Cool Tools

Calculating How Much Epoxy You Need

Calculating How Much Epoxy You Need

[caption id="attachment_36728" align="alignnone" width="600"]Mixing up the right amount of resin is a trial no more. Mixing up the right amount of resin is a trial no more.[/caption]

John of Graz Makes posted a link to this Igram video on the TotalBoat account on how to calculate the amount of resin you need for a given pour. The post includes a link to a handy epoxy resin calculator on the TotalBoat website.

Reinforcing Wires Attached to Tiny Connectors

[caption id="attachment_36727" align="alignnone" width="600"]Using glue to reinfiorce wire connections. Using glue to reinfiorce wire connections.[/caption]

I sometimes have a devil of a time unplugging the 2- and 3-pin JST connectors on small, heavily-populated printed circuit boards. It’s hard not to pull on the wires as you try and claw the connector out. Years ago, I asked my friend John Park if he had any suggestions and he offered: “Hit the wire/connector intersection with hot glue to help provide a stronger connection.” Great idea! If you do this, make sure to go easy on the hot-melt. Since things are so tight, you don’t want to add to the bulk of the connector which might make it harder to get your fingernails or pliers in there for a decent tug. Trivia bonus: Do you know what “JST” stands for? Japan Solderless Terminals.


[caption id="attachment_36726" align="alignnone" width="600"]Add a pedal to your power tools. Add a pedal to your power tools.[/caption]

Via this “weird tools” video on Izzy Swan’s channel comes a recommendation for inexpensive foot switches you can add to your powered tools. I got a jeweler’s rotary tool a few years ago that has a foot switch and I love it. I wasn’t aware that you can get foot switches to plug other shop/power tools into and they’re under $20.

Repurposing Old Molded Tool Cases

[caption id="attachment_36725" align="alignnone" width="600"]Many of these cases are sturdy and well built. Give them a second life. Many of these cases are sturdy and well built. Give them a second life.[/caption]

What do you do with the many molded cases that drills, rotary tools, sanders, and other power tools come in when you’re no longer using them to store the tool? In this video on Doublewide6 Repairs, Bob shows how easy it is to cut out the inner molded insert. You can also add polyethylene/polyurethane/convoluted foam (aka gun foam) to create proper custom inserts if you wish.

Paper Cups in the Shop

[caption id="attachment_36724" align="alignnone" width="600"]Disposable parts and material holders for the shop. Disposable parts and material holders for the shop.[/caption]

It was great to hear former Make: contributor, Japanese-style woodworker, Len Cullum, on the Cool Tools podcast. In the interview, Len recommends these disposable paper “art cups” for around the shop, to organize small parts, hold glues, etc. I’m a huge fan of using plastic milk bottle caps as disposable cups for really small amounts of material and tiny parts, but I might get some of these for bigger jobs.

How to Tie Your Shoe Laces

[caption id="attachment_36723" align="alignnone" width="600"]Left over right instead of right over left. Left over right instead of right over left.[/caption]

Dirt Farmer Jay offers this tip on tying your shoes to help prevent the bow knot from “spilling.” The idea is simple: Place the left lace over the right (instead of right over left, as is most common). There are some useful thoughts and additional suggestions in the Comments section of the video, including a link to this video on double-looping the bow knot for extra security.

Maker's Muse

[caption id="attachment_36722" align="alignnone" width="600"]Thinking INSIDE the box. Spotted on the Homestead/Survivalism FB Group. Thinking INSIDE the box. Spotted on the Homestead/Survivalism FB Group.[/caption]

Shop Talk
After VM&P Naphtha was mentioned in the last issue, reader Mike Stern wrote in: “A little paint industry trivia for you: The VM&P stands for ‘Varnish Makers & Painter’s’ naphtha. It’s from the early days of the paint industry. Keep up the great work, it’s truly appreciated. ”
In response to the idea of using lithium grease on door hinges, reader Dave Leeds writes: “I’ve had to deal with hinges quite a bit as a locksmith. As long as they aren’t in a dusty area, spray synthetic is my choice of lubricant. It’s good over a wider temp range than lithium grease.

Cool Tools

What's in my bag? — Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is Senior Maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded Wired in 1993, and served as its Executive Editor for its first 7 years. His most recent book is The Inevitable, which is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. His other books include the best-selling New Rules for the New Economy, the classic Out of Control, and his summary theory of technology in What Technology Wants. From 1984-1990 Kelly was publisher and editor of the Whole Earth Catalogs. He co-founded the Hackers’ Conference, and was involved with the launch of the WELL, a pioneering online service started in 1985. He also founded the popular Cool Tools website in 2003.


About the bag

This is my day hiking bag. An ancient 20-year old JanSport bag with essentially 3 big pockets. I use it for day hikes. In addition to the items shown here, I’ll also carry some snacks and water. This is the closest current model JanSport bag.

What's inside the bag

Homemade, super light-weight plant press for preserving plants and flowers from my hikes. Made from scrap pieces of foam core boards. I glued two layers for each side with strips of wood to corner the velcro straps. Inside are sheets of “couch” blotter paper to dry the plants.

A single AA battery LED light hangs inside the JanSport bag. Very light weight, but extremely bright and long lasting. To be used when darkness comes or to inspect underbrush. The one shown is no longer made. This one is near equivalent.

Tiny binoculars. I only use these occasionally, so I don’t want to carry the full weight of real birding binocs. At 8 x 21 magnification they are low powered, and sometimes called opera glasses. These inexpensive ones are helpful for short glimpses. Since they are very compact and very cheap, I don’t mind packing them. The ones I have are no longer made so this is an equivalent.

The lightest, smallest portable camp chair I could find. This fits in my daypack and unpacks into a tripod stool which lets me sit almost anywhere. While it is very compact, the TriLite Stool is not super comfortable, and not made for relaxing. It’s also tipsy, and easy to tip over in. But I use it only for short rests and for picnicking.

Cool Tools

Newsletter Stack/Personal Vision Tracker/Beyond Burgers

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Discover newsletters by subject

Newsletter Stack is a directory of newsletters grouped by learning topics like COVID-19, Philosophy, Design, Wellness, etc. The website seems to be updated frequently. I signed up for all the Creativity topic newsletters, my favorite one is The Creative Independent, which explores the emotional facets of “creating” with a different working artist each weekday. — CD

Home vision test
About six months ago I bought an EyeQue Personal Vision Tracker for $25. It looks a bit like a microscope and attaches to a smartphone. After installing the app I was able to check my vision with it. The app gave me the same information as an optometrist’s prescription, which I used to buy inexpensive prescription eyeglasses online. I still plan to get eye health exams from  an ophthalmologist from time to time, but this is a cheap and convenient way to find out what kind of lenses you need, especially in the middle of a pandemic when going into an optometrist’s office poses an infection risk. — MF

Plant-based burgers
I don’t eat beef, pork or lamb, but I still miss a good burger. I’m a big fan of veggie Impossible Burgers, but I like Beyond Meat’s burgers, cooked at home, even more. They are really delicious in flavor and texture. You can get patties of Beyond Burgers at Target, Walmart, and Costco, among other retailers. The rest of my family, who do eat beef, love these plant-based burgers too. — KK

Working from home tips
This may be a new thing for you. Working from Home Temporarily is a free 72-page ebook that offers extremely practical advice on how to set up this new lifestyle. Some of the stuff is obvious, but there’s a lot of great tips such as how to upgrade to good connectivity, how set office hours, how to share your home with others who are also working, etc. Available in 3 ebook formats, all free. — KK

Revisiting Standard Ebooks
A year or two ago I recommended Standard Ebooks as a resource for free reading. They have since updated their catalog with a lot of new titles, so I thought it was time to re-recommend them. They take public domain texts (by authors such as Robert E. Howard, Edith Wharton, Sarah Orne Jewett, Bertrand Russell), scour them for typographical errors, add excellent cover art, and format them for Kindle and other e-readers. The online catalog is a pleasure to browse, and includes a synopsis for each book. The latest entries include The Gambler by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne, Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Time Traders by Andre Norton, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, A Tangled Tale by Lewis Carroll, The Marvelous Land of Oz by L Frank Baum, and Villette by Charlotte Brontë. Join the mailing list or subscribe to the RSS feed for updates on new books added to the catalog. — MF

Another musical time machine
Last week I recommended The Nostalgia Machine, and some readers reported that it was glitchy and did not work on their browser. Reader Micael suggested if you have Spotify, try searching for “year:1992” to get song and artist results from that year, and @JMWander recommended which lets you customize a music stream based on decade, country, and slow, fast or weird music. Thanks! — CD

Cool Tools

What's in my bag? — Kid Outing Essentials

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Camille Hartsell has honed her question-answering, book-making, and odd-jobbing skills over many years of working as research librarian to Kevin Kelly. Since the arrival of her kids (now 3.5 and 6.5), and especially COVID-19, she is mostly a stay-at-home-parent, which makes her substitute teacher, camp counselor, art facilitator, life-guard, and mediator of many feelings and disputes.


About the bag

Kane Kids by State
Both kids are now big enough to carry their own backpacks, a major milestone. My daughter uses this great backpack from State, which has a strong charitable giving program. So far, it has survived kindergarten, my crappy patch-sewing, several washes, and now many trips to the park and beach. The side pockets fit full-sized water bottles, and the interior pockets are nice to have if underused by my 6.5yo, who has more of a cram-everything-into-the-biggest section approach to organization.

What's inside the bag

Snack Box
My kids have happily inherited my obsession with cute bento boxes, and this one features styling from one of our favorite movies, Kiki’s Delivery Service. The latches are easy to operate and it has two removable compartments inside. It’s made of lightweight plastic and although it’s not leakproof, it does just fine with apple, crackers, nuts, etc. Does great in the dishwasher, although I don’t think you’re supposed to.

Audubon Bird Call ($14)
It’s small, easy to wear like a necklace, and delightful to use. You press and turn the metal bit, which causes friction and then emits high-pitched chirps. Changing the pressure and speed affects the sound. My 3.5yo can operate it as well as my 6.5yo. Sometimes, we even get birds chirping in response!

Empty pill organizers ($3)
The kids use these to collect and sort all manner of treasures and debris. I like these 7-day, stick-style cases because they’re easy to open but also stay latched when tossed into backpacks. Also good for mixing paint.

Matador Pocket Blanket ($30)
This ultralight groundcloth is not cushy or warm, but it can be useful to establish a home base when we’re at the park. This one packs down to nothing, and also functions well as a cape or makeshift carrying sack.


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