04 August 2021


Dead On 18-Inch Annihilator

Demolition hammer-use for breaking down hard surfaces

Bought this wrecking bar several years ago for drywall removal. A very aggressive tool indeed! I used it to punch a hole in the drywall, grip the drywall and pry it off in big chunks. I even knocked down and removed 2 x 4s in the wall with it. Weighing nearly 4 pounds, it is much heavier than the hammer I would have used, and that weight adds to its destructive power. Not a bad choice to leave near my earthquake buckets. And an awesome zombie-stopper when the apocalypse comes!

-- Kent Barnes 08/4/21

(Dead-On also sells a 14-inch version, which is less massive. — editors)

03 August 2021


Pelican Progear Keychain Flashlight

Best keychain flashlight

There are quite a few key chain flashlight reviews on this site. And before I added another, I wanted to make sure I put this one to the test (although I wanted to put up a review of it the moment I saw it online as it has everything I’m looking for in my everyday carry flashlight). And, after a year of use, I feel even stronger about my recommendation for this light.

Here’s why:

– It fits on my key chain (a small, symmetrical tube). It can easily disconnect from the rest of my key chain, but not so easily that it falls off. The flashlight is connected to a split ring, and the split ring connects to a sturdy clip. It has just the right amount of play so it moves easily but doesn’t get in the way.

– It hasn’t turned on unexpectedly. With some other key chain flashlights, the “on” switch gets activated accidentally, and the battery runs out while illuminating the inside of your pocket. For this one, you twist the cap and the body closed to turn the flashlight on. I was a bit worried about the cap and the body separating. But, evidently, so was the designer. There are a LONG set of threads inside the barrel, and you really have to give it quite a few turns to separate them.

– There is only one mode. It’s on or it’s off. No low. No blink. Which is exactly the sort of “no fiddling” I want when I suddenly find myself in the dark and am trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

– It’s small, light, and durable. I’d forget about it if it wasn’t so useful.

– It’s bright and has a good angle. For its size, it puts out a nice amount of light, and a not too wide or too narrow of a beam.

– The battery has lasted a long time. Been using it for most of a year, and the batteries are as good as the day I got them. (It did dim a few months ago but I took the batteries out and put them back in again, and good as new.)

– It comes in black. And the powder coating wears off in the most satisfying way. I like to think it looks like a prop out of a sci-fi movie now.

– It’s made by Pelican Case, who seems to know a thing or two about making durable, usable products.

– At around $10, it’s the right price for a piece of gear that my life could depend on, but if I happen to lose, the crying will be over the loss of a trusty piece of kit, not the loss of a small fortune. And believe me, this is something that I will replace with the same item immediately if it’s ever lost.

-- Mark Krawczuk 08/3/21

02 August 2021


Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer

Vegetable slicer creates spiral cuts

The Paderno spiral vegetable slicer is made of plastic and it looks like it would snap into pieces as soon as the crank is turned, but don’t let its appearance fool you. This thing has a set of three sharp blade attachments that make short work of sweet potatoes (and, I assume white potatoes).

Using one of the three-blade attachments, you can shred, chip, or thinly slice vegetables. The hand-cranked operation is pleasingly, almost effortlessly, smooth.

When you are done peeling the potato, you’re left with a cute non-hallucinogenic mushroom.

I tossed a couple of potatoes into a skillet with salt and coconut oil.

Then I fried the potatoes, flipping them from time to time until a lot of the water burned out and I ended up with something that looked like bacon and tasted better than bacon. This stuff is crack to me. I could eat it all day, every day.

-- Mark Frauenfelder 08/2/21

01 August 2021


Super glue gel/2-way door rule/AllTrails

Recomendo: issue no. 263

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Super glue gel
Super glue is runny, which can cause it to drip when you apply it to a vertical surface or be absorbed when you apply it to a porous surface. Gorilla make Super Glue Gel, which solves both of these problems. I used it to glue together pieces of laser cut plywood to make these bowls. — MF

Reframe your decision-making process
I love this concept of the 2-way-door rule in Inc.com’s article “Why Emotionally Intelligent People Embrace the 2-Way-Door Rule to Make Better and Faster Decisions” (possibly behind a paywall). We avoid making decisions because we tend to think most are one-way door decisions, meaning irreversible because the door swings only one way, like quitting your job. In reality, most decisions are two-way door decisions where the door swings both ways, so if you step through and don’t like what you see, you can always turn around and go back through. Once you recognize this difference, you’ll find you actually seek out opportunities to make more decisions! — CD

Best hiking trail resource
My first stop for hiking trail information is AllTrails. This free website has the best trail maps, access location of trail heads, dog notes, elevation profiles, user reviews — almost anything you want. And they cover trails in most of the world. Their Pro version gives you mobile maps you can follow on trails outside of mobile service. — KK

Marvelous Korean melodrama
I just finished enjoying 21 hours of a Korean drama on Netflix called Start-Up. It’s a heart-tugging, tear-jerking, melodramatic soap opera about ransomware attacks and self-driving car code! Super well-done, with world-class craft. And it has an absolutely terrific K-Pop soundtrack. It’s sweet, sappy, but not too predictable, and a great view into today’s Korea. — KK

Our favorite note app
Recomendo reader Kartini Cooper asked to hear recommendations for a good note-taking app. I asked Kevin and Mark and their answer was the same as mine: Apple’s built-in Notes app. It’s the easiest and it syncs with all the other devices. I’ve gotten better at the up-keep — revisiting and culling my notes. My longest running notes that I pinned to the top are: To-do Today, Do Not Buy List, Questions I Have, Stress Note, and Things to tell my Therapist. I’ve also started organizing them into folders like: RecipesInstructionsCraftsDreamsWriting IdeasRabbit Holes, and my favorite folder: Revelations — all my late-night genius ideas that are some times hilarious in the light of day. — CD

Geometric Arabic typographic design
Mohamed Samir is a senior product designer at Apple. In his spare time, he creates stunning geometric graphics using Arabic typography. Printmag assembled a selection of his posters, which are also on display on his Instagram account. — MF

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Dawson 08/1/21

30 July 2021


Joe Grand, Hardware hacker

Cool Tools Show 289: Joe Grand

Our guest this week is Joe Grand. Also known as Kingpin, Joe is a computer engineer, hardware hacker, teacher, daddy, honorary doctor, TV host, member of legendary hacker group L0pht (pronounced “Loft”) Heavy Industries, and former technological juvenile delinquent. He has been creating, exploring, and manipulating electronic systems since the 1980s.You can find Joe on Twitter and YouTube @joegrand.

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

Show notes:

An oscilloscope lets you visually see signals and how they change over time. My go-to tool for daily engineering and reverse engineering. I use a now-discontinued Agilent (Keysight) MSO7054B that’s been hacked to enable all the extra features built into the firmware, but there are a lot of entry-level and mid-range affordable scopes (Rigol, Pico Technology) to handle most engineering needs!

ChipWhisperer is a set of hardware hacking tools that make traditionally complex attacks (fault injection and power analysis) more accessible. Lets you do some really interesting techniques to force hardware to misbehave and recover secrets it might be leaking.

This spork is a combination spoon, fork, bottle opener, screw driver, hex wrench set, and more? I travel a lot and often find myself somewhere with food, but not a way to gracefully eat it. This is the most used tool in my bag, though TSA tends to get confused and pull it out each time I go to the airport.

Insight Timer
After years of trying to make it part of my daily routine, I finally started to practice meditation. The app makes it easy to try a variety of guided meditations, classes, and music to suit my mood and personal preference. Meditation has helped me stay in the present moment and be more accepting of myself and those around me.



img 07/30/21

Kaboost Booster Seat for Dining

Stays attached even when chair is moved

vise 07/29/21

Restoring and Re-Creating an “Intimate Contact” Vise

Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales – Issue #94

img 07/29/21

Frying Pan Scraper

Shaves burnt food off of pots and pans

img 07/27/21

Karen Kay Buckley’s “Perfect Scissors”

Micro-serrated blade pulls the fabric into the scissors

See all the reviews


img 12/20/10

Park Team Race Stand

Essential bike maintenance tool

img 07/8/18


Classic puzzle in great package

img 12/3/15


Satisfying audio books

img 12/17/12


Funnest parlor game

img 05/12/21

Forschner Victorinox Chef’s Knife

Inexpensive great chef knife

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 289: Joe Grand

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 288: Joe Szuecs

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 287: Sherry Huss

Picks and shownotes

28 July 2021


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.

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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.