Rob Beschizza, Editor at Boing Boing
Cool Tools Show 225: Rob Beschizza
Angled Desktop Drawing Board ($27)
This is one of those things that a lot of self-taught artists don’t even know about, but is a huge benefit when they figure it out. This is just one of those angled things, you put on your desk, that means that whatever you’re working on — it doesn’t have to be artwork, it could be anything — is angled so that it’s looking at you instead of up at the ceiling. There’s basically two types you can get. There’s the $100 type, and there’s the $25 type. The $100 type will have these tension cables and bars across it, which means that you can hold artwork in place, while you work on it. And then there’s the $25 types, you can get from Amazon or Dick Blick or anywhere else, where it’s just a piece of wood with a bar. That means you can pick the angle that it’s at and leave it there. And I actually prefer the cheap ones because they usually come with a little drawer underneath them where you can stuff paint, and pencils, and markers, or what have you. And the big thing for artists is that it means you don’t end up with a distorted perspective of your work.
FlashXpress Toaster Oven ($165)
I work from home in the basement. And since I’ve got a young toddler, you get to the point where you have to avoid going up during the day, because otherwise you’ll get distracted by the toddler and you won’t do work for three hours. So to avoid this, I got a toaster oven. So whenever I wanted to snack, I would just throw something on the toast oven. But the problem with toast ovens is they are all garbage, they’re horrible gadgets and really bad. If you just go into Best Buy Or Home Depot and buy a toaster oven, it will be the worst thing you’ve ever bought except for a printer. But the thing about the Panasonic FlashXpress is it’s really weird — at least by the boring, every day, well-marketed standards of Western appliances. This is like Japanese style of plants where it’s very small, it’s very powerful, it gets dangerously hot, like you shouldn’t be put anything on it. You can literally toast bread on the top of it while still cooking inside of it, it’s that hot. And it has very simple, slightly unusual controls which take a bit of getting used to, but which are clearly, very much like a Japanese appliance from the ‘80s. It has style. This is like a professional editing toaster oven, that’s exactly what it is, its really great. And it isn’t expensive, they’re about 80 bucks, and you can get them on Amazon.
Bosch Bulldog Xtreme Rotary Hammer Drill ($159)
When people buy drills like little power drills or whatever for use around the house or for projects, the chances are they’re going to do a bit of research and they are going to get an 18 volt cordless drill. And that’s fine, but I’m here to tell you that you probably should do something a bit more than this. And here’s the problem with those 18 volt drills, most of them are too big and heavy to be fun and easy to use, but they’re not big and heavy enough for the big jobs that you would probably have. You can do anything with whitewood with them, but if you have masonry walls or metal, the chances are it’s just not going to be enough. So after years of doing stuff with an 18 volt drill and being frustrated or tired by it, I realized that it was better for the small jobs just to get a little 12 volt drill. And there’s all sorts of decent ones, but for the big jobs you want something which can really just cut through the walls like butter. And that’s why a full size STS hammer drill is really the thing you want. I talk about working in a basement, the walls are like foot thick concrete, putting up pictures, making it habitable was just such slow going with an 18 volt drill. But now I just glide through that cement in seconds because I have a proper grownup tool.
An old corded office phone
Maybe it’s a spiritual thing — but just having a phone on the desk where I can punch the numbers and see without having to take the phone off of my head — I find it comforting that I have a phone in front of me where I can hit the button to record it and the phone records the call instead of having relying on some rigmarole with Google Voice or whatever to record the call. After 10 or 15 years of just using cell phones, to have a standard desk phone, I found it made everything a bit less stressful, a bit easier to do. It puts it at a certain remove, and it separates a certain kind of work. Especially if I’m calling someone to get quotes for a story or whatever, it separates that from the fun things I use a phone for.