Swiss+Tech Utili-Key — 6-in-1 Multi-Function Tool
  4. Gerber EAB Pocket Knife — Folding utility knife with exchangeable blade
  5. Shave Well Fog Free Shaving Mirror — Low price, foolproof shower mirror small enough to travel with
  6. Panda Ultra Wireless N USB Adapter — Adapter shares wifi signal with other devices
  7. Bluetooth Mini Interface OBD2 Scanner Adapter — Wireless car diagnostic tool
  8. Hugo’s Amazing Tape — Reusable tape sticks only to itself
  9. Key Rack Locker — Improved locking keyclip
  10. Kikkerland UL03-A Universal Adapter — Space saving travel adapter
  11. Illuminated Multipower LED Binohead Magnifier — Designed for both serious hobbyists and casual users
  12. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
  13. Kaboom with OxiClean Scrub Free! — A better toiler cleaning system
  14. O’Keeffe’s Working Hands Cream — Relief for cracked and split hand skin
  15. Woolzies Wool Dryer Balls — Natural fabric softener
  16. Waterpik Ultra Water Flosser — Demolishes dental biofilm
  17. OXO Steel Measuring Jigger — Angled surface lets you read measurements from above
  18. PlaSmart Perplexus — Brilliant 3D maze
  19. Photive 5-Port USB Rapid Charger — Conveniently charge multiple devices
  20. Tibet Almond Stick — Refresh old strings on guitars
  21. Sugru Hardware Sealer — A moldable silicone rubber compound that sticks to everything
  22. Spyderco Bug Knife — Itty bitty knife
  23. Chef’n Stem Gem Strawberry Huller — Decapitate strawberries with the push of a button
  24. Megapro Pocket Driver — Handy driver for small jobs
  25. Cheerson CX-10 Quadcopter — Tiny quadcopter for indoor fun
-- Mark Frauenfelder  



Thermos Stainless Steel Can Insulator

We’ve got some of those standard foam can koozies (I looked that up) that aren’t really very effective, are kind of a pain to use and are starting to tear up. Time to upgrade.

I stumbled onto some metal/vacuum models made by Thermos. Having always had good luck with Thermos devices, I bought two of their Stainless Steel Can Insulators. This was late last year, when it was already cool, so 1), it really wasn’t the ideal time to “test” these things, and 2) I tend to drain a can pretty quickly. My wife, on the other hand, tends to nurse her sodas, so she’s the one who’d say if they do their job well.

I was immediately impressed by the fit & finish of these things. Set a can on top of one, and it just slides in nicely. Easy to remove – especially compared to a foam type. The rubberish seal at the top is also the grippy part, so it sits very nicely in hand.

And they provide a noticeably better life-of-a-cool-drink. My wife was a doubter but has come to really appreciate these things. Faster than prepping a glass with ice, and leaves no condensation rings behind. Now that it’s warmer, the effectiveness of these things is even more obvious. Pretty dang good, for sure.

They’re sleek, not blimped up. In fact, they fit in car cup-holders, which is arguably some sort of a good thing, but will also give you an idea of their sleekness.

Keep in mind that, while very good, these things aren’t magic. Drinks will warm in them, but it’s slowed down a lot. And there’s no fighting to get cans in/out. Way better than those foam things. Pricier too, of course, but they’re stainless steel and should last a very long time.

can-2

-- Wayne Ruffner  

Thermos Stainless Steel Beverage Can Insulator for 12 Ounce Can
$11

Available from Amazon



Jared Zichek — Collectible Figurine Maker

Jared Zichek is a Figurine Maker who relies on a long list of tools to keep his limited edition resin figurine-making business, Golden Age, flowing smoothly. Listen in on this week’s episode of the Cool Tools Show to hear Jared discuss his business and offer insight into how these tools have become an essential part of his day-to-day operations.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Podcast on iTunes |RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show Notes:

Paasche AEC Air Eraser Etching Tool $50

“I got this [mini sand blaster] specifically for finishing 3D prints, resin 3D prints. Because even the best 3D prints have traces of layering usually and it can be quite challenging to remove it without hurting surrounding details, especially if you have like an organic type sculpt like, say you sculpted a woman’s dress and you don’t want to obliterate the folds. I loaded it with baking soda and I think I put it at about 40, 45 psi on my compressor. I sprayed it and it worked pretty well. It removed most of the layering without really obliterating the surrounding details.”

3M Acryl-White Glazing Putty $17

“I’ve been using this for about a year. It cost us about $16.50 on Amazon. It comes in a very large tube that will last you for several years. It’s similar to a Tamiya White Putty which is a very nice fine filler putty but it’s much less expensive. It’s ideal for filling small holes, scratches, and other surface defects on resin 3D prints. It has a quick drying time. It dries in about 30 minutes. It can be sanded very smooth and it blends well with the surrounding surface, and also has low shrinkage.”

PJ Tool & Supply All Purpose Polishing Compound (Blue) $2-7

“I found this on PJ Tool and Supply. It’s an all purpose polishing compound. It costs $6.25 for 14 ounces, and a 1-inch buffing wheel is $2. These buffing wheels are for a Dremel tool.”

Miniature Buffing Wheels $2

“You take the buffing wheel and you stick it into the block of polishing compound and get some on there and then you apply it to the print you’re polishing. You’ve got to do it at a low RPM and you should wear eye protection. Because if you do it at a high RPM, you can burn the plastic.”

Moment of Inspiration 3D Modeling Software $295

“The guy who made MoI used to be a developer for Rhino. I’m not really familiar with CAD programs. I work with stuff that’s used for making games. But it was pretty intuitive, pretty easy to use and you can really quickly create a mechanical and man-made type hard surface models like guns, planes, robots, cars. It has a very useful Boolean capability where you can add and subtract, combine objects quickly to make complicated mechanical shapes and then you can apply nice fillets and chamfers to the edges. It’s just something that’s harder to do with like a polygon modeler like Softimage.”

 



Zip Zester

This citrus zester tool has 4 different blades; two are included and the others are available separately (I have all 4).

I have virtually no rotator cuff in my right shoulder, which, along with severe arthritis, makes using a microplane for what I do almost impossible.

What I do is make my own liquor infusions using 190 proof alcohol. To make limoncello, for example, I need the zest and juice from a dozen lemons. That’s a lot of work even with a great tool like the Microplane zester. The Zip Zester makes this into a simple job (my 5-year-old granddaughter actually did this for me; she thought it was great fun. And, instead of small pieces as with the Microplane (which you can get from the Zip Zester if you wish), I get very thin strips that make for better extraction.

The tool works exactly as described, zesting with not even a trace of white pith, something that takes a little effort with the Microplane. At a list price of $100, it’s a lot pricier than the $15 Microplane. But, for me, the price was well worth it (and I got it at a 20% discount w/free shipping). Also, where it used to take me an hour or more to do a dozen lemons w/the Microplane, it was a matter of minutes with the Zip Zester.

It does seem like the predominant use for the tool is in commercial applications (restaurants, bars, catering etc.) where it has to pay off big time. But, I now find myself making at least twice the number of infusions I used to; everybody keeps coming back for more.

-- Kenneth Fink  

Zip Zester Ultimate Kitchen Zester and Cocktail Garnisher
$100

Available from Amazon



Mediasonic Digital TV Converter and Digital Video Recorder

I came across a good low-cost solution for cutting the cord from your cable company in favor of over-the-air (OTA) digital HD (ATSC) broadcast signals: the Mediasonic HW-150PVR.

While almost anyone can plug a simple antenna into their TV and get programming (and you should confirm you receive strong signal before buying this box), this $37 box adds DVR and program guide functionality for your broadcast signals – two things people might be less willing to give up when leaving cable. Guide data is received over the air, so results may vary.

Definitely a Tivo is a superior device – one key thing lacking in this device is the ability to set a “season pass” (record every episode of a show by name). But for a fraction of the price and avoiding Tivo’s monthly guide data fee, this device might be adequate for your needs (recordings can still be scheduled by time).

It requires an external USB drive for recording, which means you actually have to spend more than $37, but also means you can have lots of storage and can easily move the recordings to a PC (where you could also convert them into a suitable format for a tablet).

Including rabbit ears and a decent size USB drive, you could easily be up and running for $100 all-in.

Check out the user manual here.

pvr-2

-- Adam Berson  

[Read the Amazon reviews to learn about some of the frustrating things about this converter. The reason we are including it is because it is a very low-cost alternative to TiVo and other subscription based DVR services. -- Mark Frauenfelder]

Mediasonic HW-150PVR HomeWorx ATSC Digital TV Converter Box with Media Player and Recording PVR Function/HDMI Out
$35

Available from Amazon



Rhino Laces

Tough boot laces are helpful in keeping your boots on your feet but also can be useful as a source of cordage in an emergency. Rhino Laces claim to be unbreakable and cannot be cut, burned, sawed, chopped or otherwise destroyed.

The Rhino Laces sites features testimonials of customers using the laces to fix broken brake lines on trucks, hang bear bags while camping & other difficult to believe situations. My use case was much more straight forward. The metal fittings on my motorcycle boots have always been rough on laces. Rubbing against the metal-reinforced eye holes as I tighten the boots caused the original laces to tear within the first 3 weeks. I bought a pair of Rhino Laces in hopes of finally finding boot laces that will last.

The high quality of construction is apparent right out of the package with heavy duty cordage with rugged metal tips. I’ve only been using them for a couple weeks now and I can’t confirm that they’re unbreakable but they seem to be holding up well so far and I’m hopefully that I’ve finally stopped the vicious cycle of broken boot laces.

Rhino laces are available in three colors (Spec Ops Black, Coyote Tan and Reflective Black) and come in nine different lengths. They seem like a good fit for military, first responders, hunters or anyone interested in a tough as nails set of laces they can trust. The only downside is the price. At $29 per pair, I’m hoping to see these outlive several pairs of boots.

-- Jeff Chun  

Rhino Laces – Unbreakable Shoelaces
$20

Available from Amazon



Latest Book Recommendations on Wink

Wink Books is a website of remarkable books that belong on paper. In other words, books that don’t belong on ereaders. It’s edited by the editors of Cool Tools. In the last couple of weeks we’ve recommend books about “cursed” petrified rocks, one of the greatest comic book series of all time, 10 unusual tips for creativity, supremely weird underseas lifeforms, and a guide to making marshmallows. If none of these strike your fancy, maybe one of the other 350+ books here will.

-- Mark Frauenfelder  



Door-Ease

When we moved into our house in 1999, it came filled with stuff. There was an old lady who was retiring so she didn’t need to take the weed-whacker and snow-blower to the retirement home, so she just left everything and they were obviously people that loved really good perennial tools. One thing they left was this thing called Door Ease, which is a stick of wax for unsticking drawers. I thought, “Oh, that’s cool,” and then one day five years later I had a sticky drawer and I said, “Wait I have the technology!” so I went downstairs and got my Door Ease and it hasn’t stuck since.

-- Gareth Branwyn  

[Learn about the other tools Gareth inherited in our podcast interview with him. - Mark Frauenfelder]

Door Ease Lube Stick
$2

Available from Amazon



Voltage Valet Travel Alarm Clock

As a frequent international travelers know, you cannot count on having a clock in hotels outside the US. Travel clocks are a dime-a-dozen, but the 2TS has one feature that makes it indispensable in my travels.

When I am time-shifted and my sleep patters are thrown, its important to be able to glance at a clock. The simple act of reaching to activate a backlight is enough to bring me to full consciousness, making it harder to get back to sleep. Reaching for my phone is worse; I’m likely to be distracted by messages that have piled up on the lock screen.

That’s where the T2S comes in. When you set the alarm, the LCD display remains constantly illuminated. With this unit, all I have to do is glance at it. If it’s still nighttime, I can easily drift back into slumber.

The light is just bright enough to make it readable, and dim enough that you can sleep facing it. It is powered by 3 AAA batteries, which the manufacturer says should last for 6 months of daily use. I use it far less than that, and replace the batteries once a year as a precaution.

I never leave the US without this clock!

-- Chris Adamson  

Voltage Valet 2TS LCD Travel Alarm Clock
$20

Available from Amazon