16 July 2019


Dualit Toaster

Ultimate analog toaster

We have had a Dualit toaster for the past 5 or 6 years, and to this day, it works perfectly. My parents have had their Dualit toaster for at least 15 years, and it still works perfectly, too. These machines are manually-operated with levers (to move the bread up or into the toaster slots as it doesn’t pop up with a spring), switches (to choose whether you have one or more of the slots heating) and dials (the clockwork timer to decide how long you want the elements to remain on), so there is nothing to go wrong, digitally. And if the heating element fails (something I’ve never heard of it doing), they are easily replaceable. The toaster we own is a 2-slice unit. You can also get them in 4-slice units, and you can purchase a basket for sandwich making that fits into the nice, wide slots for the toast slices. We have this sandwich basket, and use it often.

The Dualit isn’t a cheap toaster, but it’s well worth the investment. When our last “normal” toaster quit several years ago, my wife refused to purchase another until we could afford the Dualit. While they normally ran about $200 for the 2-slot unit, she found one on clearance in Kitchenkaboodle, and snatched up the last one they had. We’ve never looked back, and we’ve never regretted our purchase. The only thing my wife says she’d change is that, if it had been available on clearance, she would have purchased a red one. As it is, ours is dark blue. It still looks great!

Beware of look-alike imitations! If it’s got spring-loaded slots, it ain’t a Dualit!

-- Adam Morris 07/16/19

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2011 — editors)

15 July 2019


Electrician’s Scissors

-- Dominic Morrow 07/15/19

15 July 2019


Book Freak #13: How To Make Yourself Valuable To Others

Advice for being useful to other people

Book Freak is one of four newsletters from Cool Tools Lab (our other three are the Cool Tools Newsletter, Recomendo, and What’s in my bag?).

In this issue of Book Freak: advice for being useful to other people.

Solve problems for people
“When you solve problems and satisfy needs, you put yourself in a unique position. You’re doing something for the customer that he isn’t used to getting from others. The others are simply going along, taking orders, doing what they’re asked to do. They aren’t looking for ways to be of greater value, so they don’t enjoy greater income and opportunities.”
— Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World

Adopt the craftsman mindset
“If you want to love what you do, abandon the passion mindset (‘what can the world offer me?’) and instead adopt the craftsman mindset (‘what can I offer the world?’)”
― Cal Newport, So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Focus on the people who love you
“No matter who you are, no matter what you do, no matter who your audience is: 30 percent will love it, 30 percent will hate it, and 30 percent won’t care. Stick with the people who love you and don’t spend a single second on the rest. Life will be better that way.”
― James Altucher, Choose Yourself


15 July 2019


Gyroscopic Inline Screwdriver

Controls torque and direction with your wrist motion

I love this Gyroscopic Inline Screwdriver ($69) — it’s the Segway Scooter of screwdrivers. I purchased it a couple of years ago after a home inspector I was shadowing raved about it, and it is now my go-to tool for all screw driving/removal tasks, which are many as I’m renovating an old house.

It has great torque and, used with Dewalt’s DW2055 magnetic bit tip holder ($6), which I nearly always do, it enables me to drive/remove screws/bolts in tight corners. I find the gyroscopic speed adjustment to be very useful. It has a trigger switch for on/off but no rotation direction, or speed switches. Rotate your wrist a bit to the right to drive screws and to the left to unscrew them, and the further you rotate your wrist, the faster it goes. For me, this is much more intuitive than it sounds and, because it provides fine-grained speed control, I find it very useful for quickly driving/removing screws while avoiding stripping screw heads and not over-driving.

A charge lasts quite a long time (typically between 100 to 200 screws, depending on depth/tightness) and a full recharge takes approximately an hour. It has a built-in 3-level LED charge indicator that illuminates whenever the on/off trigger is depressed — great for always knowing how much juice you have left. When the charge is running very low the torque is reduced but I’ve found that, if necessary, I can use this as a manual screwdriver to drive screws the last few turns. It has an automated LED light intended to illuminate the work area but I find this to be of limited use since the shadow of the tool itself prevents the working tip from being illuminated so, for low-light tasks, I use a headlamp.

-- Don D. 07/15/19

14 July 2019


Archive Downloader/Science news/Sunshine.fyi

Recomendo: issue no. 155

Sign up here to get Recomendo a week early in your inbox.

Download an entire archive.org collection
Lately, I’ve been listening to cassette tapes from the 1980s and 1990s on archive.org. I was able to download the entire collection of tapes by using a Google Chrome extension called Archive Downloader. Once it was installed, I went to the page at archive.org and clicked the Archive Downloader extension icon on my browser. Then I selected the mp3 files from a pop-up list and downloaded them. — MF

Science news
A good Reddit thread I learned a lot from, and one I hope will keep going: “What are some recent scientific breakthroughs/discoveries that aren’t getting enough attention?”  — KK

How much sun is left in your day?
Sunshine.fyi is a simple webpage that tells you how many hours, minutes and seconds of sunlight are left in your day. I keep it in my bookmark bar, but it’s now available as a chrome extension, so that every new tab serves as a reminder to go outside and make the most of your day. — CD

Superglue first aid
I use superglue (cyanoacrylate) to close small cuts and stop them bleeding. Dab it dry, apply glue, hold together. You can use any kind of “krazy glue” occasionally for first aid; it’s really handy in a workshop. Sometimes instead of stitches doctors use an expensive variant of cyanoacrylate called Dermabond, which is medical grade glue. Second best is cheaper vet-grade glue, Vetbond, which some also use to heal skin cracks. — KK

Good postal scale
My daughter is funding her next trip to Japan by selling a wide variety of stuff on eBay. She’s been doing well and is committed to the project, so I did my part by getting her this $20 digital postal scale. It weighs packages up to 11lbs. — MF

Best litter box for side-peeing cats
My cat is a side pee-er so the best litter box for her is the Modkat Litter Box with top entry. There’s less litter on the floor, it’s easier to clean and it looks great. My favorite litter to use is the Fresh Step Clumping Litter with Febreeze. I often forget to clean out the litter box because it rarely smells. — CD


12 July 2019


Oliver Hulland, Emergency Medicine Doctor

Cool Tools Show 183: Oliver Hulland

Our guest this week is Oliver Hulland. Oliver is a former editor of Cool Tools, after which he ended up pursuing a career in medicine. He’s currently a third-year resident in emergency medicine at Yale University. When not working in the emergency department, he enjoys spending his time foraging for mushrooms and wild plants.

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

Show notes:

Butterfly iQ ($1,999)
This is a very new piece of tech. It just was released in the past two years and it’s a personal ultrasound that you can buy and that plugs into iOS devices now, and then in the future it should have support for Android. On my day-to-day job I use ultrasounds to quickly evaluate potentially life-threatening illnesses. I can use it to check to see if there’s fluid in someone’s lungs, to see if they have a gallstone in their gall bladder, to see if they have free fluid or blood in their belly. It’s a really incredible tool with which we can very quickly intervene and figure out what’s going on. The big difference now is that historically ultrasounds have been $30, $40, $50,000 just for a set-up. The Butterfly iQ is really different because they have brought the price down all the way to about $2,000. Instead of using crystals they use a silicon chip, which can be much, much more easily produced and also is a lot easier to adapt for different circumstances. I would say five or 10 years, that people with certain conditions will end up taking these home. It’s something that can be quickly taught to people. They can use it as a means of checking to make sure their heart function is where it’s supposed to be, checking to make sure that there isn’t a ton of fluid in their lungs. If there is, they can quickly call their cardiologist or primary care doctor and schedule a visit. The technology is definitely evolving. Right now it’s predominantly for health care providers, but I think the future will see a democratization of the technology.

Leatherman Raptor Shears ($70)
It’s a foldable pair of what are called trauma shears, which are heavy duty scissors. I carry them in my pocket on a daily basis. They’re really great because it really makes it a form factor that’s just easy to pop in your pocket or pop in your bag. They’re a really, really useful set of scissors. I’ve found that I use them just as much outside of the emergency department as I do in the emergency department. Leatherman has also built in a couple of other additional tools, as they’re famous for. One of them is a seatbelt cutter. Then in addition to that, they have a ring cutter, which is actually really great in my line of work, but also, it’s amazing how often people get rings stuck and have to go to jewelers. I think for me, I probably use the ring cutter as much in terms of intervening on a patient as I do the shears themselves. It can get through most metals except for hardened steel. They come with a Molle nylon strap thing that you can slide them in. I personally don’t like that tactical look. I like to have a more streamlined look, so I just have them in my pocket when I’m working. Then I just keep them in my bag when I’m not. I have a little pocket in my bag. I can actually attach the Molle holster and I just keep it there for safekeeping so it doesn’t slide around or get lost. They are super strong. You can cut coins. You can cut almost any type of metal that you can think of. I’m on my second pair because one of them got pilfered, but my first pair I had for about three years and I never had a problem. I didn’t run into anything that I couldn’t cut within reason.

The Batclip ($29)
It’s a stethoscope holder. It’s a piece of leather with a clip on the back, that closes with Velcro. It attaches to either belt loop or I keep mine on the outside of my pocket. It allows you to keep your stethoscope folded up and on your belt without having to keep it around your neck. The alternative would be keeping it on your neck or keeping it in a bag or in your white coat or whatever pocket that you have. It’s something that I probably use 20 to 40 times a day. It really makes a difference in terms of having my stethoscope really, easily handy. It keeps it from sliding off my neck. It’s just a really, simple, useful tool. I like it also because it was designed by another emergency medicine physician. He’s a great guy. When I had problems with my first-generation one, he immediately replaced it with an upgraded model with better Velcro. I can definitely attest to the fact that it’s a very well made and useful tool, especially if you work in the medical field and you find yourself using a stethoscope.

Pedi STAT ($5)
The next one that I really enjoy, and this is a little bit more applicable to everybody, is an app called Pedi Stat. In the world of emergency medicine, there is a need to quickly draw up dosing for anything that comes in. Specifically, there’s a range of neonates to babies to children, and the drug dosing and interventions that we do vary based on how old they are. What it allows you to do is you put in the age or size of the kid that you’re taking care of. It will tell you everything about what kind of dosing for, let’s say pain medications or fever medications, and/or what the normal vital signs are. From the perspective of being useful for patients outside of the world of medicine, it can be really useful for specific dosing of things like Tylenol and Ibuprofen, which oftentimes parents get wrong, because they aren’t doing a weight-based dosing. They’ll just give what they think is the right amount, or it’s too confusing on the bottle. This is just really nice because you just plug in the weight or the year or the age, and it will pop out the appropriate dose and/or tell you what the appropriate vital signs are for your kiddo. This is just reassuring because it will tell you quickly, even for me, it’s still hard for me to remember all the different variations in terms of what the expected heart rate is or respiratory rate is for somebody who is young, because they can often be the primary indicators for when something is wrong or when somebody is sick.

Also mentioned:

Samuel Thayer books
It’s amazing how often people will say something is “edible,” but if you actually try to prepare it in a way that somebody has said, it’s almost always inedible or something that you would never seek out. I think Sam does a really good job of highlighting a narrower range, but then going into a lot of ethnobotany and then going into the actual practice of eating and using these things, especially with an eye towards sustainability as well. I have not found anybody who’s writing as well as he is on the subject. I think that he is probably one of the foremost in terms of expertise in the world of wild edibles.

Muck Boots
I think one of the favorite purchases I’ve ever made was a pair of really good boots. The boots that I’m wearing these days are Muck boots. I don’t know if you guys are familiar. They come in a variety of different styles. I have a pretty bog standard one, but it’s a boot where it’s rubber on the bottom and neoprene at the top. My wife and I bought a farm when I started residency here in Connecticut and I use them for all of my chores around the farm. Then I use them exclusively when walking in the woods. I stopped wearing anything but boots in the woods. One of the big benefits of them is that, because they go a little bit higher, I can use them to help reduce the tick burden that I end up getting. I have a current pair of what they’re called is the Fieldblazer boots. My wife has a pair that she’s had for about eight years now. They’re amazing for her throughout the fall, winter and spring. Then in the summer she goes a little bit lighter because she spends so much time in the sun. I wear them on a daily basis whether I’m doing chores or whether I’m foraging and I wholeheartedly find them to be a very useful tool.


We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $400 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! If you would like to make a one-time donation, you can do so using this link: https://paypal.me/cooltools.– MF



img 07/12/19


Speed reading Chrome Extension

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Corona AC8300 Sharpening Tool

More than just a gardening tool sharpener

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What’s in my bag? — Marc Silber

What’s in my bag? issue #5

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Timberline Chainsaw Sharpener

Makes sharpening your chainsaw much easier and more precise

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14500 Flashlight Battery with Built-In Micro-USB Charging

No charger needed to recharge this battery

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Book Freak #12: Letting go of anger and resentment

Claudia Dawson offers three excerpts from books she’s read on letting go of anger and resentment

See all the reviews


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Crowdsourced design

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Zenni Optical

Best cheap eyeglasses

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LockJaw Self-Adjusting Pliers

Self-adjusting Vise Grips

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Kindling splitter

img 12/8/06

Blurb * Lulu

Personal bookprinting

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Funnest parlor game

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 183: Oliver Hulland

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 182: Richard Kadrey

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 181: Kirsten Dirksen and Nicolás Boullosa

Picks and shownotes

10 July 2019


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.

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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 claudia {at} cool-tools.org.