In this Cool Tools video review we’re going to take a look at a new pair of classic kitchen shears. These are made by Wiss, they’re Italian made and run about $30. And by using the link in the description to pick them up on Amazon you help support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.
These are all-metal, multi-purpose kitchen scissors. I remember growing up with a pair like these in our kitchen. They’ve got a serious heft to them. This particular design has been made under the Wiss brand since the 1930s. And part of the appeal has always been the extra features they crammed in. This section here works as a bottle opener. Above that you have this nubby section meant for twisting off small lids. It can also work as a nut cracker or crab cracker. There’s a flat section on the handle that can be used as a small hammer. And this little protrusion on the top is supposedly used for unsealing ball jars, or generally unsealing lids that are vacuumed tight. Also, unlike the ones I grew up with, these include a deep notch on the blade that’s perfect for cutting rope, or bundles of stems, without them slipping down the blade. And because there’s a removable screw here, there’s no reason you can’t take these apart to wash them if you use them on...
Like many people, I’ve had a lifetime of those round shopvacs on wheels with various attachments strung out around the house. The Pro Pack solves a lot of the problems that the traditional shopvacs had. It’s in a rectangular form factor much like a giant toolbox, right down to a sturdy handle and storage compartments for all of the attachments and the power cord. The shape and light weight make it easy to carry and store, and because the vacuum is so powerful — 5.0 peak HP — you can pick up all sorts of things. To empty, just pop off the top and pour the contents out. It’s easy enough to manage that I’ll probably be using it around the house almost as much as my regular vacuum cleaner.
-- Annette S. Leung
[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2006]
Ridgid Pro Pack ($140)
Available from Amazon
The Japanese Kugihiki flush cutting saw saves me time, makes a cleaner cut, and needs no setup time. Since the teeth have no set, you can slide the saw against a surface without marring it.
These and other Japanese hand saws such as Dozuki and Ryoba have caused me to abandon power tools for many jobs. The cut almost never needs cleaning up and is good for many materials. The Ryoba looks intimidating but can replace a cheap circular saw any day for a lot less money.
Kugihiki Flush-Cutting Saw
Takumi Ryoba 8-1/4″ Super Fine Cut Double Blade Saw
Shark Corp 10-2610 Takumi Dozuki 9″ Super Fine Cut Saw
Like many Cool Tools readers, I have long carried a pocket notebook for quick notes and logs of conversations or information I don’t want to forget. I used to carry Moleskines, but they were not really satisfactory for back-pocket carries and eventually fell apart. Though I liked their aesthetics, I shared a common complaint about the flimsiness and “bleediness” of their paper. My search for a durable pocket notebook is over. This “Indestructible Field Book” by Elan Publishing, a longtime maker of teacher’s record books, lives up to its name. I will never be without one again. I am giving away any other spare pocket-sized notebooks. They are sized like other popular pocket notebooks, with ruled pages. But the synthetic paper, which is plastic coated with ink-receiving clay, is absolutely waterproof, smear-proof and tear-proof. Back pockets hold no hazards for this tough tool.
Unlike the Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks, which use beeswax to achieve waterproofing, these don’t require any special pens or pencils but can take any standard ball-point pen. I have good results with a Fisher Space Pen, but any standard ballpoint I have tried works fine. The one exception is gel pens; they will smear, so you will have to forego those crisp, color-intense gel lines.
Current price on Amazon is $11.49 for a pack of four of 48 pages each, cheap enough to use for everyday note-taking and the same number of total pages as a Moleskine pocket notebook. So far as I’ve been able...
Our guest this week is Zach Supalla. Zach is the CEO and one of the founders of Particle, the most widely-used IoT platform. Particle is used by more than 140,000 developers and 8,500 companies to build IoT products ranging from the smart home to industrial equipment.
“Superhuman is brand new email software — still in private beta — that is all designed around keyboard shortcuts. Extremely low-friction email software, and besides being super well-designed, the team there has been incredibly hands-on during the private beta and super open to feedback. Great company, thinking about product in all the right ways.”
Glowforge laser cutter
“Glowforge laser cutter is a desktop, consumer-friendly laser cutter … It’s got a web application that you use to interact with it. It comes with tons of templates for designs that are already sort of built in, and they send you a set of materials that are designed to work with it that it can automatically recognize and adjust the laser strength accordingly. So it comes with cuts of leather, it comes with cuts of acrylic, it comes with wood...
Six months ago, I tweeted about my new motion sensing LED lightbulbs and Mark said I should check back now. They’re still great – probably one of my best purchases of 2016 (along with Stabilicers) We have them outside our front door, so when we come home at night they automatically go on and let us see which key is the right one. Recently there have been some robberies in the neighborhood, so it’s another comfort as well. But really, this is such a helpful tool. I remember wondering if it existed, googling “motion sensitive lightbulbs” and then finding that the world is a magical place sometimes. Anyway, these specific bulbs are pretty good. I guess my one minor complaint is that they aren’t super beautiful or anything, but utility over prettiness, amiright?
Aukora 9W Motion Sensor Light Bulbs, 2-pack ($20)
Available from Amazon
The easiest way to mess a broom up is to store it standing on its bristles. In the history of humanity, how many would that be? 100% of ours – until we started using this thing. The Suncast Tool Hanger costs a lot more than two nails, but it looks a lot better. And it keeps the snow shovels, dirt shovels, corn broom, push broom, melted-snow-on-the-garage-floor squeegee, etc., all off the floor so we don’t trip over them or crush them with a car. It’s just a piece of molded plastic, but in the 15 years of our using these they’ve not busted. Amazon’s price is $23 right now, and the two I bought almost three years ago (new house) were $18 (which seemed a lot then), so I don’t know where it’s going to be after a lot of Cool Tool people start clicking on it, but – the things work well. A few deck screws into studs or molly bolts into sheetrock will keep your wall happy too.
-- Wayne Ruffner
Suncast 4-Foot Long Handle Garden Tool Hanger ($23)
Available from Amazon
This week I’m going to show you a 16-foot reel of WS2812B LED lights. I got these for under $30 on Amazon. There are an incredible range of maker projects out there that take advantage of Adafruit’s Neopixel Arduino code and Neopixel brand of LEDs. Using the code, or a competing code library like FastLED, you can control and animate the color and brightness of each LED on this strip using just a single data wire.
The WS2812B variety of addressable RGB LED strip is compatible with both Neopixel and FastLED code. It works with Arduino or Raspberry Pi. They run off 5 volts, though you can get away with 3.3 for short runs. And you can cut it to whatever length you need using the cut lines on the strip.
This strip in particular has a black backing and comes with a waterproof casing. Both ends are wired with a 3-pin JST connector.
Best of all, with 16 feet of this stuff for under $30, it’s an incredible savings over the name brand stuff. I bought this specifically to give my Kitty car some animated underglow so it will look cool at night. This, a $10 Arduino-compatible Gemma board, and a battery pack were all I needed. I even had LEDs left over.
Now the downside to using this stuff is that it’s not enough to just wire it up to power — you have to have...
The Garlic Twist is made from very hard plastic so it’s easy (and satisfying) to smash the cloves with it to remove the skin. The teeth inside do a great job of quickly mincing two cloves at a time, and it’s easy to clean. The polycarbonate from which it is manufactured is dishwasher-safe.
I’m pretty proficient at mincing garlic with a chef’s knife, but I find this to be less trouble. It’s far superior to any garlic peeler or press I’ve ever used, even very expensive ones. It’s a simple thing, but it works very well.
-- Adam Fields
NexTrend 3rd Generation Clear Garlic Twist ($18)
Available from Amazon
I have been using this Dremel sharpening kit for the last few years to sharpen everything from axes to garden tools. But my favorite use is the chainsaw sharpening kit. I heat my home with wood and use my Stihl to drop trees and buck the wood. After two tanks of gas if I sharpen the chain I can cut through wood like butter. A sharp tool is a safe tool. I leave it on a cordless Dremel and bring it with me when I have a lot of trees to take care of it. You can pick the whole kit with tool, lawnmower and saw sharpener up for $15 at amazon. Replacement sharpening stones are $5 for a pack of two.
-- Joe McManus
Dremel Attachment Kit for Sharpening Outdoor Gardening Tools ($15)
Available from Amazon
As someone who heats their home with wood I spend a good deal of time splitting wood. While a mechanical log splitter would be nice I like the workout of splitting wood. After trying some heavy splitting axes I moved over to using a maul and sledge. But after seeing some reviews online for the Husky 4.5Lb splitting maul I gave it a try. I am very glad I did! For me the fact that the axe is not as heavy lets me split wood longer and with more control. The fiberglass handle with rubber grip allows for safe and non fatiguing control. I believe the same axe is sold under the Ames brand among others.
-- Joe McManus
4.5 lb. Premium Log Super Splitter with 34 in. Fiberglass Handle ($32)
Make your computer 35 years older
In the summer of 1983 my friends and I became addicted to a role playing computer game called Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord. It was a lot like Dungeons and Dragons, and had very primitive wireframe graphics to represent a multi-level underground maze filled with orcs, zombie kobolds, bushwhackers, bleebs, bubbly slimes, and many other monsters. We started playing at 9pm every night, drinking beer and sitting around a monochrome PC until 3 in the morning, sleeping for a few hours before going to our summer jobs (installing a sprinkler system for a new golf course) and starting over again the next day. It took us all summer to complete the game. Recently I told my 14-year-old daughter about Wizardry and she wanted to try it. It’s no longer for sale, but the files are available online if you search for them (I don’t know if it’s legal for these sites to give away the files, so I’m not going to link to them here.) In order to play Wizardry on my Mac laptop, I had to download a DOS operating system emulator called DOSBox. It turns my 2017 laptop into a 1983 PC. It’s free and works like a charm. My daughter and I are now playing Wizardry almost every night. No beer this time around, and we call it quits at 10pm, but it’s still thrilling to make the hand drawn maps as we crawl our...
The Picquic Sixpac may be the last multi-bit screwdriver I’ll ever need to buy, but it wasn’t the first. I’ve gone through a dozen less successful attempts at this kind of tool, always losing at least half the bits in the first month or so of use. When I try to use the few bits I haven’t lost, they invariably fall out of the bitholder, which weakens over time.
The Picquic Sixpac fixes both problems. Each bit is stored in a separate compartment in the screwdriver handle. You remove the bit you need by pushing it out of the handle with the bit you are finished with. Since there’s no other easy way to get at the bit you need, you always put bits away as you finish with them. I’ve had mine for three years and it still has all its bits!
Additional features include a solid, spring-lock bitholder that holds as tightly now as it did the day I bought it, and a stainless steel shank that has stood up to everything I’ve thrown at it. It comes with six bits: two flathead, three Phillips head, and one Torx T15. Other bits are available in Bitpacs from Picquic.
-- James Home
Picquic Sixpac ($14)
Available from Amazon
Our guest this week is Scott Smith. Scott is a critical futurist and founder of Changeist, where he leads strategy and research. His work taps over 20 years’ experience tracking social, tech and economic trends. He works with brands and organizations to find new futures. He’s also a writer and frequent speaker, and on Twitter @changeist.
“It’s a very, very basic multi-platform text processing editor. I’ve thrown Microsoft Office overboard, even getting out of Google Docs and just use this incredibly simple, very low feature text editor to spend a lot of my time with and make a lot of notes … it’s a proxy for a blank piece of paper. I was listening to a recent episode, somebody talking about Notational Velocity and it seems to work quite similar to that. It’s on my phone, it’s on my iPad, it’s on my laptop. I travel a lot for work, I have to do a lot of talks and I’m also constantly making lists of notes and ideas and workshops. Everything’s come down to these really simple ten bullets, five bullets, three lines of text and then move on. I...
Brilliant invention for clearing clogged drains without caustic chemicals. The Drain King comes in different sizes for different drain diameters. You attach it to a hose, and say for the kitchen sink, take off the p-trap, and slide the hose down the drain pipe as far as it will go. You then turn on the hose and it builds up pressure inside the wedged bellows to the point where it releases in a burst, expanding and contracting, ka-chunk, ka-chunk . . . You can clear one obstruction and then push the hose further to get to others. It really unclogs crap. Marveloso!
-- Llyod Kahn
[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2003]
Drain King Water Powered Drain Cleaner ($9)
Available from Amazon
I bought this mini paper shredder about a month ago and think it’s indispensable in this age of privacy concerns and volumes of paper with our private information on it.
This simple, heavy-duty plastic tool allows you to shred one or two sheets of medium-weight, US letter-sized (8.5″ x 11″) paper. The loading slot is about 4.5″, so you fold the paper in half lengthwise.
It shreds one or two sheets of a paper into fettuccine-like strands quickly and easily by hand. Just a little elbow grease; no batteries or power needed.
It won’t shred stacks and stacks of paper in one go (I mean, you could, but you’ll probably induce carpal-tunnel syndrome). You also can’t cross-cut shred, which is more secure than the fettuccine strands because it’s easier for an identity thief to reconstruct the piece.
If you want the ultimate in security, don’t use this. The best use for this tool is to keep it in your desk or kitchen counter–wherever you read your mail–and shred pieces as you get them. Don’t use this on April 16 when you’re done with taxes and have stacks of documents!
-- Ben Rothfeld
Muji Handy Shredder ($15)
The Gerber Dime Multi-Tool has become and item I carry everyday. At times I carry bigger multi-tools, but even then, everyday I always have my Gerber Dime with me. The size of the tool is just over 2 inches when folded up so it fits comfortably in the watch pocket of my jeans. Because of this size you will find you always can carry it with you. Light enough to carry even with dress pants on.
My daughter has a Dime attached to her key chain and carries it comfortably each day.
There are 10 tools in total. The small set of pliers and the special shaped package opener are the tools I find most often used. The small knife is just big enough to do the light duty work of small cutting jobs. The package opener is a must for those blister packs from the store you need immediate access to. The small set of tweezers are tucked nicely into the tool and come in very handy for those slivers.
10 Tools Included: Needle Nose Spring-loaded Pliers, Wire Cutter, Fine Edge Blade, Retail Packaging Opener, Scissors, Medium Flat Driver, Crosshead Driver, Bottle Opener, Tweezers & File Given the size, low cost, and usefulness I find this an indispensable tool to carry each day.
On the rare days I forget to put into my pocket during the past several years I really miss it.
Blame it on a lifetime living in apartments, but somehow I’ve come this far in my life without a push broom. I have a corn broom and a dustpan and whisk broom, and for bigger stuff I’ll go to my shopvac or even my leaf blower.
But recently I wanted to sweep out my garage and realized I really didn’t have the right tool for the job.
What’s cool about this this commercial push broom from O-Cedar is that the broom head and the handle are designed in such a way that they won’t twist loose. The ridges in the socket keep the handle in place even if it’s not screwed down tight.
The bristles are synthetic made of 80% recycled material. Unlike a natural bristle brush, these won’t get moldy if they get wet. The block the bristles are in is also made of heavy duty resin plastic. It’s that solid industrial stuff that’s kinda woody feeling.
The broom head is 24 inches wide and 2.5-inches thick. The outer bristles are a little softer than the stiffer ones on the inside.
The handle is a tough but lightweight metal tube. It’s well-balanced and measures 56-inches long, or just over 4.5 feet.
It’s a great size for pushing sawdust around the garage. It’s also a great width for sidewalks and driveways. We don’t get any snow here, but a lot of reviews online mention how well they like it for...
I carry a size 3 large safety pin everyday wherever I go. I personally carry the safety pin on my keychain for over 3 years. The safety pin is so light I don’t even notice the additional item. I have learned to rely on this pin for many unexpected uses. Some examples of how I have used the safety pin include :ejecting the Simm card from phone; clearing the pocket lint from the headphone jack on a device; extracting a sliver from a finger skin; putting a vent hole into a container; pinning a blanket closed whiles covering a child in cold outdoor weather; fishing a drawstring back through a bag or sweatshirt; pinning the hotel curtains together in hotel room; keeping shirt buttoned on a dress shirt when the button cracked; a scraper; applying super glue to something, and many more. I continue to find new uses everyday.
-- Tom Parks
50 SIZE 3 Large (2 inches) Safety Pins ($5)
Available from Amazon
I’ve had a WD-40 No-Mess Pen for several years. (Like a marking pen with a felt tip, but having lubricant instead of ink.) I use it very seldom, but it does the trick when needed, if you don’t want a smelly, slimy, drippy, messy aerosol spray: e,g, on a key. Or in the latest instance, where it rescued my 15-year-old HP 1210 All-in-One Printer. I had given it up for dead after trying every trouble-shooting trick out there: the ink cartridge carrier was clattering and getting stuck on its rails, even when I dusted and wiped them and massaged the carrier, etc. etc. But a tiny dab with the WD-40 Pen on the rails brought my printer back from the dead.
It’s overpriced at Amazon.com, at $7.74 + shipping, and has 20% one-star reviews, but I didn’t have any of those complaints.
PS: As for the classic spray can, I see WD-40 is still sold with that loose red straw. Much better is its so-called “Smart Straw“, attached to the can with a swivel which can fold the straw down to the side of the can. Amazon, $3.88.
-- Gene Keyes
WD-40 No Mess Pen, Pack of 2 ($20)
Available from Amazon