19 October 2018


Gorilla Gripper

Big panel moving

I have the Stanley Panel Carry, previously reviewed on Cool Tools, but greatly prefer the Gorilla Gripper ($49), which works with panel widths from 3/8 to 1 1/8 inch. It is about six times more expensive, but it works significantly better for moving large panels.

The Stanley tool goes under the bottom edge of the sheet. This can be awkward if it’s heavy material, such as plywood, and seems more likely to result in damaged corners. Using the Stanley holder, I had to bend my back at an awkward angle to pick up the sheet — the length from the tray (where the bottom edge of the sheet rests) to the handle is too short. The Gorilla Gripper lifts from the top of the panel, so there’s less need to bend before lifting, and I can keep my back straight. Also, with the Gorilla Gripper it’s easier to adjust your balance, since you don’t have the friction of the material moving the tool from side to side.

-- Taylor Bryant 10/19/18

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

18 October 2018


Haws Watering Can

Fine-tuned watering

When I began gardening I used a generic plastic watering can from a hardware store, but it didn’t give a gentle enough flow for newly planted seeds, nor a fast enough stream for larger plants that drink a lot. The polyethylene Haws can’s ($35) separate spout attachments (right angle downspout and oval brass rose) are outstanding features that make it a versatile performer. The right angle is useful for pinpointing the spot I’m aiming to water and also for avoiding watering a plant’s leaves. The brass rose angled upward lets forth a gentle rain for delicate seedlings; angled downward it gives a still-gentle but stronger dispersed stream. With both spouts removed, a solid stream shoots straight out of the can for deeper watering and hitting the tough-to-reach corners of my raised beds. Two “parking spots” on the body of the can hold the spout attachments not in use, so they’re never misplaced. Changing modes — and changing back — couldn’t be easier. The only drawback I’ve encountered is that the fine holes in the brass rose clog easily and need to be cleaned regularly to work well. But until I graduate to drip irrigation, this is the perfect tool.

-- Elon Schoenholz 10/18/18

17 October 2018


GB Wire Stripper and Crimper


A tool I love is the GB SE-94 Automatic Wire Stripper and Crimper ($17). The Kronus Wire Stripper, previously reviewed on Cool Tools, used to be the bane of my electrical-work existence. It would only properly set and strip the wire in one quick motion half of the time, and the other half I’d have to spend a few minutes fumbling around getting the clamp to hold on tight or the blade to cut deeply enough to strip the wire. Averaging out the two amounts of time, it really wasn’t any more effective than the classic manual strippers. When I got my hands on the SE-94, it was as though someone gave me a hammer after years of driving nails in with rocks. It can grab and strip a wire with just a simple clench of the fist. It’s also been extremely handy in those cramped-in-a-sink-cabinet-wiring-up-a-garbage-disposal situations, when I don’t have the time to comfortably mess around with an inconsistent tool to get it to do what it was designed to do.

-- Cavan Gahagan 10/17/18

16 October 2018


Bone Folder

Paper scoring and folding

A classic bone folder $7 is made of real bone, not plastic or Teflon, and resembles a fat, blunt-edged tongue depressor, rounded at one end and pointed at the other. With it, I can turn a digital print, piece of cardstock or watercolor paper into a professional-looking note or greeting card.

Pulling the pointed end alongside a straight edge and across the paper produces a subtle score that facilitates a perfect fold. Next, I fold the card very gently by hand along the score, and then stroke one of the short, straight sides of the bone folder along the score to flatten the rounded fold to a sharp crease.

When sending a letter that I want to look good, I make two quick strokes of the folder along preliminary hand folds to create folded edges that are sharp and square. Bone folders also can be used to burnish paper as it is glued to cardstock, album or scrapbook pages. They produce accurate and sharp folds and creases on origami papers as well as facilitate sculpting, architectural modeling or bookbinding with paper.

I recommend rubbing your bone folder with olive oil from time to time to avoid flaking or brittleness. Folders made of real bone are best, unless you wish to use a Teflon folder to avoid the slight luster sometimes created by the friction of a real bone folder.

-- Clifford Peterson 10/16/18

(I relied on one of these while producing a large batch of homemade invitations and can attest to its utility. Here’s a look at a bone folder in use — editors)

15 October 2018


Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snip

Precise garden snip

Fiskars’ PowerGear Bypass Pruner, previously reviewed, is the handiest, most used tool in my vegetable garden, but it’s too big and clunky for precision cutting of young salad greens and herbs. For that task, the company’s Pruning Snip is an outstanding and inexpensive tool.

Snipping action requires little effort because the short blades are quite sharp and a spring in the center of the handle returns the shear to its open position after each cut. A small garden scissors could work almost as well as the Fiskars Softouch Micro-Tip Pruning Snip ($12), but the spring-activated light-action cutting makes a big difference for ease of use. Like the larger pruner mentioned above, this model gives a lot of cutting output with disproportionately little input. This shear is also useful for carefully thinning densely grouped seedlings by cutting the excess plants at their bases.

-- Elon Schoenholz 10/15/18

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

14 October 2018


Goo Gone

Vanishing goo

Goo Gone ($7) is a liquid that helps remove adhesive residues. I’ve been using it for years to clean off the adhesive residue left from stickers, labels, tape, etc.

Let’s say you just bought a picture frame and removed the label from the glass. In order to remove that irritating, gummy adhesive residue left by the label, you just rub a bit of GooGone over it with a cloth and the goo is gone! No need to use a razor blade, acetone or other nasty solutions.

Not much of an odor, and an 8oz. bottle lasts for years since you use just a small dab each time!

-- Dale Burgham 10/14/18

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


img 10/13/18

Theo Gray’s Mad Science

Dangerous home experiments

img 10/12/18

Laura Cochrane, Content Strategist

Cool Tools Show 144: Laura Cochrane

img 10/12/18

Knipex Pliers Wrench

Rapid, safe, strong pliers wrench

img 10/12/18

Master Lock Speed Dial

Faster combination entry than a standard combination lock

img 10/11/18

Bondic liquid welder

Plastic welding liquid cures in 4 seconds

See all the reviews


img 10/28/08

Ready Meals

Emergency hot meals

img 01/1/09


Personal outsourcing

img 09/9/08

Raven Maps

Best US state wall maps

img 10/21/11

The Wirecutter

Meta-review site for gadgets

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Burly folding backwoods saw

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 144: Laura Cochrane

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 143: Carl Bass

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 142: Anita Sarkeesian

Picks and shownotes

23 February 2017


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