A cool tool can be any book, gadget, software, video, map, hardware, material, or website that is tried and true. All reviews on this site are written by readers who have actually used the tool and others like it. Items can be either old or new as long as they are wonderful. We post things we like and ignore the rest. Suggestions for tools much better than what is recommended here are always wanted.
I carry a roll of the Velcro Plant Ties (see right) in my tool bag, but also keep One-Wrap Velcro strips in the shop. While they’re much more expensive, I’ve found the larger kind to be substantially bulkier and stronger. Here in Toronto, we have alternating weekly garbage, recycling, and green waste pickup. We also have rapacious raccoons. I found if I add a simple loop of One-Wrap, screw it into the side of the green bin and loop it over the locking bail of the bin, the raccoons cannot open it. I first tried Plant Ties. They just wouldn’t hold. For my purposes, a One-Wrap is good for about a year, after which it is easily replaced. It’s available in various colors and sizes. The lower-end of the One-Wrap line is a similar size to the Plant Ties, which are 13 mm wide; however, the One-Wrap also come as large as 22mm. It has deeper loop Velcro (thicker and fuzzier), and as the width of the tape increases, the size of the loops and their grip strength increases. Plant Ties really are great for handling all kinds of tasks, but One-Wrap is strong enough to bundle thicker rope, heavier hoses, and most importantly for me, they keep raccoons out of the recycling. – David Keldsen
To me, as a commuter, one of the most impressive parts of the EZ Pass toll-paying system is the hardcore industrial “velcro” tape they give you to attach your transponder to your windshield. It’s not really velcro, though – instead of hooks and loops, both surfaces have these tiny hard plastic mushroom-shaped things that grab each other by the hundreds and don’t let go. Both sides are the same, so there is only one tape (called selfmating). And unlike the loosy-fabricky velcro connection, the Dual Lock surfaces don’t join until you’ve positioned them exactly, and then pressed them together with a satisfying “chunk.” They’re primarily used in industrial applications as a replacement for mechanical fasteners, but I use mine to attach my iPod to my dashboard, and tools to the wall in my workshop. – S.S. Flanders
Parachute cord isn’t only light and strong (550lb. rating) for its size (5/32” diameter), it’s also more versatile than other types of rope because it can be dissected and parted out, cut and used for its braided nylon sleeve and/or seven separate core strands.
You can get an enhanced grip and a little added padding by using paracord to wrap tool handles. It’s also used for making lanyards. I recently inserted a length of ball chain into a parachute cord sleeve to make a hands-free flashlight for late-night dog walks. The nylon is a lot more comfortable around my neck than a ball chain, and the fit is perfect. – Spencer Starr