21 September 2018


Rösle Garlic Press

World's best garlic press

Out of the dozen or more different garlic presses I’ve used, the Rösle is the absolute best ($39). The Germanic precision of manufacture is very high. It has a built-in mechanical lever that presses the garlic significantly harder than you press the handle. Hence, it takes less physical strength and strain, which is especially helpful when you’re pressing a lot of garlic. The press is also much easier to clean because the screen where the clove is pressed can be removed. No more digging down into the “pit” to scrape out the fiber remains with your finger or a separate cleaning bristle. When I mentioned “the world’s best garlic press” in the office, two folks immediately knew I was talking about the Rösle.

-- Kurt Bollacker 09/21/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 — editors)

20 September 2018


Fiskars Rotary Cutter

Better than razor blades

Rotary cutters aren’t new tools. It’s just taken me awhile to appreciate how great they are. The Fiskars Rotary Cutter ($10) replaces X-Actos for most heavy-duty cutting jobs in our household. It’s faster, surer, easier and therefore safer to use than razor blades. It will slice through paper, vinyl, cardboard, fabric, and foam board with ease and accuracy. I can only manage perfectly straight long cuts with a rotary cutter and straight edge. Cutting curves is buttery. Seamstresses can add pinking blades. The replaceable blade retracts when not in use; it can be side-switched for left-handers. When I think “cut” I reach for this tool.

-- KK 09/20/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 — editors)

19 September 2018



Multi-use warmer for heads, hands, neck

Recently Paul Saffo and Stewart Brand were raving about the Buff, the all-in-one garment. I am picky and a minimalist when it comes to clothing, but the Buff, in addition to being a shape-shifter, also weighs almost nothing, so I thought I should try it. It’s pretty neat, now part of my pack. — KK

Here is what Paul Saffo wrote:

Y’all probably have known about Buff forever, but in case not, this thing is way cool. Described as “the original multi-functional Seamless Wear”, it is a stretchy microfiber tube that can be a neckerchief/neck-scarf, headband, wristband, foulard, bandit-mask, hand-warmer, balaclava and more. I mostly use it as a neck-scarf when biking, and on hikes when it turns cool. Because it is microfiber, it has great thermal and wicking properties — and it is a great glasses-cleaner.

Stewart Brand adds:

Do see their online movies of the ways to rig a Buff.


(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003 — editors)

18 September 2018


Best trauma shears under $10

Best penny cutters

I don’t think you can ever have too many trauma shears, also known as penny cutters. These are all under $10.

The first thing you should know is that these come in different sizes. The biggest here are 7.5 inches, the middle are 5.5 and these tiny ones are 3.5. Those measurements aren’t exact, but just know that if you specifically want these bigger ones, you need to confirm that they’re the 7.5 inch type. Otherwise, these 5-inch ones are the cheaper, more common ones you’ll come across.

Let’s start off with my favorite pair. These are the 7.5 inch fluoride-coated shears from Prestige Medical. I’ve had these for about a year now and they’ve held up well. The blades have a non-stick coating so they don’t get gummed up easily when you’re cutting tape.

Now, despite the size difference, the actual cutting jaws here are about the same length as the 5-inch ones. The difference is that the bigger ones offer more leverage. And at least in this case, the serrations on both 7 inch pairs I have are a little deeper and longer than the smaller options.

Now I’ll show you why that kinda matters. Here are the 5-inch pair. The grooves are a little less pronounced than the others, and they have a harder time biting into cables and zip ties without slipping down the jaw a little.

Still, they do a decent job, they can fit a little better in a pocket. The blunt tip on all these helps so they don’t rip a hole in your pants. And these ones also come in a Fluoride coating so they don’t get gummy.

Going back up to these 7.5 inch shears. These cut just as well as the black ones but have this extra carabiner clip on the handle. The clip makes it easy to hook on a bag or a belt loop, but I also find that it does a good job just hooking onto a pocket. The tension on the latch is just enough to resist slipping over the stitching on the top of my pocket. It makes it easy to keep on me, especially if I’m using them for gardening.

These ones don’t have the non-stick coating on them, but like all these, they’re made from stainless steel and they’re autoclavable. Which, in practical terms, means that you can boil them or run them through the dishwasher if you need to give them a good cleaning.

Finally, there are these itty-bitty ones. The cutting jaws on these are just an inch long and the teeth are much finer than the other options here.

You definitely don’t have a lot of bite or leverage with these. And I also have to say that the finishing on the edge of these is rougher than the others and worth filing down. But with all that said, these are an extremely pocketable pair of scissors that won’t poke you when you walk around. For opening packages, chopping through zip ties, or getting into stubborn packaging, having something like this is super useful, and much less likely to accidentally cut you than a knife.

One reviewer on Amazon mentioned that she uses these as a nurse and keeps them on a retractable badge holder, which sounds like a handy option.

So there you go. Those are four options worth considering when you’re shopping for trauma shears. I love having all of them around the house, but if I had to pick one, I’d go with the first pair I showed off. You can find links to all the options in the video description. I highly recommend picking up at least one.

-- Donald Bell 09/18/18

18 September 2018



Super easy rust removal

Getting rid of rust on tools, antiques, or old junk has always been an irritating and unsuccessful chore for me. But out in the Tube-osphere, guys restoring antiques all swear by Evapo-Rust ($23/gallon). They submerge the gnarly rusted object in this clear liquid overnight and the next day it rises up clean as a whistle. I got some, and by golly, it works like magic. As it eats away the rust, the liquid turns black (which is the reduced iron) as it depletes, but a gallon of it cleaned far more than I expected. The manufacturer claims one gallon will eat ½ pound of pure rust, or 300 pounds of moderately rusted iron. If you can’t dunk the rusted piece you can brush it on and keep it moist with towels. It claims to be non-toxic and biodegradable. It sometimes leaves a somewhat grayish film, but that’s no problem for anything being painted. It’s not cheap, but man, it is well worth it.

-- KK 09/18/18

17 September 2018


Eagle Creek All-Terrain Money Belt

Cash stash

Although you can certainly get cash in plenty of places overseas, in a good many others ATMs just do not exist. You gotta plan ahead: the Eagle Creek All Terrain Money Belt ($23). is pretty much exactly what I’ve always been looking for in a money belt, because it’s actually a belt. While traveling in Asia for six months, and on trips to Mexico, I’ve used a standard money “belt” that’s really more of a pouch you tuck into your beltline. You then subsequently appear to have either a distended abdomen or a money belt tucked into your pants, which obviously contradicts the goal: fly under the radar. I can keep my documents and passport safely hidden elsewhere, thanks much. But for carrying cash through pickpockety or banditry-prone places, this belt with a slim, zippered pocket is a real winner. I happened to see it at REI just before I left for a three-week trip to Nicaragua. I did have some trouble getting people to accept my origami-style folded bills (I really loaded up the belt), which is ironic because I didn’t find a single dry Cordoba in the entire country! Still, from now on, I will always travel with this belt.

— Mathew Honan

The Eagle Creek money belt has another great feature — the buckle is plastic, unlike many others with metal buckles, so it doesn’t have to be removed during airport screening. Keeps your cash right where you want it, not on a conveyor belt disappearing into an x-ray machine and not out in the open where someone with a sharp eye might notice it.

— Evan Marks


(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2008 — editors)


img 09/15/18

Oblique Strategies

Useful dilemma prompt cards; a portable oracle

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The Shape of Life

Presents the full diversity of life

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What’s new in Donald Bell’s Tool Box

Interesting tools for $10 or less

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SOLE Ultra SOFTEC Insoles

Oven-baked, supportive orthotics

See all the reviews


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Bissell Natural Sweep

Fastest carpet cleaner

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Direct line to a warm body

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Pogo Connect

Best iPad stylus

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Bose QC20 Headphones

Best all around noise cancelling earphones

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Aladdin Lamps

Bright, oil/kerosene-powered lighting

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Nolo Self-help Law Books

Do-it-yourself legal aid

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 140: Bran Ferren

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 139: Adam Fisher

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 138: Steve Lodefink

Picks and shownotes

23 February 2017


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