Metatalktail Hour: Tools March 23, 2019 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Good Saturday evening, MetaFilter! This week, Too-Ticky wants "to hear about people's favourite tools. No matter what the tools are for. Professional, domestic, recreational, you name it. The tools you have and use, the tools you wish you had, and the tools that you used to have and are missing still."

As always, these are conversation starters, not limiters, so tell us everything that's up with you! And send me ideas for future metatalktails!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:18 PM (141 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

Safety can openers. No sharp edges and it's so much safer, plus you can pop the lid back on when you're done, which comes in very handy for things like beans and coconut milk. Also, Asian plastic stools and large plastic washbins, very useful for a million things and non-existent in US stores for some reason.
posted by yueliang at 5:26 PM on March 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

I do a lot of workshop and retreat facilitation, and I find that the gentle but piercing sound of tingsha cymbals can quiet down the entire room like nothing else.

Those weird little plastic squares used for scraping food off of dishes are a godsend.

I don't like cigars at all, they totally gross me out, but I enjoy a good cigar box. Cigar bars will often sell their old boxes for a buck or two. I like to use them to store supplies for games, but there are a lot of potential uses.
posted by duffell at 5:33 PM on March 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

I've got a metal (steel?) trowel with a plastic handle that is basically my only garden tool. Sure I've got all of dad's shovels and rakes and hoes but honestly I remove weeds with gloved hands- and my little trowel. s'all I need.

It's been a slow week. We keep getting visits from the neighborhood ferals. I keep finding them lounging in my pots and I finally managed to snap a good pic before they spot me and comically launch themselves backwards to the fence. My early tomatoes are growing well which is nice, and as of today my first pole beans are just sprouting in their beds. All the seedlings are doing well, looks like in a bit I'll have to put the zucchini starts in the ground. The problem is the intermittent rain. It's really intermittent, it was pouring yesterday and today it's sunny and in a day or so it's going to start again. I keep having to move the seedlings- indoors once, and under the overhang of the house another time. I suspect Monday I'll have to figure out where to move them again. I have a fair amount of mowing to do- today I just grabbed as many weeds as I could with my gloved hands. Filled up the green bin very quickly so I had to stop. Ladybugs are starting to show up in force, but only a handful of bumble bees. I have a lovely bee hotel sent to me by elsietheeel that will be going out soon- but the rain has to be over first.

Mom's been sick for about a month now, so part of the reason I only have one blog post this week is just exhaustion. I'm taking care of everything, and I'm capable but I'm very tired. It's part of the reason I've started the non fiction club on fanfare- I need an escape. Everyone's enthusiasm for the books is great- I know some of my non fiction interests are a little niche, but I hope they're broad enough that there's something for everyone. And please, if you have your own favorite non fiction book to post, please do- It would tickle me pink if I get scooped!

I hope everyone's feeling good this spring- or that everyone will feel better soon. It's already been a long year.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:44 PM on March 23, 2019 [16 favorites]

I grew up using one of these and never knew it was meant for people with hand problems... and then my hands started to go wonky and I realized I needed one, so I got one! I opened a jar without crying just last night!

Also, relatedly, I love you Velcr... hook and loop fasteners.
posted by wellred at 6:00 PM on March 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

A pin-to-pendant converter will turn your fave pins into pretty necklaces! I have some awesome vintage pins I inherited from my grandmother and great-aunt, but they look sort-of weird and old-fashioned as PINS (and I don't wear pin-appropriate tops all that often), but converted to pendants they are AWESOME statement pieces that everyone comments on!

I also always carry a tape measure in my purse, it comes in handy ALL THE TIME. A little bitty one like this, mine's from the Container Store (the bins near the checkout). People are constantly amazed when they're trying to figure out the size of something and I whip out my tape measure.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:15 PM on March 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

From the days of my youth when one of my hobbies was building plastic models, an X-acto knife with a fresh, razor sharp #11 blade, and a fine sable paint brush would have been my most essential tools. A bit older, I became involved in the maintenance of various motorcycles. I was introduced to and felt a deep appreciation for the hand impact wrench (as would anyone who stripped out the heads of the phillips machine screws that the Japanese manufacturers used on motorcycles in the 70's). Of late, I am a big fan of the Kreg Jig for pocket-screw assembly of wooden artifacts. About 20 years ago, I read a book that taught me how to sharpen knives, axes, wood chisels, and the like. I find it relaxing to sharpening tools before I use them, so I should count my sharpening stones among my favorite tools. That reminds me. It's about time to sharpen the lawnmower blade.
posted by coppertop at 6:17 PM on March 23, 2019 [9 favorites]

Oh god, I don't even know where to start. Two years ago I bought the farm--hahaha--and since then it's been a never-ending process of tool acquisition, tool learning, tool envy....the dumb thing is that when I separated from my most recent ex three years ago, I knew I was moving into an apartment for at least a year and thus didn't take any of the tools that were joint property, or even the ones that I had specifically bought "with my own money," such as a a Dremel set, a router, and a chop saw. I've slowly replaced a lot of that, and then some!
My Waterloo, though, is still the chainsaw. I bought a small gas chainsaw at least a year ago and have yet to take it out of the box and assemble it. I'm working my way toward that.
As far as non-leg-severing tools, though...I stole my late dad's bow saw from my a shed at my mom's last winter, along with a couple boxes of other assorted tool miscellany and 6 Frederick Remington prints and I have been using it a lot this winter to saw up old locust fence posts to shove into the woodstove. Locust fence posts are one of the densest, hottest-burning woods out there, y'all, but they are hell on a cordless circular saw. I have worked my way up to being able to make 2-3 cuts at a time through a 6' fence post before my elbows start threatening a flare of tendinitis.
I wish I had all the tools. Timbering tools. Carpentry tools. Farming tools. I live a life that requires tools. If I get my shit together this spring I'm going to haul my garden tractor to the tractor shop and get a sleeve hitch installed so I can operate "ground-engaging" tools like a box scraper and a Brinly plow. Right now I'm working on digging out a small drainage trench that only needs to be about 6-8" deep but it needs to run for 180 feet, and it will take me about 4 hours labor doing it by hand and I could probably knock it out in an hour with a Brinly plow. "Also me" wants a genuine "compact tractor" that is capable of running real farm implements but not-also me is a cheapskate so...
posted by drlith at 6:23 PM on March 23, 2019 [9 favorites]

I really like my soldering station, a Hakko 888D. It's not the best model out there by far, but it's way better than any other soldering iron I've ever owned. It just feels solid and reliable. Plus, by pure coincidence it comes in my school colors. I always get an odd joy from using it.

I think my favorite homemade tool is the audio probe I built from some instructions online. It was really simple to make (although I lack the vocabulary to simply describe it). You use it by touching the probe to components in the signal path, so you can see where the signal degrades. It saved my stereo! I was tearing my hair out trying to fix a scratchy right channel, but once I built the probe, I quickly traced the problem to a tiny bit of cracked solder on the single most annoying and difficult circuit board to remove from the entire unit. I still need to get around to replacing the transistors in the preamp (which appear to be responsible for some line noise), and then everything will sound amazing. Of course, now I don't have a turntable anymore, but one thing at a time.

Ooh, and I just remembered that my mom gave me her old KLH Model Eight radio, which a neighbor gave to her in the late 60s. It still works, vacuum tubes and all, but there's a decent amount of hum. It's also pretty dirty after decades in the kitchen, and because the back is open to the air, the inside is blanketed with dust. Now that I'm finally over pneumonia, I might spend some time giving it a thorough cleaning and replacing all the capacitors.

I'm actually not ordinarily an electronics guy, but when I think of tools, it's the tinkering stuff that comes to mind. If musical instruments were considered tools, I'd ramble on and on. I have a very long wish list. I think my top two, at the moment, would be a pedal steel or a button accordion. Or more synthesizers -- I fantasize about eventually building one of the Music From Outer Space modular synths, but those are way above my abilities and budget.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:24 PM on March 23, 2019 [11 favorites]

I love my cheap-ass Kiwi brand nakiri (model "a" in the first link; the video shows a Thai chef knife, which is basically the same). Thin and flexible, holds a decent edge, a joy to use. The Asian grocery store near you probably has them.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:26 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I also want to talk about tools and my dad. My dad was a pretty upper-middle class, intellectual kinda guy, but he was also a model railroad hobbiest and the son of a farmboy who became a PhD/university administrator, so while a third of what he may have learned from his farm-born dad and farm relatives he never put into practice, he still considered the owning and knowledge of woodworking tools to be one of the core arts of manliness. When I was a kid, he was in the process of building a model railroad that he would never even come close to completing before he died of Alzheimers, and many of my fondest, fondest childhood memories with him is working with him in the basement workshop on cutting out plywood with the jigsaw, putting together plastic models, learning how to drive a god damn nail straight into a piece of wood. Thanks, Dad. I miss you so much.
posted by drlith at 6:29 PM on March 23, 2019 [20 favorites]

I love my Korean hand plow. Like it makes my eyes turn into hearts whenever I see or use it. Best gardening tool EVER.
posted by Grandysaur at 6:33 PM on March 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

Lindstrom 1850 cutters. No blisters, strong, reliable, sharp, precise, beloved. My pair snapped at the handle recently after 22 years of use all day every day and often weekends. Still a perfect hard edge.

Currently picking at my blisters while I wait for the replacement to show up. Sigh. I miss you, my friend.
posted by E. Whitehall at 6:40 PM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

My favorite tool this week is the best pair of work gloves I've ever had. I've been out in the raspberry patch, whacking last year's canes and heaping them into piles, and these gloves have kept my hands from getting torn up. Mid-way through their second year, this pair is developing holes in a few of the fingers--but I use them so often, and so hard, that I can't complain.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:40 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

Vim, the text editor. I love it so much, and I feel like it gives me a real advantage over people using other editors. At my current and previous jobs I've had to petition IT to let me install it on my computer and thankfully they've always approved it eventually. I'm a SAS guy, without a CS background, working alongside people without CS backgrounds, and no one else has ever even heard of it.

Once you get used to the interface it's like computer magic. You think of what you want to happen to the text on screen, your fingers click-clack a bit, and then the text moves around as you wished.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:41 PM on March 23, 2019 [15 favorites]

Neighbor moved maybe six months ago, I got his microwave and a couple other things, mostly I left them in laundry room here at condo. One item was comical, a Farberware kitchen knife that couldn't cut you even if you took a home run swing with it. Totally lame. Just for fun I thought to put an edge on it (more like *try* to put an edge on it ha ha ha ha) and I ran it through my sharpener a time or three and the damn thing is a razor. It's pretty much my go-to knife now. If it even starts to get a bit dull even one run with that sharpener and it's a razor again. Sweet.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:42 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

Two of the greatest things I own:

1) a Durr;

2) a WayTools TextBlade.

Both have drastically improved my life. The first can no longer be bought and the second hasn't officially started shipping yet (I'm part of their test group and have had it for 18 months or so).

Also, discovering minimalist (aka barefoot) shoes changed my life.
posted by dobbs at 6:46 PM on March 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

I'm a bit of a tweezer nut. In our lab everyone is encouraged to share tools. . . except tweezers. Everyone gets their own tweezer set. Discovering that some gorilla had fucked up my personal tweezers was the most frustrating experience I had as a student. (I realize my student experience was pretty blessed.) Taking someone else's tweezer box without permission is an unforgivable sin in our group.

My favorite tweezer is TDI Internationals TDI-5A-SA. (Fucking hell - it looks like they don't sell them anymore!!! That's going to be a real problem in ten years when we run out of our current stock. They look like this, though the "i" in the model name and the fact that they cost 1/4 as much makes me very worried.)

The tip is incredibly fine and perfectly aligned. When working with 1 mil aluminum wire, you can easily grab and guide the wire without damaging it, or you can squeeze a bit harder and make a clean break without having to grab a new tool. The square edges at the tip come to a shear surface that makes putting a nearly square cut into wire easy. The tips are flexible enough that you can easily choose whether you're using them to guide or to cut. The balance and weight are perfect. If you bump the tips against a table, they're ruined forever, but if you treat them well they'll last for years. I couldn't wirebond without them. I think the reason I've earned a reputation as a master wirebonder is that I always use really good tweezers. The company makes lots of other good tools - their PEEK wafer tweezers and their half-teflon-dipped duck-billed tweezers are great, as are their shear cutters and scribes. But, it's the 5A-SA that is truly unique and special. There's no other tweezer quite like it in the world.
posted by eotvos at 6:47 PM on March 23, 2019 [14 favorites]

With my stand mixer, pierogi making is so much easier. Especially now that I have two bowls! I don't have to wash between the dough and the filling (I'm lazy).
posted by ghost phoneme at 6:48 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've been riding motorcycles since I was 15. I grew up in Mississippi, where there's never really an off season - I mean sure, there are LESS riding opportunities in the winter, but there are still days pretty much every month that are dry in the 60s or higher, and ice on the roads is almost never a thing.

Now I live in New England, and there is most definitely an off season, at least for those of us who aren't interested in investing in heated body suits. So now every winter I pull the battery to store in our apartment so that if the charge fades from sitting around, it won't freeze. And that means that every spring I need to charge it back up to put back in the bike.

I just put the charger on the battery this afternoon in the hopes I might ride tomorrow. So right now that charger is my favorite tool.
posted by solotoro at 6:56 PM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

I have a 1/2" Craftsman power drill that I inherited from my father that must be from 1970 or so. That thing just un-killable and will go through anything. Our house is full brick, no studs at all in the exterior walls, so hanging anything on the wall requires a masonry bit and a powerful drill and that thing always does the job.
posted by octothorpe at 6:58 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've been knitting for almost 15 years, and last year I finally broke down and bought a swift and ball-winder. I used to spend an hour or so winding skeins of yarn into balls to start a project, and now it takes five minutes. I probably should have bought a swift and ball-winder approximately 14 years ago.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:09 PM on March 23, 2019 [20 favorites]

I have a couple. I have a small axe and some wood clamps given to me by mlis as part of a bartered payment for virus removal and computer fixing services. They sit on my shelf more as trinkets, but they're tools. That axe is sharp, and will come in handy in case I need self defense in my house :).

I also have a socket set in a beat up metal box. Not much to look at, not very special, but I pieced it together from tools found in my grandfather's shop after he passed. I wanted some tools that I would use, and that he had owned. As I inventoried what I had and what I needed, sockets and ratchets were in short supply, so I found a set that was not in too rough a shape, and they're my tools now.


Friday was the last day at the old job. Monday is the first day at the new job. I'm super fucking stoked for this. For those that hang out in Chat (reminder: come hang out in Chat!) I'm gonna be mega scarce for the next few weeks, but I'll be on when I can, and if you miss me, MeMail me.
posted by deezil at 7:14 PM on March 23, 2019 [10 favorites]

DRY SHAMPOO. Y’all, this stuff is essential for strippers.

For the unindoctrinated: You spray dry shampoo into greasy hair, fluff it around a bit, and the grease disappears. Like magic—or, if you’re a stripper, like $$$ MONEY $$$.

I had been stripping for like a year before I discovered it. I don’t remember the exact dates although I could probably figure it out. The house mom gave me some as I was pushing ten hours during a particularly long and taxing double shift ... and I was amazed that I had ever survived without it.

Stripping is a physical job, but you can’t look like it or smell like it or act like it. The problem is that most of the time when you’re making money, you’re usually sweating in some form—either by giving a lap dance or dancing onstage. That sweat gets into your hair. Now your hair is greasy. And even if I weren’t sweating, customers constantly try to touch my hair with their greasy, grody, rude little fingers. It drives me BATSHIT. (I am open-minded about a lot of things but this EVIL BUSINESS of TOUCHING ANOTHER HUMAN BEING’S HAIR WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION? I will not stand for it.)

Dry shampoo makes life so much easier. Head to the dressing room between customers, spritz it, brush and fluff … and go back out onto the main floor looking like I didn’t just get hot and heavy with some other dude. $$$ MONEY $$$.
posted by Peppermint Snowflake at 7:24 PM on March 23, 2019 [29 favorites]

We have these silicone flower petal things in the kitchen that turn any old bowl into an ersatz Tupperware container. Such a great idea.

I also love my Eilong tea infuser. It's just a Pyrex beaker with a strainer attached to the lid, but the awesome thing about it's stove safe. Makes me wish I was a camper, because it's perfect camp kit.

And then I also love sharpening stones. Just in general. I have a nice Naniwa set, but really just sharpening stones in general are great. Sharp knives are so lovely to use, but you need the stones to keep them that way.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:48 PM on March 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

My folks decided to close up shop and travel full time just when I bought my first house and I inherited the full 40 year accumulated set of Dad Tools — I cant even list it all. I bought a big ass Craftsman workbench and a few a things I’ve needed over the years but I have everything I need to build an addition on to the house, pull an engine, re-landscape, you name it. I can’t imagine having to accumulate all of this on my own.

For work, it’s the Littman Cardiology III which has an adult and pediatric diaphragm, and a Queen Square reflex hammer. I really prefer the Welch Allyn Otoscope Operating Head but then you can’t use the insufflator so I settle for the standard head with the insufflator bulb attachment. The number of times I need to remove a foreign body under direct visualization is dwarved by the number of times I need to determine eustacian tube dysfunction as you probably guessed. I also have a strong preference for tuberculin syringes with the safety needle, 1 cc with 30 gauge needle — surprisingly versatile for a number of applications. And oh my god, ethyl chloride spray — so many doctors have no idea what this is and I use it all the time.

Microsoft surface pro with pen is my preferred work computing/documentation device.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:59 PM on March 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

When I was in grad school, the best tool in the world was a $10 wire book stand. It makes it way easier to take notes on your book!
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:47 PM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

My original PST Leatherman tool has saved the day innumerable times. Helped me get the car restarted, got the radio station back on the air, screwed and unscrewed thousands of screws (it's the only screwdriver I can always find!), filed dead skin off my heels, opened many a bottle, the needle-nose pliers dependably free tiny torn off pieces of paper stuck in the printer rollers, fixed my glasses, opened thousands of boxes with the knife, and on and on.The original leather sheath wore out but the tool keeps on saving my ass.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 8:50 PM on March 23, 2019 [4 favorites]

"2) a WayTools TextBlade."

Yo, I need to know WAY MORE about this thing that may be the thing I have been looking for all my life.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:50 PM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

My favorite "tool" is my ice cream maker. It has a compressor, so I can churn multiple batches of ice cream back-to-back, without refreezing a bowl. One of my very good friends gave it to me for my birthday, but he knew I wouldn't just accept a $200+ dollar present from him, so he lied and said that everyone from work chipped in to buy it. I spent the next several months making batches of ice cream for "everyone who chipped in," so they were all big fans of his little white lie.
posted by Weeping_angel at 8:51 PM on March 23, 2019 [8 favorites]

I'm going into panic-freeze-mode thinking about my favorite physical tool, so for once in my life I'll openly enjoy programming tools. I've been playing around with making shiny apps for work, and I love it. I want to write shiny apps forever now. They're so useful! I can check so much with a single glance! Everything I've made thus far is kind of ugly, but I'll work on that. I really love writing R, but use mostly python for work for Reasons, so it's nice to have an excuse to fire up RStudio.

(drlith I really hope I am not overstepping and telling you shit you already know, but chainsaw safety chaps are a thing! A good thing! also uh chainsaws are really fun when you are wearing the proper safety gear I promise.)
posted by kalimac at 9:07 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

At work? I’m a niche software developer. Wacom tablet + stylus. Switched from mouse when doing lookdev 7 years ago and never looked back. An old version of sublime and gvim because. Well just because the muscle memory is too strong.

At home, I love to cook. So my current favs are:

* my swish new Kenwood which has serious grunt and much quieter than the old one

* mini spatulas from Sur la Table It’s a souvenir— we only get to North America every other year. I use this pair almost every day. Never thought they’d be so useful.

* sous vide and fast/slow cooker. Mr. lemon_icing bought both. He got the sansaire sous vide as a kickstarter meaning he gets a perfect steak during the week. Fast/slow cooker is the Kiwi sorta-instapot. He got it a month after we started dating which makes it just over 7 years ago. He knew me so well from the get-go.

In fact I’ve got a big Guinness and beef stew burbling along right now. I’ve made the horseradish cream and the oven is heating up for the yorkies.
posted by lemon_icing at 9:11 PM on March 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

I don’t have a router or any need for one, but I have fond past memories of routing things.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:12 PM on March 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

many of my fondest, fondest childhood memories with him is working with him in the basement workshop

I also had a basement dad, long gone. And I think, if I'm being honest, he wanted sons. But whatever, he got me and my sister. We'd hang out in the basement a lot when I was a kid, me more than her, and I picked up a few things. When I was maybe eight and my sister was maybe five and half we got Craftsman toolboxes for Christmas with a set of ... screwdrivers or something in them? And he said we'd always have these toolboxes and etc etc big talker Dad. And ultimately he and my mom coldn't really stand each other and he moved out and became the corporate dude a lot of people knew him as. Didn't do so much woodworking and I only saw him on alternate weekends anyhow. And my cousin turned into the big woodworker in my family for this generation. I never got more than really being able to make a pretty basic bookshelf. But I have a good set of tools, always have, and can do most basic household stuff myself. Still have that toolbox. My sister still has hers. Nearly every time I've got some bullshit household thing that needs doing (the very latest was two days ago one of the hooks I'd hung my wallpeg coat rack thing on went *sproing* and the whole thing fell down) I've got the tool I need. I was noticing this about my kitchen the other day too. I feel like I have just-enough-but-no=more and I find that incredibly pleasing.

I inherited my dad's house (along with my sister) in 2011. It had a professional grade woodworking shop in it that was mostly aspirational. I did not need professional grade woodworking stuff. We gave an awful lot of it (routers and sanders and table saws and a lot of fancy nonsense) to the local tech center here. Three teachers and the principal made the four hour drive with a pickup and a trailer and lugged it all back to Vermont and now kids learn to do woodworking on it. My dad's older shop, in my mom's basement, my sister and I inherited that too, in 2017 when my mom died. My mom wasn't really the fastidious type and a lot of the stuff down there is some pretty spiderwebby horror show type stuff, but every now and again I'll find some random piece of wood that I hammered nails in when I was six or seven, or a piece of half built furniture that my dad was working on and left behind.

We've got to make some choices about what to do with all this stuff over the next year or so. Choices that I think will be a little difficult mainly because of other people's deferred choices. I sort of like that I've got one little toolbox (and a small half a toolchest) and that my own personal tool-life is actually manageable and human-sized. I sort of get what my parents were after, it's just different than what I'm after. The older I get the more I've been able to appreciate the "What we need is here" aesthetic.

Oh and in answer to the question: I have this OXO jar opener without which my life would be much diminished and I would be much hungrier.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:17 PM on March 23, 2019 [19 favorites]

I've got this Victorinox 40414 Slotted Fish Turner, 3-Inch, Brown, which is the greatest fucking thing ever. For one thing, it's a little curved, which enables you to slide it under pretty much anything. But there's more! Its slotted nature lets you hold it against the lip of a saucepan to drain the water out. And its very sharp edge lets you use it to do things like break up ground meat while it's browning. It's one of those kitchen utensils that you end up using for pretty much everything. Whenever I have someone in my life who enjoys cooking, I give them one of these, and they end up texting me endlessly about how great it is. Very satisfying.
posted by HotToddy at 10:43 PM on March 23, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yo, I need to know WAY MORE about this thing that may be the thing I have been looking for all my life.

Feel free to ask whatever you like.

I'm 50, so have typed on tons of types of keyboards and I think it's the best keyboard ever invented. The company hasn't started shipping yet, but they have a bunch of people testing them and I'm one of them, which is how I got mine. It works, looks, and folds up just like it does in the video. A bit larger than a pack of Wrigley's when folded. Personally, I think it's underpriced. No idea if they'll raise the price at release date but well worth the $100 they're asking as long as you're not expecting it to ship next week. Had mine since a year ago November and have zero complaints.
posted by dobbs at 10:46 PM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, this: a Freitag Voyager, the best piece of carry-on luggage I've ever found. In addition to using it for travel, I cart around vinyl records in it. The thing is a beast. Watch the video to see how it opens, which makes things easier to find.

I also started carrying a purse about 2 years ago. Life changer. I have one of these and one of these. Great for carrying notebook and pen, my TextBlade, wallet, phone, a powerbar, etc. Also, walking in unlit places, it ensures I always have something white on me that car lights will pick up. Saved my ass a few times in Spain--those people in small towns drive like they're in Daytona.
posted by dobbs at 10:59 PM on March 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

fibercastell 2b pencil
posted by PinkMoose at 11:01 PM on March 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

for the longest time I had wanted a KitchenAid stand mixer, but economics and the fact that Copenhagen apartments do not have large kitchens made it difficult to really make the change. Well, the economics changed for the better, and a few years ago I read that KitchenAid now made the Artisan "mini" which is a much better fit in a small kitchen! So, now I have one of those for cake batter and cookie batter and grinding my own burgers, etc. However since I discovered how to bake bread last year (it had been a mysterious arcane thing for my whole life...) it's primary use has been for bread dough every weekend.

The other game changer which works together with the mixer is my Baking Steel. This is a slab of stainless steel which on the one side is smooth with a small gutter for working as a plancha/griddle on the stove top and the other side is perfect as a baking/pizza stone.

Both of these working together are helping me really get my bread game to a higher level, and when my SO wakes up to the smell of fresh bread on Sunday with the biggest smile - it's all worth it :)
This last week was a step in a new direction for me. I work in IT, primarily as a solution architect with the O365 platform from Microsoft. So, I have to know how all the pieces work together, and how to design/build solutions for my company. I am not a developer, but I need to know enough to be able to work with developers and maybe "tweak" someone else's javascript/html/CSS code for our use. So, that's fine. The change came when some consultants pushed a request to a later date, and I had some down time and thought to myself "how hard could this be?". So with a few days of reading, a few more days of joy and frustration I managed to successfully build and deploy my first SPFx webpart (react script editor for O365 Modern pages), and insert tweaked javascript code to make it all work!! I couldn't believe it when I saw it on the screen. A small victory in the world of development to be sure - but a MASSIVE step forward in knowledge for me! So, it was a good week :)
posted by alchemist at 11:05 PM on March 23, 2019 [12 favorites]

My hammer. It was at one time my grandfather's hammer. It is just a hammer. It has a wood handle that is both smooth and worn looking. The head has many a nick. You know what? It works. If I don't miss, it drives the nail. When I bend a nail, the claw side works as a lever and takes the bent nail out. Nothing fancy. One of my son's has already asked for it. When he gets a house, he will be the 4th generation to own the simple hammer.

Unusually, it does not have a name. My other tools do. My saw is named Murray. My drill is named Irving. My hammer is just, "the hammer".
posted by AugustWest at 11:42 PM on March 23, 2019 [12 favorites]


You've piqued my interest, dobbs—I am seriously interested in anything that might drastically improve my life. I realize this is no longer available, but would love to know what I'm missing. However, I don't understand what, exactly, this is/does.

(I checked out the link, but at this hour my attention span can be measured in seconds.)
posted by she's not there at 1:06 AM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Gosh, so many options. What is a tool after all? My treadmill, my bosch stand mixer, my kitchen knife could all qualify, but - because I had cause to use it this afternoon - I'm going to plump my 36 volt mower.

Now, I'm not sure anybody "loves" their mower. But I picked this baby up in a fit of pique when my old petrol mower wouldn't start (probs cause of dirty carburetor, my fury at discovering I would have to dismantle the entire mower to get to the carburetor was... approaching sublime). It is lighter and significantly quieter than my old mower. It is also environmentally friendly and the brushless motor is essentially maintenance free. I don't love mowing, but I cannot cut the grass without at least a momentary appreciation of how much better it is with electric.

I am very tired this week. We celebrated Harmony Day (Australia was too racist to call it Day Against Racial Vilification) at work with a multicultural smorgasboard, and it pushed me off a slippery slope that ends with gastritis. Subsequently slept through most of saturday, but had to do jobs today. No long run for me, boo. I'm looking forward to bed, now that cooking, washing, mowing is done.
posted by smoke at 1:30 AM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

My favorite tool is almost always a multitool. Right now that's a Leatherman Wave, a Leatherman Juice and an Origin8 bike multitool with chain splitter. It's usually some combination like this, IE, larger pliers-based multitool, smaller electronics-centric mini multitool, and then something with full size drivers and hex keys.

I can field strip darn near any laptop, computer or electronics with the three of those things. I also fix my own bike and so on. I use it every single time I do one of my DJ/dance/electronic music things and it's always some "saves the show" kind of thing like I need to strip a wire or open some device.

But I've also fixed cars. I even once fixed one of my local rural buses out in the middle of nowhere because the ADA lift ramp got stuck due to a wonky cotter pin and bolt. I was traveling home after a long holiday weekend and visit with friends in the city and I was just like "Oh hell no we are not getting stuck here for an hour for them to send out a service vehicle. I've got this."

I also almost always have at least one flashlight on me. Usually just a basic AA or AAA LED penlight, but it'll be something that's bright enough to use as a bicycle headlight. I can't see a damn thing in the dark any more and I live in the country and I'm basically always doing something that really needs a flashlight. It's nothing fancy considering how expensive some good lights can be, but something in the $10-20 range with good features, like reversible clips so you can clip it to the brim of a hat. I usually get about 2-4 years of life out of a good penlight.

My other favorite tool is basically a laptop and/or thumb drive full of useful software. I have more or less had some kind of laptop or portable computer since about 1998, even when I've been fully homeless. I have also been using WiFi since the very beginning when it was still the Lucent Orinoco project.

It's a useful communications and reference tool. It's a way to earn money with skills like graphic design, digital art production and photography. It's an entertainment and music center. It is a tech support and network analysis tool. Make it a multiboot with, say, Windows, Ubuntu Studio, BackBox or other netsec distros and whatever else you need and it's a a digital multitool capable of doing everything from web and app development to editing a movie or creating music or DJing a party.

I have a crapton of other favorite tools, like my camera, my field recorder and other audio tools. One favorite thing is my trusty old Sansa Clip+ mp3 player, because its basically bulletproof and has saved my bacon for many DJ gigs where I have my working set list there not just as a backup but so I can review new music on a dedicated device. So when I'm preparing for a gig I keep a mirrored copy of folders on that MP3 player and my computer, and then I can use the MP3 player like a thumb drive and backup.

I'm also pretty fond of the little rusty hatchet I found and restored, because I finally figured out the right way to file and sharpen an axe or hatchet and turned it from junk to a nicely restored and useful tool.
posted by loquacious at 1:45 AM on March 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

WayTools TextBlade

Adding that to my wishlist
posted by motdiem2 at 2:59 AM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

For the first time in my life I had knitting needles confidcated a week ago. Going from Hungary to Copenhagen airport security made me throw away discontinued brass Addi Turbo lace needles (a decade old, perfectly bent to the form of my hands) AND a set of Karbonz sock needles. Carbon fiber knitting needles with just smooth metal tips.

It’s just stuff but I can’t afford to replace them and anyway the lace needles were not replaceable. I have bamboo sock needles and another set of the Karbonz and I have another circular needle that is close enough to the Addi but I feel like you all will understand that close enough isn’t the same.

Oh! I did not get ill on my trip! My talks went well! I’m having my tonsils out in exactly a month!
posted by bilabial at 4:35 AM on March 24, 2019 [16 favorites]

Chisels and spokeshaves are my favourite tools. There is something very calming and satisfying about them. Also planes. And clamps, many many many clamps, which are the secret to most things.

(My last project, however, used some reclaimed oak worktop somebody was throwing out and it is un-naturally hard. I've carved oak before, and this was nothing like it, it was clearly treated somehow. It made the bandsaw just stop. It bent the blade on the jigsaw. We had to very carefully cut out the basic shape on the table top saw. I completely blunted a drill bit drilling out some of the middle to make chiselling easier. I used, no joke, a grinder to do the rough shaping on the outside. I blistered every finger on both hands with the spokeshave. I should have given up pretty near the beginning and could have done the project twice over with different wood, but ... I didn't. Now I need to replace a bunch of blades and sharpen lots of things).

My dream tool is one of those huge bandsaws they have in large professional workshops.
posted by stillnocturnal at 4:48 AM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Ikea's paper measuring tapes, the ones hung on stands in the showrooms so customers can measure the furniture. I usually snag a few every time I'm in one (there are no Ikeas near me, so that doesn't happen often). The paper is impressively durable; coil it up as tight as possible and it won't crease, and will stay rolled up in your pocket until you need a precise and readable yard or meter rule.

Hakko 936 soldering station. It's the antecedent of the Hakko 888 and, aside from cosmetics and the lack of a digital display, works just as well. I'd love to say it's an old reliable I've depended on for years, but the truth is I picked it up after the 888 came out and Ebay was full of 936es selling for pennies on the dollar. It's a beautiful example of the "it just works" aesthetic, and was for me what turned soldering from a fussy, touch-and-go process to a logical and reasonable one.

I've had a fondness for multitools for more than a couple decades, particularly from Leatherman because almost everybody else's tend to have misaligned pliers jaws, or the blades can't keep an edge, or the ergonomics are bad. But the truth is I don't use them as much as I used to. This probably means I should get out more.

Apple's Magic Trackpads are the bomb. Using a mouse is insta-RSI for me, and a well-configured trackpad is more versatile anyway; the very large form factor of the current generation of Magic Trackpad makes it very easy to chord taps and drags, making it more functional than a three-button mouse with scroll wheels. I firmly believe that most trackpad hate has to do with PC laptops generally having shit trackpads. And while I'm on the wrist saving tip, a shout out to for the Iris split mechanical keyboard.
posted by ardgedee at 5:17 AM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Every day at work for me is basically a love letter to Excel. I don’t use it to nearly the limits of its capacity, just pretty basic calculations. But my work involves a lot of repetitive calculations of the sort perfectly suited to Excel-ifying, and it drives me nuts seeing my colleagues waste time writing the calculations by hand over and over and over (despite my sharing my spreadsheet with them!). It’s saved me so much time and error over the years.
posted by obfuscation at 5:30 AM on March 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

I own a lot of tools. I started collecting them as a teenager when my parents got divorced and my dad took all his good tools. By the time I moved out I had a Craftsman toolbox with most of the basic tools I needed to do most repair jobs around the house. Once I got my own house I bought a few more, then I got into making things and bought more, and then I got into woodworking and bought even more. Now I have a lot more tools.

Everything I own I bought after careful consideration. Do I need it? Will I use it? Would it have made life easier if I had it sooner? Can I afford it? Is it worth it? If the answer is "yes", I'll usually buy that tool. As a result I have a Jet drum sander and a Sawstop table saw and a used jointer and plainer and pretty much the low-end version of your basic woodworking machine tools.

Add to that some pretty good hand tools, most of which my wife bought used years ago. I keep them sharp and they're a joy to use. I also own a few specialized guitar making tools, some of them are more useful than others.

But my favorite tool? The tool that improved my life more than any other? That would be my Wusthof 10-Inch Serrated bread knife. Total fucking game changer. Cuts bread like a dream.
posted by bondcliff at 5:47 AM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Just for fun and conversation, I keep an Olympia SM3 typewriter dating from around 1957 at my desk at work. At least 5 times in the last 2 years I have been asked to use it to fix errors on official legislative documents. 20th century tools RULE!
posted by JanetLand at 6:19 AM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

I’ve got threeish tools that I deeply love and would be, well, not lost without, but definitely a bit maudlin, considering how much use I get out of them:

I’ve got an inkbird Bluetooth temperature gauge. It has six probes, and it means I can set one probe into a smoker to gauge the heat from the charcoal, and have accurate instant readings of the internal temperature of up to five pieces of meat or whatever I’m smoking. I can also use it for when I’m poaching sausages to gauge the water temperature and the sausage temperature so they cook, but don’t get too hot and begin to break down (there’s roughly a 10C margin of error between cooked and safe sausage and ruined tube of meat for the neighbor’s dogs). It means I can do other things instead of running out to check the smoker every 30 minutes while doing pulled pork, which saves me a ton of time. I have an old iDevices four probe thing that does much the same, though one of the probes is dying, and they were bought out by Weber, and the app isn’t as good as before.

Another is my silicon spatula/scraper from Daiso, which is a Japanese store that’s exactly like a dollar store, except everything in it is useful, well made, and will last for quite some time. It’s not uncommon to find silverware or plates from Daiso at non-chain restaurants in Japan. My little silicon spatula is one of my favorite kitchen things, and I use it to scrape every last bit of sauce out of the bowl or pan. It had a mate, but that mate got put in the wrong part of the dish rack, next to a very sharp knife, and suffered a mortal wound.

But the hands down bestest tool I own is my foot long gyu-to/chefs knife. It’s carbon steel, so if I don’t dry it the second after I wash it, it will begin to rust. It is stupendously sharp, and wonderfully long. Before this knife entered our home, any bacon I made would have to be cut in half to slice, as all I had were short knives not up to the task. Now, as certain members of a non-cabal, yet metafilter adjacent secret Japan based meat group can attest, my giant knife allows me to hand cut my homemade bacon into pretty absurdly thin slices. It makes short work of pork shoulder, slicing the blocks of meat into small enough pieces for throwing in the grinder. It is a fickle, thirsty, and unforgiving knife, exacting a harsh toll for any momentary lapse of focus. I have accidentally shaved the most beautiful crescent moon shapes into the fingernails of my left hand. When I am lucky, it’s just the nail. I am not always lucky. Still, it is an amazing knife, and is truly a perfect example of the right tool for the job, even though it’s not a job that most people would need to do, or a tool that most right thinking people would have any need of.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:23 AM on March 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

Purdy makes house painting brushes that basically do the work for you. With a 4" tapered trim brush, I can cut in all of the trim in a standard 12 x 12 bedroom in 20 minutes or so, and have the walls rolled and be done in under an hour. Then they rinse out so clean it's like a new brush every time. Spend the money - they are head and shoulders above any other brand I've ever used.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:42 AM on March 24, 2019 [19 favorites]

I love a good tool. In the kitchen, my favorites are my KitchenAid and its pasta roller/cutter attachment, my giant Ikea cutting board, and my cheap $10 gigundo cleaver from the Asian grocery.

I'm the garage it's my miter saw and my Kreg pocket hole jig. (My ability to build things with wood increased 80% just with the acquisition of those two tools and some good bar clamps.)

At work it's Airtable and Slack. I have to support a lot of janky software at my job, but at least I have been able to foist reasonable productivity solutions onto my coworkers.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:49 AM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have a growing collection of tools, now that I have a proper basement for them, and am slowly repairing and refinishing a lot of the wood in this house. The previous owner appeared to not worry about sealing everything, so most of the now-30-year-old wood is drying out, and in a couple of spots wasn't even stained to match. Plus, whoever repainted last didn't bother to tape the baseboards so they're all covered in paint drips. This offends me.

But the tool of my heart, the one I am most emotionally attached to, is the One True Pen. Not a fancy pen - I have a lot of friends who have gotten into fountain pens in the last couple of years, but fuck that, it's way too fiddly. Just a good, reliable, non-smeary fine point pen that works for my teeny little writing and my weird left-handed-esque wrist position. I've been using them since high school. When I went to a fairly high-level weeklong writing workshop, I mentioned the pen to one of my instructors, and she took it, examined it briefly, and said "Yes, this is the One True Pen." So I have external validation, even.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:31 AM on March 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

re: Durr

However, I don't understand what, exactly, this is/does

It's difficult to characterize its affect.

It looks like a watch with no face. You wear it on your wrist. Every 5 minutes, it shivers and you feel it on your arm. It's quiet -- no one has ever asked me about it when it shivered -- and just makes you aware of how you are spending your time.

For instance:

- with "mindless" tasks like browsing the internet, daydreaming, looking at social media, etc., you really become aware of how you're spending/wasting your day and it becomes very easy to kick those habits.

- in social situations you become aware of how you're directing your energy. For instance, I used to work retail, and without customers knowing, I could tell how long conversations were taking and which of my customers was a time-suck and which were valuable interactions.

- I used to eat very quickly. When I started using the Durr, I became very aware of this. Now I can pace myself.

- I walk a lot, especially when I travel -- 12 to 15 miles a day sometimes. I could look at my map once before I go, see that in X miles (you have to be aware of how fast you walk) I'd have to head down X street or whatever... but in many of the places I walk, there are no street signs or I don't speak the language. Knowing how long I've been walking without needing to check becomes very useful.

- When trying to do things that you don't want to do -- say, clean the house; exercise, write -- you can use this to tell yourself you'll do three buzzes worth (15 minutes) and compartmentalizing the effort makes it manageable.

You may think, "well I can just check my phone" -- but the whole point is not having to do that. The anxiety of how many minutes have passed passes away. It may seem like that's the opposite of what this device would do, but for me, this is how it works. I forget about time altogether until the buzz whereas I used to mindlessly check the time constantly. Sometimes I would check the time, put my phone away, and realize I had no idea what time it was. It was just a crazy compulsion. I don't have that anymore.

By making you aware of time passing, you start to become more comfortable with how you spend your time.
posted by dobbs at 7:36 AM on March 24, 2019 [18 favorites]

I love the Ticonderoga #2 pencil. Sometimes when using a “school” type pencil, you come across a kind of knot or lump in the lead that makes the stroke less smooth. Never had that in a Ticonderoga; they just gliiiiide across the page. I like them for writing in notebooks, sketching in sketchbooks. And they’re sold in bundles, so I never mind giving mine away.

Another favorite: the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. They’re amazing... great variety of stroke weight and texture from a single tool. Draw slowly, you get thick smooth lines. Draw quickly for thick textural lines. Lift your hand higher above the page, you’ll get thinner, more delicate lines. You can refill them with a cartidge. You can also refill the cartridge with a syringe full of your own favorite ink, further reducing waste. I’m going to get around to trying a waterproof ink in one soonish.

I also usually have a little watercolor kit in my bag. There are some great commercial ones, but I really like making my own tiny custom travel sets. Cathy Johnson is one of my watercolor heroes. She goes through some premade sets, with ideas for homemade ones, in this video.

Portable art and writing supplies are great to have available during any waiting session. (I have a sketchbook series I’m working on right now of bread-and-related-items-served-in-restaurants-and-which-I-can’t-eat. I’ve found that having something to do with my hands makes those who CAN eat that delicious gluten less self-conscious about indulging in front of me. )
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 7:44 AM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Back in the day I spent a lot of time with pipe wrenches and over time accrued three aluminum ones made by 'Rigid.' I loved them, deeply. By design they promised to do something and they did it, no muss no fuss. I still have, with me, a small crescent wrench from that collection (the others are in storage) and every time I touch it I am happy. The same goes for my various Knipex pliers.

The greatest mechanical pencil in the world is the Pentel P225 which I think is out of production (and looking for it and not finding it readily for sale has introduced in me a light panic). I bought about a dozen of them years ago when I realized it filled all my desires in a mechanical pencil - light, reliable, smooth, almost imperceptible in my hand. The plastic is hard so it doesn't get that, ugh plastic junk, feeling that the otherwise totally acceptable 'Rollerball/Uniball" pens get (seriously, by the time it's empty it's a gross, worn out thing.) The P225 has a haptic thing and whatever, it sparks in me joy, damnit, joy.

Can books be tools? I dearly love the Ms. Marple series by Agatha Christie - if you haven't read them and are looking for something to read I can't suggest them enough. They are breathtaking the way "The Searchers" is - they are serious, thought-provoking pieces of art dressed up as pop culture. Ubik by PK Dick as well.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:02 AM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I access pretty much every web site by typing approximately just enough of the address that the browser will suggest the site I mean. For example Ask Mefi is "a" (but I type "as" out of habit). I used to like to go to Metatalk by typing "tata" - which worked in whatever browser I was using 5 years ago, but not in Chrome, which will only match from the beginning of a word. I still keep trying to use "tata" at least once a week.
posted by moonmilk at 8:15 AM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I thought of another one! Graph paper notebooks. I think this one is the best. (It's from Japan, but you can get it for $10 at JetPens if you're in the US.) I used it for my stats class, and it was the only way that I could keep everything neat.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:18 AM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

In a house with mostly hardwood floors and two indoor sheddy cats and being a big shedder myself, I have found the "As Seen On TV" Swivel Sweeper to be a wonder. I hate vacuuming and hauling out my big vacuum, but for the eddies of cat hair that pile up in corners and under my kitchen table, it works great. It is also extremely easy to empty/clean as needed. It really does fit almost anywhere so easily. It is very light. I just keep the power module plugged into the charger all the time and it is ready when I need it.
posted by agatha_magatha at 8:29 AM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

My Leatherman Juice S2 is the nicest darn multi-tool, especially as a lady with small hands and smaller pockets - it isn't honkin' huge like a lot of other Leathermans (Leathermen?) and it fits nicely in the "coin pocket" of my jeans, sticking out just enough to be visible - I joke, to "warn everyone" that I am, indeed, one of those people who carry a multi-tool around with me at all times. And it comes in a jaunty shade of orange!

It was essential when my job involved a lot more popping open panels and twidding things with a screwdriver, and even now I must use it at least several times a week - at least off the top of my head, this past week I've used it to - open bottles, peel an orange, snip a loose thread from my shirt... All things that can be accomplished by other means, but having my Juice right at hand means I don't have to go hunting in drawers for a pair of scissors or whatever.

I am actually on my 3rd Juice now - I left the first one on the pavement in a parking lot in France after I wiped out on my skateboard and gave myself a mild concussion, and the second was stolen off a lab bench after I left it there overnight. Every time, I've tried to live without it for a while, and ended up buying a replacement at my earliest possible opportunity.
posted by btfreek at 8:47 AM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

Also, I wrote every single exam in university (undergrad and graduate school) using a Pentel P207 mechanical pencil that I inadvertently stole from a classmate during the second week of freshman year. It's sitting next to me on my desk as I type this, and it may be the only pencil I have left in my apartment (I have mostly converted to Muji navy blue gel ink pens now that no one expects me to do calculus on paper). Thanks (and sorry) Aron!
posted by btfreek at 8:53 AM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Mine is embarrassing, as a) it doesn't have a name or part number; b) it's very cheap and simple and shouldn't be as useful as it is; and c) I can't quite find it/it's hiding/on a secret mission and isn't at liberty to reveal its location.

It's some kind of a soldering tool. It's about the size of a pencil and made of black nylon or Acetal. One end tapers to a point. The other end is also slightly pointy, but has a slot cut in it. It came with a cheap Weller soldering iron kit, now discontinued. After having it for a decade and typing this, I've only now realized that the slotted end might be for intended for turning trim pots.

Why do I like such a simple tool? It's got enough pointiness to be a prying tool, but won't mar surfaces. The slotted end is just thick enough to direct a wire while soldering, and won't burn like fingers. It's the perfect podger for aligning screw holes in sheet-metal enclosures. It would be the perfectest tool if only it were bright orange so I could find it more often.

Another good thing is the Littledeer Propeller. It's a very good porridge stirrer. We've had ours since they were a Quebec thing rather than a Williams-Sonoma thing.

Re other people's things: Yes, the Hakko 888D is very good, but it's rude compared to the older Hakko and Weller stations: at least they had flat surfaces so you could put your solder reel on top. The 888D takes up double the bench space and has a power switch on the side that needs even more clearance.

The Durr? Pretty sure something very like that was an early Instructables/Make project for a wrist-worn focus timer. ATTiny µc, pager motor, coin cell, 3D printed case. Focus timers are an (expensive) thing in assistive tech.
posted by scruss at 8:59 AM on March 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

When I worked in IT, my tools would be borrowed and not returned intact, if at all. My son 'borrows' but does not return things. So, I buy a couple crappy cheap multitools around Father's Day and have one in the kitchen, the tool cupboard downstairs, the toolbag, the car. Nicer tools would be pleasant, but having any pliers when I need pliers works.

Nice-ish knives. I just picked up a lovely Wusthof chef's knife at a thrift shop. Stainless, but holds an edge well, and has great balance. Paring knives are so handy I buy one every time I go to Ikea. The blade gets knicked or they wander off, and there's a replacement waiting. I covet lovely Japanese kitchen knives, but I have enough decent knives to get the job done well and without slicing myself.

A brass-edged ice scraper that will not scratch the windshield, very specific, but it does its task perfectly. A tiny flashlight in the cig lighter that is always charged. I buy my batteries at Harbor Freight and get a flashlight free, or vice versa. Also, their screwdrivers that have a reversible head are in most tool areas.
Quantity over quality is a theme, I guess.

The tools I value most are cast iron: a pan that my Mom gave me, no idea how old it is. It has the smooth ground surface, and it isn't super heavy. It's almost always on the stove where it is put to dry and then back in use before it's put away. And my wood stove, small but reliable, EPA-cert.

Also, my Thinkpad laptop is a workhorse.
posted by theora55 at 9:17 AM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

In non-tool-related stuff, I've done some problem-solving recently that has felt good, exercising capabilities I haven't used so much, for Reasons. Helped my sister de-dramatize an issue. Defined some issues in a group that might help us move to resolution, or at least conflict-reduction. It's just possible some of my mojo is coming crawling back to me, borne on the sunshine of longer days and the promise of Spring. There's still snow in the woods, not so much on the lawn and some of the yard is faintly greening.
posted by theora55 at 9:22 AM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Fountain pens and notebooks, probably. I'm partial to a Platinum 3776 UEF (gives a line like a needle dipped in ink) and Leuchterrum 1917 graph paper B5 notebooks. I've used pretty much this exact pairing since about my second year of grad school, and it's how I do all my thinking. There's a stack of filled notebooks next to me right now, and the two most recent live in my desk in lab.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 10:14 AM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I love these little Victorinox serrated knives for many purposes, and gift them regularly. I use this Finum permanent tea filter daily to brew mugs of tea with loose tea leaves.

Also agreeing that Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils are the best, though when I'm not near a sharpener, I rely heavily on Paper Mate SharpWriter mechanical pencils.

My small Swiss Army pocket knife lives on my key chain in my pocket, along with my key knife, which has a longer blade than the one on the Swiss Army pocket knife, and both get used for so many purposes.
posted by gudrun at 10:27 AM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I have a ton of favorite tools, but the one I'm missing right now is my favorite guitar. [20 minutes of looking at guitars online later] Yeah, I think I need to go get a guitar.
posted by limeonaire at 11:35 AM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

In no particular order:

- My Thinkpad. Current iteration is an X201 that runs Linux Mint. I live in that thing. It's not a large machine, but that's okay, I'm not a large person.

- My 60cm steel ruler. I'm a signwriter and it's one of the most important tools for my work. It's just so nice to have a long, straight, precise and sturdy ruler with you.

- Leatherman Wave. Large and heavy, but I like that. It gets shit done. It's pretty much always on my belt and I miss it when it isn't. I have two: one that I bought, and one that a dear friend sent to me when the first one was lost. The first one was found after it had been lurking in a couch for EIGHT YEARS. I wish I could tell my friend, but alas, he's no longer with us. Which makes his Leatherman that much more precious to me. Thanks, Mike.

And thank you all for your answers, they're all fascinating.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:00 PM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yeah, I would have rather gotten an older Hakko, but at the time I couldn’t find anything online for less than a new 888D. I wish I’d gotten a cheap old one, but I did the best I could. Still love it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:38 PM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

My cut glove for the kitchen. No sliced hands.

My jar opener. Good for my tendinitis.

My Pixelbook. So light! Doesn’t hurt my arms or back to carry!

This is streeeeetching the tool definition, but my breeze litter box system has made my (and kitty’s) life much nicer.
posted by greermahoney at 12:41 PM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

A good microplane is a godsend in the kitchen
posted by Going To Maine at 1:46 PM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

Mentioned before, but Sublime Text. I never got the muscle memory for vim, but Sublime is GUI enough to get things done, and there is so much available from a CTRL SHIFT P. Spaces to tabs, set syntax, you name it. And the plugin ecosystem is incredible.

Wireshark. Julia Evans once printed out a guide to using it, and the thought struck me "People don't use wireshark?" Then I realized I had been staring at that damn program for over 15 years. Stare at it long enough and you can tell what's going on in real time, like that scene from the Matrix. "HTTP request, DNS lookup, ARP request, SSH session".

The humble Utili Key. They are cheap, they are great for letter opening, unscrewing things, and they fit on your keychain. The best tool, like the best camera, is the one you have on you.

Photon keychain light. Good for getting a light into a dark space, especially when you have to unscrew something down there with your Utili key.
posted by zabuni at 2:49 PM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Olfa touch knife!
Also the Milwaukee Sawz-all I've had for the last 20 years.
And a good mic stand - the difference between those cheapo On-Stage stands and a Tama is pretty amazing.
And the Audio-Technica At 4050, which is rapidly becoming my favorite microphone.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:51 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Durr sounds like the exact opposite of anything I would ever want, which is nice to know about, so thank you!
posted by aspersioncast at 2:54 PM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

If I didn't have my Everything I Need To Do notebook and a Nice Pen, I would get no things done, never have any idea what time it was, and be completely frazzled even more often.


The guy I'm seeing came to the ballet with me on Friday to see Coppelia - and yesterday morning, I watched his home team play cricket. Cultural exchange and general happiness all around!
posted by ChuraChura at 2:54 PM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

My local public library, hands down. More cookbooks than I could ever read, 3d printer, great classes. Free Wi-Fi. I still watch discs at home, they have a great collection. I can search all the local systems from home and items show up in 2-3 days.
posted by Marky at 3:01 PM on March 24, 2019 [10 favorites]

I had been coveting a Kramer chef knife for months before breaking down and splurging for this one (made by Zwilling) about a year ago. Happily, it has been an absolute joy to use! It's quite evident that a lot of attention to detail went into the design of this knife - the blade/handle angle feels just right in my hand; the extra blade depth prevents banging my knuckles on the cutting board and holds more food when scooping up diced pieces; the balance is perfect; the spine and (bolster-less) back edge of the blade are rounded help avoid calluses; the tapering thickness toward the tip makes this 8" knife easy enough to manage occasional small detailed cutting that I might otherwise need to stop and switch to a smaller utility knife for. It takes an amazingly sharp edge, though I could wish the steel was a tad harder. I cook at home a lot so I spend plenty of time using this knife and I never get tired of it.

To keep that and my other knives sharp, my set of Japanese water stones and butcher's steel work great (seconding tobascodagama re: sharp knives being lovely to use).

Also seconding Ghidorah on the immense usefulness of kitchen thermometers with remote sensors.

I have a mix of cast iron pans/dutch ovens most of which are decades old. My newest piece is a dutch oven with legs and a rimmed lid for campfire/charcoal cooking. I'm still learning how to use that to best effect but I think I'm going to be glad to have it in the long run.

These silicone spatulas cost a bit more than one might expect to spend on such things (though they were half the price of another similar but more upscale brand), but they are like the Platonic ideal of Spatula - no food-catching crevices, comfortable handles, a strong interior support, with just the right amount of give on the edges. Highly recommended. In the same vein, I picked up this scraper on a whim during a kitchen store visit maybe 15 years ago. It's got a hard nylon backbone with one exposed edge, and (as with the spatulas) the other edge is flexible silicone. Over the years it's been a very handy gadget that I use far more frequently that I would have imagined.

I used to do a lot of my own work on my various cars and motorcycles, and have a mix of Craftsman tools (metric and standard combo wrenches, ratchet wrench w/socket set + extensions + u-joint, 18" breaker bar) some of which I inherited from my grandfather and some I bought myself back when the brand was still as good as its reputation (though I still coveted Snap-Ons). I don't do much vehicle repair anymore but I'm hanging on to these to pass along to my son - or, if he's not interested, make a killing on eBay to help fund my retirement years!

My smartphone, no kidding. When I was moving across-country one of the reasons I chose my current city was the highly-touted public transportation system, because of which I elected to sell my car before I moved and see what a carless existence was like. An Android phone was a game-changer; Google Maps and a bus-tracker app helped me get around and find my way in an unfamiliar and larger city much more easily than I would have otherwise. On top of that, having the Internet at my beck and call even when away from my home computer was and is a huge boon. I now have a car, and a GPS app continues to be an indispensable tool.

If the definition of "tool" can be extended to squeeze in musical instruments...I bought this fretless bass model back in the 80's. It was an upgrade from a cheapo bass that I had (like my idol Jaco) de-fretted and filled the slots with epoxy, which was okay but not great. The Yamaha was a discontinued model on sale at a big discount, so of course I had to try it, even though I hadn't planned to spend money on another instrument! Even before I'd plugged it in the unamplified tone and sustain blew me away; I fell in love immediately. A few months after buying it I took out the (rather hideous-looking) P/J pickups, did a bit of extra routing, and managed to install a couple of aftermarket J/J pickups that gave it exactly the sound I'd been trying to get. That left some weird-looking routing in the body that I never got around to covering with a pick guard, but I don't care because this is a seriously great-sounding and great-playing bass. It's been on hundreds of gigs with me; I don't play much bass anymore but I still drag it out now and then for the sheer joy of being reminded of its growl and sustain.

I've had a decades-long fascination with woodworking hand tools, though unfortunately I don't have the time/money for yet another hobby nor the physical space needed for a workshop. Maybe after I've retired...
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:09 PM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

My husband ordered a Kindling Cracker a couple of months ago, and it has made all the difference in how easy it is to start the fire in the morning. Ours is a small one and we keep it indoors, by the stove. It turns kindling work into a lot of fun.

I knit. I have learned to keep a little crochet hook with me for picking up dropped stitches and unsplitting my split stitches and such. This little gadget from Susan Bates is perfect when I am using small needles. I keep it tucked into whatever piece I am working on, always.
posted by SLC Mom at 3:38 PM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

Oh! I thought of one, if this counts: the folding fan I keep in my bag during summer. It's pretty (I have two or three in different patterns, that I swap out when I remember to, I think the current one is all purples and blues) and affords great relief in hot weather or during those moments that afflict ladies of a certain age. Lightweight and takes up almost no space.
(I think you could probably make a mint by setting up a folding-fan concession on New York subway platforms in summer, especially if you made some with Mets or Yankees logos, drawings of the Empire State and the Chrysler, etc etc.)
posted by huimangm at 4:07 PM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

-My Planner Pad
-My Mind Clutter List spreadsheet and my cleaning and list spreadsheets, plus some other decision-aid forms
-My Fisher Space Pens
-I'm starting to really like Frixion pens for the crumb-less erasability.
-Brause Bandzug-Feder nibs and the flat-bottom nib holder -- game changer for high-school calligrapher me after using Speedballs (which I still love sentimentally). I got them in the mid-seventies. We lived in the boondocks of New York State, and it was amazing that I found out about them and got them. You kids today can just type "calligraphy nibs" into your browser and bingo!
-There was a dip pen that had an aqua handle, and it was sold with gold ink in stationery stores (not so hard to get). The pen is wonderful to write with, and I even found one 30-some years later on eBay.
posted by jgirl at 4:37 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

On the less practical side of things:

I also really enjoy my instant camera (Fujifilm). I take it with me to social gatherings and usually covertly leave a few photos behind on the host's fridge as a memento. I'm still going a little batty waiting to see if the Printsnap will *ever* become a reality.

The Durr looks really interesting. Reminds me, I used to really want a watch with one hand. I'm not sure I can justify the purchase, but hey.
posted by duffell at 4:47 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just a couple - my embroidery scissors (J.A.Henckels) since I'm making another temari ball, after a long interval. I always marvel at their precision, whenever I cut a thread with them. Frequently loaned out for cutting hair, and I've never had to sharpen 'em. Plus this amazing Snap-On lug wrench found in the trunk of a car I inherited from a mechanic. Never used any Snap-On tool before; always heard they're expensive but worth it, and this tool is clearly superior to any other that I own.
posted by Rash at 5:12 PM on March 24, 2019

My favorite tools are the various creams, wipes, bandages, dressings, etc that I use for treating wounds. I’m not an actual certified wound care nurse, but the patients I work with are at high wound risk: elderly adults, IV drug users, and sometimes folks at the intersection of those two categories.

No-sting skin prep wipes are so useful for skin areas that aren’t open yet but could be with one bad circumstance. Just a light swipe over an intact blister or an early pressure wound goes a long way. I try to give stashes of them to homeless folks with high-risk near-wounds.

Gentian Violet is kind of old-school and stains like hell, but I’ve seen it cut through some of the worst trench foot I’ve ever seen.

Vitamin A&D ointment is the best all-purpose moisturizer I’ve ever seen. Works great on chapped lips, on diaper rash, on the dry legs of people with vascular disease who are prone to venous ulcers. Plus it’s odorless and doesn’t have major irritants for people with sensitive skin. I cannot tell you how many tubes of this I give away every week.

I love my unicorn bandage scissors. No pink tool tax for these, they legitimately cut really well. Also they’re instantly recognizable as mine if I accidentally leave them in an exam room.

Really, there are so many kinds of dressings available for use now—drainage-absorbing ones with Vaseline worked into the gauze, foam ones that don’t tear up your skin, special compression wraps with zine oxide paste worked in. There’s medical-grade honey with antimicrobial properties, there are fancy vacuum pump machines that apply suction to larger wounds to promote healing. Wound care feels like evidence-based wizardry.
posted by I am a Sock, I am an Island at 5:36 PM on March 24, 2019 [12 favorites]

Oh yeah, scissors - after a lifetime of using crappy $2-3 dimestore scissors, I got these "dressmaker's shears" for use as general-purpose scissors and they're amazing. When I first got them I spent like 10 minutes cutting up sheets of scrap paper into tiny confetti just because it was so damn satisfying. I've had them for almost 4 years and haven't yet felt a need to sharpen them.
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:07 PM on March 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

A kindling splitter, that looks nifty.
posted by theora55 at 6:18 PM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

Frixion pens for the crumb-less erasability

They're cool until you leave your notes somewhere really cold (about -15 °C or so) and all the erased ink comes back
posted by scruss at 6:56 PM on March 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

So they're cool until they're cold, and then they're not so hot.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:05 PM on March 24, 2019 [13 favorites]

Favorite tools:

My dremel is awesome. I build all sorts of Halloween props with it.

My Husqvarna sewing machine is a freaking tank.

I have a specific crochet hook of my grandmother's. It must be solid steel, because it is 3x heavier than any other hook I own. It is wonderfully balanced and I wish I could find every size in that weight.

Big huge fan of my Galaxy 9s smartphone. It's got an incredible camera, holds far more apps than I expected it to and is one of the most reliable things in my life, other than the husband.

I'm sure there are others, but those are currently the top of my list.

I am writing this as both dogs are snoring after a long day. It's really quite lovely.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:36 PM on March 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

My favorite tool has always been a pocket knife. The brand didn't matter as much as the having. My past few have been a bit more "brand-y" than I'd like to admit, but they still got the job done.

I used to recommend the internet as a tool, but I don't do that much any more.

I dunno. It seems to me the tool isn't as important as the bearer. After all who keeps the edge sharp, if not the craftsman...

Guess this is goodbye. Thanks for all the fish.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:58 PM on March 24, 2019 [4 favorites]

I keep a spiral key chain in my purse at all times with some little items that make a big difference. It started as a mini hiker kit, but it works. Small things don't get lost in the grass and it's easier to slip the spiral band on my wrist when using them.
Clippers, tiny Swiss army knife, LED light, ball compass (replaced when the water gets low), a whistle, and pepper spray.
It started out with a novelty watch fob, but it broke and I didn't replace it.
A second spiral key chain holds a BIC lighter. I don't like putting it with the pepper spray.

The pepper spray has been used several times over the decades on growling dogs during walks.
The one time I didn't take the key chain out of the vehicle (I had been on a walk earlier), my husband was attacked by a neighbor's new half-grown dog. As I swung my purse at it to get it off my husband's pants leg (jeans for the win, they did get bloody), I was looking across the street at our car. Lesson learned.
The neighbors hauled the dog off my husband and apologized. Within a few weeks they rehomed it.

I do like a collapsible hiking pole. I do like a hanging bottle holder that I can buckle around my waist or carry over a shoulder. And I do like a small backpack for extra water, a rain jacket, and sunscreen and bug spray.

I am really looking forward to more nice weather so I can start taking walks outdoors. It's like, "Ah, first day of spring -- when did all the plum trees bloom out?"
And yesterday I sent messages to my daughters about the wall cloud spinning slowly over the northern part of the city, just in case they were spending Saturday shopping or at the movies. Such is life in tornado alley.
posted by TrishaU at 8:02 PM on March 24, 2019 [6 favorites]

I keep a spiral key chain in my purse at all times with some little items that make a big difference.

That is a brilliant idea that, now that you've enlightened me of it, I plan to implement in my own life! Thanks!
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:57 PM on March 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

The flight-booking tools ITA Matrix + ITA-Matrix-PowerTools.

On its own ITA Matrix is an incredible tool if you are looking for cheaper fares and can play with the route language (click 'help' in the top right corner to see how powerful it is) but with the PowerTools extension you really get an incredible view at how airlines price fares and eventually learn how to find some amazing deals.
posted by mdonley at 11:40 PM on March 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

I wrote upthread about sharpening a knife that I had pegged as junk, occurred to me that maybe someone would want to see the sharpener I used. It's an AccuSharp, I had no idea but it's pretty much got a cult following -- 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with 4,455 reviews. (!!) Can't go wrong for ten bucks.


Jars which are difficult to open -- I'd never seen those tools. They're cool. However, not needed -- turn the jar upside down, smack it flat onto the floor a few times. Put some juice behind it -- the jar isn't going to break, I've never broken one. So BONK it on the floor a few times, turn it over and unscrew it. BONKing it down onto the floor loosens the vacuum seal. (a countertop will work but the floor is more solid, generally) If the jar still won't open, take a fairly hefty kitchen knife, BONK the back of the knife blade into the jar lid in a counter-clockwise direction. The jar will now open.


Okay, so your garbage disposal quit working. Call a plumber and he'll tell you that you need a new one. 97 times out of 100 you don't need a new one. Turn the switch to "On' and then shove a wooden hammer handle down in the disposal, get it to move, and it'll fire right up. Alternately, and/or if that first option doesn't work, take that same hefty kitchen knife you used to open that bottle, use the back of the blade and just start banging away on the side of the disposal. (Make sure the switch is on.) It's really satisfying to do this -- you're going to really wail on the thing -- and you'll smile when the disposal gets tired of getting the dogshit beaten out of it and it goes on ahead and fires up. Mostly, the only time you need a new disposal is if your current on has a bad leak. Which mostly they don't.


So you're got yourself a new windoze computer. Damn, it's got 17,437 pieces of total garbage software on it. Go to and download a super-simple piece of free software, open it up and run it on your machine and it will tell you what is garbage that you absolutely don't need, such as the malware called macafee. I think you can even remove the crap software from inside the decrapifier software, no need to go to control panel.

And so now you've gotten all the junkware off that puter, it's time to put the software on it that you want. Go to and select all the software you want, ninite installs it all in the background, once you select the software you want it gets out of your way as it downloads and installs all the programs you've selected. A really nice tool,free.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:07 AM on March 25, 2019 [12 favorites]

I have my fair share of kitchen gadgets but the most life-changing is a large silicone mat. It means I don't have to confine my rolling/kneading to a cutting board or worry about cleaning the counter before and after. The mat also has a ruler along 2 of its edges and concentric circles that show you the diameter of your pie crust.
posted by coppermoss at 5:32 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

What with all my chisels, refurbished antique-market planes (and other new and snazzy ones), and often-used kitchen knives, my most important tools are a set of Japanese water stones to keep everything sharp, plus an old leather strop and a block of stropping paste.

Otherwise, the most important kitchen gadget is a Presso hand-squeeezed coffee maker that was bought for a dumping price someplace, and delivers one good shot after the other without any noise or electricity.
posted by Namlit at 5:57 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

You all are making me want to learn how to sharpen my knives, I have a dread of just making them worse so every now and then I bundle them up in a tea towel and take them to the butcher and endure the shame of picking them up and hearing how dull they were...

I was given my first jackknife at 5 years, I am contemplating whether I will do the same for my kid. I used it all the time for dubious purposes - sharpening sticks, mostly, which then became arrows for the bows I made from sticks and twine. I shot at my siblings a lot and am probably lucky I never hit anyone. Until airport security changed a lot, I always carried a knife, but lost a few that way and now almost never have it on me.

In other news I have been holding my breath waiting for instruction in an aspect of my job, and have received the instruction, and acted in my new understanding of how things are done. Now we see whether I look like an idiot in the eyes of the outside institution to whom I communicated the New Way.

In other other news: this weekend we saw the first frog spawn of the year! And two frogs mating! And yesterday I saw Captain Marvel while my partner and kid went elsewhere. SOLO TIME YESSS
posted by Lawn Beaver at 7:21 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

→ Frixion pens for the crumb-less erasability

They're cool until you leave your notes somewhere really cold (about -15 °C or so) and all the erased ink comes back

Hmm, sounds like there's a story there.
posted by jgirl at 7:31 AM on March 25, 2019

A few of my other favorite tools are:

Makita mpact driver. I always assumed a drill/driver was the way to drive in screws until I got this. It drives any screw into anything without stripping. So much better than a drill/driver. It's also nice to have a separate drill to drill pilot holes without having to switch to a bit to drive screws.

I'm not big on Every Day Carry (I think the concept is kind of dumb, actually) but I do have a Leatherman Micra on my keychain. I mostly use it to clip my nails and open packages.

I like to buy tools custom made by makers. The ones I have that I like are:

Diresta ice pick. Made by Jimmy. I admit to buying this because I'm kind of a fanboy but I use it all the time and it's become one of my most used tools.

Maker knife. This was a kickstarter I backed and it was worth it. It's a utility knife made by people who use utility knives. It's just a beautiful tool.

The Sqwayre. Tim is a good guy who works with reclaimed materials. This is his sort of all-purpose square for various layout tasks. I admit that I don't actually use this a lot but it's one of those things that does come in handy once in a while. I bought it mostly to support a maker.
posted by bondcliff at 7:35 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Guess this is goodbye. Thanks for all the fish.

Sorry to see you button, 1f2frfbf. Come back any time.
posted by zamboni at 8:29 AM on March 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

Ditto, 1f2frfbf.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:56 AM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Lawn Beaver - Sharpening isn't technically difficult or hard to master. The key skill is keeping the knife at a consistent angle to the sharpening stone - that does take practice, but the worst that will happen if you don't is that it will just take more (and more consistent) passes on the stone to fix it. The blade itself isn't ruined, it just won't have a proper sharp edge until it's fixed. There's plenty of YouTube videos on sharpening knives to watch to give you an idea of what's involved. I can tell you that it's a skill that, once mastered, is immensely satisfying; and one you're reminded of every time your knife slides effortlessly through whatever food you're prepping.

If the thought of doing it free-hand is too daunting, there are sharpening systems available (ex. Lansky, Edge Pro) that hold the stones or ceramic rods at a specific angle in a base, and you just need to keep the blade vertical (which is easier than figuring the angle against a laid-flat stone) as you draw the knife along the sharpening surface.

Then there's devices like the Accusharp mentioned above, that have a couple of metal or ceramic pieces set at angles inside a slot you drag the knife through to scrape the edge into the prescribed angle. The upside is that they're generally inexpensive; the downside is that the best of these - and only the best ones; the rest are pretty useless - do an okay job that's better than a dull knife, but in my experience the result is not as good as using a stone.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:17 AM on March 25, 2019

But the tool of my heart, the one I am most emotionally attached to, is the One True Pen. Not a fancy pen - I have a lot of friends who have gotten into fountain pens in the last couple of years, but fuck that, it's way too fiddly. Just a good, reliable, non-smeary fine point pen that works for my teeny little writing and my weird left-handed-esque wrist position. I've been using them since high school. When I went to a fairly high-level weeklong writing workshop, I mentioned the pen to one of my instructors, and she took it, examined it briefly, and said "Yes, this is the One True Pen." So I have external validation, even.

That's the same pen I've always used for drawing. Other people get really into brush pens, or some Japanese import, or hand cut nibs, but nothing else ever 'just worked' for me like ubiquitous uni-ball. One day I found out that a friend who is a successful bande-dessinée artist in Belgium uses the exact same pen and I felt vindicated.

I've got a pair of absurdly large wrenches that I enjoy quite a bit. They're like nearly a metre long and look like something you'd use in a videogame to hit goons with. I use them on the rear axle of my motorcycle, to change a tire or chain or whatever. The thing is torqued to 87 foot-pounds, which is a lot easier to undo with a bit of leverage.
posted by rodlymight at 9:24 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

rodlymight, I'm giggling over "wrenches fit to hit goons with" as an image.

Other tools I use regularly: really good screwdriver set for opening technology (yay for iFixit's toolsets; they're more expensive than the generic ones on Amazon, but the quality is vastly better).

Lots of specialty tools in the kitchen: a ceramic mandoline (adjustable) is amazing for a lot of things; a stick blender is essential for blending small quantities; OxO's silicone measuring cup makes me happy every time I use it; good knives (I have Glestain and Global, courtesy of my-brother-the-chef). A really good citrus juicer is an absolutely essential tool for me; I make a lot of lemon curd, and that means juicing ~12 lemons per batch.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 9:43 AM on March 25, 2019

A really good citrus juicer is an absolutely essential tool for me; I make a lot of lemon curd, and that means juicing ~12 lemons per batch.

Which one do you like at the moment?
posted by zamboni at 10:27 AM on March 25, 2019

What's in my pocketses are still largely the same as the EDC Metatalktail- the iPhone is newer, as is the Field Notes, and I gave up on the Nitecore Tube. I moved all the house keys and tools to a quick release, and added a tiny bottle opener. The button on the Kinovios is slowly dying, so I'm thinking about replacing them.

Other tools which bring me varying amounts of joy:
vimium, a browser extension that adds vi-style shortcuts for web navigation.
Controllermate allows me to do perverse things with contextual keyboard remapping and shortcuts.
We bought a Miele, which makes vacuuming… tolerable.
posted by zamboni at 11:09 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm not a huge tool person at this stage of my life--urban apartment living--but I do have one to recommend to anyone who does a lot of online shopping.

Get yourself an HC900 Handy Box Cutter ( and awkwardly linked because mobile), or whatever similar one float your boat.

These are the box cutters my warehouse-adjacent job gave us back in the day and I heartily recommend them. They are safe and easy to use, super affordable, sustainable in that blades are long-lasting and easily replaced, made in the USA if that's a priority, and highly effective at one thing (spoiler: opening boxes. Maybe bags but mostly boxes).

I've seen way too many people awkwardly opening boxes with letter openers or worse, scissors. There's a better way!
posted by librarylis at 11:56 AM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

OxO's silicone measuring cup makes me happy every time I use it.

This reminds me of my little DIY mess kit and what is generally my portable minimalist kitchen. It's mix of nesting stainless steel mixing bowls, plates and cups that have all sort of organically grown together because they all are good steel cook/prep ware that also fit/nest together very well.

But one of the best parts about it is the set of nesting silicon measuring/prep bowls I picked up for $2 at a thrift store that fits perfectly inside the smallest stainless steel mixing bowl in my kit. While they'd be handy in any given kitchen, they're intensely handy for a camp kitchen because of how easy to clean they are, and how multipurpose they are.

They shed food residue and are just the thing for a bowl of oatmeal or soup or providing a clean surface or prep container for outdoor cooking, plus they are all marked measuring cups in various useful fractions. If you really want to save water, you can scrape shake any residue out, let it dry, then just flex the bowls and whatever's left just flakes off, then you can finish with a much smaller amount of hot water or even just rubbing alcohol.

I wish they made bowls like this that were this easy to clean that could also withstand being over a camp fire or camp stove, but that would be some weird meta-material that possibly breaks the laws of thermodynamics.
posted by loquacious at 12:12 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

My favourite tool for use is my Pandut GTH-E zip tie gun. I used to have a GTH (still do actually but after 7 years the spring started going) and it was a beauty tool too but the GTH-E does everything the original does with less effort. You barely have to squeeze the handle to tension even heavy duty TyRaps.

I also love my Knipex Cobra water pump pliers (channel-locks). These are so much better than the alternatives I'm honestly surprised they don't own 100% of the non-dollar store level waterpump plier market. My set I inherited from my father. It has to be at least 30 years old, been in service use everyday and is just now starting to lose the edges of the serrations. Think I'm going to buy myself a new set next year for my b-day.
posted by Mitheral at 1:00 PM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

 Hmm, sounds like there's a story there.

Yup. Worked with a field auditor who would write out a checklist with a Frixion, then erase the "NOT CHECKED" fields as he went. Quite a good system: it was really easy to see what was outstanding, and a completed audit was a blank page (which he'd sign and scan for the project file).

This worked really well until we got an audit job in NW Ontario one winter. In moving his notes from the job hut to the truck in -30 °C, all his erased "NOT CHECKED" markers reappeared …
posted by scruss at 1:21 PM on March 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

I got frustrated playing the game of "will this pen work today" so I switched over to pencils. And yes Blakwings and Mitsubishis are worth the cost.

emacs. Browsers come and go, Microsoft Word doesn't even know what it wants, but you can't go wrong with unicode text and a language for automating the dull stuff.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:49 PM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Three tools come to mind:
1. We got a Squeezo at a garage sale (for $3!) that has made seedless jams and seedless tomato sauces a thing of the past. It is dreamy - not too hard to work by hand, and it works so well! We did have to pay another $18 (I think?) for the berry-seeding screen. If you ever see one (and only the original, not the cheapo imitations) for cheap, grab it. I always want to say the name like an infomercial "The AMAZING Squeezo!!"
2. My faceted Levenger True Writer ballpoint pen. I don't think they make the faceted one anymore, but I love it because I can't overgrip (I have a crap handwriting grip, and small hands, so it happens all too easily). Their refills last for about a year for me (I take loads of notes by hand in my job).
3. The last one is my husband's, but it's definitely one of his faves - we found this in our neighbor's basement, and he let us have it, and we've found additional parts for it (harrow, weeding blade, and a seeder attachment) - an original Planet Jr. walk-behind wheel hoe. It works really well in our very-large-but-not-a-farm garden (70x70 feet), and makes child's play of setting up planting rows. There are some newer, imitations, but husband is convinced they won't work as well (this thing is ergonomically perfect for him, it seems), and besides, we have one.
posted by dbmcd at 2:01 PM on March 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Squeezo is a great name for a product! It demands wordy promotional ads in a bunch of different old-fashioned fonts like vintage circus posters.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:23 PM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Leatherman Charge and Swiss Army Cybertool 41 are all the tools that I need to repair any computer and most any electronic device. I also have a brass, flip open, printer's loupe that is part of my EDC.

I would love to link pics but MeFi doesn't let me anymore.
posted by Splunge at 3:00 PM on March 25, 2019

Not on topic: I've worked every day since the first of the year and have taken off the last three days in a row.

It's heaven. I'm currently sitting outside on my (finally, since the hurricane, cleaned deck) watching the clouds form in preparation for a storm whilst a male cardinal gathers courage to decide and hop off his branch onto the newly filled feeder. This is what life's about: work is necessary; experiencing it is to savor.
posted by mightshould at 3:31 PM on March 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

In hummingbird news there is now a continuous aerial battle between the rufous' and the black chins and Annas. The black chins and Annas seem to be taking turns leading the rufous' away from the feeder and then trading off to take turns. Otherwise the rufous just sits there guarding the thing or spends a whole lot of time chasing everyone else off.

It's been so noisy I actually moved the feeder away from my door.

That and the rufous kept flying in my door and scolding me to get away from his feeder. If I go out and stand or sit next to the feeder the rufous will fly right up in my face and try to chase me off. It's hilarious. Also vaguely annoying.
posted by loquacious at 6:29 PM on March 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

the rufous will fly right up in my face and try to chase me off.

I gave myself a good chuckle at the notion of that hummingbird getting really annoyed if you just kept blowing it away from you like you would a hovering gnat, not being the least bit intimidated by it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:25 PM on March 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have three pocket knives, two variations of Swiss Army one with the most gizmos was my moms, mine was a 15 year gift from a work place. The winner is my brother's Boy Scout knife, from 1960 or so. I used it for wood carving in art school. I have three leathermen, one from the 40's or so and two newer ones. I have two hatchets. I have a van with useful things. I went with my camera seeking poppies today, found them up Kern Canyon. I went to whip a U turn on this high canyon road and suddenly the van died and would not restart. So I tried two-three times and got out. Oh yes I had backed into the soft sandy hillside, and augered my tailpipe into dirt. So I got out my collapsible shovel and got down to it and dug out my tailpipe and the van started right up. Tons of Cal Poppies up there. I visited a small draw with an eloquent creek, large boulders the size of garaves had come to some ad hoc agreement about staying put and white flowers bloomed in the shadows, set off by sodden green. It was the good stuff up in Sequoia National Park today. Saw some school bus hippies, an eagle, and these blue as blue can be flowers. My tools, my camera, my van to take me there.
posted by Oyéah at 7:47 PM on March 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

I gave myself a good chuckle at the notion of that hummingbird getting really annoyed if you just kept blowing it away from you like you would a hovering gnat, not being the least bit intimidated by it.

Oh, it's hilarious. Hummingbirds are great and we're all lucky they're not the size of eagles, because ounce for ounce I don't think there's any animal on the planet with more attitude.

I'm honestly a little intimidated, and find myself thankful that I'm wearing glasses. Those rufous' are super loud and aggressive and have no reservations about dive-bombing your head and face. Granted, they weigh about a half an ounce, but I still wouldn't want one zooming up at me at full speed and going for my eyes with that hypodermic needle of a beak.

And, yeah, if I stand too close the feeder they'll just fly all around me and curse me out for what must be about an hour in hummingbird time, or roughly about 15-30 human seconds.

They've even been taunting the cat, which doesn't seem wise.

Oh, and I moved the hummingbird feeder almost a week ago and the rufous is still flying up to where it used to hang right outside my door and chewing me out for the feeder not being there, like it's my fault there's not now two feeders to guard. Buddy, you just got here like two weeks ago!
posted by loquacious at 8:02 PM on March 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

Nthing silicon spatulas. We have a Good Cook spatula that makes me happy for how well it cleans out bowls, so I can get all the batter or goop out of a bowl, reducing clean-time and increasing what I can cook. Perhaps it's because I don't like wasting things, or I appreciate efficiency.

I like cameras, but I'm not anything special with them. In fact, I'm pretty lazy and I don't use all the proper settings on my cameras. Still, I really enjoy cameras, but because I don't know enough to do a great job, I can't justify spending more money on camera gear, and I like that lo-fi aesthetic, so I enjoy relatively inexpensive lenses: $40 phone zoom lens pics and $100 manual zoom lens pics.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:35 PM on March 25, 2019

Kitchen & Home
Safety can openers.
Also, Asian plastic stools and large plastic washbins, very useful for a million things and non-existent in US stores for some reason.
Plastic Scrapers
Arthritis Opener
cheap-ass Kiwi brand nakiri
a Farberware kitchen knife
my swish new Kenwood
mini spatulas from Sur la Table
sous vide and fast/slow cooker
KitchenAid Artisan Mini
Baking Steel
this OXO jar opener
Victorinox 40414 Slotted Fish Turner, 3-Inch, Brown
my stand mixer
these silicone flower petal things in the kitchen that turn any old bowl into an ersatz Tupperware container.
Eilong tea infuser.
e sharpening stones. Just in general. I have a nice Naniwa set, but really just sharpening stones in general are great.
my ice cream maker.
my Wusthof 10-Inch Serrated bread knife
an inkbird Bluetooth temperature gauge
my silicon spatula/scraper from Daiso
my foot long gyu-to/chefs knife
my KitchenAid and its pasta roller/cutter attachment
my giant Ikea cutting board
my cheap $10 gigundo cleaver from the Asian grocery.
a lovely Wusthof chef's knife
cast iron: a pan that my Mom gave me, no idea how old it is. …And my wood stove, small but reliable, EPA-cert.
A good microplane
a mix of cast iron pans/dutch ovens most of which are decades old
a large silicone mat
Presso hand-squeeezed coffee maker
a ceramic mandoline (adjustable)
a stick blender
OxO's silicone measuring cup
good knives (I have Glestain and Global, courtesy of my-brother-the-chef)
A really good citrus juicer
A Miele
nesting stainless steel mixing bowls, plates and cups
nesting silicon measuring/prep bowls
Swivel Sweeper
Victorinox serrated knives
Finum permanent tea filter
cut glove
jar opener
breeze litter box system
chef's knife
butcher's steel
These silicone spatulas
this scraper
Good Cook spatula

the Littman Cardiology III which has an adult and pediatric diaphragm, and a Queen Square reflex hammer.
tuberculin syringes with the safety needle, 1 cc with 30 gauge needle
ethyl chloride spray
No-sting skin prep wipes
Gentian Violet
Vitamin A&D ointment
unicorn bandage scissors.

$10 wire book stand
the One True Pen
an Olympia SM3 typewriter dating from around 1957
the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen
the Pentel P225
Pentel P207 mechanical pencil
a Platinum 3776 UEF
Leuchterrum 1917 graph paper B5 notebooks
60cm steel ruler.
my Everything I Need To Do notebook and a Nice Pen,
Blakwings and Mitsubishis
Maruman spiral notebook
Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencils
Paper Mate SharpWriter mechanical pencils
My Planner Pad
My Mind Clutter List spreadsheet and my cleaning and list spreadsheets, plus some other decision-aid forms
-My Fisher Space Pens
Frixion pens
-Brause Bandzug-Feder nibs and the flat-bottom nib holder
-There was a dip pen that had an aqua handle, and it was sold with gold ink in stationery stores (not so hard to get)
My faceted Levenger True Writer ballpoint pen

Tape measure
Leatherman Juice S2
Swiss Army pocket knife
PST Leatherman tool
a Leatherman Wave, a Leatherman Juice and an Origin8 bike multitool with chain splitter
at least one flashlight
Ikea's paper measuring tapes
Leatherman Wave
My smartphone
the folding fan I keep in my bag during summer
my Galaxy 9s smartphone
a pocket knife
Clippers, tiny Swiss army knife, LED light, ball compass (replaced when the water gets low), a whistle, and pepper spray.
a BiC lighter
a Leatherman Micra
Leatherman Charge
Swiss Army Cybertool 41
a brass, flip open, printer's loupe
my brother's Boy Scout knife, from 1960 or so
key knife
Utili Key.
Photon keychain light.
Maker knife
tiny bottle opener

pin-to-pendant converter
minimalist (aka barefoot) shoes
Freitag Voyager, these and one of these

Workshop, Arts & Crafts
an X-acto knife with a fresh, razor sharp #11 blade, and a fine sable paint brush
hand impact wrench
Kreg Jig
a book that taught me how to sharpen knives, axes, wood chisels, and the like.
my late dad's bow saw
a pedal steel or a button accordion
Lindstrom 1850 cutters.
TDI Internationals TDI-5A-SA tweezers
motorcycle battery charger
a 1/2" Craftsman power drill that I inherited from my father
a swift and ball-winder.
a small axe and some wood clamps
a socket set in a beat up metal box
My hammer
brass Addi Turbo lace needles (a decade old, perfectly bent to the form of my hands) AND a set of Karbonz sock needles. Carbon fiber knitting needles with just smooth metal tips.
Chisels and spokeshaves
a Jet drum sander and a Sawstop table saw and a used jointer and plainer
Purdy makes house painting brushes that basically do the work for you.
my miter saw and my Kreg pocket hole jig
a little watercolor kit
some kind of a soldering tool. It's about the size of a pencil and made of black nylon or Acetal.
the Milwaukee Sawz-all
box scraper
Hakko 888D
Audio probe
ice scraper
a mix of Craftsman tools (metric and standard combo wrenches, ratchet wrench w/socket set + extensions + u-joint, 18" breaker bar
Olfa touch knife
gadget from Susan Bates
my instant camera (Fujifilm).
my embroidery scissors (J.A.Henckels)
this amazing Snap-On lug wrench found in the trunk of a car I inherited from a mechanic.
"dressmaker's shears"
My dremel
My Husqvarna sewing machine
a specific crochet hook of my grandmother's
a set of Japanese water stones to keep everything sharp, plus an old leather strop and a block of stropping paste.
Makita mpact driver.
Diresta ice pick.
a pair of absurdly large wrenches
HC900 Handy Box Cutter
Pandut GTH-E zip tie gun
Knipex Cobra water pump pliers
$40 phone zoom lens pics and $100 manual zoom lens pics

Garden & Outdoor
a metal (steel?) trowel with a plastic handle
Brinly plow.
"Also me" wants a genuine "compact tractor" that is capable of running real farm implements but not-also me is a cheapskate so...
Korean hand plow
the best pair of work gloves
chainsaw safety chaps
36 volt mower
Kindling Cracker
Planet Jr. walk-behind wheel hoe.
a collapsible hiking pole
a hanging bottle holder that I can buckle around my waist or carry over a shoulder
a small backpack for extra water, a rain jacket, and sunscreen and bug spray.

Microsoft surface pro with pen
Shiny Apps
Wacom tablet + stylus
Sublime and gvim
a laptop and/or thumb drive full of useful software
my trusty old Sansa Clip+ mp3 player
Apple's Magic Trackpads
Airtable and Slack
Iris split mechanical keyboard
my Thinkpad laptop
my Thinkpad
My Pixelbook
Sublime Text

Cigar Boxes
Velcr... hook and loop fasteners.
tingsha cymbals
Music From Outer Space modular synths
this fretless bass model
ITA Matrix + ITA-Matrix-PowerTools
the Ms. Marple series by Agatha Christie
a good mic stand
the Audio-Technica At 4050
My local public library
posted by zamboni at 7:31 AM on March 26, 2019 [30 favorites]

I can't really think of any favorite physical tools (I am very much not handy), but some vital computer ones:

the Python language in general, and the requests library in particular
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:07 AM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Zamboni, I looked that EDC list and was worried that you might be hurting yourself toting all that, heh. Thanks for compiling the list.

You know what else is a nifty tool?
posted by theora55 at 9:06 AM on March 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

Last night as I was taking apart a humidifier that had developed... a smell, I was thinking about this thread and how happy I am to not just have the tools to take apart the humidifier but also the pretty certain knowledge that it comes apart and then once it got apart, I could fix it and put it back together again. And I did!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:00 AM on March 26, 2019 [10 favorites]


It's got a few quirks but yes, it's a huge part of my testing workflow.
posted by octothorpe at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2019

I'm an apartment dweller so it's toolbag and not much to do with them. But waiting on the eventual old rural families with property and houses for the inevitable. I'd love to be in gramps's basement once more with old woodworking tools some of which date back to the mid 1800's, or to have a basement to fill with all the fun stuff or to start a big garden. But everything now is within like20' so there's no need to play favorites.


On the happy side, I just had the occasion to contact an old workplace friend in a high position from the place that I flip-tabled and rage-quit. I was told that there was a transformation in progress and there may be some positions I could go back to. That just made me terribly happy as in 'they understood' and I'd probably be welcomed back. Sadly it was the whole open office cubicle farm bit that was driving me mad and I doubt they've gone to the full have remote workers phase. I still don't think I can deal with hundreds of people mulling about all day long. :(
posted by zengargoyle at 2:38 PM on March 26, 2019

Felco clippers
ARS sheers
Hori-hori (from Ames, oddly enough)
Nursery spade
Regular shovel
Winter garden/work gloves
For heavy duty weedwhacking: redmax bicycle handle brush cutter with heavy duty string.
Pocket knife: spyderco delica
posted by sciencegeek at 3:54 PM on March 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

some kind of a soldering tool. It's about the size of a pencil and made of black nylon or Acetal.

I can't find that one stand-alone, but it's bundled with the Weller SP23LK 25-Watt Soldering Iron and others, which might be low wattage for some people?

related: spudger
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:27 PM on March 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Glad to see love for Hakko soldering irons. I've got an old 888 at home and a couple of the new digital display ones at work. They're great.

I'd add 1.5 inch non-lugged Palmgrin drill press vices and WFMC mini-ratchets to my must-have list. (The ratchet is pitched at something like 1/32 of a turn, and they fit absolutly everywhere.)

I'm also a big fan of Agilent hand-held multimeters, but I don't force them on colleagues 'cause everyone grew up with Flukes. They are twice as expensive and half as capable, but everyone knows where the buttons are.

Tools are neat! This thread has been great fun and I've learned a lot.
posted by eotvos at 10:15 PM on March 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I have found about half of next year’s holiday shopping via this thread, so thanks all!
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 7:25 AM on March 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

WayTools TextBlade

Adding that to my wishlist


why yes i just has my morning coffee why do you ask
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:25 AM on March 27, 2019 [3 favorites]


Before you do, maybe check out the caveat emptor that uberchet posted in the EDC post.
posted by zamboni at 11:10 AM on March 27, 2019

Yes. I see some preorder-grar on Reddit too.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:54 PM on March 27, 2019

I can't find that one stand-alone, but it's bundled with the Weller SP23LK 25-Watt Soldering Iron

Yeah, that's the iron it came with. It's a terrible iron. But the black stick has turned up: all it says is "COOPER TOOLS" on the side. But I think "black stick" might be the proper term.

To me, that's not a spudger. This is a spudger.
posted by scruss at 6:47 PM on March 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a spudger.

As I read that, the Crocodile Dundee-style "fffffffwipp" sound effect came unbidden into my head.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:26 PM on March 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've always thought of spudgers specifically as things that don't scratch glass. Now I'm questioning that assumption.

But, I am looking forward to "Crocodile Dundee IV: Crocodile Dundee in a storefront cellphone repair shop."
posted by eotvos at 10:10 PM on March 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

> I've always thought of spudgers specifically as things that don't scratch glass.

"Spudger" is just a term for prying tool. The ascendancy of the iPod and iPhone made the plastic ones valuable since they're nonconductive and ideally antistatic. But sometimes metal spudgers are the better tool since they can be thinner. Also their edges tend not to get warped and bunged up as easily.

Unrelated: One software tool that's definitely changed my life is the Mac/iOS "Notes" app. For me it's the perfect incarnation of the todo.txt file. I can edit the same documents on all my computers and devices without having to move or copy files; all my devices get updated with any changes inside of a second (so it's not real-time, but close enough since I'm not using these for collaboration). Apple's been a little unsteady about the "it just works" thing sometimes, but Notes is dialed in.
posted by ardgedee at 5:42 AM on March 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

as would anyone who stripped out the heads of the phillips machine screws that the Japanese manufacturers used on motorcycles in the 70's

They're so incredibly easy to strip because they likely aren't actually phillips, but JIS screws and a phillips driver will wreck them!
posted by Dysk at 1:36 PM on March 28, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm a research librarian in a health related field so I have deep affection for PubMed, and specifically single citation matcher and the similar articles tools. I do rely on Ovid's commercial version for complex searches because of the added bells and whistles, especially adjacency searching, but I love MEDLINE/PubMed as the backbone of it all.

I love the fact that such a rich tool is free and publicly funded. I also love that it was created by government/government workers. to think when I started my library career I was trained on the print predecessor Index Medicus. Changed times.
posted by biggreenplant at 3:07 PM on March 29, 2019 [5 favorites]

Craftsman 3/8" Electric Drill #315.11441. My old one has a frayed cable and shot bearings after 35 years of use. I bought a new Makita to replace it, but the thing about the Craftsman is that it has torque at low speeds to drive/undrive screws as well as put holes in things. The Makita is not designed to drive screws in many different ways. Additionally, battery powered drills have let me down in the past. So I bought another Craftsman 3/8" Electric Drill #315.11441 on ebay. Has a little surface rust, which I will remove by searching on the internet for exactly how to do that.

Curved forceps, which were being used by a devil-may-care 19-year-old as a roach clip, until I stole them (at the age of 15). Thousands of uses other than smoking the pots. I need to get some more varieties of these.
posted by user92371 at 11:35 PM on March 29, 2019

Been thinking about this on and off through the week, and eventually come to the conclusion that my tool of choice, and much use, is the Mitsubishi Pencil Co. uni-ball Eye Micro UB-150 Rollerball Pen (blue). Nothing fancy or expensive or with lots of features. Just a pen that is reliable, with a fine/narrow track, is comfortable to hold, and has zero friction or resistance when using. It's become my pen of choice, and noting that it make a (partial) appearance in a picture I took this morning (mainly of an almond croissant) to mark the start of a new writing project.
posted by Wordshore at 4:22 AM on March 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

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