General Purpose Tools

Cool Tools 2017 Holiday Gift Guide: Mark’s Picks


Favorite gift ideas from Mark Frauenfelder, editor-in-chief of Cool Tools

The editors of Cool Tools have curated a number of gift suggestions selected from the pages of Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities (which itself makes a great gift), and from the website. This week: Mark’s picks.

There used to be two kinds of ukuleles: pressed cardboard junk for less than $50, and professional quality beauties for over $500. Now there is a third option – the Fluke ($199), a half-plastic, half-wood ukulele that costs half that. As soon as my fingers hit the cute-as-a-bug instrument, I fell in love with it. It’s a pleasure to play and the sound is strong and chipper.

“Since I spend a reasonable amount of time traveling for work (mostly via car) and I like my morning espresso I’ve tried several portable espresso machines to get me my morning espresso fix. I’ve found that the Wacaco Minipresso ($58) is the best portable espresso machine available.” — Jason Reljac

The Paderno spiral vegetable slicer ($20) 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, the sweet potato’s evil cousin, the white potato).

“The FiAir battery powered blower ($25) has turned out to be quite good at fanning dying embers into a hot flaming fire again. Using three AAA batteries, it seems to last for a long time, in fact, I have not run the batteries low after at least three dozen extended uses.” — Kent Barnes

“It’s so, so very much easier than playing a guitar, though I’ll admit, the tuning is a tad tedious (36 strings). But the chord bars on an autoharp ($358) vastly decrease your chances of hitting the wrong note, and there are none of those cramp-inducing finger contortions required for playing guitar. Just hold down a bar, and strum — and there’s your chord!” — Barbara Dace

Want more? Check out our other 2017 gift guide picks, as well as our 2016 Gift Guide, 2015 Gift Guide, 2014 Gift Guide and our 2103 Gift Guide

-- Mark Frauenfelder 11/30/17