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While having drinks with a friend last night, the subject of the British author Roald Dahl came up. None of us at the pub could remember the specifics of when he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so naturally we all dove for iPhones and Wikipedia. Scrolling through his Wikipedia entry, though, we came across this bit:

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Roald Dahl died on 23 November 1990, at the age of 74 of a blood disease, myelodysplastic syndrome, in Oxford,[49] and was buried in the cemetery at St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, England. According to his granddaughter, the family gave him a “sort of Viking funeral”. He was buried with his snooker cues, some very good burgundy, chocolates, HB pencils and a power saw.

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No, really. The man was buried with a power saw.

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A  reader turned us on to these cool vise bookends found via the re-purposing site CoolMaterial.com. But we’re pretty sure no Toolmonger would shell out $70 for ‘em. That said, we bet you’ve got some similar out-of-use tools lying around the shop — we do — that would do the job just fine.

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The folks at Bosch saw last week’s post about tool sculptures and sent along these pics of “Princess,” their Bosch accessories mascot. She’s five feet tall, and yes, she’s built from and completely skinned in various Bosch accessories.

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Today I came across this incredible photo of a Xenomorph (the famed Alien from the ass-kicking sci-fi thriller films of the same name) — sculpted entirely from old car parts and hand tools. This invention really impresses me. As a part-time Humanities instructor, I find many students roll their eyes when they learn the class involves examining sculptures and — worst of all — attending an art museum. Yet modern, unexpected uses of everyday objects transformed into Something Awesome, like this xenomorph, do capture their attention (that, and ancient weaponry). And I think that taking something considered very practical and making it into something aesthetic is a cool way of making us re-think the objects around us.

I went in search of other tool sculptures to see what other expressions people have created. Are tools rough, brute-force vehicles of power? Are they delicate, sleek instruments to shape the physical world? Seeing some of these concepts realized in art is an interesting way to explore that question.

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I like to make furniture of all kinds. From tables to cribs, it doesn’t matter, but when I saw this end table/chest/beer cooler at a social event recently, I knew it made the list of crap I gotta eventually build.

It’s not just that it’s a table and cooler, but the construction of the design also makes me think this would be a great project to tackle. It’s rough and simple but provides a lot of areas to customize. Now all I need to do is find an old metal cooler and build an end table around it. Normally I don’t go for the rustic stuff, but in this case I’ll make an exception.

 

Ok, so we’re a little late on this. But hey — at least you’ve got until October now, right? An awesome friend shot me a link to a post over on the Highland Woodworking blog carrying a list — actually, a really well-thought-out list — of stuff around the shop that’d help you in an apocalyptic zombie attack. (The post seems to be a response to the CDC recommendations — no, really — that prove once and for all that the CDC does indeed have a sense of humor.)

Besides tagging Festool’s contractor first aid kit as an obvious choice, they recommend the lathe skew chisel, cordless drill (w/spade bit), and cordless recip as primary anti-zombie weapons, and note that Japanese cut-off saws would work great for hand-to-hand combat. One maybe-not-so-good option, though, is a chain saw, as TM reader Dreamcatcher points out in my favorite comment so far this week:

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Some coworkers and I ate at a little cafe the other day and got to watch a show: The local gas mart had failed a year or two ago and a worker was taking it down — with a digger. Most at our table considered our lunch show annoying. I, of course, loved it.

It’s simply amazing, both how quickly the operator took the entire over hang and building down and what a neat little pile he made while doing it. Sure, the digger really wasn’t made for this sort of thing, but damn if I can tell why not. Inside twenty minutes after I took this shot, the digger was gone and so was the building.

Tools come in all sizes, both great and small, but the thing to remember is to try to bring the right tool to bear on the right project. I can’t help thinking these guys had this one pegged.

 

Here’s another one from the email pile: the JackJaw. Funny name aside, it looks pretty slick. As you pull on the handle, the mechanism tightens up two jaws to grab and pull stakes or posts with a lot more force than you can generate on your own. (The maker claims that 200 lbs. of force on the handle translates into a whopping 4,200 lbs. of gripping force and 1,800 lbs. of “breakout” force.) A large steel base plate stabilizes the whole thing.

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You may have noticed a sharp spike in the number of limo-riding, formally-dressed high school kids in your locale a while back. But not all of them are wearing expensive custom dresses or rented tuxedos. The once-original idea of fashioning prom wear from duct tape has taken off — with the help of the Duck brand.

(A quick moment’s rant: While I can’t deny the marketing genius of naming one’s tape business after the most common mispronunciation of “duct,” I do get a little riled every time I see it. It was bad enough when folks called it “duck tape” because they didn’t understand its original application. For years now they can also head down to the local big box and buy some by that name. Doh!)

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The bond between driver and car often falls into the “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand” category – however, it’s a very rare driver and vehicle that make it 82 years together without interruption. That’s just what Allen Swift did.

In 1928, Allen Swift, Springfield, Massachusetts, received a new 1928 Rolls-Royce Picadilly P1 Roadster from his father as a graduation gift. Over the years, he put 170,000 miles on it, and drove it until October, 2005, when he died at the age of 102.

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