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Posts by: Jordan Ross

I hate running around and trying to find tools when I’m working on a project, so whenever possible I like a tool that can combine the functionality of two tools into one — like the Sod Buster here.  It combines a small sledge and a cutting edge.  It could help out if you’re doing concrete forms around roots, for instance, where you could be pounding stakes and cutting roots all at the same time.

I’m not quite sure who makes it, but I found this one with a heavy-duty fiberglass handle online for $20.

Sod Buster Tool [Buckeye Trap]


I must be worried about my toes for some reason because I keep running into safety boots;  this time the culprit was a radio ad for Red Wing Shoes’ King Toe safety toe work boots.  They offer 44% more room for your toes — essentially what the extended cab in a truck is, but for your toes!  They also feature non-metallic safety toes, which won’t get TSA on your case, and won’t conduct electricity.

I haven’t bought work boots in a long time so I’m not too sure what the going rate is, but I was able to find these on sale for $119.  They look like a decent pair of work boots — if anyone has these, hit up the comments and share what you think of ’em.

King Toe Safety Boots [Nokomis Shoes]
Red Wing Shoes [Official Site]
Street Pricing [Google]


A super-hot instant flame can help you out on tons of jobs, like cutting braided cable or carefully applying heat-shrink tubing.  On Harbor Freight’s site I came across this $7 micro torch which seems comparable to its “mainstream” counterparts — it’s self-starting and refillable, with a 35-minute run-time. But how does it really stack up? Is it a piece of junk, or do some of you actually work with one regularly and reliably?

I’m guessing that in comparison to other torches this thing probably flops, but I want to hear from you:  Hot or Not?  Let us know in comments.

Micro Torch [Harbor Freight]
Street Pricing [Google]


People are always messing with my powerstrips, unplugging and reshuffling my stuff to make room for their own cords, which wouldn’t bother me except that some of those powerstrips are powering especially important equipment, the kind that make you sad when they shut off spontaneously — that’s where the Furman PlugLock comes in.

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I love mucking about in the rain and springtime mud, and a pair of rain boots makes the sticky experience more fun — especially if they’re steel-toed like this pair from Tingley Rubber.  They’ll protect you if something slips out of your hands and falls on your toes while you’re working in the rain, and you won’t be caked in gunk from the knee down.

I found my size for $18, but price varies depending on foot size.

Tingley Rubber [Official Site]
Street Pricing [Google]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]


I’ve carried a Photon keychain light ever since my dad gave me his old beat-up one, which I nurtured back to health (read: replaced the batteries). We’ve talked about the Photon micro-light on Toolmonger before, but this new version is insane, with four LEDs, adjustable brightness, and four safety modes including strobes and SOS.  Best of all, it’s rechargeable, and it can even recharge from a normal AA or D battery.  You can recharge the Photon’s Li-ion cell 500 times, and you can get 20 charges from a single D cell.

Ok, it’s a little steep with a list price of $30, but street pricing is closer to $20 — and keep in mind, that’s money you wont be spending on batteries. If somehow you figure out how to bust it there’s also a limited lifetime guarantee so you won’t have to lay out the cash for another one.

Photon ReX Rechargeable Micro-Light [Manufacturer’s Site]
Street Pricing [Google]


Rob Todd must have gotten a little frustrated working in his garden and not having both spade and fork available at the same time. So he went into his shop and Frankensteined up this combo between a fork and a spade.

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Here you see three basic tools, a hammer, a screwdriver, and a utility knife — but wait a second, what’s that crap all over ’em?  “Eww, flowers,” you say, “and ugly ones at that!”  That’s exactly the point.  If you have to protect your tools from the grabby paws of fellow shop workers (I’ve heard stories of people rusting their tools so they’d be less desirable), and if you’re short a lockable tool box, these might be the next best thing.

This is another tip I picked up in a special effects shop:  Keep one of these three ugly flowery items in your box at all times.  Why?  Because the next time someone asks to borrow a screwdriver or hammer, they’ll receive one of these.  Most likely no one else will have one like it, and bam!– you’ll know who’s swiping your tools, or you’ll get it back, because no one wants to be seen wielding a flowery tool.

I found this three-piece set for $10 on Amazon — a fun gag or a potential trick up your sleeve, it’s up to you.

Flowery Theft Prevention Via Amazon [What’s This?]


4Dorks on Flickr posted this awesome (strobist) shot of his custom-built depth gauge, which he uses in conjunction with some of his other custom tools to build split-cane bamboo fly rods. For those of you who build fly rods, this tool helps set the v-gap in the planing forms.

Planing Form Depth Gauge [Flickr]


This guy is melting a brick using a piece of plastic no thicker than 1/16″, scrounged from an old projection TV. It’s a Fresnel lens, and this particular one can focus about four square feet of sunlight onto a spot smaller than a square inch — pennies melt within seconds, pieces of wood instantly burn, and water flash-boils.

Also found on lighthouses and aircraft carriers, these lenses have some serious energy-production potential — they remind me of that huge array of mirrors out in the desert that superheats oil. The video’s a little dry, so you might want to skip around to get to the good stuff.