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A friend turned us on to About.com’s list of “The World’s Most Useless Tools” — penned by writer Lee Wallender — and we’ve been kicking it around endlessly. As you might imagine, we take issue with some of his findings (and completely agree with others). Let’s take a look.

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TM reader Ben Marvin turned us on to this, um, unusual, idea found on the web: a hand saw with springs mounted on either end so it recoils back and forth, created by software developer John Zimmerman. As you can see from the pictures above, it’s a work in progress.

It seems to me that you’re producing the energy whether you put it directly into the saw or store it up in springs to release it. The only advantage I can see is that you get a slight burst of stored energy released from the spring. But that sounds to me like a solution to a problem I don’t have. If I need power, I generally reach for a larger saw — or a power tool.

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Late-night TV ads aside, we know there’s currently no way to keep a knife sharp over time without spending some time sharpening. But a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison thinks they may have found just such a beast in nature: urchin teeth.

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TM reader Jason tipped us off to this awesome piece of holiday news from CantonRep.com:

Mel Yoder didn’t know what to make of the box that recently showed up outside his home. The package — cardboard held together with tape — had his name repeatedly scrawled across the sides. […] It turns out that the package was dropped off by a snake of sorts, a thief who long ago stole Yoder’s circular saw. It took five decades for the guilt-ridden party to return it.

The circ saw — a Porter-Cable, by the way — was stolen from Yoder’s truck when he stopped for coffee after a job back in 1959 or 1960. He told CantonRep that “the loss hurt, but he never bothered to file a police report; he just moved on.”

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Forget carrying signs and buying Priuses. Here’s the kind of environmental activism we can get behind: The Stroud Valleys Project in Gloucestershire, UK, was formed in 1988 “to help protect the industrial heritage of Stroud and its five valleys.” But besides gathering to create ponds and scrapes and planting new trees, the SVP recently began collecting and restoring manual gardening tools. They offer the cleaned-up second-hand tools for sale at their eco shop, and they also offer them at reduced cost (or free) to limited-income families interested in creating their own garden.

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A couple of things you might not know about that place you go to pick up cheap-ass screwdrivers and wrenches: It’s family-owned. And the family, it seems, isn’t getting along all that well. This article in the Ventura County Star indicates that a few days ago everything came to a head with ‘Freight founder Allan Smidt escorted out of the door and locked out of the building.

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Baja, Inc. of Phoenix, AZ, announced a recall of around 300,000 mini-bikes and go-carts today. Apparently the affected models’ gas caps can leak or detach (potentially causing burns) and their throttles can stick, possibly due to the fuel line and throttle cable being improperly attached.

According to the CSPC, the recall involves mini-bikes with model numbers beginning with HT65, MH165, WR65, MB196, DB30, WR90 and DR90, as well as go-carts with model numbers BB65, SD65, DN65, and TR65. You can find the model number on the fenders of mini-bikes. On go-carts you’ll want to check either the (irony alert) decorative fuel tanks or the carts’ roll cages.

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Believe me when I tell you that the last thing I have any desire to do is draw politics into our enjoyable look at tools. That’s why it surprised the crap out of me when I noticed that the Specialty Tools and Fasteners Distributors Association — a not-for-profit educational trade group — selected Sarah Palin as their keynote speaker for the yearly convention this November.

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As interest in urban and rooftop gardens increases, especially where growing space and access to fresh produce is limited, companies like Trenton Forging in Michigan are stepping in to help. The company developed a system that transports excess heat in the form of water through piping; from there it runs to the rooftop and through narrow metal tubes that heat a rooftop greenhouse. So far they’ve harvested tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and strawberries, and they share the produce among the company employees and visitors.

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Fast Company reports on an electric bike from VW: Unveiled at the Auto China 2010 show, the battery powered two-wheeler — lamely called bik.e — has a range of 12.5 miles and a top speed of 12.5 mph. No pedals, so it’s battery power or Flintstones style, but it does neatly fold up into a disc shape that can fit in a car’s spare tire compartment. Whether you would want this instead of a spare tire is another question.

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