14 November 2018

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Kinco Ski Gloves

Insulated hand protection

Look on the hands of the person wrangling chairs or patrolling at your local ski hill. You’ll probably see an old-school insulated leather glove made by workwear supplier Kinco. Now, there are slightly warmer and more dexterous technical gloves out there made specifically for skiing, but would you change your oil or weld with $100 Hestra Army gloves? I haven’t found a more durable, warm, or better value work glove than Kinco’s ($20) for the cold and snow.

The pair I have so far has lasted through four years of welding, skiing, snow shoveling and carpentry. They’ve been drenched in motor oil, covered in antifreeze, and nearly frozen solid in an ice storm while I was skiing. My hands have stayed happy.

The most care they require is a coat or two of Sno-Seal every season. Unlike synthetic gloves, they aren’t fazed by heat and flame. I’ve found that the Kinco 901 gloves paired with some cheap silk liners is enough to keep my hands warm until it gets below 5F or so.

–Jon Braun

I’ve never used their ski gloves, but Kinco insulated pigskin gloves with the knit cuff are staples at our farm. Pigskin is durable and most importantly dries soft after getting wet, whereas cowhide gloves can become useless after getting wet as they dry stiff. The knit cuffs are important if you work with chainsaws or hay, etc., as they keep debris from getting in and permanently clogging the fingers of the glove.

We go through a few pairs a year, but that’s because we use them hard. I often get them at Gempler’s for about 15 bucks. The uninsulated styles are good for working in warm weather, but often I use the insulated ones even in summer as they damp vibrations from power tools pretty well. They are widely available elsewhere but often stores only stock the large size which are too big for my hands. Gempler’s was a subject of Cool Tools a long while back and is a great source for workwear and general outdoor/light industrial tools and supplies.

–Rufus

11/14/18

13 November 2018

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Storus Smart Money Clip

Wallet-free cash & card carry

I’ve been using Storus’ simple wallet/money clip ($20) for four years now, and highly recommend it. It’s just enough wallet to qualify as one, but no more: light, simple, minimalist. The money clip is great, and the other side can hold five credit cards. The cards are wedged in there — the channel gets narrower as the card slides in. I carry my ID facing out, plus four credit cards. It’s a bit tight like that, but it works. As few as one or two cards still works fine, though, and they won’t slide out.

— Luke Kanies

I have used the smart money clip for six years. No more wallet, just the five cards I use all the time, and a little bit of cash if someone doesn’t want to take my MasterCard. It keeps my pockets free, and I have never seen anything else like it.

— Jeremy Sluyters

11/13/18

12 November 2018

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Knirps X1 Umbrella

Ultracompact rain shield

I live in London, which is pretty rainy, and so the Knirps X1 ($40) I’ve had for many years has seen plenty of use. It’s both highly durable and extremely compact: it folds down to the size of a two D-cell Maglite (about 6 ½ inches). Folded, it’s much smaller than the GoLite umbrella previously reviewed on Cool Tools, which is 25.5 inches long and doesn’t collapse. The Knirps is just a few grams heavier, and its coverage radius (37 inches) is 16 inches wider than the GoLite’s.

It’s an excellent compact umbrella, but the trade-off for its extreme portability is a too-small handle. The minimal size of the X1 leaves little room for a proper handle, and therefore the design incorporates a shallow cup into which the canopy tips slot when the umbrella is folded. The cup is about an inch and a half in diameter — too small and shallow to offer much purchase in windy weather.

This makes using the wrist-loop (which, to its credit, is strong and firmly attached to the cup) a must. I hold the cup low in my hand and grip the tube above it like a golf club — thumb pressed on the tube, with the first two fingers wrapped around it. This isn’t so comfortable for prolonged use, but it’s enough to hold the umbrella steady in gusty weather, although not steady enough to stop it being blown about a bit.

-- Rex Kipper 11/12/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2009 — editors)

11 November 2018

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Moby Wrap

Distributed weight baby-wearing

There are so many baby carriers on the market right now, and I’ve tried a good deal of them: various slings, the Ergo Baby (previously reviewed), Baby Bjorn, and the like all tend to put the bulk of the baby’s weight on one part of the back. While there is some distribution with shoulder or hip straps, the weight is still focused primarily on one area (shoulder/hips). I had seen the Moby Wrap ($30) and had decidedly avoided trying it, as it looked complicated and uncomfortable. A friend finally convinced me to try one, and I fell in love.

Not only is my baby securely snuggled up against my body, but it is incredibly comfortable to wear. It looks to be about 20 feet of fabric that you wrap around your body and slip the baby into. No doubt based on some age-old method of carrying babies, it is by far the most comfortable and versatile carrier I’ve seen. Because it crosses around your body so many times in different locations, it distributes the weight of the child to a variety of places: shoulders, upper back, lower back and hips. Plus, the baby can face forwards, backwards or sideways when worn on your front, and she can be worn on your hips or back as well.

While it does require an introduction on how to put it on, once you have figured out how it works, it could not be simpler to use. The basic concept is that you create a cross of fabric on your body and slip the baby between you and the cross, with her legs hanging out between. Also, because of the criss-cross over your shoulders you can nestle the baby’s head under the wrap, allowing full protection from the sun or, more importantly for the new parent, a quiet zone in which to nap, even at a bustling market. For all its simplicity this is simply the best baby carrier available.

There are several variations on this idea — one with rings, one made of more stretchy material, one with fancy patterns — from various manufacturers, but the basic design is all the same — wrap the fabric around your body, slide the baby in and enjoy.

-- Elizabeth Sendil 11/11/18

11 November 2018

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Spider And Web/Cheap new tools/Better Reddit browsing

Recomendo: issue no. 120

Mysterious text adventure
I used to love the old Infocom text adventure games. They were interactive stories where you affected the outcome by making decisions and doing things as you moved around a world described in words only. A friend told me about a free web-based text adventure called Spider And Web and I am enthralled by it.  I don’t want to say anything about the plot. Just give it a try. — MF

Cheap new tools
It is easy to mock the importer Harbor Freight for their insanely cheap Chinese-made tools, but in fact I’ve had great success with the tools I’ve bought from them. I may only use them a few times a year, and for that frequency their quality is more than sufficient, and their self-proclaimed “ridiculously low prices” are in fact a tremendous bargain. Over the years I’ve bought a welder, a larger sanding wheel, a buffer, and recently a new compound miter saw for less than $100. – KK

Customize your Reddit feeds
The Reddit app allows me to switch between accounts pretty easily, so I created a few different usernames to group subreddits by themes. It makes browsing less overwhelming when I can focus on one thing I’m trying to accomplish. I have an account for all the subreddits that make me laugh (CrazyIdeasAnimalsBeingJerksCrappyDesign), one for learning new things (explainlikeimfivewhatisthisthingtodayilearned), and one for inspiration (CraftsMiniworldsonegoodsentence). I actually have a total of five accounts, it’s almost getting out of control, but still this method keeps me sane. — CD

Sampling books
Several power users of the Kindle turned me on to a great tip: load up your Kindle, or phone, with free sample chapters of any and all books you are interested in. Read the sample (usually the first) chapter and then decide if you want to buy the book. In fact, don’t buy any book until you’ve read the sample chapter. The “Send free sample” button is under the “Buy Now” button on the book’s Amazon page. — KK

Prevent hand pain
I can’t handwrite for long periods of time without some discomfort. These pencil grips are designed for kids and adults with arthritis, but they help me out a lot too. I bought a 6-pack for $11. — CD

Ultralight kneeling cushion
This cushion ($8) protects my knees anytime I have to work on anything close to the floor or the ground. I’ve had it since 2011 and am grateful to have it every time I use it. — MF

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 11/11/18

10 November 2018

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Lenspen

Dry lens cleaner

One way to keep fingerprints off of a quality lens is to keep a filter on the lens at all times. If you prefer not to, or get a print on a lens while changing filters, this small tool ($9) will come in handy. The Lenspen offers two cleaning options. On one end, there’s a retractable dust brush. I just extend the brush, and sweep away any visible dust particles. I also use the brush every time I replace the lens. Dust particles almost always appear around the area where the lens and camera body meet. I make sure to clean up this area before removing and changing lenses, thus reducing the chance of getting dust on the sensor.

The Lenspen’s other end, has “a special non-liquid cleaning element” that can be used for more aggressive cleaning. Wipe it over the lens and magically watch fingerprints disappear. The manufacturer explains that there’s a carbon compound under the cap that cleans lenses much like the ink in newspaper works to clean glass. It does work. It can be used many times over, as long as every time you put the cap back on and rotate it, to clean and recharge the pad.

This has become my most used cleaning tool, second only to the Giottos Rocket Blaster. And the two complement each other: while the Lenspen works to clean the glass surfaces of the lens and the camera’s lens mount, I use the Rocket to remove dust from the sensor.

-- Anthony Marty 11/10/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2009 — editors)

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COOL TOOLS SHOW PODCAST

11/9/18

Cool Tools Show 148: Jeri Ellsworth

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Cool Tools Show 147: Elan Lee

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10/26/18

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WHAT'S IN MY BAG?
23 February 2017

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.

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.