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The next time you catch crap from your tool buddies for carrying such a gadget-geeky cell, tell them to kiss your iPhone-carrying ass. Then point them here to see how handy Apple’s finest can be in the hands of a Toolmonger. I’ve found dozens of shop-friendly uses for my phone. Here’s five.

1. Carpenter’s Square

Sure, the iPhone’s not big enough to replace a real carpenter’s square, but it kicks the crap out of “that looks close enough” when your square is miles away back in your toolbox. In the picture above I was building a bit of impromptu signage (read: an 8′ tall stand to hold a banner). The result: close enough that it stood straight even in some pretty stiff wind.

2. Short Straight Edge


Again, it’s a bit small to replace a ruler or yardstick. But if you need to scribe a line across, say, a 2×4, it works fine. Just remember to use the side without the volume control.

Note: If you end up with a few scratches on the back of your iPhone, wear them with pride. At least you’re using your phone, right?

3. Bubble Level


This $0.99 app from CirkelSoft leverages the iPhone’s accelerometers to turn it into a fairly effective bubble level. The downside: you need to calibrate the app first with a real level to give it any accuracy. But after calibration it’s always there with you, even when you show up at a friend’s house to hang shelves only to discover that he doesn’t own a level. Doh!

4. (Sorta) Poor Man’s Dynomometer


Want to know for sure if that cold air intake or chip really makes a difference in your car’s 0-60 time? You could spend $200 for a G-Tech Pro Performance Meter (or a ton more for a real dyno session), but the $13 Dynolicious app gives you pretty damn similar data via a device that’s already in your pocket. Besides capturing and displaying various speed and acceleration tests (0-60, 1/4 mile, etc.), it also records and displays lateral and braking Gs — including a real-time graphical skidpad display — and can estimate your vehicle’s horsepower by factoring in acceleration and weight.

5. Shop Camera


Any camera phone works for snapping quick pix of an item before you take it apart. But unlike most camera phones, the iPhone allows you to pinch-and-pull to zoom in photo detail. Combine this with a pretty large screen (as cell phones go) and the iPhone becomes an asset when you’re re-assembling drum brakes or trying to remember which wire went where behind a car dash.


12 Responses to Five Toolmonger Uses For Your iPhone

  1. Most important of all, it’s VERY handy for pulling up reference info (“How do I repair the sidewalk?”) from Lowes or from out in my garage where there is no computer.

    Also, I use google sketchup to put together little diagrams before my project shopping trip and export a 2d image to my phone for reference.

    Nothing about the iphone is making something formerly impossible suddenly possible, but it sure makes it more FUN.

  2. RipRip says:

    What about dailing 911 when your buddy falls off the roof taking the ladder out on the way.

  3. Zathrus says:

    Note that all but item 5 (and uh… RipRip’s suggestion) can also be done by an iPod Touch.

    Why do I point this out? Well, because an iTouch is $300 (or less at Costco), while an iPhone is $200 + $80/mo for 24 months. That’s over $2100.

    If you don’t need the data plan the iPhone comes with then you can pay a whole lot less for cell phone service (I’m paying ~$10/mo w/ TMobile’s pay-as-you-go) and still get most of the advantages of it (yes, the iTouch has wifi support).

  4. eschoendorff says:

    Hell, even we lowly iPod Touch users can handle some of these tasks…

    The iPhone/iPod Touch are truly remarkable devices. They are precisely what I wished for when I was 12 years old. They were one of those…..”wouldn’t it be cool if you could have…” kinda things.

  5. Brau says:

    Used one this weekend while stuck in a provincial park (vacationing) to access reference manuals on an Acura that would not start.

    Could also use one as a worklight to see at night.

  6. Eli says:

    Calculator as well. Timer for glues, finishes, paint, etc.
    Unit Convertor so I can explain to Australians how hot it is in Boston in the summer, or how heavy something is in pounds.

    Despite all that great stuff, I gave mine to my wife after a week. Too distracting. I can check email at home, I don’t *want* to be reachable most of the time. I have a gps for the car. And it’s bigger than the phone I went back to.

  7. ShopMonger says:

    And of course viewing cool tool porn while at a family reunion listening to old aunt betty rant about her bad hips

  8. JamesB says:

    They make great spacer blocks for the 12-ton shop press. The soft plastic keeps my bearings from getting marred when I press them into the steering knuckle. The screen makes a handy backlit platform pre-heating bolts to weld as well, you can see down inside the bolt before you hit it with the rosebud on the OA. On the downside they are little small for tire chocks.

  9. argosytech says:

    Despite the naysayers I love this post and am glad that there are actually people who think similarly to me! Y’all keep up the good work!

  10. Lori H. says:

    How ’bout that new free flashlight app? I have used all my smart phones as flashlights, but now we have an app for it!

  11. An interesting view of the automotive industry. Where do you see the future of the industry, will it ever recover or will there be major casulties?

  12. The processor is labeled as a little recent design amount however it and also the GPU are likely the similar speed as the 3GS. The old Touch using the same Processor and GPU since the 3G was quicker. Apart from having the clock pace turned up higher the Touch has less software programs to run because it is not a telephone. It ought to defeat any iPhone to day in performance.

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