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As a general rule, we like to think we’re getting a great deal more creative when it comes to transport than we were 40 years ago. As it turns out…nope. These rail cars stowed 30 Vegas per car, nose down, in the early 70′s, ya’ll.

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Who ever said that play can’t change the world? The Soccket ball, developed by two Harvard alumns, is a regulation-size soccer ball containing an inductive coil mechanism that captures and stores a small electrical charge. With a tiny flip cap that reveals an 1/8″ input, after less than 30 minutes of play, the Soccket will power an LED light for 3 hours, charge a battery, or operate other small devices, including an iPhone or portable CD player.

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Sun Jifa is a badass. The 51-year-old Chinese man lost both his hands in an accident but didn’t have a lot of cash for medical prosthetics. He could have despaired or gone off hunting cash, or half a dozen other roads that may or may not have gotten him new hands. What he did do is go all Tony Stark and build himself some hands out of a box of scrap.

Yep, Sun Jifa took a pile of steel and built full prosthetic versions of working hands that can grip and do his work. They look a bit rough, they’re fairly heavy, and they took eight years to craft — but the prostheses allows him to live a more normal life. He states that the hands work on a series of wires and pulleys inside the sleeves that are controlled by movements in his elbows.

We know he did it out of necessity, but the sheer force of will it had to take is amazing. We doubt most people could have done the same.

Man builds himself bionic hands [Yahoo News]

 

I like to have a sense of accomplishment when I finish a project — a finely selected wood stain, or perhaps the nice turn of a table leg. Something to be proud of. The wood-cycle is something else again.

Hungarian Istvan Puskas poses with his wooden chopper in Tiszaors, 100 miles east of Budapest on Thursday. Puskas, a 52-year-old tractor driver, built his bike in two years from firewood.

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Shortly after moving into my current house in 2003, I looked years ahead in the calendar and saw event after event that we’d be hosting at our home. These events ranged from garage sales to graduation parties to neighborhood events to perhaps even The Father of the Bride’s worst nightmare — our daughter’s wedding. Each of those events were going to require signs directing people to our house. So instead of buying flimsy little metal wire signs that blow down with the slightest gust or relying on poster-board that disintegrates with the lightest drizzle, like any good Toolmonger I decided to construct them myself. They’ve turned out to be incredibly useful over the years, so as I was pulling them out of the garage this week for yet another event I thought I’d share them.

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The barbecue grill may be this Toolmonger’s favorite tool. In that light, this past weekend we made an awesome discovery: as we were cleaning out the kitchen cupboards we ran across this awesome Weber grilling cookbook, which I had completely forgotten I had and can’t remember picking up in the first place. The book is almost as old as I am, but the recipes are timeless. What better way to prepare for the upcoming American famous outdoor grilling holiday, Labor Day?

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I definitely use my truck to haul wood, tools, and all sorts of crap. But like most people, I can’t afford to have a second primary vehicle just for getting groceries, traveling for meetings, or heading down to the pub. And speaking of the pub, what you see above is the parking lot for the place that inspired this post last week. Because the spaces are so small and tight, anyone driving a massive vehicle gets to park about three levels down. All the close spaces are “compact car only” — well, compact cars or my truck.

So yeah, besides costing about half that of a full-size truck and saving me serious cash every week on gas, my little truck also lets me park closer to the pub. Win.

 

Don’t have $15,000 to install a pool (or can’t get a permit)? Don’t worry. Just pick one up from Costco. Don’t have $4k for a stiff-sided above-ground? No problem! There’s always Wal-Mart. But say you don’t even want to spend $350. Or maybe you’re just wandering through Toys ‘R Us thinking, “It’s pretty hot out. That kiddie pool looks pretty inviting.” Bam! You get what you see above: Aaprime example of what we call good ‘ol down-home Southern engineering.

A reader sent in the photo above, and we cropped it to protect the innocent (and refreshed). It’s not exactly a page out of Architectural Digest, but credit where credit’s due: It appears to be holding water.

Of course, it’s gonna be a mosquito hatchery in a week or so, assuming it doesn’t collapse by then.

Anyway, happy Friday. Enjoy your weekend, however you choose to spend it.

 

We ran across this great story and had to pass it along: In a classic case of both saving government money and using something for more than it was designed to do, United States Air Force Academy Cadet First Class Joel Noble fixed a B-1B bomber during his summer Operational Air Fore tour — by using common household spray foam. The exact brand wasn’t named, but it was stated to cost only $5. That’s a far cry from a $20,000 hammer or a $30,000 toilet seat. C1C Noble, we here at Toolmonger salute you and wish you well on your last year at the Academy and a long and distinguished career as a pilot.

You can check out the full story at the Air Force Academy’s website by clicking here.

 

Last month here at Toolmonger we ran across Jakub Szczesny’s Keret House design for the world’s skinniest house. Coming in at roughly 156 square feet, the entire house literally will fill the empty space between two city buildings in Warsaw, Poland. Nevermind that there is no space for tool storage — it hardly seems like there’s much space for anything. Despite its small size, the design can account for most daily living requirements just as a RV vehicle or boat would. Still, no matter how wonderfully efficient the design, is there such a thing as too small for a house?

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